"How far do you want to go?" she asked me. "I was thinking nine or ten at an easy pace."
"Yeah," I replied. "Nine or ten easy was what I was hoping for."
Well, ten miles at an average 8.18 pace later, I was left thinking about the effect that running with a partner or a group has on the pace - not just the effect on me, the effect on everyone. The idea of running with someone else used to scare me - what if they ran too fast, and I got embarrassingly left behind? What if they were too slow, and I didn't get in the workout I wanted?
When I met The Librarian, she was running in one direction with The Girl Who Says Fuck A Lot, and I was running in the opposite direction, by myself. They called out asking me if I wanted to join them, and I almost didn't because I was worried that they would be too fast for me. (That was my only reason. I wasn't worried about my safety because it was summer, they were in shorts and sports bras, and I was thinking that maybe I needed to try and get The Librarian's number anyways.)
They were faster than me - by almost thirty seconds. But it didn't matter. I kept up and didn't embarrass myself at all, and The Librarian and I traded e-mail addresses, go us.
Every time we go out running together, though, we end up flying along under an 8.30 pace. Not that we push it or are intentionally competitive, it just happens. These are usually great runs, when I'm hardly aware of how fast I'm going at all.
Running with someone is one of those experiences that I wouldn't trade for anything. Running is decidedly Not A Team Sport, but when you're with a partner or a group, there's something about it that is a team endeavor. You all get connected in some kind of bullshit metaphysical way.
Running blows my mind a lot anyways. I keep expecting the gloss of it to wear off, but this month makes it one year since I started running, and yesterday I almost turned to The Librarian while we were flying down Elm Street and blurted, "Isn't running awesome?"
I didn't because even in my own head it sounded annoying. My hands were cold and I was annoyed because the sidewalk wasn't flat and I was also thinking about how my feet felt and if I needed to put my insoles in my new shoes or if the factory arch support would be enough and my knee wasn't hurting but what if it started and, basically, there were a lot of reasons why running wasn't awesome. But none of them mattered. I was running, The Librarian was running beside me, and that was all.
For making it through this, here is Marina and the Diamonds covering a 3OH!3 song, "Starstruck," live at the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. I've had it stuck in my head all day, so now you can have it. And before you ask, no, I don't know what she's wearing.