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I don’t know about you, but I prefer to run alone. In my experience, running with someone entails all kinds of awkwardness. Like who gets to set the pace? Inevitably, you’re forced to run either too slowly and end up feeling resentful (or smug) or you’re forced to run faster than is comfortable which leads to eventually having to stop and apologize profusely. “No no no, you run ahead. I don’t want to slow you down!” No, no it’s fine! I always run this painfully slow. It’s all good.” It’s not all good. Everyone ends up feeling bad in this situation.

Then there’s the expectations regarding talking. I enjoy talking- on the phone, over wine, during a rousing game of “Say Anything”- but not while I’m trying to not hyperventilate. Running is a time to just run, not idly chit chat with your too fast / too slow running buddy. I think if you can talk easily while running, you’re probably walking.

And finally- the race experience. I have only had one of these in recent history- the 25 km Comfortably Numb trail race I ran in Whistler last year. It involves a 1000 metre elevation gain and a steep shale descent at the end, so it’s all kinds of fun for the knees and ankles, but mostly what sucked about it was running with a bunch of other people.* Don’t get me wrong, pre and post race everyone was nice enough, but during the race there was a competitive energy that just rubbed me the wrong way. You pass someone and you can feel them getting all bent out of shape about it and when you get passed by someone, well… you’re all bent out of shape about it.

So there you have it. I am a fiercely anti-social runner.** That being said I absolutely adore my Runny Buddy. In all fairness, Amber Cowie is pretty much my buddy in all things (she’s my life buddy :)), but this is the first time we’ve taken our friendship to the level of Running Buddydom. And so far- amazing. When I first mentioned signing up for a marathon, everyone else gave me looks that said: “Are you insane?!” Only Amber was like; “I’m insane. I’ll do it with you!”  So here we are. She supports the cause and hates oil tankers and pipelines just as much as I do. She created a training program that I’m following, and I suggested she stop eating so much candy and try eating some hemp protein instead. She sends me encouraging texts and makes sweet comments on my blog.  I tell her how she can stretch out her IT band (yoga baby). We make running playlists for each other (mine is soo going to dominate). We make jokes about bleeding out of our lungs and puking after running. We share our marathon nightmares***

AND we never run together. It’s the perfect relationship.

*Getting lost also sucked. Somehow, despite the neon pink flagging tape blocking the wrong trail, I ended up following a girl down the wrong trail, down (and then up) a steep hill- for 25 minutes! We discovered our mistake when another runner came running towards us and told us we had gone the wrong way.  This was early on in the race so super good start. Although, when I realized I’d ended up running closer to 30 km, I was like well maybe ‘”I could do a marathon….”

**With one notable exception. While living in Sierra Leone, I joined a running group called the Hash. Its a British tradition that ex-pats around the world have picked up. It involves weekly runs following a paper trail with false tracks that takes you through back alleys and courtyards, along goat paths, through rivers and along garbage heaps in the blazing heat. Everyone drinks beers afterwards and if you do 25 runs or more you get a super offensive nickname. So pretty much hilarious.

***Mine 2 nights ago: Me and Amber are going to do a practice marathon, but I end up falling asleep in the middle of a road median (?!). When I wake up I realize I’ve missed the practice run, and I frantically set off. I bump into Amber who says suuuuper casually; “Oh ya, I’m already done. It was easy.” And I’m like; “ahh, I’ve still got 4 hours to go!” and wake up a little pissed at Amber quite frankly.

Amber’s: She eats too much candy and wakes up hungry.

I’m a week into my training and on my “off” day (that’s marathon parlance for “no running today, thank god”), so I thought it would be a good opportunity to review my progress. Here’s a checklist of accomplishments and reflections to date.

1. Sign up for marathon. Eek! and check.

2. Running Buddy? Yup, Ms. Cowie is the best. Supportive text messages are surprisingly reassuring.

3. Excellent cause that has resolved my run’s (albeit brief) existential crisis? Yes. This is a mission to support good (the Great Bear Rainforest in its pristine state) and conquer bad (oil sands expansion through BC and the Great Bear Rainforest).

3. Training and nutritional program? Uh huh. Gots’ me some powders to give me super powers!! Um, I’m talking about Hemp protein and Endurox (not, you know, those other kind of powders that give you super powers).

3. Gear? And by gear, I mean leg warmers?  In spades. They’re bright blue and even though they look like Mojo the Fierce Feline Ninja chewed on them a bit they do the trick. Mojo is also in training.* I wish they were thigh warmers too because my thighs were awfully red and cold after my 10 km in -30000 degree cold yesterday. And itchy. Calves remained toasty, not itchy- perfect! (BTW I do wear leggings under the warmers, I’m not running around in the nude like a nut or anything…)

4. Playlists? Ok for now, but will need some refreshing soon.  There’s only so many times I can listen to Azalea Banks 212 (quite possibly the awesomeist, potty-mouthiest song ever recorded). Love. It.

5. General condition and motivation level? Feeling strong and stoked. I think mixing yoga and snowboarding into my schedule keeps it all interesting and my body on its toes. I ran 28 km last week and everything still works.

6. Extremely supportive husband, friends (human and feline) and family? Definitely. Amber and I have even recruited the husband (Nate) and practically-husband (Ben) to cheer us on from the sidelines and pass out beside us afterwards (hopefully not in a pool of our own puke and blood). Amber and I have minor goals of finishing the race with all of our insides still on the inside.

A pretty good start I think. I plan on elaborating on a few of the above topics, but it would be great to get questions or suggestions from readers, especially you BearRunner. You are my first (and only follower) so I’m looking to you for suggestions…

*To eat the most tuna.

**So no, he’s not a ninja.

***But he is black and kind of sneaky like one. (He wanted me to mention this)

****Minus the sleek physique (because of all the tuna). (I reminded him of this)

*****And not all that sneaky due to an abnormally loud constant waking purr and perpetual sleeping snore. (Seriously, I’m going to Utube it. Ridiculous)

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