Thursday, November 09, 2006

Running with a club

The second week I moved here I joined a running club. I had never felt inclined to run with groups before because I feared that the pace would be too fast, and I always enjoyed the solitary time of listening to my music and cruising along at whatever pace suited me. But, in my attempts to meet people in a new town, I joined the club, and have now become addicted to our evening 5:45 runs. I now refuse to run by myself.
The Tuesday/Thursday runs are faster, and there is a core group of three of us that consistently show up. Walt, who is in his late 40s, likes to take care of us ladies, and is always offering to help if we should ever need it. Kelly and I have become close friends. She is fast and motivated and perky, and I enjoy her company immensely. Liz sometimes comes. She is in her late 20s and loves to laugh very loudly at herself and tell botched jokes. When I am suffering up a big hill or praying under my breath that the pace will slow, Liz’s laugh gives me life. Then there is the Wednesday night “penguin run.” Anywhere from 6-10 ladies show up (including my close friend, Jamie, whom I met right after I moved here). It is a mix of ladies in their late 40s whose observations on life are a mix of wisdom and dirty minds that have had time to collect quirky observations. We shuffle along at a slow pace, but it is my favorite night to run. They tell stories about their kids and husbands and gossip about people in the club or town or politics—whatever comes to mind is said. We are hard core. Rain and darkness don’t stop us—unless it is a thunderstorm. Kelly fears lighting, so we don’t meet if there is a big storm, but on the nights when it is wet and dreary out and I am thinking about how lovely it would be to go home and sip hot chocolate, I know that at least three people will be standing at the corner of the YMCA, waiting and motivated to hit the pavement. So I usually show up.
On the way back, the pace inevitably picks up. If it is a particularly fast night, we don’t say much, and the only sound is the rhythmic pounding of our feet hitting the street in unison. I love that sound. I have found that running with them clears my head and helps me release whatever stresses or thoughts are muddying my thoughts. If I had an argument with Jason at work about punctuation, or if I am thinking about boys, it all gets shuffled to the back, and I just run. I still feel immense satisfaction over an 8 mile run, and the more I run with them, the faster and easier it gets. I always wanted to be a runner, and I feel like I am finally getting there.

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