Running is a Gift

meg

I first met Meg, the summer before I started my junior year at The University of Texas. I was recruited by a former teacher to run as the anchor leg for The South Padre Island Beach Mamas at the Beach to Bay Relay in Corpus Christi. I was the only runner on the team who wasn’t a mother but perhaps because of my hometown roots, they made an exception. I remember immediately being in awe of her athletic abilities and her incredible abs. I hoped that one day, I too would exude a similar running prowess.

Fast forward five years, to my first year teaching. I spent the fall training solo for the Houston marathon, driving to the beach on the weekends to complete my long runs with Norma and Karen. After the marathon, as my mom and I waited to board the plane, Dayna approached me about running with her group. I was eager to train with others as running in the quiet, dark early morning hours had proved to be rather lonely, so I agreed to join them the following week for a run.

For the next two and half years, Meg, Dayna, Michael, Scott, David, Mark, and I met multiple times a week for training runs. We gutted it out around the Marine Military Academy track for morning speed work sessions, ran up and down the McElvy Trail hills over twenty times a run in hopes of preparing for hillier marathon courses outside the Valley, and ran so many loops around the Harlingen Country Club, it’s a wonder we didn’t get dizzy. We charted out long run through the streets of Harlingen and parts of San Benito, always finding our second wind on the last stretch sprinting towards the Heart Clinic.

Each of these runs was special in its own right. Meg and Michael, the oil and water of our group, were always at each others throats. We often joked they bickered like an old married couple even though we all knew Meg’s heart forever belonged to Bill. Their opinionated banter often had us roaring in laughter. Sometimes just Meg, Dayna, and I ran delving into more serious topics of conversation about our lives, families, hopes, and hardships. Meg was always such a source of strength and support. She had a way of making even the most difficult of times seem managable.

When I moved to Houston seven years ago, leaving those friendships behind was so difficult. Who would I train with in a new city? Who could match their personalities and the dynamic we all shared? It seemed like such a daunting thought thinking about starting all over again.

Every holiday or visit I made to the Valley up until pregnancy included a run with my Harlingen running crew. Each time, it was as though I had never left. We picked up where we left off, filled each other in on what we’d missed, and always talked about our next big race and the training it would require.

Yesterday we lost an incredible gift. Meg, you will be missed by so many. Thank you for the privilege of being a part of your inner circle while I lived in Harlingen. You inspired me, encouraged me, and supported me in so many ways. You taught me the importance of balancing a career, a family, and a passion for running. Your beautiful smile and strong opinions were truly my most favorite things about you.

Last night searching through email archives I found a note she sent me when I first moved to Houston. It truly encompasses the kind of friend she was.

 Hey Sweetie,

My best wishes to you for the SF marathon. I bet you will do a great job & exceed your expectations. I hope so anyway! Please post your time on Facebook when it’s all over so we can see.

I am running again, trying to get back into shape during the season I hate most in South Texas! It doesn’t seem fair that someone can train for over 20 years of their life and be dedicated and committed to a sport, and get “out of VO2 Xchange shape in a matter of Weeks!! I am stubborn. I will get back into shape for Philadelphia my birthday weekend – Nov 20. Dayna is doing it with me!

Should be cold in Phili in Nov. I hope so anyway!

Hope you are doing well & happy at your new home. We get to Houston  a few times a  year. I will try to track you down.  Wish you the best for the race & your new job/ studies.

All my love,

meg

Running is a gift not because of the physical and mental benefits it provides but because of the amazing training partners you share the road with. When you look past the miles, sweat, and body odor, there is a vulnerability that comes from laying it all on the line when you lace up your running shoes. There’s something that happens in a long run when you let your walls down and pour your heart out.  A running friendship is truly an exceptional gift with exponential payouts.

Meg, you will forever have a special place in my heart. May you find eternal rest in Heaven. Godspeed!

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