*Editor’s note: The editor apologizes for her recent, unexplained absence from this blog. She is hoping that all of her virtual friends will do the thing that her best real-life, in-person friends do: Forgive her, and smile at her in a way that says: “You don’t have to tell me about your bad day. Would you like to go get some ice cream?”*
Last night, I enjoyed my third group run with the Hampton Roads Runners, the running group that meets across the street from my house every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. for a 4.2-miler through my neighborhood. I had decided before the run to take it easy, and to run by feel, judging as I went whether I was going too hard.
Early in the run, that meant 8:30-minute miles with the guy leading the group. The route is flat, and I felt strong and energetic, and who was I to judge that?
Later in the run, that meant telling the guy—who did his best to adjust his pace to my failing legs, despite clearly wanting to run closer to 8-minute miles—that I felt terrible, and needed a break. Then, it meant stopping and leaning over in the universal sign for “Just stretching! And setting a new lap on my Garmin! Nothing to see here!” and waited to catch up (catch down?) with the next group. I enjoyed what felt like a much slower, chattier pace with some new friends, and finished feeling great.
Here’s the funny thing: My Garmin tells me that my pace was actually a totally consistent 8:23-minute miles for both laps. I attribute this consistency in part to the magic of the group run. Had I been running with just one person, stopping would have been a zero-default action that would have bummed me out for the rest of the run. As it was last night, I had lots of different pace groups, and lots of friendly faces to welcome me, before finding myself alone again—which is just how it is with my running group in Silver Spring.
Back at at H.K. on the Bay, the seafood restaurant where we meet for drinks and fish tacos after each run, I had the loveliest evening chatting with my new running buddies about races and work and the way the neighborhood comes to life in the summer. As I left, I thought about how lucky I am to have running as a way to make even the newest, strangest place feel like home. I’m still looking forward to reuniting with my Silver Spring running group when I’m back in that neck of the woods in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime, I’m feeling a little more settled in Virgina Beach.
Have you joined a running group as a way to make new friends, or to find a sense of community in a new place?