Today I did a first for me. Although in the past I have done an individual run and a group run on the same day, today I did another kind of double, I ran twice in the same day with others. Both runs were nearly identical distances and both were great in completely different ways.
A coworker who had recently started running again on a treadmill asked if we could run together after work. It was his first outside run in several months and he said we would probably have to walk parts of it. I told him we would just do his pace and when he needed to walk we would walk, we would just do what he felt he could do. Within the first 100 yards he was commenting on the difference between actual running and a treadmill but he started out brisker than I expected, I even warned him that he didn’t want to burn out.
In the end we did a good four mile run and our pace was much better than I expected. He never had to walk and afterward was absolutely stoked that he had done it. It was great helping and encouraging a friend who wanted to get “back in the game” and he is already talking about doing the Crazy 8’s race now which is 3K farther than any race he has done. Even though I had originally planned on a longer run I felt good about the workout and it was worth it to do less. Plus I know that I now have another runner who will be pushing me in the future to be better and stronger.
On the way home I got an invite from Wally, who I had only ran with once to run with a group of his friends this evening. After pondering for a while I decided that it would be a good day to do a double run and went to meet them. As they showed up they were all very nice but I began to get the feeling that I was about to get my butt handed to me. Wally told me the course, which was a 5K, in case we got separated and then confirmed my fears saying that their goal pace was about 3 minutes a mile faster than mine.
At the start I managed to stay close enough to the pack for the first half a mile that cars passing could understand we were all in the same rough group. By one mile they were pulling away from me and by two miles I could only see two of them in the distance; two hills later they were gone. I was thinking they had invited me in and EVERYONE had left me in their dust. At the pace they were going they would be gone before I got back, maybe someone would be nice enough to wait for me or come looking for me. ( Joking, I know Wally wouldn’t leave me stranded alone) With .5 miles to go someone was running towards me, encouraging me, then I passed close to the parking spot going towards the last turn and they shouted and clapped. As I came down the back road towards the group, they were all there, all clapping and encouraging me. Afterwards they all told me how good I had done and started planning their next few runs. After a few minutes I realized they were including me in on their plans, I didn’t have to run as fast as them, just show up and try. Now there is a whole other gang of people to work out with. Thank you Wally!
I started the day encouraging and ended being encouraged, the sport of running had come full circle in one day. That’s what running is all about: finding new friends, connecting with old ones, pushing and being pushed, helping and being helped. Maybe next time I should go for a triple?