Chocolate Runs

After reading all of Jason’s running posts, I decided to throw in my two cents about running. Well, mostly I just want to share a few memories (beware, this is a long post!).

Earlier this week I went for a run. A very rare thing for me to do these days because it is summer and I don’t run in the summer in the South. It is way to hot for me and I come back inside looking like a lobster. Then I have to gulp down a few glasses of ice water and sit two inches from the fan for 30 minutes before I am cooled down. Not a pretty picture, believe me! So, during the summer, I try to stick to walking or swimming. But this week, there wasn’t a lot of humidity in the air so I decided to brave a run. You see, I miss running. I love it and when I don’t do it, I miss it. This particular run transported me back to my Oregon running days. Why you ask? Because of the chocolate.

Before I explain about the chocolate, I will explain how dear running is to me and how I got started. Soon after Jason and I got married, I went to a track meet with my family at U of O in Eugene. Sitting there watching the long distance women runners I decided that that was going to be my exercise of choice. I wanted to look like these runners (I still don’t but at least I’m exercising!). So I asked my dad if I could start running with him. My dad has been running ever since I can remember so naturally, since I knew nothing about running, I teamed up with him.

At this point in my life I hated running. I’m serious, I hated it. But, I wanted to exercise so I thought I would try it. The first run we did was only a mile or so and I think I had to stop and walk a million times. I probably huffed and puffed and complained the whole way too. All over one little mile! I’m surprised my dad kept encouraging me because if I had to run with me I probably would have tried to discourage me with the hopes of me quitting! But my dad is one of the most patient people I know and he stayed with me, asking me things like, “can you make it to the next corner? Or the next tree?” And placing one foot in front of the other soon became a couple miles and, miracle of all miracles, I started to enjoy it! The huffing and puffing lessened and I could begin to carry on a conversation and I began to see the wonderful part of running: spending uninterrupted time with someone that you love.

I don’t often spend a lot of time alone with my dad. Usually it’s with the whole family and although there are times that Dad and I would go out for coffee (in fact that’s why I started drinking coffee too!) the fact is, we didn’t spend a lot of time just the two of us. So these runs were such a blessing to me. I loved our time together, 3 or 4 days a week, just talking and running. I have such fond memories and I will treasure those times with my dad forever.

At that time, I lived near my parents and soon we moved farther away and then they also moved. While we still lived in the same town, we now lived on completely opposite sides of town and it made our 5:30 AM runs hard because we had a 15 minute drive. For a while we met somewhere in between and then for reasons I can’t remember, we stopped running together. So, I started looking for a new running partner.

Along came Jen, a wonderful friend from church. In a conversation with her I learned that she wanted to start running. It took me a while to talk her into running with me (it’s not easy to convince someone to run at 5 or 5:30 in the morning!) but we eventually started running 2 miles together a few days a week. And somewhere along the way, her husband Scott convinced us to start training for a marathon.

Immediately I decided he was crazy. I mean, we were only running 2 miles at a time, how could we ever work up to 26.2?! But they had a plan and I didn’t want to lose my running partner so I decided that I would start to train with them until it got to be too far and by then I would just run on my own or something. We were joined by Jason and another couple whom we were friends with, Mark and Shawna. It ended up that the girls would run together and the boys would run together.

Such sweet memories. We ran in the early hours on weekdays and then that first Saturday of training we ran 6 miles. I thought I was going to die. Literally. I never thought we would finish that run! But, because of my wonderful friends, I kept at it. I remember being so proud that I had finished 6 miles that I had to go to my parents’ house to tell my dad!

Week by week our mileage was increasing and by the time I got up to 10 miles or so (a feat I never thought possible) I decided I would keep training with them; what’s another 16 miles anyway?! Saturdays were always our long runs and we spent the time talking and learning from each other. How wonderful to get girl time for 2 to 4 hours every Saturday! Pretty soon you don’t even notice you are running anymore and the miles fly by.

So here comes the first part about chocolate runs. While we were training for the marathon, half way through our long runs we would surlp down GU for some extra energy. The boys would usually choose a different kind every week but the girls always wanted chocolate. To us it tasted like hot fudge and it was heavenly! I will always associate chocolate Gu with those long runs and my dear friends.

Well, we finished the marathon and soon Jen and Scott moved away and I once again had to find a new running buddy. So I started pestering my co-worker friend Alma (once again, it’s hard to talk someone into running at 5 AM!). It was a perfect match (except I’m sure I slowed her down) and we spent the next couple of years running together. Sometimes we were joined by other co-workers or friends and for a while we had quite the group going! We had such a blast and I enjoyed (most) every minute of it. We ran a race together as well and the girls in our group (except for me) ran the San Fransisco half marathon.

Well, time moves on and this time Jason and I were the ones to move away, this time to Tennessee. I have yet to find a running partner here besides my husband and so my running has been sporadic at best. I need to know that someone is waiting for me so it makes me get out of bed! It’s too easy when you run with your spouse to sleep in and say I will get up tomorrow! But, we are getting there and haven’t given up yet.

Fast forward to my run earlier this week. I stepped out of my house and I knew it was going to be a good run. It was the chocolate again. If you have never been to Cleveland, Tennessee, you wouldn’t understand but we have a marvelous M&M plant in town. So, on certain days, the wonderful smell of chocolate drifts through the air and makes your mouth water. What a great town! And so, on this particular run, the chocolate smell brought me back to our GU days and caused me to reminisce about all of my amazing friends and family that I have had the pleasure to spend time running with. So now you understand the reason I love to run.