Thursday, May 7, 2009

Members Only



I originally assumed I would sign up for my 8K race online since the application says that you can. When I went to the New Hyde Park Runner's Club website I saw that the registration links were still set up for last year's race. I'm sure they'll sort that out somehow and, worse case, I can mail in the application. What struck me about the website were the photos of the happy club members posed in groups or running in events. I've seen similar collections on local club websites like GLIRC and LIRRC. I've seen many club members at both my recent races and was impressed by their community and by the way they clearly supported each other. I then started thinking about whether I should join a running club.

Years ago I used to run with one or two people and I didn't love the experience. Part of that was due to a mismatch in conditioning between me and them (I was constantly challenged to keep up) and part of it was environmental as I found running the streets of NYC to be stressful and dangerous. More recently I've run with AG and it's better because I'm in much better shape than I was those years ago and she is willing to stay at my pace. It's also time well spent since we are able to cover the same business discussions while running that would normally occur in my office. Some weeks back I ran with a group in Central Park and that was fun. I didn't do much talking because that's still a challenge for me when running. That's still true when I run with AG but it works fine because the focus of our weekly meeting is an update and I listen more than I talk. During the week I run alone on the treadmill and on the weekends I usually do a solitary run around my neighborhood. I find these runs to be very fulfilling and they serve as an opportunity to focus on things without distraction. When I encounter others on the road, more often than not, my counterparts are also running alone.

On the weekends I sometimes drive to the track to do my runs and I usually see groups of runners heading along the road. I've thought about being one of them rather than being just one of the people sharing the track at the High School. I ask myself which scenario fits me better and every time I conclude that I'm better off by myself. I'll admit that running with others can help you keep a faster pace. In both my races I found that having faster runners in proximity helped me run faster. With that exception I think I'm better off being a lonely runner. Much as I enjoy a community I'm not very good at groups. I enjoyed the Lululemon run and I like the runs I've done in Central Park (and elsewhere - see below) but mostly because they are discreet events: assemble, run, depart. No barbeques, fund raisers, meetings, bylaws or committees. I'm not saying these things aren't great, they're just not for me.

Last night I did my first street run with my new Brooks Adrenaline 9's. AG and I did our weekly meeting while running both directions on the George Washington Bridge which was an intimidating concept to me (fear of heights, bridges, speeding cars) but it was very different than I'd expected. The bridge itself is fairly flat with a gradual rise to the center and than a decline to the endpoints. On each end are areas where you encounter stairs and a couple of places had jogs in the path where you had to be careful not to run into a cyclist coming from the other direction. The cars were far enough away that they didn't factor in the experience and the view of the Hudson on either side was more serene than scary. We only covered about 2.3 miles but I was happy with the run and very happy that the Brooks performed well and felt good. This morning it was back to the treadmill where I ran about two miles at 8:45/mile. I'm looking forward to my Saturday run where I'm hoping to cover at least 5 miles. The Brooks are already helping my leg problem and that soreness was a wake up call for replacement that I didn't answer. Next time I'll be ready.

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