My running journey started before my sophomore year of high school when I gave into peer pressure and joined my high school's cross country team. Not even half a mile into our first run I tripped and went down face first into the dirt. My pride certainly took a shot but as that first run progressed (slowly), something seemed to click as the blood dried, the distance got longer, and the sweat more intense. The camaraderie we built up by putting ourselves out there everyday doing this thing that seemed so crazy and ridiculous to people on the outside who just didn't get it had me hooked.
Throughout college I was a streaky runner, getting a few miles in when the timing and weather were convenient. When I was 27 I signed up for my first half marathon in Detroit. I use my lack of serious training for that race as a cautionary tale to friends who are embarking on their first half. I'll never forget the slow, painful trudge up the seemingly endless winding road out of the tunnel or the piano I had strapped to my back for the final miles. Despite the pain from my lack of training, I still had a deep sense of pride as I crossed the finish line and, while having a beer with my brother-in-law afterwards, decided that it was pretty fun and I can definitely do better.
I've since completed 10 half marathons, all faster than that debut, the much faster races with the support and assistance of training groups I've met and run with at my local running stores. I've been all in as a high school track and cross country coach for over ten years now and one of the best parts is seeing the development and bonds of friendship that grow thank to the sport and live on well beyond the high school years. I've learned that the great thing about the running community is whether you're with a training group several times a week, or showing up solo to a fun run, that sense of camaraderie is always present as everyone there is finding new ways to test their limits as well as their crazy.