|Photo by David Colby Young|
I recently ran in my first road race in a long time and I learned a lot.
Since this was my first race in forever (September 2007), I didn’t know anyone there and mostly stood off to the side, watched and listened to what was going on around me. Yes I did talk with a few people and introduce myself to a few of the other runners, including fellow bloggers that were there, but I mainly watched and listened.
The easy camaraderie that existed between many of the runners who were there. It was very evident that they had known and competed against each other for several years. The smiles and greetings were genuine, you could tell that they were glad to see one another.
It was fun to watch and listen to the banter between the runners and how comfortable they were with one another. How they talked about their current injuries, gear they were using, how their training was going, how life was treating them, how slow they were going to go that day and all those other things that runners talk about when they haven’t seen each other in a while. Then after the race, the gory details of how they did, the race conditions and the other general complaints or discussions about what race they were going to do next.
How much I missed the social aspect of running. Most the last 25 years or so, I have simply run to run. I was what many call a recreational runner. I didn’t run all that much with other people unless there was someone at work to run with or with TheWife.
The loneliness of a long distance runner can be real. For the most part that is how many runners run – alone.
Personally, I didn’t make the time to participate in the social side of running for so many years that I had forgotten what it was like to be around other runners, when they are not running, until I started following the Twitter Running/Fitness hashtags and people last November. I had forgotten how supportive the running community is and important it is to a runner to have that support network that other runners can provide.
I know that I enjoyed meeting the people I met at the race people like Jen (Running With The Girls), Carrie (Maine Mom on the Run) and David (Maine Running Photos) who are fellow bloggers. They gave me more than a couple of hints/ideas and were so supportive of my return to racing. Members of the Central Maine Striders who made me feel both welcome and comfortable.
But mostly I just enjoyed being around other runners. I didn’t realize how much I missed that bond that exists between people who run together – even if it is at different speeds.
Unfortunately, although running seems to be pretty popular in the Waterville-Augusta area, there is no central place where runners get together, to talk, gab, socialize or plan “stuff” either online or a place to go to. There are no local running stores in the area, and these are usually the natural place for runner to gather.
Organized running in Central Maine seems to be at a very low point, even though it seems in Bangor, along the Coast, and Southern Maine, there are very active running communities.
However, it did surprise me of the low levels of active participants in organized running in my local area, while I was talking to people at the race. There just seems to be too many saying “not me”, “not now” or “we have tried and are tired”.
Perhaps too many of local runners view their running the same way that I did for so many years. They don’t make time for the social side of running and just run. Then they go about their busy lives without knowing or thinking about what they are missing if they got to know other runners.
I admit that I did this for a long time.
No Local Running Groups
This was one of the things that I really wanted to find, while I was at this race. A group of local runners who get together once a week or so to go for a run either on a week night (I know it gets dark early up here) or on a Saturday/Sunday morning when there isn’t a race. Runners to push me a little more than I usually will myself or vice versa and also give me a chance to meet new people in the area.
When I asked different members of the Central Maine Striders and other runners, if they knew of any weekly running groups for people to get together and run. I heard about how there was always something 10-15 years ago, but no one knew of any in the area now. I learned while walking out that there was a small one, but they go a lot further and faster than I do right now.
I was a little disappointed that there are not any running groups in the local area that they knew of that had varying levels of ability and distances.
If anyone living in the Waterville-Augusta or in the Central Maine area, knows of a local running group that gets together to run, I would love to learn more about the group!
The reality is that
That we sent in our application to join the Central Maine Striders. I have never been big on joining clubs, but running is different for me, I have finally realized that I have to reach out to others instead of staying inside of my shell, saying that it is enough to just run.
For me it is no longer enough to just run, I have learned through my participation online that I want, no need more than what the loneliness of a long distance runner gave/gives me. I want to enjoy the social side of running also.
This means going to races, finding new people to run with, be willing to put myself out there and open to meeting new people, hell even trying new things once in a while if the opportunity presents itself (Tough Mudder – anyone).
I am not a big organizer and don’t really like that role. I am better at the behind the scenes work and will bust my butt to help out, when something needs to be done.
So here I go outside of my comfort zone.
Here is my first step – if I can’t find a local running group I plan to start my own.
Let me know if you are interested, maybe we can plan this a little more and start our own running group – who knows where it will lead us. If I don’t hear from anyone, on Saturday mornings between 9:15 and 9:30 A.M., I will be in the parking lot for the Downtown trail head for the Augusta Rail Trail and plan to do a few miles and then once the weather gets better either at the UMA trails or the new Bond Brook Trail system. Anyone want to join me?
I will be wearing my green turtle running stuff and flo green hat that are in the picture at the start of this post, so I won’t be hard to see. I will take off when my watch says 9:30 hopefully, someone will decide to be there to join me. (Update – no one showed)
- How about you, do you enjoy running with others once in a while?
- Are you a part of a regular running group?
- Do you go to races more for the social aspect than the competition?
- Is it enough to just run to run all the time?
- Have you ever attempted to start a running group – what happened?