Once I started running, I couldn’t stop. Well, I did take a brief hiatus during my second pregnancy, but I started running again 4 weeks after giving birth. It was a slow process and it is amazing how your body seems to lose interest in running if you haven’t done it in a while. You have to give it a jump start! Then there is the motivation issue again… fighting your way back into a running routine. Oh well, I knew it was the only sure way to lose baby fat #2.
I ran along the coast of Half Moon Bay. Mostly, I ran alone. Bridget and I had moved into new homes that were nearly an hour away from each other. It was tough to get together for consistent runs. We still met up for the occasional race, but I was pretty much on my own. Sometimes I pushed the jogging stroller. Oh, the joys of jogging strollers!
Soon, it was time for us to move to Florida… a land that seemed so far, far away from all that I ever knew. I arrived and tried to keep running. It was so hot that I felt as though I were running in an oven. Before I had time to adapt, I was pregnant… AGAIN! I still ran a bit, but spent most of my days in the air-conditioned gym doing light weights and activities that weren’t so rough on my body. However, I vowed that I would start running again as soon as this baby popped out. I vowed to run my first marathon. I really had to consider this after eating 10 cupcakes in one sitting. Yes, now I had no choice but to run a marathon.
Four weeks after giving birth, I was ready! I decided my best option would be to join Team in Training because I needed people to run with. I needed some running buddies. I wouldn’t get through the marathon without someone else by my side.
I saw her during the first group run. She actually looked a bit snobby and I wasn’t sure if she was friendly. Then I found out she was in the Coast Guard. My goal was to get away from the Coast Guard, but I guess it was just meant to be. The conversation started there. I didn’t really run with her in the beginning. She seemed rather hardcore and was always running further than the rest of the group. Then one day I joined her on the longer run. The next time, I joined her for an extra run over the bridge. I ran faster and farther than I ever had before.
Tracey challenged me. She made me realize that I could put in a little more effort and gain so much more. We were friendly competitors always trying to outdo each other. We forced each other to run faster and farther. I knew I was more than ready when I stood at the starting line of my first marathon. I probably should have been just a tad bit more prepared (or maybe I shouldn’t have indulged in so much food & drink the days leading up to the race) because Tracey whooped me in the end. She took off and there was nothing I could do to keep up. Oh, but that wasn’t the end of it. I eventually got my revenge in later races.
Tracey and I had our war stories. I remember the time she had to stop to throw up when we were training for our fastest 5K. Or the time I tripped over my own big feet and skinned my knees in front of the Red Cross building. There was the race where I ran on ahead (my glory days) while Tracey was stuck running alongside Jeff Galloway (her least favorite runner ever). Speaking of Galloway, there was the time we yelled at a group of Galloways that kept stopping in front of us and blocking the whole path during the Bank Marathon. I seriously thought a high school brawl was about to erupt at any moment.
I won’t ever forget the time I went searching for Tracey in every ER in Jacksonville. Yep, that fool decided to leave the group without telling anyone where she was going, except that she should probably get herself in the hospital. I just happened to be running with another group on the other side of the bridge so when I returned everyone told me that Tracey was complaining about her swelling legs. Hours later, I eventually found her at the ER on base. I would have slapped her if she wasn’t lying prone in a hospital bed (don’t worry, after many months, she eventually de-swelled).
Tracey was the running buddy I could always count on to run with me rain or shine. We would run together and then indulge in coffee and donuts (you can’t find too many friends willing to eat donuts in front of you). She helped me achieve more than I ever thought possible (and I probably gained just as many calories as I burned thanks to her love of chicken wings and beer… and of course donuts). I was truly sad the day I had to say goodbye as she headed overseas.