Running Streak — Day 5
The lines are smudged between before and after the Divas came into my life. At times I have told them stories about me as if they were there, only to realize that I am recalling something well before I knew any of them. Other times I share about something that has happened since I moved away from the central group, realizing we haven’t left the miles behind us needed in order to feed them the back story. That only gives us more reason to add a couple miles to a run or enjoy another serving of dessert the next time we catch up in person.
I have a running watch that delivers messages to me via Bluetooth connection from my phone. I quickly dismiss one-off reminders from my calendar or the “On my way!” texts from the husband as they appear on the screen with a quick finger swipe.
Then there are those times when I am out for a run, when a cascade of texts arrives, turning my watch into a kind of invisible fence that might keep a dog in its yard, buzzing on my wrist and urgently telling me that I need to stop in my place and look at my phone.
As I see the flurry of messages I know immediately it’s the Divas. Most often the texts are in regard to someone’s birthday, or an anniversary, or the sharing of a memory. Sometimes someone just wants to remind another that she still holds a speed record between them, or send a picture of a wayward banana to gross out another. Don’t be fooled, we are grown women with steady jobs and families.
We are made up of women who grew up around the Midwest and Pacific Northwest mostly, of diverse professions and backgrounds, varying in age from our 20s through our 40s (This age reference is from a decade ago and I still refuse to age us accordingly. Divas slip into new age groups for races while I am convinced someone filled out the registration wrong.).
The Divas have tried as a group on multiple attempts to explain how we came to be, but our histories are now so braided together that each time we attempt to pinpoint specifics, we instead find it easier to just appreciate how fortunate we are to have been brought together.
I know that within a short time of our first run as a group — a time that feels more like an instant with each passing year of our friendship — I was running every weekend — and most mornings — with anywhere between one and the whole of the Divas.
Together we have covered thousands of miles, from training for races to simple runs used to talk about life, shoulder to shoulder down the road. Some of us have sworn off the hard stuff and stick with only mileage without the racing, while others have gone off the deep end into professional-level triathlon racing, as the rest of us cluck proudly over their accomplishments.
Imagine that you speak ten thousand or so words during a single run covering about ten miles. You might be the strong, silent type, but let’s keep this an average between you and your friends. Ten miles, ten thousands words, every week for a year equals more than five million words. Now stretch that out over a decade of running, give or take time together and apart, missed connections and living in different cities. Factor in the rush of words shared around babies, boyfriends, husbands, death, loss, victories, celebrations, good riddances and new beginnings over that decade. There are changes in the flow and continuity, but the underlying strand remains intact.
We have spoken millions of words to one another through easy paced long runs along the beach or absolutely knocked out breathless repeats up the hills in and around Seattle. We have typed tens of thousands of words of praise, love, promise, and good old-fashioned ribbing of one another.
Recently we spent a day cheering one Diva through labor and another through an epic distance relay through the Mojave Desert. There were parallels I drew from each event — the nurturing and training for both and the time to deliver, in one case quite literally.
There is a point when a single run leads to a group that has seamlessly knit itself into your whole life, not just the moving pieces. It’s that kind of endurance that keeps me running more than the promise of any accomplishment I can reach on my own.