This morning Joni and I woke up before dawn so that I could drive her to the airport to catch a 6:20 a.m. shuttle back to Washington where she lives and works. It’s an understatement to say that it was a real treat to have her here for an extended visit. She arrived a week ago Wednesday, just in time to make it to a Concord Academy track meet. She stayed for the Marathon and for another week, getting in lots of visiting with family and friends in the Boston area.
We managed a couple of runs together — one long run on Easter Sunday and another yesterday in which I turned around early, but she continued for a solid thirteen. There might have been more tandem runs, but my weekday schedule required me to fit in runs at the end of the day in Concord, while she was in the habit of running much earlier in Newton. Still, even though our opportunities to work out didn’t often, I really enjoyed all the little things that went along with having another runner in the house.
On her first day in town, she managed to get to the meet, which was in Weston, without benefit of a car by the simple expedient of running there. This made me really nostalgic for the days when I used to do things like that. It used to be a fun challenge to combine commuting with daily training, but these days I drive everywhere — a bad habit! Maybe seeing Joni’s example will inspire me to begin leaving the car at home more.
Another thing that’s nice about having another runner in the house is having someone who experiences the weather in a similar way. Not only can you commiserate with each other, you can also compare notes and conclude “it really wasn’t that bad once I got going.” Of course, when there’s someone else in the house who’s running in the rain, it wipes out any excuses you might have to skip your own run.
It’s even comforting to have someone who shares your bad habits. For example, usually, it’s just me leaving running shoes in the hall and running clothes hanging off the backs of chairs. When it’s just my stuff, it’s just clutter; but when it’s Joni’s stuff, it’s an opportunity to ask her about her run, how far she had gone, whether the rain had held off, etc. I’m sure Ann wasn’t thrilled when our kitchen became a laundry room, but to me it felt very familiar and homey.
But now Joni’s off again, and she’ll be logging runs in far-away places for a while. I’ll be the only runner in the house again, and even though it should be a familiar feeling, I think that it will feel strange for a few days. I’ll be reminded again that — contrary to some stereotypes — running is a tribal activity, and the lone, solitary runner is an odd duck, indeed.