Saturday Run minus one

I ran 3 miles this morning.  Not fast as it’s 200% humidity here in West Central Florida.  But Wendy and Sunita and I slogged it out.  Then Wendy went to the Y for a class,  Sunita ran on for another 5 or so, and I headed home.  But in those three miles, so much felt okay but there was a definite bit of sadness too.  You see, it was the first time in a long time that our Saturday morning group hadn’t been initiated by an email from our fearless leader, June.  And she won’t be joining our runs again for awhile.

You see, today June and her family are starting their adventure of driving to Alaska, their new home.  And frankly, I’m not the only one who is sad.  Most of our little neck of the suburbs is quite upset about the move.  Namely cause June is great fun, but moreover because she is better connected than Kevin Bacon.  If you live here and don’t know June or know someone who knows June, you’re living under a rock.

When she hosted a “girls night in” good-bye party last week, the street was so crammed with cars, I figured her neighbors were happy she was moving soon.  Tons of people filled her house – from Girl Scout leaders to YMCA members to college professors to runners to medical professionals to preschool teachers to preschool parents and every combination of all those labels.  June knows everyone, everyone knows her, and she introduces people to each other.  In fact, the reason I even know who Wendy and Sunita are is that June invited all of us to run with her at one time or another.  Every time someone else walked into the party, I thought “June knows them too? Oh, of course she does.”   In fact, she already has a handful of FB friends in Alaska!

When she “announced” her move to Alaska via Facebook about 1.5 months ago, I immediately texted her:  This is a joke, right?

She assured me it wasn’t – that her husband who works for a federal agency had gotten a promotion.  My response:  Really?  Alaska is a promotion?

Now that I have seen her breathtaking pictures from their trip to find a house – I take that statement back. My apologies to Alaska.  Truly.  (But seriously Alaska – that whole dark all the time in winter is not cool.  Just saying.)

June’s news kinda stunned me.  So much so that my son asked me why I was crying.

“Well, I just found out that June is moving.  And I’m going to miss her.  She was the one who got me into running in the first place.  She’s the one who yells at me when I’m slow, she’s the one who gets people out of bed at dark o’clock on Saturdays for runs, she’s the one who knows about all the races, basically she’s like a personal coach to me.”

My “embedded-in-geek-culture” 9-year-old looked at me seriously and said, “It’s like she’s Yoda and you’re her Luke Skywalker.  But every master has to leave at some point and you have to be your own Jedi.”

So wise, young grasshopper.

I’m not sure I’m much past the padawan stage of running yet.  Some might argue that having run a bunch of 5Ks and three 1/2 marathons kinda speaks against that.  Yet, I’m not fast, I’m not very good at training, and I really need people to yell at me to get out of bed on Saturdays.  Really.

But I can hear June’s voice in my head, “Jenn, you know you can do it.  You want that medal and you can PR. You just need to move it.  Breath. Come on. Move it.”  I even tried to have a running streak (at least one mile a day) thanks to her.  I lasted 12 days.  She lasted over 115 days.  And she created a small Facebook group for us to motivate and keep track of our streaks (otherwise known as the “guilt-ing group”).  Oh and there was the dreaded push-up streak….of which we will never speak again.  🙂

I wish I could calculate the number of miles I’ve run with June.  Or behind her actually.  (I’ve run some races with her – but never side by side.)  Or the number of times June  yelled at me to start moving.  Or texted me at 6 am to get me out of bed.  But what I do know is that how ever many there were, those miles (even the ugly slow ones) have meant a lot to me.  Whether the miles included simple chit-chat, or parenting stories and advice, or debates about races to run, or training tips, running with June was encouraging and up-lifting.  And when I think about it – I’m just jealous of those Alaskan runners who she will probably bring together to create another loosely affiliated running “club”.  They are getting an awesome lady to add to their ranks.

Today’s run was good – we chatted about June, about races, about other running clubs, and even marijuana growers in WA state (don’t ask).  And I know that the women who June has introduced me to will help keep up the miles and the motivation.  But we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to June.  Thanks to FB, no friendships ever really lose contact anymore. And we can’t wait to hear about her miles of adventures in Alaska.

Thank you Junie B…..you’ve made a runner out of me.  MIss you already friend.