Chapter 1 ~ It’s Tough Growing Up

Love To Run: A Story of Two Sisters

Chapter 1 ~ It’s Tough Growing Up

Nicole and Lisa Denner were at the tail end of an easy seven mile run along the Drowning River trail. The hot summer day and coolness of the river were too inviting to finish the last mile of the workout, without a break. They hardly spoke during run. Nicole. the older sister, knew something was bothering Lisa. They were close, best friends and sisters rolled into one. Nicole had an idea what was bothering Lisa, but she wanted to hear it from her.
The river trail began at Lincoln Park and headed three miles south along the east side of the river, crossed over the river on Mason Street and came back on the west side of the river to Lincoln Park. The girls were sitting on the grass under a giant oak on bank of Drowning River just off the trail. Their backs were against the enormous tree trunk. The temperature hovered near ninety-five, the sun burned bright in a cloudless blue sky. If there was a breeze blowing, the leaves in the oak tree didn’t feel it. Nicole picked up a rock and tossed it in the river. Lisa did the same. Nicole, four years older than Lisa, was Lisa’s hero. Everything Nicole did, Lisa wanted to do. It was the same in their taste in music, iPhone apps, movies, and running gear. Today, both girls wore similar blue running shorts with a gold stripe down the sides and blue and gold running tops. Nicole was Lisa’s big sister, friend, and hero. Given a six inch difference in height, Lisa literally looked up to Nicole. Nicole’s friends often chided her and asked how mini me was doing. Nicole laughed it off, she and Lisa always had a tight bond.
Nicole turned her head toward Lisa, “Something bothering you?”
“Nope,” said Lisa tossing another rock into the river.
“You sure? I think I know what’s bothering you, but I wanted to hear it from you. Come one, we’re best friends, You won’t hurt my feelings,” encouraged Nicole.
Nicole knew she was headed off to college on a cross-country scholarship in a few weeks. She’d be living away from home for the first time.
Lisa turned toward Nicole, “It’s hurts my head to think about it.”
“What hurts your head, Lisa?”
“You know, Nicole. Your leaving home. What am I going to do without you? You’re everything I want to be. My stomach’s hurting talking about it. Can we drop it?”
Lisa could talk to Nicole and know Nicole would give her good advice, and, she could trust her. She could tell Nicole things she wouldn’t tell their mom or dad. They’d talk about stuff girls talk about. What they mostly talked about was running. If running was important to Nicole, it was important to Lisa.
Nicole was the top runner on the girl’s high school cross country team since she was a sophomore. She had a half dozen scholarship offers but wanted to stay in state to be closer to her family. Nicole tossed another rock into the river, “I’ll be leaving for college in three weeks Lisa, this summer is going faster than any summer ever.”
Lisa tossed a rock close to where Nicole’s landed, “Do you have to leave so early? Classes don’t start till the end of August, right, Nicole?”
Nicole used a stick to unearth another rock, “It’s my cross-country scholarship. There is a preseason camp, everybody who wants to be on the team has to show up. I’m nervous about how I’ll do. They have a lot of great runners.”
“You won state last year. You came in second in the 5000 meters this spring. You’ll probably be the best runner they have,” Lisa said using a stick to dig at a rock, then tossing the loosened rock into the river.
“We’ve been running together all summer. You’re pretty good yourself, Lisa. You’ll be one of the top five on the high school team if you keep working hard,” Nicole tossed a rock into the center of the ripples caused by Lisa’s rock.
Lisa tossed another rock into the river, “I was born one year too late for us to run together in high school. I wish we could run together this fall. Can we text and connect on FaceTime?”
“Of course, Lisa, we’ll always stay connected,” said Nicole.
Nicole stood up and stretched, grabbed hold of a low hanging limb, curled her legs, and swung from it. Lisa got up off the ground jumped to grab hold of the limb and swing next to Nicole.
“You do everything I do, don’t you?” said Nicole.
“Not everything Nicole. I can’t go to camp with you. I can’t take classes at the university. I can’t drive a car. I have to take a stride and a half to your one when we run. Sometimes, I don’t think it’s fair,” said Lisa.
Nicole turned her head toward Lisa, “I got an idea. We’ll both be running this fall and in great shape by the end of the cross-country season. The Thanksgiving marathon is coming up on Saturday before Thanksgiving. We can run together in it. We’ll make it a fun run.”
Lisa gave a weak smile and said, “I’ve done 10K’s but never a marathon. You haven’t done one either. Last summer you ran twenty miles when you went to camp. I remember you telling me about it.” Lisa dropped from the limb at the same time as her big sister let go and dropped to the ground.
Nicole said, “The twenty miles was at an easy pace. We ran as a group at running camp. We were supposed to stay together. Right now, I know you could run twenty miles at the same pace. I’ll talk to my coach about the marathon when I go to camp. If she says it’s doable and gives me a training schedule that works with the cross-country season I’ll email it to you. We can text each other all during fall on how we’re doing. Fist bump?”
The sisters fist bumped then ran the final mile leading from Drowning River toward home. Lisa felt a little better as she and Nicole headed toward home. She’d be running with Nicole in the Thanksgiving Marathon. It was better than nothing. They’d text each other about the training and about the cross-country season. Still, Lisa knew it wasn’t the same.

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