I didn't want to do it.
I had heard about the Saturday morning group runs in our area. Many people had told me and invited me. But I didn't go.
I was intimidated.
But one snowy morning early this year, I decided to go anyway. Kind of like ripping off the band-aid, I told myself that NO MATTER WHAT...I was going.
The group meets at different locations in the county every week. There is usually a 4, 6 and 10 mile route. I chose to do the short one. I was completely nervous, but determined. I got there and stood around in the snow covered parking lot while the rest of the runners showed up. Dick, the guy who organizes it, reviewed the route and said "Let's go!" We all started out onto the road together.
That was the last that I saw of most of them.
I've realized that for me, a "group" run is a hypothetical idea. There is a group. They run. But I am not with them. I watched them get smaller and smaller in the distance as they ran farther and farther away from me. But I was still out there. Running. In the snow.
I've gone several more times. Not as many as I liked. I was traveling, and then there were sick kids, and the oversleeping and the general bouts of laziness. But usually on days I didn't run in the morning, I went later in the day. And days that I was out of town, I ran where I was.
But on this day, since I was in town, I was determined to do the group run. And the group run I did...in theory. I was there with the pack of 50 or so for about 2 minutes, and then as is usually the case I was again, by myself. It was an out and back loop that was supposed to be 6.7 miles. Because I didn't know where I was going, I added some distance and ended up doing 7.5. And most of it was by myself...although I could still see people up ahead. There was never a time when they were all out of sight like usually happens.
At about 4 miles, the fast guys from the group doing 10 miles started passing me, so I wasn't alone any more. Yet, I watched them disappear up ahead like the over achieving speed demons they are. Not that I'm bitter. Much.
But I finished. I did it. I ran 7.5 miles. Turns out the split for my 5K was 3 minutes faster than I had ever run one before. That was cool. I ran up to one of the over achieving speed demons that I don't really know and showed him. I was pretty impressed with my overall time. Even more-so when I consider that I didn't walk all that much.
Later in the day, I started scrolling through the Nike+ running app I have on my phone, and realized exactly 6 months ago I ran nearly the same distance. And my pace was 1:22 seconds faster than my pace 6 months ago.
It is still generous to call what I do running. And it is generous to say I do these group runs, especially since I only see the group in the parking lot.
But I ran.
And I ran faster than 6 months ago.
And in 6 months I'll be faster still.