Yesterday's post was the short version. Here's the long version. The REALLY long version. Consider yourself warned.
(And a quick shout-out to my friend M who mentioned my blog in her post about group workouts. Thanks, pal!)
My local running store is facilitating a women's only running group, aimed at non-competitive, beginner-level runners. I skipped spin last night to check it out. When I arrived--dressed to the hilt for running--I immediately felt out of place, but not for the reasons I expected.
I imagined a group of sleek, tough, Garmin-wearing 30-somethings--how those folks would fit into a beginner/non-competitive group is beyond me. (Obviously I have a vivid imagination.) What I got was a small group made up of half 50-somethings who were NOT runners (they told us that--no judgements from Yours Truly), a young 30-something who'd run one 5k, and me. (Another lady eventually joined us, and she's in the intermediate range, with some potential as a triathlon training parter.) No one else was dressed to run, especially not in skin-tight running tights under a fitted wicking top and jacket, the way I was. Can you say "overdressed"?
We talked a bit about running experience/levels/mileage and what goals we'd like to accomplish as a group. The suggested goal is to complete the 5k at the same event where I'm running the half, so I guess I can probably check that one off the list. ;) At this point, everyone except me and the leader peeled off and headed home. I'd dressed for a run, and I was going to get one.
As we left the store, she asked about my usual pace and I said I hovered around an 11:30/mile, which she said sounded like it would be a good pace. And then she must have promptly forgot what she'd just uttered because she took off like a bat out of hell.
The leader is tiny compared to me (I'm 6ft in shoes), wiry and quick. She's like a little mouse. Which I suppose made me the cat, as I spent the next half-hour chasing her through downtown, trying to keep up. I did manage to match her about halfway through, or maybe the icy, slushy sidewalks forced her to finally slow down. About the time I fell into the groove, we were winding down and almost back to the store. I glanced at my watch when we stopped: 27:04. I suspected we'd been booking it faster than I normally would have--my quads and lungs were definitely protesting--but until I could map the route, I'd couldn't be sure. I knew it was under 3 miles, but wasn't sure how much over 2.
It wasn't until I got home and mapped it out--2.5 miles--that I realized I had indeed run a 10:39 pace. Wow! I know a 10:39 is a slow, easy run for lots of folks but for me? It's my fastest time yet, and almost a full minute faster than my normal solo pace.
I know when we stopped I felt like I was working hard and my legs were hollering, but I wasn't close to dying. Looking back, I probably could've hit 3 miles and been okay. I know I couldn't have pulled off that pace for that long on my own, which is, I suppose, the point of a running group. You (hopefully) have folks faster than you that make you dig deeper, run faster, reach farther than you would on your own.
I've mentioned in the past how I frequently have a case of "the can'ts." My mind is so quick to deliver the negative messages the first time my body sends out its "this is too hard!" signals, which often occur before I've even left the house. Last night was good for me--I saw that I CAN. And I DID. I know it was only 2.5 miles and it was only 10:39. But to run multiple miles at a pace that begins with a 10? Milestone.
My participation in the running group is still up in the air at this point. We meet again on Monday, so that removes the spin conflict for next week, which is good. But I worry about the balance of the group as far as skill level. I know I'm not SUPER AWESOME FAST RUNNER LADY, but I am beyond the slow run/walk intervals that some of the other folks want to start off doing. On one hand, I don't want to sacrifice my workout/training just to be part of a group, if that group is slower than me. On the other hand, I want to be supportive of their endeavors as new runners and not leave them behind if I want to go faster or longer. On the other hand, it is HI-larious that I should think so highly of myself that my speed/skill/running would ever make someone feel bad because I "left them behind". Oh, the laughing. It hurts. (And also? Apparently I have three hands.)
But just going by yesterday, where I hit a new quickest pace, I know that a group run is something I need. And heck, I'm lonely! So maybe this isn't the right group for me, but I do need *A* group. I'll go Monday, but I think the search continues for the group that's right for me.