Since returning to Manhattan, I have had a chance to see some of my friends here and have started running again.

One friend I hang out with is Chris. He graduated from Kansas State University not too long ago. He is focusing on his art career. One thing that ties Chris and me is running. We both were decent high school cross country and track runners.

I have wanted to run a marathon (26.2 miles) since high school. But I fell out of love with the sport at the end of my senior year and wanted a “regular” college experience. I ran some throughout college, mainly in the summers when all I was doing was working.

When COVID-19 hit, the gyms closed. I needed to stay in shape, so I started running in April of 2020, got into decent shape, and thought, let’s train for a marathon. But not just any marathon: the Boston marathon. My uncle has qualified for the Boston and New York marathons. It was my time.

I made it through July, August was quickly approaching, as were my classes for my senior year of college, and marathon after marathon was canceled because of COVID. So the training stopped. I put the shoes away, hopped on my bike, and rode to stay in shape.

Not until recently have I been inspired to run again. I was on one the other day and saw Chris out on his; he was starting his run as I was finishing mine. He did my last half mile home with me. As we were heading to my house, he said he wanted to qualify for the Boston. I told him I gave a lackluster attempt and that it would be difficult. For our age range, 18-34, you need to run under three hours, which is a 6:50/mile pace. We have to run sub-three hours at a qualifying marathon race.

I was not thinking much of it when I finished. Several days later, I asked how his training was going, and Chris said it was going well. Chris’s mileage is high, and his running pace is dropping as he continues to train. His time and dedication to qualifying for the Boston is inspiring me to lace up and join him.

I hope to qualify with him. I have a lot of training ahead of me to catch up with Chris in preparation for a qualifying race. Training for a marathon is challenging on your own. Training with someone keeps you accountable, which is why I have the motivation to train this time.

Having someone to go on long runs with makes training bearable, the pain and soreness manageable — the mental fortitude to keep running, stronger. I am excited to learn more about Chris and his enthusiasm for life during our runs. We will spend many hours together over the course of a couple of months. Some runs will be quiet, others chatty, with the opportunity to become better friends.

Chris and I continue to talk about qualifying, and we do not want to run to finish the marathon. We know we can complete the race. We want to race the marathon and race well. It’s us against the clock.

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