Carol Crandall, Jan Comi, Shay Meinzer, Cyndie Zahner and me on Wednesday. It was Shay’s last run with our Wednesday night running group. She’s off to a warmer, drier climate where she won’t have any use for all that Under Armour.
“I’m trying to get my friend, Shay, to come with us,” Cyndie said to me as we’re running down Peach Street a few years ago. “She’s a newer runner, but I can tell she’s going to be fast. You’ll like her.”
“The more the merrier,” I said.
Cyndie, Jan Comi and I had started meeting at the Downtown Y after work on Wednesdays to run 5 or 6 miles. While I’ve never been an after-work runner, Cyndie talked me into it. And, the chance to run with friends makes it worth the all-day wait.
It took Cyndie probably a month to talk Shay into it, but she finally showed. (Sensing a pattern here? Yeah, Cyndie is very persuasive.)
At first, Shay struggled to keep up with us. But, like most new runners, she got fast quick. It wasn’t long (seriously, it felt like a freakin’ month) before we were struggling to keep up with her.
“Who invited her?,” I would quip to Cyndie when we were gasping and chasing Shay through South Shore at an 8:15-minute-mile-pace.
But, I loved it, of course. That’s what good running friends do — they push you, pull you, and make you work harder than you ever would alone.
And, they make you run — even if it’s raining or snowing or sleeting or hailing or if you have cramps or you had a bad day at work. Too bad. Suck it up. They’re waiting for you.
Shay proved to be one of the tough ones. On blustery, ridiculous winter days, she’d always show. So did Cyndie and Jan. I’d shake my head, laugh and think, damn these winter-hardy b*&%@s!
But, I wouldn’t quit either. You know I showed.
I went because, no matter what the weather (and we ran through some serious crap winters), it was always fun and the miles flew by as we (OK, mostly me) yammered on at length about everything and nothing.
When I took a job at Penn State Behrend in August, I thought our Wednesday Night Running Group days were over. With a firm 5 p.m. quitting time, I couldn’t make it downtown to run after work. I invited them to join me at Behrend on the first week I was there. They all came. I assured them that I would absolutely understand if they wanted to keep meeting downtown or at Frontier.
But they kept coming to Behrend. (See? They’re a tough, committed bunch). Every week, they are there for me. It’s not just the five of us in the photo above either, our group has grown to include at least a dozen other members (off and on) and even, gasp, a few men!
As we log miles week after week, we laugh and talk and share and bitch and whine and complain and gossip and laugh.
And, until this past Wednesday, we chased Shay the whole damn time.
We sure are going to miss you, Sole Sister!
(Cyndie, this means we can slow down now, right?)