Saturday, August 17, 2013

Running Camaraderie

Today, I had a wonderful run that was divided into three sections--eight miles alone at a 7:03 pace during which I saw many other runners on the trail including some I had known through previous participation in training groups with Charm City Run and two neighbors.  This gave me little time to think to clear my brain--as when I keep this pace, I am mostly thinking about one thing.  KEEP RUNNING HARD.  This turned out to be like my tempo workout for the week.  When I am "only" training for a half marathon, I do need to do tempo runs, but I don't need quite as far long runs since I only need to race 13.1 rather than 26.2.

After I finished the first eight, I came upon the rather large half and full marathon training groups for CCR this summer/fall.  I had a chance to catch up with some runners I had not seen in a very long time.  But other than saying "Wow, it has been a while, how are you doing?" it was just like I had been there since my last official training season with CCR that ended with the Baltimore Running Festival in 2011.

Then, I did 3.5 miles with a friend whom I did not run with often when I was part of a CCR training group.  A much slower pace, but there was nothing wrong with that.  It was the right pace for my friend as we could carry on a reasonable conversation and my first CCR coach always used to say that was a good way to determine if you were running the right pace for a Saturday long run.

After that, I left my friend to complete her 16 and I ran back to my car a bit harder so that I would be home to participate in other family activities for the day.

Other than simply reporting on the run, what is my bigger lesson for today?  First, sometimes even in one morning, I can experience three different levels of running--all of which mean different things.  First, just the freedom to go.  Second, sharing the joy of running with another--no matter how far apart we may be in any race.  I try to share the long run every week, but I haven't shared with this particular friend in a long, long time.  Third, showing myself that I could pick up the pace again after a slower section of the run.

And the other thing that I was reminded of today after months of running mostly either in very small groups or with one individual at a time, I found myself as part of a very large group.  Yes, because I have been away from CCR for a while, I didn't recognize all the faces.  But it was just amazing to feel the energy.  The camaraderie.  The shared sense of purpose.  A very spiritual experience.  I would be tempted to say a "religious" experience but that would imply rules and structure.  There was no need for rules and structure.  There was only a need for that feeling of shared purpose, shared interest, and a shared outlook on a key part of our lives.  Having been so long since I was part of a large group, I had forgotten just how amazing this could be.  I won't officially rejoin a training group any time soon as my schedule would not allow me to part of the group frequently enough.  But I may try to find ways to tap into that feeling at least once in a while moving ahead.  

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