It started as co-workers, grew into friendship and eventually became a lifeline.

I’m fluent in English, while she’s fluent in Spanish. Yet, there is no language barrier when it comes to friendship.

Our friendship grew inside and outside of work.  Our employer promotes healthy living by offering to pay for any staff members to run one of the half-marathons locally.  Prior to working for our company, neither of us were avid runners but thought this might be something fun to do together.

Throughout our training, some together, some separate, we would laugh about our aches and pains.  The next day at work, I’d bring her Bio-Freeze; she’d bring me bagels.

Last October, my friend moved on from our company.  At that point, we had already registered for the Virginia Running Festival (  Since she didn’t technically work for our company anymore, she offered to pay her own way.  She had been training for the race and simply wanted to finish what she had started.  And she did just that.

As friendship seasons go, we would see each other every now and then.  She did stop in at the next race in May to say hello and bring bagels.

This summer I got so wrapped up with “life”, that I didn’t think to ask her if she wanted to run the next half-marathon.  Even though this particular race is very hot and humid, it is more sentimental for me than anything, being it was the first half marathon I completed.

True to form, it was miserably hot.  I made it to mile 9 1/2 in fairly good time (1 hour 13 minutes).  Then my knee started giving me trouble and with no shade on the army base, the heat overcame me, so I walked for about 2 miles. I got to mile 12 and I hear my name.  I look back and it’s my dear friend!!

She took my hand and we ran together.  She never let go of my hand, even when one of us had to walk.  It was like a lifeline- a familiar face, a kindred spirit, a friend.

Clearly, neither one of us is a Kenyan!  And we won’t win our age group, but that doesn’t matter.  We’ve influenced each other with our love of running and the feeling of accomplishment when yet another race is completed.

We were both were just looking for a hand to hold.

Life will take us many different places in the years to come, but because we were empowered to run, our lives will be forever enhanced by exercise and a friendship.

Written by Natalie Cheney and Dee Hill