Running is of course a solitary endeavor for the most part, dragging ourselves out (and I am amazed by those who do it before dawn) in all manner of weather. Sometimes when I’d rather stay in, I remind myself that I’ve never regretted a run I’ve taken and often regretted ones I haven’t.

And I’m of the view that our “competition” is ourselves. Can I perform to the level I am capable of reaching? What does it take? How many seconds will this workout shave from my marathon time? This next interval?

But sometimes it helps to have The Other. This is the person who pulls you through the long runs. Not that she’s with you. But she’s out there. Working out. Sweating. Putting in the extra mile in the rain.

This occurred to me on the treadmill tonight. (People sometimes call it the “dreadmill” but it’s hard enough without labeling it a device of torture.) Five minutes in what would be a 48 minute jaunt. I don’t dare just cut it because GD, my “Other,” is out there.

After I beat him a few times, he’s been cleaning my clock. Not even close, and if he’s not NYRR Runner of the Year for 50-54, there’s something wrong. I’ve mentioned Club races as big deals to me, and in large part that’s because of the age-group competition. So at the races, I keep my eye on him and some others for as long as I can. Sometimes they’re tantalizingly close but not close enough. Sometimes they’re out of sight. Either way, they’re part of what makes running my competitive sport.

And they’re part of what makes me a better runner.

(A few days back, I posted something on my run at the Rockies, Rockies II. It was wonderful. Witty, well-written, insightful. It even had a photo and a graphic depiction of hills. But I mistakenly deleted it. You’ll just have to take my word for it on its transcendent beauty.)