Wednesday, January 12, 2011

meet the sole sisters

Jen, Amy, Christine, Susan, Emilie, Suzanne
Most of the questions I get regarding the blog have to do with running, how to get started running,  finding the time to train, or ideas for treadmill workouts (because I love treadmills).  Another question I get frequently is how I got hooked up with such a great running group.

This group of 6 has evolved into one of the best parts of my life, so I thought I'd tell you how it all happened and who they are.  Turns out this is kind of a long post. 



A few weeks after Reed was born, my mom and I started taking Skyler to Kindermusik class, where I met both Christine and Amy for the first time.  Christine was very pregnant with her second child Kristian and Amy was very pregnant with her second child Timothy.  They had their boys a few weeks after the class ended.

Here is little Skyler from that class.







While I was busy with infant Reed, Skyler was quickly attaching herself to McKayla, Christine's daughter.  They were instant friends, so Christine and I exchanged numbers with plans to get together, which we did often.




It was around this time that I was just starting to do a run-walk program.  A few months later, Christine and Amy started to walk and then run too, and they soon were joined by Jen, whom they met at the preschool where they were all taking their kids.


Fast forward to the summer of 2009 when I was training for Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco.  Christine, Jen and Amy, with a half marathon under their belts too, had signed up for the MDI marathon on the exact same day as my marathon.  We started doing our long runs together.  I was very aware how lucky I was to have their camaraderie and support to get me through that training.

The four of us completed our first marathons on October 18th, 2009:  I was in San Francisco and they were on MDI in Maine, but our times were ONE MINUTE apart.  How crazy is that?

Meanwhile, I was already running some with my friend Susan, whom I have taught English with at the same high school for ten years.
We were gradually building up to becoming runners at the same time, and we started doing races together here and there.  In the above photo, we had just finished a 5-mile race and it was the first time we had run that far.  We finished that race in 58 minutes and got passed by 60 year olds during the last quarter mile.  True story.

When I was training for my first marathon, Susan was very interested and supportive, and we talked about running a lot at work, but said she was not interested in running a full marathon.  I started to work my magic and made her think otherwise.  *rubs hands together*

It worked.  She is now fully addicted to running and is the fastest runner in our group.

ALSO meanwhile, my friend Suzanne was just getting interested in running and was quickly surprising herself with how far she could run after never thinking of herself as a runner before.

We first met Suzanne and her partner Sandi in our child-birthing class when I was pregnant with Skyler and Suzanne was pregnant with Ella.  We became instant friends and have now basically raised our kids together.

Here she is holding Reed when he was 6 months old.  (and oh my god, look at Reedo)
Sandi and Suzanne are Reed's godmothers, and Sam and I are godparents to their Maya.

So... when Jen, Christine, Amy and I decided to sign up for the Vermont City Marathon, Suzanne and Susan were clearly ready for a marathon, and were very easily convinced to join us.  Everyone met everyone else, we all started running together, and everyone got along famously.

We have, over the year, become much more than a running group.  We do all love running and have the same draw to races and race medals, but we also just love each other and share a bond of friendship. Our running group also includes offers to help when kids are sick, phone calls of concern about injuries, or deliveries of food when times are hard.  I am so incredibly lucky to have them.


After I made the MDI marathon relay video with that song "Hey Soul Sister" at the end, Christine named us Sole Sisters.  We're kind of a big deal.  We even have our own stickers that Christine made us for Christmas.

(I'm going to put it on my car right next to my 26.2 once my car isn't covered with snow, ice, and salt.)

Things you need to know about the Sole Sisters:
Susan:  She is fearless and undaunted by distance and speed.  She sets a mean pace and can STILL talk non-stop while running;  she just gets the job done as if it were no big deal.  All of us in our group have things that make us nervous or that we obsess over about running and races, except Susan.  She just shows up smiling and says:  "Let's go."  We are also all a little jealous that Susan can leave her older kids home alone on long-run mornings. We'll get there someday!

Amy:  She's a machine with an on and off switch.  She sets one pace and can hold it all day.  Amy is totally even-keeled and positive.  At the end of every long run, including the marathons, ask her how she feels and she says:  "Great!"  She also makes amazing home-made jams and is a gifted photographer.  AND, she helps us out by taking Skyler one morning a week.  And she takes pictures of Skyler and her son Nick waiting to get on the bus and sends them to me at work.

