Snug Love

So it’s been a little while since I’ve sung my beloved Colorado’s praises – at least a few posts, give me a little credit! – and it’s Thursday. Thursdays back home mean only one thing: the Snug run!

The Irish Snug Running Club (ISRC) is Denver’s longest-running and largest running club with good reason - food and drink specials for runners; good company; and, of course, good beer.

I’ll never forget my first-ever Snug run. I was meeting my good friend Tarino – the first of us to become an official ISRCer. After several years away, this night marked the beginning of my return to running. We were going to run together so that I could learn the course. We chatted and enjoyed the beautiful Denver day. I was pretty out of shape and had to fight to keep up with him at times.

When we got back to the Irish Snug, he said, “Now you know the course. Next week, we’ll run.” I’m sure my eyes grew 10 times their size when he said this. My response? “That was running for me, T!”

A short two and one half months later, I got my own official ISRC technical tee after my tenth runs:

An official Snugger since October of '09!

An official Snugger since October of ’09!

Most anybody can get their 10 runs shirt. That’s not too hard, and the ISRC knows this. That’s why they reward their ‘die hards’ with. . .wait for it. . .a 100 runs shirt! The second I heard about this, I knew I had to earn mine. And I had LOTS of fun doing just that.

So many times over those many, many months turned years, I would start out a new work week feeling frustrated with my job and just think, I only have to survive until Thursday. Then, it’ll be Snug night. So many times this has carried me through. There wasn’t a single Friday that was a bad Friday following the Snug run on Thursdays. And sometimes, that made all the difference.

All was going great, and I was well on my way and even had the most runs of the Snug crew. My Snug boys are all faster than me, but this was one thing I had over them! I was going to be the first of us to get my shirt. . .or so I thought. Then, life happened. . .

Just like that – BAM! The running gods furrowed their brows and shouted down to me angrily, “No 100 runs shirt for you! You are moving to Durham, NC!” Cue the violin, insert GINORMOUS SAD FACE and quivering lip here.

During my first year in Durham, all three of my regular guy Snug runnin’ buddies got their 100 run shirts. I don’t care at all that they ended up beating me to the punch. What bothered me most was that I couldn’t be there to celebrate with them.

I still had a couple of months to go to earn my shirt, and I took advantage of the time I had at home last summer to do just that. From the end of May to mid September, just before starting my job at UNC, I ran faithfully every week, counting the miles I had left until I could call a 100 run shirt my own. A couple of times I thought about counting how many weeks I’d cross off by the time I had to be back in NC, but I never actuallyl did it.

When I finally did, my fear was confirmed – I was going to fall short. Any guess as to how many runs I needed? Hmm?

Three.

I got two more in while I would be back home for the holidays, which, for all of you math majors out there, meant that I had how many runs left?

One.

I had one more trip back home coming up at the end of January, and I was determined to fly back in time to make it to the Snug for my 100 runs shirt. So I looked at the calendar, booked my trip, and texted the entire Snug crew – regulars and ‘sometimers’ – at least three times to be sure that they could be there and, of course, to instruct them to wear their 100 run shirts too!

On Thursday, January 17, 2013, I started, then separated from, Tarino during the run. We ended up on Franklin Street together again once we left Cheeseman Park and were headed back to the Snug. Again, I struggled a bit to keep up. And, on the final block stretch, without so much as glancing each other’s direction, we both put forth one last big kick to the finish. Fitting, I thought, that my 1st and 100th runs would be with Tarino.

I had made it! I was FINALLY one of the cool kids:

Snug technical tee ceremony!

Snug technical tee ceremony!

And, like the good guys that they are, my Snug boys wore their shirts that night too:

As Dave would say, my 'gaggle of guys'

As Dave would say, my ‘gaggle of guys.’ Oh yeah, I’m OK with that.

That night was definitely one for the books. My shirt, although the smallest of the sizes offered, was still a bit too big. I likely won’t wear it to run – I am very particular about how my running shirts fit – but might wear it here and there following a sticky run.

Or, I might hardly ever wear it at all. It might sit in my closet indefinitely with the other running shirts from races past that are not the right fit. One thing, though, is absolutely certain. I will smile to myself everytime I see it while putting clean laundry away. I will smile and remember how fortunate I felt that night - and feel every day - knowing that so many people I care about were there to celebrate with me.

I will smile and think of all of the good times with those people that are yet to come.

To me, that too-big technical tee is more than just a shirt that proves I’ve run at least 300 miles and consumed at least 100 beers (yeeeaaahhh, that number’s much higher than that) – at the Snug. It’s so much of why I love and miss my life in Denver. It makes me take a big breath in and sigh out, knowing that I am, without a doubt, one very lucky girl to have everything and eveyone I have in my life, no matter where I end up.

And that’s well worth the wait.

Melissa Mincic, Ph.D., studies child development at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a long-time road and trail runner. Follow Melissa on Twitter at @nerdinrunshoes.

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