Michelle and I met in June 2009 at the local swimming pool. We took a swim fitness class together in preparation for the upcoming triathlon season. Those first brief conversations alongside the wall of the pool led to a couple open water swims at the local swimming hole. It was at the pool where I had discovered that she and her family spent weekend after weekend in some random destination location for camping, biking, hiking, boating, running, etc. and would briefly recap the weekend’s events between swim drills and repeats. I knew right away that Michelle was a true adventure junky. She has climbed Mt. Rainier, twice. Rode the Seattle to Portland (STP) bike ride and ran many marathons and ½ marathons. It took only a few more months to fully understand how truly dedicated she was.
We were both training for sprint triathlons (1/2 mile swim, 13 mile bike, 5K run), but not the same ones. My intent was to complete my very first sprint. She and her husband, Shawn, had one local race they were planning on competing in together. I assumed not her first. At one point during the summer pool session she mentioned that she had not been doing much by means of biking or running. A concept that I could not understand at the time but have now learned that she knew what she was doing. Michelle is a marathon runner. A sprint triathlon’s 5K is a walk in the park for someone who prefers a 13.1 or 26.2 mile run. She did not need to train for running in the same way I needed to. I needed to train to work up to finishing the 3.1 miles. As for biking, if you can bike over 100 miles in a day as the STP requires – 13 short miles is nothing. Naturally Michelle, breezed through her race, beating her husband I may add, and silently became another real-life hero to me.
In mid-September a group of tri-training ladies were heading to the local open water lake. The plan was to swim first followed by a three-mile run around the lake. I asked Michelle if she would be interested in joining in. Of course she would be! She showed up as we were getting out of the lake, jumped in the water and swam some lengths while we all donned our running gear. As we were heading out of the park, she pulled on some shorts over her suit to run with me. What?! I am never going to be able to keep up with her and she is going to fall asleep running with me!
I am grateful that Michelle did run with me that day. We currently run and/or bike and/or swim together at least once a week. I have gone more places and completed more miles than I ever would have by myself. I like to think that I force her to slow down, to stay injury free. I also tend to believe that she forces me to push farther than I would alone. We are accountable to each other which may be the biggest motivator. The places we go are places we would not go alone. Well, we may - but it would not be as enjoyable.
When she told me that her husband was starting a blog that reviewed the trail running in our area, I could not let go of the idea. Michelle and I are not exclusive and we travel many miles in an area that is lush with beauty and adventure. We can not keep our travels under wraps. Maybe we can get some others to join us as well! We know that we are just two gals out of many that share determination for the unknown. We believe that everyone needs to set a goal and work towards it and experience the high of accomplishing a feat, no matter how small.