Suzanne:  Calling her "the most enthusiastic" sole sister doesn't even touch it.  Suzanne has boundless positive energy.  Whenever she shows up for a long run, the rest of us are usually sleepy and reluctant to start.  Suzanne drives up and starts beeping and waving from a block away, rolls down her window and yells:  "GOOD MORNING, GIRLS!  HOMEMADE BANANA BREAD FRESH FROM THE OVEN!"  She also loves my children as if they were her own, takes Skyler to school 4 mornings a week, and redefines what it means to be a good friend in so many ways.
She does her signature "two-thumbs-up" that we all try to mimic.
Jen:  Jen is the one who plants all of the seeds for running races.  She is famous for emailing us links to races we had never considered and asking:  "who's in?"  She is calm, cool, and collected as a runner, but deep down, she has a mean racing streak and can pull out an impressive pace that surprises everyone, including herself.  She is a strong and dependable athlete who is up for anything,  as well as one of the most generous people I know.  She does things like this:
Rent a giant, carnival-sized bounce house for her back yard and then invite us all over to play:
She also does things like this:  Sends me flowers at work after I had a terrible week.
 Christine:   Christine is so full of personality and so funny, that I can't capture her in writing.  She is a caring social worker who is an expert advice-giver.  From now on, look in the group photos and you'll notice Christine as the one in the always matching outfit, almost always Nike top with coordinating Nike bottoms and matching running shoes (yes, she does have running shoes in different colors to match her outfits).  She is the queen of clean to the point that if Christine is coming over to my house, I clean differently, not because I am afraid of being judged by her, but because I want to make her proud.  Christine and her habits of being so well put together made this race especially funny (but see, under the mud is a coordinated Nike outfit).

I don't want to focus too much on the wardrobe thing, becuase there is so much more to Christine, but I have to share this funny message she sent us this week:

"In order to properly represent ourselves at Sugarloaf I think we should get thinking about color/style of shirt.  Running Warehouse has some Nike shirts in Mega Blue.  I think we'd really stand out in blue. It might be a nice contrast to the surrounding brown and green of the scenic Carrabassett Valley in spring time... And we will match the Sugarloaf Logo!"

And there you have it.  





So, you are welcome to run with us.  You just have to let us coordinate your outfits, bring fresh-baked treats to long runs, love talking while running, not mind hearing details about bathroom stops, and offer to watch our kids if they are sick.

We are planning to run about 6 or 7 races together in 2011.  Watch for our matching outfits!

10 comments:

lee said...

That's so great that you have such a great group of friends to run with. Maybe one day, I will too.

Carly said...

I'm a little jealous of your fabulous running friends. Maybe I'll see you all at a race this spring!

Nitsirk said...

I am jealous too. I am sort of new to Maine and don't have any good friends here, let alone those with kids and that run. You are extremely lucky.

Brooke said...

I wanna live in Maine!

Jodi said...

this post is so fantastic. Girlfriends are the best in general but to add running to the mix just makes it that much sweeter. (PS - the sticker you all got for Christmas is such a great idea! love it!) can't wait for this year's race recaps from you ladies!

Frederique said...

I did not know if I should cry or smile while reading your post! As you know Christine and I go way back! I truly loved reading you! I think you should submit it for publication! Like all you other friends already stated, I am envious and wished I had friends like that...

Pattie said...

I'm jealous! They sound like an awesome group. Great post!

Nancy said...

Yeah, I'm a little jealous, and I should be in your group based on my maiden name (Soule), but I'm not at your level yet and I'm happy to be a fan (your biggest?!?!). Thanks for the primer--I have trouble keeping all their awesomenesses straight! Meanwhile, I think the Marks Family is on its way to being its own running club. The funny thing is I've been playing with a logo for "SOuLE MARKS" with an imprint of a running tread. What do you think?

Tiercy said...

I am so happy that you have found this amazing group of friends! Something to write about for sure!

Carver Fam said...

I LOVE US!

And thanks for such a ridiculously over the top description of me. :)