"I live my life through my friends."
My friend Haley said this over the phone the other day, explaining to me why sharing stories and experiences with friends is the only way she wants to live her life. Why travel to Hawaii alone if you can go with your BFF and discover you suck at snorkeling together? Why wallow in solitude over the text message you got from your crush when your bestie is sitting right there to help you nit pick his use of "Yes" vs. "Ya"?
Some may agree to disagree, but I am totally Team Haley on this one. I excitedly reminded her of the new life story we were in the process of penning together: training for our first half marathon bi-coastally (I'm based in New York City; she's out in California)—the Destination Races Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon on May 9th.
Even more thrilling—at the starting line, we'll be reuniting for the first time since we met four years ago.
Haley and I met back in 2011, on one summer night in Boston. Funnily enough, neither of us were even living there at the time—I was in town from upstate New York visiting an ex-boyfriend because I was 24 and impractical, and she was hailing from the suburbs to see college friends and a new love interest (who also happened to be my said-ex-boyfriend's best friend. Of course.) Needless to say, Haley and I began as perfect strangers when we found ourselves barhopping together on Landsdowne Street with a grab bag of mutual friends and former/current flames; we both ordered Pinot Grigio, commiserated over our lion-like humidity hair, and quickly realized we were already long-lost-twins-kind-of-friends.
You know that super-exciting feeling when you meet an ah-mazing guy at a bar with whom you have everything in common with, and ohmigod where could this go?! Meeting Haley was better, because I knew she'd actually talk to me again. (Zing. Sorry, boys.) Our mutual interests included, but were not limited to: country music, creative writing, coffee-by-day, wine-by-night, running, reading, biting wit, and even February 16th birthdays one year apart.
Fast-forward to 2015: Since our first time bonding in Boston, Haley and I have kept in touch and involved in each other's lives mostly through social media, crazily enough. As someone who hates on Facebook far more often that not (seriously, people—no one cares what you had for lunch, nor do I want to see that 84th photo of your infant), I never thought the words, "thank God for social media," would come out of my mouth. But thanks to Facebook chat, witty Twitter exchanges, and our mutual affinity for artistic and adventurous Instagram photos, it's been easy for us to keep up with each other.
But social media is certainly no stand in for real life. Since 2011, together, Haley and I have been through five boyfriends, four years, three cities, two years in grad school…and one unanimous decision that it was finally time to reunite in a big way.
So that's why we decided that signing up to run 13.1 miles through a vineyard together, and training for it for three months together-but-apart, was the best idea we've ever had. Just "meeting up" wouldn't do our friendship justice. Training is all part of the shared experience.
Even for someone who enjoys running, prepping for a half marathon is no small feat. The training schedule Haley and I follow requires us to go running at least five days a week, and let me tell you—waking up at 8am before brunch plans on a Saturday to do a 10-mile training run sounds a lot cooler than it actually is. It's exhausting. But the main thing that helps get me up and out from under my duvet is this: Even though I'm pounding pavement in Central Park and Haley is kicking up sand at Shoreline Park, I'm not doing this alone. Sometimes we'll even exchange training run Snapchats of city skylines and beach sunshine as motivational reminders.
In a way, training up to this big event is the fun part because we're running for something bigger. A friendship. A reunion. A new and shared life experience.
Oh, and the wine tasting station at the finish line.