For the most part, I love the solitary aspects of distance running. It's my favorite time to de-stress, work out problems, or even just hang out and listen to music and podcasts.
But at the same time, it's good to have friends. I adore each and every one of my BRF's (seriously), but I recognize the benefit of having some running friends who I can go out with not just in spirit, but in reality. That's why one of my 2009 running goals was to get to know some local runners. And guys, it's working.
I joined my local running club and started going to events. That was a good start, but even better was joining in the training runs that the club is having for the upcoming Quad Cities Distance Classic trisko ("half marathon").
Bright and surly every Sunday morning, a large group of runners descends upon McDonald's, standing out in the crowd with our brightly colored jackets, tights, and low percentage of body fat.
This week, I ran at my own pace and found myself smack dab in the middle of two packs - one running a bit faster than I was, the other a bit slower. But at the turnaround, I ended up running with John, a guy I met at a previous training run. Since John and I are both, you know, runners, it wasn't exactly hard to find things to talk about.
The miles flew by, and our conversation turned to our goal times for the upcoming race. I said that I wanted to run it in two hours or less. John said that, with the pace we were running, I'd surely be able to do it.
I laughed and said, "You are really making me work right now." Then, he admitted that he kept expecting me to drop him and take off.
Neither of us slowed our pace. Instead, we pushed a little faster up the final hill to the parking lot, where a jug of water and our fellow runners waited. I was rewarded for my efforts with a chance to hang out and talk about running - just what I wanted.
My average pace for that ten mile run? 8:47. That may be a walk in the park for some of you Speedy McSpeedersons, but for me, it is Kenyan fast. I feel amazing... and I can't wait for the next group run so I can do it again.