In January I packed my suitcase, left my 9-5 life in Columbus, Ohio and headed for sunny Spain, where my future looked a little brighter. In Columbus my work life, relationships, and apartment were only so-so.
One thing I took for granted though, was that my running life was stellar. In 2013 I discovered the magic created by a tight-knit training group and it made the sport that much better for me. Only the most special bonds can be created by logging 20 miles at 5am.
I joined MIT, Marathoners In Training, and officially became part of the 6-Run-4. With the 9:45 pace group I ran speed work on Wednesdays, and long runs with them on Saturday mornings. I achieved many goals thanks to their support and they made me a faster, stronger, smarter runner. I made friends from all walks of life, and I love them dearly. Sometimes our friendships extended beyond the track and the trail, but usually for carbs before a race or a beer after a workout. So… yeah, everything revolved around running!
Until I moved I didn’t realize how crucial my social running life was to my actual running life. Here in Spain, my running friendships remain virtual. I am so thankful for the Salty Running crew and their constant availability or I would lose my mind!
Here, when I talk about pacing, intervals, Gu, heart rate training zone, shoes, bras, chafing, runger and lactic acid, people look at me as if I am speaking another language! Okay, so it’s true that English is not their first language and I’m forcing this jargon upon them, but the disconnect goes further than that. As much as I appreciate my online running community, sometimes I need to talk about running face to face over tapas or cervezas.
The hardest pill to swallow is that, regardless of how much I miss my running community there, I was highly unlikely to continue my life in Columbus. I had been in the city for seven years, through college and three years post-grad. Most of my friends were moving away, and life there was not what it once was. My job was not satisfying and I hated living in the suburbs in a one-bedroom apartment. I was lonely and scared. I happened to move to another country, but had I moved somewhere else in the U.S., the same thing would have happened!
It’s more likely that I could have found a new running community stateside, sure, but I can’t guarantee it would be the same. My history with Columbus runs too deep. There I ran my first half marathon and first full marathon. It’s the first city in which I placed in races. It’s where I discovered speed work and trail running. There are running stores there where all the employees know me. Columbus is my running home.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore my new life; however, this reality of creating a new life for myself has been a harsh one. I’m finally on the right career path, I’m certainly not lonely and my daily life is fulfilling. But I cannot deny that I wish my running fam was a little closer. I wish I could use a jet pack to fly across the Atlantic on Saturday mornings just to have a long run with good company.
Here I’ve become so nostalgic for my running memories. I’m not exactly homesick, just homesick for my running community. I’m runsick! There is nothing like a summer night spent running mile repeats with my sweatiest, saltiest buddies, drinking hose water from a giant Gatorade tub. Or the smell of the trail on a crisp autumn morning. Or the thrill of the starting line, enjoyed with my best running buddies. I miss those mornings, those nights, and above all, my people.
Have you ever moved away from your running community? How did you handle the runsickness?