On Saturday, I was scheduled to run 20 miles. I knew if I tried to run 20 miles by myself, I would have a tough run. I would lose my focus and my motivation. I’ve been doing the majority of my long runs alone for the past year. Sometimes, I don’t mind. I enjoy the “me time” and the chance to rock out to my music since I don’t listen to it when I run with Zain.
For my 20 mile run, I knew it would help if I had others to run with. There’s a problem with that: I don’t have any running friends! There is a local group – the Howard County Striders – that meets every Saturday for what’s called the Bagel Run. I joined the Striders a couple months ago, but was too intimidated to go to one of their runs. Why was I chicken? I’m pretty shy about meeting new people so I was being a wimp. I was honestly afraid I wasn’t a good enough runner to run with the group.
I sent an e-mail fellow Fitfluential Ambassador Miss Zippy who is a member of the Striders to ask her some questions about the run. She was awesome, sweet and patient with my silly questions and assured me I would meet people to run with and enjoy the group run. She also suggested coming early to get some miles out of the way since I had such a long run to do.
I’ve gotten used to being lazy this Winter and starting my long runs later in the morning. It’s cold out so there’s no rush to beat the heat like in the Summer. Waking up at 5am to run in the dark, cold morning wasn’t easy.
I got to the designated meeting place early and had time for just over 3 miles, then I waited for everyone to arrive. It was really cool to see about 40 runners (I’m bad at estimating numbers, but I think that’s pretty close) gathering to run 8 to 20 miles.
In the beginning, Miss Zippy came to say hello quickly then everyone was off to start the run. I just followed the crowd and everyone spaced out along the route depending on their pace. One guy ran alongside me for a few minutes to chat, then I realized I was going a little too fast so I had to slow it down. He told me not to be shy and say hello to people. I wish I could be like that, but I don’t feel comfortable just popping up next to people and saying “HI!”
While waiting to cross the street at an intersection, I heard my husband’s aunt say my name. She’s a runner and frequently runs with the group, but I didn’t know that she’d be there that morning. I ran with her for a little while then she introduced me to some ladies who were running about the same distance as me at the same pace.
I had a FANTASTIC time running with them! The miles flew by as we chatted and got to know one another. Running with them helped me maintain my pace and not slow down when I was feeling tired. I also really enjoyed running the group’s course because even though I know the area well, I’m not familiar with all the neighborhoods and running/bike paths that they run on. It was nice to have a change of scenery from where I usually run at home too.
I stopped my watch as soon as I hit 20 miles. The lady I was running with had a little more to do so she kept going. I really needed to stop at 20. The problem was that I was still 1.5 miles from my car. I walked for a few minutes and then decided to just power through the dead legs and run another mile. I stopped at 21 and walked the rest of the way.
Despite how hard it was to run 21 miles, I had an amazing run. I felt like my love of running was reinvigorated because I had such a good run and my confidence in finishing the marathon has gotten a good boost. I ran 20 miles in 3:26:04 – an average pace of 9:49. I even managed to run mile 21 in 9:38. That was fast for how tired my legs were.
The biggest problem I had on this run was that I twisted my right ankle 5,629,837 times (only a slight exaggeration). I don’t know what these things are, but they were all over the sidewalks/paths. My foot and ankle are a little sore from all the twisting, but I don’t think it’s anything serious. I promise there were more than just 2 of them along the way; these are just the 2 I found in the parking lot:
It’s a good thing I burned 2,677 calories during my run because we celebrated Zain’s birthday again on Sunday with party #2.
And for the cuteness factor:
Do you run with a group? If you don’t and you’re feeling a little intimidated like I was, give it a try! You just might love it.