Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Member of the tribe

There's something about runners that makes them seek each other out. We may all be different -- race, sex, size, background, speed -- but we seem to send signals as subtle a male peacock's plumage in our quest for others like us. Is that a GPS watch? Are you wearing a Road ID?  Wait, are those the new Brooks Adrenaline?

And once we spot and recognize each other, we like to congregate. There are expos. Races. Running stores. Online forums. And my favorite, running groups.

I belong to two groups. The first, I joined at the invitation of the woman who ran most of my first race with me. We struck up a conversation halfway through the run when (in my quest for a distraction from feelings of near death) I noticed her Black Girls Run shirt and asked her about it.  Crystal was nice enough to tell me about the group and eventually invited me to meet other members.

I hesitated only because I'm not one to join, well, groups. Black Girls Run? Would they accept a Puerto Rican sister friend? Why, yes. From the moment I met the other women in the group, I was sold on the concept of women supporting each other to become -- or to stay -- active.

It's a diverse group in many ways. We have walkers and runners. Many are just getting started in their journey to better health. Others, well, let's just say you may want to watch who you talk to unless you want to find yourself signing up for a half marathon and saying things like, "If I can do 13.1 miles, I can probably do 26.2."t 

There are moms and single ladies. A few are older than me; many are in their 20s and 30s. Some have kids. Several have the kind of kids that shed. We all struggle with making time for ourselves and our training.

These are the kind of women who cheer you on when you can't even run around the block. Who celebrate the first run post-surgery as if you've just competed in an Olympic event. Who help you find a place to run indoors on your business trio to the Upper Peninsula in April.

The other group is just as special. I joined Team Playmakers a couple of months ago as I was increasing my mileage for my weekly long run. It's also a very diverse group with people from all walks of life, but there's no doubt these are more hardcore runners.

Couldn't help but notice all the Team P shirts, hats, car stickers and promotional materials around town.

With the motto "any distance, any pace," this group hosts group runs several times a week. They pair you up with people who are running a similar mileage at your pace, provide water/Gatorade stations every couple of miles and feed you Great Harvest bread afterward. (Aren't runners great?!)

Having built-in running partners has made a significant difference in my willingness and ability to run up to 9 miles. Heck, in my last run with Team P, my running partner had me in stitches. I was laughing so much that I don't even remember agreeing to run two extra miles. Through a cemetery. With lots of hills. Shudder. (About the hills, not all the dead people.)

As much as I enjoy running with a friend, a running group offers a different kind of support and is just as rewarding.

Much like a parent who loves all her kids the same, I can't say that I have a favorite. I can just say that I'm glad I saw the not-so-subtle signs and joined this tribe. This tribe of runners is just right for me.

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