I’m not running today for two reasons: 1) The air in Sacramento sucks right now because smoke from major forest fires have settled into our valley and won’t leave until we get a major windstorm in here to blow it all away and 2) My No. 1 running buddy hurt her front right paw and was limping this morning so I took her to the vet instead.

So since I’m stuck here in the house I thought I’d do a little blogging and introduce you all to my Team In Training. If you’re new to running, one of the best ways to keep you motivated is to find a good group of friends to encourage you and get you out the door every day. If you’re rich (which I’m definitely not) you can join a real Team In Training or even a running club. I chose to go the poor woman’s route and enlisted a these fine friends to keep me honest with my training:

First up is Coco – the cutest, most enthusiastic running partner I could have ever asked for. Coco is actually not my dog. She’s my boyfriend’s parents’ dog, but I’m housesitting for them until August and I have fallen deeply, madly in love with this adorable little bundle of fur. I’ve been taking Coco running with me since March and now I really have no choice but to take her with me. As soon as she sees me picking up my iPod and putting on my running hat she begins to whine and cry and run herself madly in circles until I agree to take her with me. For this reason, I have to put her in the backyard before getting ready for my long runs. Coco’s a good running companion, but she’s also little and I worry that more than 2 miles will end up hurting her (and I was desperate this morning when she was limping because I thought it was my fault but the doc says the running is a good thing and probably not the cause). OK, so that’s my short run partner.

If she could, Sofia would live at the beach.My long run partner is also my best friend, and the girl who got me into running in the first place – Sofia. My first 5K ever was because Sofia asked me along. Of course, she finished a good 20 minutes ahead of me, but that’s beside the point. Sofia is a great running partner because she’s always smiling and always willing to get up early – something I’m not so sure she can say about me. She’s also going to be my roommate again in a few months and we’ll be living right by the river so we can even spontaneously run if we feel like it! It’s been hard for us to plan time to run together because she has two jobs and is also doing rowing team this summer (sorry I never signed up!). The best thing about running with her is Sofia can run farther than anybody I know, and is also why I asked her to do my long runs with me. I don’t know how she does it, but she’s amazing.

One of my favorite people in one of my favorite places.To keep me honest, I have my boyfriend, Tony. Since we live together Tony’s able to make me feel guilty if I don’t go running. He always asks me how far I ran today and I just HATE having to tell him I didn’t run. Tony is also fab for pushing me through the end of a really tough run. He runs way faster than me so we don’t usually run together. When he does come out with me, he’ll catch me at the end of my run (when I have “I’m going to just walk” written all over my face) and he’ll run alongside me saying “Come on babe, you’ve got this. It’s only a bit farther. Let’s go.” I like knowing he believes I can do it. And really, could you walk after someone says that to you?

I tried to find a sporty picture of Megan, this was as close as I got.Lastly, is my favorite Aussie, Megan. I went for my first run with Megan on Sunday and it was a lot of fun. I love this girl because she always has a smile and a good attitude. Plus she has that beautiful Australian accent, how could I not love her? Megan is signed up for the same Half Marathon as me so we can train together and see each other through to the completion of the race. I think that’s pretty awesome. I also love that Megan is a fairly new runner too so we run about the same pace. Most people are lapping me or running far enough in front of me to make me feel defeated, but Megan stayed with me the whole time, which made my heart smile in a big way. Megan, if you’re reading this, I’m not letting you give up! We’ll be running again this weekend for sure.

OK then, just wanted to share my lovely friends with you. I’m a seriously lucky girl to have such optimistic and enthusiastic friends. It’s a mystery to me why they stay friends with such a pessimist, but I’m glad they love me anyway. I can’t wait to see them all at the finish line!