Yesterday I finished the Boston Marathon in soggy conditions that were appropriate to the challenging training conditions this Winter. We trained for a tough day and a tough day showed up. Some of my running buddies had to battle a brutal Minnesota snow storm: a marathon of airport delays to get to run a marathon in a cold windy rain.

But not just any marathon, the Boston Marathon. I caught the fever of the great race in the 1970’s when Bill Rodgers was the king of the course. It is an honor to cross the same hills and finish line of my boyhood hero.

Back then I was smitten with all things running. My Dad and I would lace up and run around our neighborhood in Michigan. We probably looked like weirdos since running just was kind of a niche thing back then. My first 10k was the “East Lansing State Bank Second Annual 10k” in the late 70’s and I ran it stride for stride with my Dad.

Running dropped away from me in high school, but my Dad kept rolling. He and some work buddies formed a training group and they would run marathons. I remember they laughed loudly, made wagers of beer and that there was a cape awarded every year for the best (?) performance.

Now I’m a runner and I have a training group. We run together every week and while there isn’t a cape there is lots of laughter and from time to time beer. (Realistically we are behind Dad’s group in the beer category. ) The bonds between me and my training partners are just as tight as the ones I witnessed with my Dad’s group. This is the way of runners who put in hundreds of miles together.

When I was in high school I accompanied my Dad to the Chicago Marathon and there is a great picture of the two of us at the start–if I recall he was wearing a rain slicker. This year he and my Mom came to Boston to see the Marathon and they needed that rain slicker again.

It rained pretty much all weekend culminating in a cold driving rain on race day that was not comfortable for runners much less for spectators. Boston turns out fans in all conditions and I was amazed by the number of people standing in a driving rain to cheer on people they didn’t even know. When the rain picked up, the spectators just yelled louder.

My personal spectator was tucked less than a mile from the finish. I turned right on Hereford street and saw my Dad raising his arms in celebration, soaking wet with all the other crazy marathon fans. I raised my arms like I had won the race because it felt like I was winning the race.

That’s how it feels with your running buddies. If you see them on the course you get a shot of pure adrenaline because you know they know all about your goals, your setbacks, your injuries, your hopes, your worries. A training partner can empathize about a ridiculous worry or nudge you when you need to get out and get the workout done. The people you run with are a special family.

Running is a gift. I am so very grateful to be healthy enough to run well (and this year I had a good race in Boston!). I’m blessed with amazing training partners. But perhaps most importantly, yesterday I finished the Boston Marathon cheered by the man who was my first training partner.

Here we are, finishing a training run, circa 1970’s: