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FRANSEN: Having a partner for the trail makes it more bearable

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elena color sidedThe Fransen sisters are not natural-born runners. We try our best but that definitely does not mean we excel at running or even like it.

Unfortunately, running has been a reality of playing sports and staying fit. It has not always been fun, particularly with habitually bad knees and those summer mornings when our dad “encouraged” us to sprint hills at the park down the street, yet we’ve survived.

With our history of disdain for running in mind, it was a surprise to us both when I asked my sister, Maggie, to run a half-marathon with me. The basis for my decision was that I was getting bored working out with no real goal in sight. Luckily, she was game and we set a date in June, giving us months to start training and convince ourselves we could like and be good at running.

Things have not exactly worked out as planned. As we started to increase our mileage we both hit some speed bumps. My hip started acting up, making runs a little more painful and giving me an obvious limp. During one of her runs, Maggie fell a mile short of her goal, bloodying both of her knees.

Now those injuries may have been signs for us to throw in the towel, yet we have kept going. I kept running longer than I probably should have before seeking help to get my hip back in working order. Even with her fall at mile six, Maggie kept going to finish her seven-mile run.

We don’t give up easily, partly because we are really competitive and also considering we are doing this together. I pushed through the pain because I didn’t want her to beat me come race day and I didn’t want to disappoint her by not sticking with our plan.

Working toward this common goal has made running more enjoyable as it reminds me that even though we are not running together, we are both doing this for ourselves and because of each other. Incredibly sappy, I know, but training has sort of reaffirmed what I have with my sister and also the strength that you can find when you don’t quit.

In the context of running and life in general, it helps having someone striving for a purpose alongside you. Sure, you might not be striving at the same time, or like to talk to each other while you do it, but knowing someone else is there is a comfort when the going gets tough.

Even though there’s some distance with her in Minneapolis, our half-marathon training could be the most committed and stable partnership I have ever had. We share our successes, push each other to be better and hold each other accountable. It is a pretty solid bond and I don’t think I could be convinced to run 13.1 miles with anyone else.

Through thick and thin, my sister has been there and I cannot wait for us to struggle through those miles together.

Although she better watch out. Come June 6, she could be eating my dust. But maybe she can catch me the next time.

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