I started running shortly after Josie was born and have continued sporadically over the past several years. In the beginning I swore I’d never run in an actual race, but have since run three 5Ks and a few times seriously considered training for a half marathon. Don’t worry, I didn’t actually go through with it. My relationship with running has been complicated; I have loved it at times and other times swore I’d never do it again. After a most recent experience, I’m leaning more toward the never-again attitude.
To give you an idea of where I’m at as a runner, I’m slow, I’ll just say that. When I do run, it’s around two miles, three tops, and that’s good enough for me. I like to stay in a nice sweet spot of basically a jog. I don’t mind running with other people, as long as I feel that they are comfortable with me being slow and are also comfortable with leaving me in the dust if they so choose. All that being said, I’m not sure why I thought I’d ever be comfortable running with an actual legit running club. But I guess I needed a good reminder of exactly what kind of runner I am.
Our neighbors, Brandon and Kara, are real runners. I mean, they run with a running club. One day we were talking about running and I casually mentioned that I’m a “runner” and I use that term loosely. Being the kind and inviting people that they are, they suggested that I join them some Wednesday night to run with their running club. They walk to the neighborhood pub up the street, meet up with the rest of the runners, run around the neighborhood, then stop for a drink when they’re done. Sounded pretty harmless to me and dare I say fun? I told them I’d love to join sometime. I think I said that because running always sounds better when you’re actually just standing still and talking about it.
Because Brandon and Kara are true to their word, they stopped by every Wednesday evening for a few weeks to check in and see if I wanted to join them. I was usually just getting home from work and running was the last thing I felt like doing, so I usually said no. After politely declining many times, one night I committed.
“Hey guys, I can’t do it tonight, but next week I promise, I’m in.” I knew if I said it out loud to them I wouldn’t back out the following week.
“Sounds good, see you then!” they replied briskly walking, wearing all the proper running gear.
I told Andy that no matter what, I was going the next week. I was determined.
I had my mind set that following Wednesday. I’d get home as quick as I could from work, grab something to eat, change clothes and be ready to go.
As promised there was a knock at the door at 6:20pm. It was just Brandon. “Kara ended up having to work late tonight and can’t make it, so it’s just us.” Hmm. This was unfortunate. But there was no way I was backing out.
I immediately started to worry when I realized that the pace that Brandon was walking was very close to my run/jogging pace. By the time we made it to the pub, I was already breathing heavy. Definitely not a great sign. We arrived to the rest of the group, circled up and stretching. There were two women with babies in strollers, so that made me feel better. How fast can one actually run if they’re pushing a baby? Can’t be very fast. Brandon introduced me to the rest of the group and everyone was very nice and welcoming.
The woman in charge of the group made an announcement: “So tonight’s run is a little bit different. It’s the 5 mile pub run.” She then explained the route that everyone would be running and the pubs they would be stopping in at.
I looked at Brandon, trying not to appear completely panicked. “I’m so sorry, I totally forgot that was tonight,” he said. “We don’t have to run the whole distance.”
The leader asked for a show of hands of who would not be running the full 5 miles. My hand shot up immediately. I knew there was no way I would make that. Brandon was kind enough to also raise his hand. Once the instructions were finished, it was time.
It quickly became apparent that I was not of the same caliber as these runners. They were running fast, even the people pushing the strollers. What? I told Brandon straight up, “I’m not a fast runner. Feel free to run up ahead with the others and leave me behind. I really don’t mind.” I think I would have preferred that he just go on ahead and leave me to huff and puff all on my own.
Brandon was kind and most likely felt sorry for me. He assured me that he didn’t mind going at a slower pace. I’m pretty sure this was a lie, but I didn’t have enough breath to argue. The good news was that the beginning of the run was pretty level and even slightly down hill. The bad news was I knew what that meant; we would need to run uphill at the end and I know enough about running to know that ending a run going uphill is ridiculous.
We were coming close to the halfway mark (for running the 3 mile loop, not the 5 miles) and I was ready to be done. I wondered why in the world I ever thought it was a good idea to be a part of running club. The group ahead was waiting at a stop light when we finally caught up. Brandon told them that we would be heading back after I offered one more time for him to go on with them and I’d be fine to head back home on my own. This meant I would definitely be walking back uphill to get home, possibly crawling. But lucky for me, Brandon’s just too nice and decided to stick it out with my slow self.
We split off from the group (although we were never really with the group to begin with) and made a short cut through a park. It was a small trail, pretty level and manageable and Brandon told me that he’d forgotten his ID and wouldn’t have been able to go all the way to the pub anyway. He might grab his ID once he got back home and drive to meet back up with them later, if he felt up to it. I’m pretty sure he felt up to it. I’ll tell you what I didn’t feel up for; running the rest of the way home uphill. I really wanted to make it all the way without walking. We discussed different plans that we had for upcoming projects on our houses. Well, Brandon did most of the talking and I tried my best to respond. I almost made it, but finally had to fess up that I was dying and need to walk for a minute, or maybe 50.
As we approached the top of the hill and the park at the end of our street and I tried not to throw up Brandon had the nerve to say this, “If we want to make this a nice even 3 mile run we could go ahead and run a couple of laps on the track.”
God bless him. No, Brandon. I will not be rounding out this run to a nice even 3 miles. In fact, I will be lucky if my legs can get me home and then I will be taking large amounts of ibuprofen before falling into bed. I will then question my decision-making-process when it comes to running and I will most likely swear off running altogether. Maybe I’ll just stop exercising period.
“You know, I think I’m good. You go on ahead and finish out the 3 miles and I’ll head home. Thanks for putting up with me.” And off he went, free to run at whatever speed he wanted, not to be slowed down by my sorry self. I walked home.
“How was it?” Andy asked as I walked in the door and flopped onto the couch.
“How was it?! Why? Please tell me why I thought that was okay. Why did I ever think I could just join on in with an actual running club? These people are real runners. I am not. I’m done running. Never and I mean never again will I do something so absurd.” Of course I went on in great detail about the whole humiliating experience.
I’ve held true to my word. I’ve never run with the running club since. I did see into Brandon and Kara last week at the pub, after they were finished with their run. I jokingly brought up the time I tried running with them and she said, “that’s right! I’m so bummed I missed that night. We’ll come by next time so you can go with us again.”
“That’s sweet of you, but I’m good.”