“Great is the victory, but the friendship of all is greater.”—Emil Zatopek, Olympic gold medalist in 5 km, 10 km, and marathon
I was looking at the photograph of the winter training group taken Tuesday , and I really had a moment of overwhelming emotion. These are people that I would not have met were it not for running. We have slogged through rain and snow and freezing cold and ice and winds and inaccessible tracks and cold, dark loops, only to have our last speed workout on a warm, Daylight-Savings-time, almost-spring evening. I don’t know most of their last names, and even forget or confuse some of their first names. But they are the tribe, as my husband has named it. We show up, we all now know our dynamic flexiblity warmup, and – to quote Larry the Cable Guy – we git-her-done. We keep up with each other’s races and injuries. We also learn about the kids, and the new engagement, and the wedding that’s almost here, and the new grandchild. Oh, and don’t forget the dog that’s keeping the coach up at night.
We cheer and console and laugh and cry, and the thing that brings us together is the run. One foot in front of the other, five miles or fourteen miles or four hundred meters. Just take the next step.
Sometimes there’s the occasional misstep. Distracted by setting my watch, I nearly went down one day, but Lyn caught me. It was going to be the same fall that landed me on my face when I was running by myself. This time, Lyn caught me.
The parallel is obvious, I suppose. I can do a lot by myself, and even have some victories doing it. But when I become part of the bigger group, I become more. I give and I receive. I become part of a running community, but I also practice being part of the community of everyone around me. I can allow myself to be caught, and I can reach out and catch others.
Tomorrow, I will meet the tribe at 6am, and we’ll all run our individual 13.1 mile races. Experience says that I’ll meet some new friends along the way, perhaps friends whose names I will never know and to whom I may not even speak, but friends all the same. After the race, the tribe will reconvene and we will all have our individual victories and perhaps disappointments. But I hope I remember to actively celebrate more than the race. I hope I remember to celebrate the friendship of all.