Several years ago I tried joining a training group but bailed out before I even finished the first run. I wasn’t really a runner at the time and I got left behind by the group, which was horribly demoralizing. I had to stop barely a mile in, walked back to the store, and got in my car and left without saying anything to anyone. After that experience, I never thought I’d like running with a group.
As my confidence in my running has improved, as have my times, I’ve learned to love running groups. I started in the half marathon training group last year before my stress fracture side lined me, but then got my first full-length group experience this spring with the 5k women-only training group. With that group over, I’v really been looking forward to half training.
This morning was the first run of the fall half marathon training group and it was like the first day of school all over again. Everyone was saying hello, catching up with old friends and meeting new people. The coach is the same woman from last year, so I was super excited to see her again. She’s just a really nice, happy person who’s easy to be around. I was pleasantly surprised though when I ran into two other women who I ran with for the short time I was in the group last year.
Last year they were gracious enough to include me in their long-run group, even though I was a bit slower than them and didn’t have their stamina. It was hard, but I really appreciated having a group of women include me the way they did. This morning, I was actually pushing the pace and found myself holding back pace-wise in order to stay with them – that felt amazing. It’s one thing to know you’re progressing, but to see it like that is just awesome.
I ran almost the entire 5 mile course which is a huge deal for me. I even made it up the hills that we use for hill work without stopping – HUGE ego boost! My piriformis was getting a bit cranky with the hills, but it wasn’t that much of a problem. We ran past my middle school in the last half of the run. I had the same gym teacher for all three years of middle school. She was a member of the local Road Runners club and always tried to get us to be excited about running. I remember always wanting to run and run well, but I always struggled. Never the less though, she tried to keep it positive. Running laps around the campus always gave me anxiety attacks back then. It was great running past there today and not only doing 5 times the distance I could(n’t) do back then, but being confident about it and actually enjoying it. (I tried to get a picture of the old loop, but didn’t realize my phone was on photo mode rather than panorama mode. Ah well.)
I finished the run in 56:37 with an average pace of 11:11. Afterwards most of us hung around the store for a while just catching up and chatting. The manager was gracious enough to let me borrow a foam roller for a few minutes to beat my piriformis into submission, which helped immensely. The runner’s high lasted a good two to three hours after the run.
Aside from just loving the camaraderie of the running group, I’ve been looking forward to this for another reason. About a month ago, just two days before our three year wedding anniversary, my husband and I separated. Having a group of people to get through these tough summer runs with is even more cathartic this time around.