running alone

i have this friend who is great at holding me accountable for the things i want to do, but don’t follow through on. on the list this week was 1- go to meditation, and 2- run with NBR.

NBR, or North Brooklyn Runners, is a running team in my neighborhood that has hundreds of members, ranging from crazy fast marathon winners to total newcomers. For years i have told myself i would train with them (membership is free and available to everyone. You literally just show up to their runs and register as an NBR runner for racing). I’ve always been intimidated. Most of them are fast. They all seem like best friends. they all seem cooler than me. most of them look like runners.

for years the only person i ran with was colleen, my best friend. she and i would head out, ten feet apart, both listening to music, high five when was passed each other, and then share a bottle of wine and talk about how great our run was. now colleen lives in denver, and i don’t drink.

i’ve always listened to music while running. a definite no-no for real runners.

and largely, i’ve always enjoyed my solitude during long runs. i’ve always thought of running as the only time i’m not plugged in to social media, texting with friends, checking this or that…

but for the most part, i’ve always run alone because i’ve never felt like a runner, and i always assumed no one wanted to run with me.

it surprised me that i didn’t meet any runners while running the paris marathon. i felt alone a lot. in a crowd of thousands.

my first race, the Philli Rock and Roll half marathon, i was meant to run it with two friends who backed out at the last minute. i wound up taking the bus to philli, alone, staying at a strangers house, and getting up for the race, alone. when i completed it, i couldn’t believe i had really done it. and i had no one to celebrate with.

my friends and my parents find it weird that i don’t join a running team. running is all i talk about, read about, think about…i’m envious when i see teams at races, the support and post race debriefing is something I only ever experienced with my ex. we would finish a race and i would make breakfast while he looked up our stats. we would talk excitedly about how good we were given we’d been out partying the night before.

a few months ago, i had a 15 mile training run to do on a sunday. i invited an acquaintance of mine along, thinking in no way would she take me up on this ridiculous offer (who would willingly meet at 8am on a sunday and run for 15 miles with a stranger???). Turns out she was totally down. and, as it turned out- it was one of my most enjoyable and easy 15 mile runs to date. we chatted the whole way, no music. and the whole time my mind was blown wow, i’m one of those people whose running and telling stories at the same time! 

so last night, after 12 ‘gentle reminders’ from my friend, i showed up at the track and joined the small cluster of NBR runners. We split into 7:30mm, 8:30mm and 9mm. I was worried i wouldn’t be able to keep up. i was worried i’d have to come up with an excuse to leave early. I wound up in the middle, and completed the 5.1 miles at an 8:25 pace.

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it was good. it was a different kind of hard. i wouldn’t say i was relaxed, but it was nice to have a group of people to dodge cars and walk signs with. i was talking with this guy zach the whole time, the miles went by, i felt strong, i was certainly running faster than i would have done on my own. i’m really happy about this. so new commitment- i will run with NBR at least twice a week through December. (I can only do things in the parameter of a goal/schedule/and time).

i don’t have to run alone anymore, who knew

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