A Moving Thesaurus
Friend. Running Partner. Fellow Marathoner. Vardo.
Since I fully committed to running and signed up for Team 12.4 in the Spring of 2008, it’s safe to say that running has changed my life. What started as a way to challenge myself and a push to run Dam-to-Dam turned into a lifelong commitment. More than that however, I’ve discovered a new meaning for friendship.
I’ve always been outgoing and have made friends quite easily, some in passing, and some lasting, and I’ve enjoyed the conversations and opportunities that those friendships have given me. However, what I’ve realized as my running habit has increased is that the act of sharing mileage with someone on a weekly basis crafts a unique friendship that you don’t find through any other activity. When you are out on the road, whether it’s raining, snowing, sleeting, blowing, or the sun is beating down, you find a connection with that person. You find a friend.
After I finished that first Dam-to-Dam and joined Team Vardo, I found out just how many different synonyms there were for friend. Each week, a seemingly random group of people show up at a pre-determined (assuming the routemaster remembers to check the calendar and knows they are responsible! 🙂 ) location, a route is shouted out (and sometimes made up on the spot), and we head out at our respective paces for the day. Any number of things can impact your pace on a given day- mood, health, weather, distraction- and as a result, you end up running with a wide variety of people as you fall into the same pace and strike up a conversation. Sometimes it’s the first time you’ve chatted 1:1, other times, it’s not even the first time you’ve talked that way. Either way, something happens on that route and barriers come down, a common passion and bond is recognized, and you open up to one another.
In doing so, you share sometimes personal information, sometimes random information (often both), and it morphs into a wonderful catharsis. The friends I’ve made as a result of my running are some of my most dear friends and individuals I care about greatly. They’ve taught me more than I could ever repay about life, transitions, and what a wonderful canvas human existence truly is every where you look.
So, what does it mean to be a Vardo? It means being a runner, an Iowan (regardless of whether you still live here or not), a bit crazy, a lot committed, and most of all- a friend!