A few weeks ago one of my best friends from college was in town. He brought his wife and 1 year old son. As we reminisced about the “good ole days” we realized that it was 5 years ago that we first met as young, naive, and eager to please freshmen at Taylor University.
We arrived to a fairly quiet campus on a beautiful fall day at the end of August. The football team had already been practicing for several days (this included one of my roommates) and other teams were arriving as well. I remember being pretty nervous – more about being on the cross country team than anything else. I was a decent runner in high school, but nothing anywhere close to fast. I ran a 2:12 800 and never broke 5 in the mile or 10 in the 2 mile.
I definitely didn’t realize that the team I was joining was one of the best in Indiana and ranked in the top 25 nationally (in the NAIA). Had I known that I probably wouldn’t have joined and my life would be pretty different. Especially since I met my wife through a cross-country friend. While reading Once a Runner, I had so many thoughts come welling up in my mind and I could remember many of the weird/random things my teammates and I did in our 4 years together.
I truly have never experienced anything like the camraderie that came with slugging out 1000’s of miles together. Bearing through each other’s injuries, emotional low points, academic struggles, and other major life obstacles and celebrations. We were a team but we were also friends. It wasn’t all fun and games though. Get 15 competitive guys together and there will be issues, but those are easily forgotten on a 10 mile run. At least until someone decides to drop the hammer.
I could probably spend a lot of time sharing about my collegiate experiences and maybe I’ll try to throw some posts in every now and then. But I think one thing we all get from running is a great group of friends. Non-runners don’t understand the bonds forged out on the road, but there is something about it. Running stride for stride, sometimes talking about life, sometime staying on the surface about the weather or a recent meet, or sometimes just listening to the crunch of your feet. Yes, running builds great friendships throughout our life. I’m just glad that some of my best ones started in college and continue today.