Monday, March 11, 2013

Fast Friends: How I stalked my way into a running tribe

I live in a world where it's perfectly acceptable both to stalk people and to wolf down your breakfast like a smelly, ravenous dog in front of the previously stalked people that you now call friends.

'Tis the world of lady distance running, my friends.

I met up with such a crowd yesterday morning for a group run. And I'll be honest--the introvert in me seriously considered ditching and running the 14 miles solo, just me, myself and iTunes. But I'm so glad I went.

I should probably explain the stalking reference. See, I was invited to this group run by a friend I met through stalking. She beat me in a 5k last May, like, by a lot, and did I mention she was pregnant at the time? I didn't get a chance to track her down right after the race, but when the results came out, I looked up her name, googled her running times, and discovered she had a fantastic running blog. I commented on one of her posts. She graciously responded. And then, a week or so later, she emailed to ask if I'd be interested in joining her for a long run.

My first thought was to say no. My second thought was a more articulate hayells no. I was completely intimidated. I had always done my long runs alone, and she was much, much faster than I was. But she claimed she was about to slow down considerably given her pregnancy, and I couldn't come up with any decent excuses that didn't make me sound like a total fraidy cat. So I took the leap.

One minute I'm shaking her hand to officially introduce myself. The next we're off and running 10 miles. We were fast friends. (ahem. bad pun alert.) We ran almost weekly for the remainder of her pregnancy, and it's hard for me to believe I've known her less than a year.

Anyway, as it turns out, now that her precious little girl is 3 months old, my friend has returned to her speedy ways. It took me about a mile into the 14 to realize that I wasn't going to be able to maintain her postpartum pace. So I slipped back into the next pack of runners. Never mind that I hadn't met any of them yet. We did a quick round of moving introductions, and settled into an hour and half long conversation. The whole thing was just way too easy. The miles flew by. The conversation was delightful. At the end of two hours, I had a handful of new friends and a voracious appetite.

So we all went out to breakfast, where I (as previously mentioned) ate like a smelly, ravenous animal and didn't feel even slightly self conscious.
Here we are, pre-run, pre-hungry and pre-smelly
So, just to review, if you're looking for a running community, stalking is a perfectly acceptable way to find it. Second, like so many other facets of life, running in community is far more enriching than training in a vacuum. Third, if you live in Alaska and you're a lady runner training for a BQ and you aren't prone to judging people for eating tremendous amounts of cheese, then we need to meet.

p.s. If you're looking for a practical running stalker tool, check out dailymile. It's a fun way to track your training and connect with other runners. I found another wonderful running partner/ fast friend this way (it was mutual stalking, right, Katie?), and my only regret is that I didn't connect with her sooner!

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