Monday, September 12, 2011

My Meet Up with RunDanRun

I haven’t been on a first date in more than 10 years. But my meet up with RunDanRun last Saturday brought back all those familiar jitters. The butterflies, the planning, the conversation topics. Where will we eat? What will we do? Yep, as my wife declared, this had all the makings of a man-date.

Dan eloquently told the story of how he and I began corresponding online in his blog, giving me entirely too much credit, I might add. But over the last year, we’ve essentially become virtual penpals and even virtual training partners. And let’s face it, sometimes it’s nice just to have someone who speaks your language. In this case (in our case), the runner’s language.

It reminds of the scene in Once a Runner when Shorter and Denton go trotting down some hallway spouting off weekly mileage numbers and workout splits like it’s some dialect only the two of them know. And truth be told, sometimes it feels like you’re a foreigner in the real world when your friends’ and co-workers’ faces gloss over at words like tempo run, fartlek, interval, repeat, etc.

Finally, Dan and I had a chance to communicate in person. He was the last stop on my weeklong vacation driving, hiking, and camping trip across the West. My friend and I set off on our annual trip using Denver as our base. When I discovered that his flight left five hours before mine did, Dan and I set up our midday rendezvous.

We Facebooked back and forth throughout the week wherever I found cell coverage and debated distances, restaurants, and meet ups.

So, that’s how I found myself standing on the curb in the United departures area at 11:00 on Saturday morning looking for a white Mazda with a roof rack. I wore the only relatively clean clothes I had left with a pair of running shorts and a sleeveless top underneath.

When Dan pulled up, we didn’t miss a beat. It was as if we were old friends picking up where we had last left off. We chatted about living at altitude, running and hiking in the thin air, races both past and future, food cravings, Starbucks, family, flatulence, how short Ryan Hall is….

Then we arrived at City Park in downtown Denver. We continued conversing as we dodged in and out of walkers and some odd collection of bikers in the park’s center. Every few minutes, Dan’s watch beeped to mark another mile and I marveled at how they seemed to click by despite the fact that he’d already run 15 miles that morning (BA!) and I’d done an 18.5 mile hike a day earlier.

After our run, we celebrated with cold beers and sandwiches on Denver’s 16th street. I ducked into the bathroom and did a quick wet ones wipe down to spare whoever had to sit next to me on the four hour flight back to D.C. Truth be told, it was the cleanest I’d felt all week after going five days without a shower thanks to the National Park Service.

Time passed as quickly as our miles did, and soon enough, we had returned to the airport. I pulled my bags out of the trunk while Dan coerced a cop to take our picture so we could officially document our afternoon.

We went our separate ways the best way possible: wondering when we’d get to do it again.

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