Sunday, May 3, 2015

Growing Strong Friendships through Running

Sometime during the summer of 2013 I started following a girl on social media who was a runner from Buffalo. Her name was Brittany, we both liked running, drinking good beer, and both have a tendency to bruise easily{#bruisertwins}. When we realized that we, as well as Heather and Hollie would be running Lake effect half marathon together in February of 2014- we HAD to meet up. 13.1 winter miles later, we were all sitting jammed into a booth at Empire Brewing Company- drinking beer and chatting in real life for hours on end.
Heather, Me, Hollie & Britt
Brittany and I have since become great friends{we all have!}. She's supported me through so much this past year and I am grateful for any chance I have to return that favor. Races, football, beer tours, girls weekends, road trips- its a well rounded friendship. One that is about to get even stronger.

I love when my 'worlds' collide. Such as Running + Friends.

You know what I love even more?

Getting to combine running a marathon with one of my best friends, not just any marathon- but her first marathon.

Most everyone who knows me, knows my addiction to all things Saucony. I've run in their shoes for years- and practically live in their clothes when not in work attire. I have followed their 26 Strong Program the last 2 years and love the concept behind it all. Women helping women, through running.

The short of it: 26 runners comprised of 13 coaches and 13 cadets. Each coach (veteran marathoner) picks a runner (female, who has not yet run a marathon) and helps coach them through training, and the program concludes with a weekend away & running a marathon side by side. All coaches/cadets travel to the same race, spending a few days together and celebrating marathon weekend. This year Saucony and Competitor group chose Chicago Marathon in October!

I LOVE marathons, but I understand that training is hard, time consuming, and truly a process.  I don't remember a ton about my first marathon- but there are certainly memories about that journey I'll never forget. That feeling of "what did I just do!" when I registered. Each long run being a new "distance PR", literally going further than you ever have before. A long run with a friend training for the same race, where we came back frozen and soaking wet but happy none the less. The excitement of my first big race expo, and picking up my bib. Right down to the pep talk my Aunt gave me on the phone, the night before the race. After 11 Marathons I can't say that I have it all figured out, but I have learned SO much over the years. I feel incredibly lucky to have been chosen as a "coach" this year. To help someone train for their first marathon, offering guidance and encouragement along the way- and that someone being one of my best friends.

I didn't choose Britt to be my cadet for the sole reason of her being a great friend. I chose her because she truly exemplifies "find your strong", something Saucony is all about. She's dealt with setbacks, crappy upstate NY weather (something we commiserate about, often), and has been working so hard to come back stronger and healthier. She worked with physical therapists, and sought out strength training help in conjunction with her run training. Working on training smarter and not just harder. It's been an inspiring comeback to watch, and now I get to be a part of it in a way.

In a few weeks she will be running Buffalo half marathon as her big comeback race- after that, we can sit down and come up with a training plan to get her to the start AND finish line of Chicago healthy and well-prepared! I am so excited for October 11th, to be able to spend 26 POINT 2 miles side by side with Britt. She will totally be sick of me by the end of it- but I promised her it will be worth it :)

Over the coming months we will update on training, and experiences within the program. We won't be doing all of our training together, but definitely will make for some extra thruway trips (we're only a little over an hour apart!) for runs/training meetups. She also will be subject to me texting her constantly with cheesy inspiration, and bribing her with tasty things for post-long runs and workouts.

To say I am excited is an understatement. I get to be on an awesome journey with a great friend, supported by my favorite company- and travelling to Chicago to run and meet up with some inspiring people (Can't wait to meet the other coaches and cadets!).

BIG big thank you to Saucony, Competitor group- and special thanks to my good friend Michele who is also part of the program {and supports/encourages me ALL the time}.


6 comments:

  1. So cool Laura and Brittany! What an awesome opportunity...I'd love to help a friend run their first 26 POINT 2 one day. And Chicago is an amazing race for your first marathon (it was my first too!) as the streets are lined with supporters from start to finish, the course has great views of an incredible city, being flat doesn't hurt at all...and PIZZA!!!

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  2. This makes me so happy for you both. I know together you are going to do great things and I cannot wait to support you. You guys are the best.

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  3. Such an awesome opportunity. How cool!

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  4. The best experience to share with a good friend! It's going to be an awesome fall for you both!

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  5. this is so exciting! you will be a wonderful coach. I'd love to come down to Chicago and have a couple of pints of Guiness with you :)

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