One of my favorite sentences in Run Like a Mother: How to Get Moving--and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity is one Dimity wrote: "Running is conducive to frank, sometimes soul-baring conversations in the same way road trips are: When you keep your eyes on the road, you can speak from your heart." I was reminded of that sentiment over and over this weekend because I was fortunate enough to be in Maryland promoting the book and getting to run numerous times with my best friend from high school who I'll call C. She and I hadn't seen each other in five years, since I was pregnant with my now-almost-kindergarten-age twins. C. is also the mother of a singleton girl, then boy-girl twins. (Nutty, huh?) We went to high school together for just two years and have only lived in the same city (Boston) for two years post-school, yet I still consider her one of my best friends.
Despite not playing organized sports in school (C. and I share a unique athletic distinction: We were the only two girls cut from our school's lacrosse team!), we've always enjoyed running together. Many moons ago, as we finished up a 5-miler in Wellesley, Mass., C. told me, "I love running with you because you can talk the whole way." Yup, guilty as charged.
For several of our runs this weekend, we fell into our old roles: She asked me a question that she knew would get me going (like, "Tell me about running with John Shea [my ex-hubby] when you were in the Bay Area last month"), and I proceeded to blab for miles. My words flowed as freely as my sweat. Yet I turned our MO on its head as we set out on Sunday for a midday run through charming Annapolis (we were in town promoting RLAM at the ZOOMA race). Instead of letting her ask me questions, I finally asked her a few that had honestly been on my mind for years.
Some history: In the mid-1990s, C. struggled with adult-onset anorexia. Through hard work and a lot of therapy, she'd overcome it but when I'd seen her five years ago, she still had some food issues and didn't look healthy. I wasn't sure what to expect when she picked me up at the airport last week. To my great relief and joy, she could not have looked more vibrant, fit, and beautiful. C's triathlete legs looked strong and powerful. Her shoulders and biceps were enviously buff. At 5' 9" she was a healthy size 8.
So on our run on Sunday, I got her talking about some of the hard times. C. can be a very private person, more the question-asker than the detail-sharer, yet as we trotted along brick sidewalks and past quaint Colonial-era homes, she opened up about her struggle. And I was able to tell her how worried I'd been about her over the years, to the point of often dreaming about her. In my nighttime visions, I told her, she always looked as healthy and vibrant as she did in high school. And now, I could see for myself, she looked exactly that way today. It was literally a dream come true for me. I choked up as I told her this, but it was impossible for C. or passersby to tell.
I decided there's another truism to add to Dimity's awesome sentence in the Friends chapter of RLAM: "No one can tell if you are moved to tears because they mix with the sweat."
What painful or sensitive subjects have you broached with friends on runs?