If you and I have spent any time talking over coffee, then you already know that the middle is just about my favorite place.
In my writer's mind, the middle of a story is the piece with the engine-- it drives a reader -- it's where the "meat" is.
As an extrovert, the middle -- or common ground -- is one of the best places for me to learn about someone else: That place where you and I are standing face to face and seeing things eye to eye because we are in the same spot.
The middle is also my favorite part about running.
No, NOT the finish. I know this goes against some kind of unwritten runner's credo or something since we all LOVE the finish line on some level, and sure, I do love it. I just happen to love the middle more.
Why? The middle is where the work is really done.
The first few miles are all raw excitement for me during a race. And the end is sweet, sweet relief that I made it, it's over. The middle is where you test yourself. It's the place you fight your brain the loudest (you've heard it, I'm sure, saying "why on EARTH are we putting ourselves through this, can't we just STOP?").
In relationships, the middle also puts you between people.
This weekend, I'll be in the middle of two people who have greatly influenced my running (and real) life. My boy Salsman (of Project Adam fame) and Laura, the runner friend I was so intimidated to ever run with, who is now one of the first people I check in with when I want a solid run and great company.
How is that like the middle?
Let me put it to you this way: On the broad spectrum of running (and life) there will always be people ahead of you and behind you. And, because of either the way the universe operates or sheer dumb luck (sometimes a combination of both) your position will constantly be shifting on that spectrum.
Laura was (and still is) the seasoned pro in my running life when I met her. She's also the reason I wound up doing my first 10-mile race at the time (and loved it).
Now? Salsman is in the position I was just a year ago. Only this time, *I'm* the one taking him on his first 10-miler.
Just to keep myself honest, though, I'm dragging Laura. And, it's quite likely that Salsman (who already runs a faster 5k and 10K pace than I can hold) will pass me, and my position on this little spectrum will shift once again.
But I know it is only a matter of time until I find my way back to the middle -- and I rather like it that way.