Stanford team shot, NCAA outdoors. Me left, Malindi right, for reference.

Stanford team shot, NCAA outdoors. Me left, Malindi right, for reference.

November, for me, is “the beginning of the 2011 season.”  I worked so hard on day 1 that I couldn’t get out of bed this morning on day 2.  As I looked at my phone screen to snooze the alarm for the second time in a row, an image of an old friend popped up to indicate she was calling me at that very moment.  With my ringer off, I would have missed the call had I not been looking directly at the phone; had I missed the call, she couldn’t have “made my day.”

After slurring some inaudible syllables resembling words for the first couple minutes, I heard Malin say she wanted to come train with me in the winter.  We haven’t trained together in years, but we used to be inseparable in college, and the first year or two as pros, we met up in Albuquerque for altitude training.  Her track results were stunning following those training camps, including a 4:02 1500 and a trip to the Olympics.  Since then, we’ve lived in different countries and settled into our married lives, connected at the heart but often going months without chatting.

But our incredible bond was made evident once again when we met up for 36 hours in Slovakia this summer and I literally lost my voice from us talking so much.  I left that weekend reminded how special our friendship is, and how each of us brings out the other person’s outstanding flavor like a good wine.

It became apparent from the phone call that both of us are hungry this year.  We are within our athletic-peak ages; we have lots of experience; we have each failed and learned.  Our biggest obstacle will be a willingness to do everything it takes to be our best.  The older you get, the harder it is to leave your husband behind and go to altitude for a month.  You have side projects and part-time jobs that compete for your energy and time.  You feel yourself naturally migrating from the sports world into the real world as your friends build careers and have children, fewer and fewer of them participating in sports.

Since I’m part of an organized team, its easier for me to stay focused and keep pushing my limits.  I am part of an athletic culture of success on a daily basis.  For athletes on their own, its critical to get together with other people now and then to revitalize things…to get out of your own head and do what’s uncomfortable, to get a mark of your progress against the progress of another.  So that is what we plan to do.

The phone call left me alert and glowing.  I had an incredible tempo workout with the team, buzzing about the chance to reunite with my friend.  We really do feed off one another well, and the timing couldn’t be better.  With our husbands left behind in our respective homes, we will rent an apartment in the foothills and be attached at the hip once again.  We’ll set off the smoke alarms with our experimental cooking, solve the world’s problems over cups of coffee, beat each other up on repeat thousands (we are 1 and 1 so far), and stretch in front of the TV to reruns of “Friends.”  Maybe we’ll even reunite with some other women runners from those old camp days…we’ll have to see who is in town.