As I was driving to the place where I would meet my new running group I had a lot going through my mind. I remembered back to my first running clinic ever and the fears I encountered on the same drive I was making now. Would I know anyone there? Would I be tossed in with a crowd of muscle bound endorphin junkies all decked out in the latest running threads? Would I be the most out of shape person there? But most of all my biggest fear was being the slowest person in the group.
Now, as I drive on to my third trip around these clinics, I know that it doesn’t matter if I know anyone or not, running is a sport done mostly alone. Oh sure you can run with a group, or one or two others who are going the same pace as you, but that will, that determination to go back, and to keep going back despite the pain, that is yours to claim alone.
Not all of these determined souls running alongside me will be decked out in the latest apparel, but let it be known that all runners are endorphin junkies, and if they tell you different, they are either lying to themselves or to you. There has to be a kickback, otherwise we wouldn’t do it. Believe me, the warmth of my rocking chair and the excuses screaming in my head, are enough to make me turn this car around ever more so now because I, and my body, know what lies before us in the near future.
This time I won’t be running blind.
I know what shin splints feel like; I know the torture of having a physiotherapist push the heel of his hand into the core of your muscle to loosen the seized up ligaments and joints, just so you can lay on your hips in bed without mind numbing pain. I have firsthand knowledge of what it is like to run in horizontal icy rain, the wind so fierce that it feels as though it is sandpaper stripping your skin. I know what it is like to slog in the rain through puddles that reach around your laces or on brilliant white snowy nights when it seems like it’s just you, your running partner, and the glittering gems that fall from the sky, against the rest of the world. And you can’t help but smile and laugh at the experience of it all, because these are one of the only times when you are here and now and truly alive. You are not past nor future, but present in breath, body and mind. It is in times like these, with eyes wide open, that I find the ah-ha moments of discovery come and sit with me a while. At times I enjoy what they have to say, but there are others where I wish I had not looked so deeply into myself, because the smudges show through. Those areas where I need more work.
All in all we started out with twenty-nine runners this time, but I know that number will whittle down to half the numbers by the end of the clinic. Those lucky determined ones will experience the rush of what it is like to be runners, and hopefully stick with it. I am happy to report that I quickly bonded with two women in my group and one of them is a copywriter. Wonders never cease…