I didn’t throw up. I didn’t even throw in the towel.
When I set the alarm last night, I wasn’t sure I would actually get up for my very first group run. I’ve developed a nice habit of sleeping through my alarm this past week.
5:30 came and I actually got up….sniffed out the least smelly running clothes from the ever growing pile. I tried to wake up as I moved through the routine: put the contacts to in, find the shoes, find the iPod armband, find the water bottles, comb the hair (rocked some Grete Waitz pigtails), find the gel, and grab the car keys. Out the door….and back in the house to get the wallet….oops.
As I drove to the park to meet everyone, I put on the radio and a Christian music station was on and it was prayer time. I figured that was a good sign cause I was going to need all the prayers I could get to not embarrass myself on this run. (Although I should point out that Steve reminded me later that there are no decades of the Rosary that specifically relate to “prayers for the athlete.” Point taken.)
I did discover that this is the place to be if you are a runner and it’s 6 am. People stretching, Garmins starting, and groups taking off. I was a little intimidated and worried that I’d get caught up in the wrong group.
Thankfully June found me in the dark as I fumbled with a novel running issue for me – where to put my car keys. (Thank you Nike for that cool pocket in my fave shorts.) I don’t think she knew how scared I was to run in a group. (Well now she does…) Megan and Heather soon joined us and I couldn’t put it off any longer…we started. I did ask them that should I die on the side of the road – they could just pick my body up later. They promised.
And to tell you the truth – it was a good run. I do hope they thought so too. My big fear was that my run/walk pattern would mean that I’d fall behind really really fast. So I knew I had to actually keep up a run/run pattern. And I did.
To my great surprise the first time I really looked at Nike+, we had already run 2.35 miles into the 4 in the loop. I was shocked – the time went fast, I hadn’t walked at all, and I had even managed to carry on a conversation for parts of it. It was amazing how fast it felt like the miles went by and how different such a familiar loop looked when running with three other people.
A bit later, we ran past the entrance to my neighborhood and I joked about just heading home. I swear Heather body blocked me and said, “No, keep running.” And you don’t mess with Heather – her husband’s with the sheriff’s department….that and she totally rocked the IronGirl 5K that was my first (only) race. So I kept running.
While it was mostly sunshine and giggles, I did start to flag with about 1/2 mile left. The group was wonderful and kept encouraging me.
June hung back with me for just about the last 1/4 mile. She’s one of my true running inspirations….I first heard that Disney had running events from June. So this is really all her fault. 🙂
She spent the last 1/4 mile being equal parts drill sergeant and supportive midwife.
“You can walk Jenn, but only up to that next park bench.” Seriously girl? That’s like only 10 seconds from here.
“Okay Jenn, breathe. See that curve up there, just after that you’ll be able to see the park. We are so almost there. You can do this.” I swear if I had been in labor and June was there – I’d probably have turned down the epidural – she’s so calming and positive. And I LIKED my two epidurals.
I made it back to the park and my car. I think we finished the 4 miles in about 49 minutes (I miffed my Nike+ buttons so I can’t quite remember….). Whatever the final stats – it was faster than I’ve done in a while. And it felt good.
I’m glad that June, Megan, and Heather are kind souls…they may have been slower today because of me. But I started to see how good it can be to have yourself pushed past your known capabilities. And I got a feel for the vibe from groups of women runners that Kristin Armstrong talks about in her Mile Markers blog.
Thank you ladies – for getting my Saturday off to a great start. Looking forward to future runs with you.