Friendships Forged on Dirt

I run many, many miles alone. I don’t mind running by myself, in fact, it provides me with quiet time where I can unplug, decompress, and reset. I pray, I think, I repeat song lyrics in my head, I plan, and sometimes I just zone out. It is my time to be on my time, if that makes sense. But, I also crave that time on the trails with my friends. I have had a few really amazing sole/soul sisters over the years, and the memories made with those ladies, and the conversations we have shared, miles traveled, and challenges faced, will always and forever be etched in my heart. Those experiences shaped and molded me in a really profound way. I have laughed, cried, suffered, prayed, and rejoiced with some badass women. They didn’t always feel like a force to be reckoned with, but you better believe I reminded them that they are…and they have done the same for me. Camaraderie on the trails is not just a grand time traipsing through the woods (sometimes it is exactly that, but it’s so much more…)

It is encouragement when the goals seem too lofty, and the road to achieving them seems impassable with blow-downs around every switchback. We remind one another of the work that has already been put in, of the progress that has already been made, and of the determination that lies within.

It is companionship when we don’t want to be alone with our thoughts, and we need an ear to bend. We work through issues and problems plaguing our daily life…work, relationships, etc. We pray with and over each other, and we give advice, or simply listen in silence. We unburden our hearts, and we unburden each other’s.

It is an extra layer of safety in a potentially hazardous environment. We provide “backup” for each other. Trails can be unpredictable – it’s easy to twist an ankle or get lost, and having a friend along is always a safer route than going it alone, especially on remote, mountainous terrain.

It is accountability when the alarm goes off at 4am on a Saturday, and all you want to do is shut it off and roll over, but you know your sister is going to be waiting for you. So you say a few cuss words under your breath, and get up anyway.

It is empowerment…having the confidence to line up side by side with the men of the field, un-apologetically, and with an air that says, “I belong here as much as you do.” We empower one another, and instill that confidence every time we send our sister an inspiring article, or go through race plans and strategies in the days leading up to an event. We also intentionally build up each other’s daughters, in addition to our own, so they are fierce and willing to face their fears head-on.

It is sharing experiences, which often have such extremes of emotions, with someone else who utterly and completely “gets it”. The exhilarating highs and the physical pain are difficult to explain to others (“Why exactly do you do this to yourself??”), unless they have gone through it , too. Your trail sister understands why this is part of your life, and how it feels to push your limits without being sure of the outcome. They understand the breathtaking beauty of a thundering waterfall, or the peace of being surrounded by wild rhododendrons and tall pines on a still, misty morning. It is difficult to put into words the experience of feeling God all around you, in an incredibly real and tangible way, which leads to an outflowing of gratitude from the depths of your heart…but she understands, because she feels it, too.

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