“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Benjamin Franklin
One of my 2015 goals has been to join a running group, and a few months ago I signed up for the LA Leggers. They train runners of all speeds, and will prepare you from couch to either a half or full marathon; or you can just run with them with no plan to ever run a race.
Orientation was on August 1st, and we’ve had a few runs together since. Joining a running group was on my goals list for a few reasons. First, I think any run that is longer than 2 hours or over 12 miles, I might actually run out of thoughts completely. Second, I want the accountability and schedule of a training plan to keep me committed to doing those 18 and 20 and 22 mile runs. Most of all, I want the company. I’m a people person. I enjoy talking to real live people more than just talking to myself in my head or typing away on a computer screen.
When I first started running in 2012, I had a couple of running friends, and Katie and I did many of the long runs for the Malibu Half together. But then Katie moved about 20 miles away, which in LA does not make it practical to meet for a morning run, and I haven’t really been able to mesh my schedule with anyone else. I actually wrote a little piece on Women’s Running Magazine about pretending that Shalane Flanagan is my imaginary BRF (best running friend) on some of my runs as both motivation and to help pass the time. I guess Katie moving (or running away from me) has required me to resort to some desperate measures.
Joining the group is not practical for me, which is why I have not done it before. It will involve me being gone every Saturday morning for the next 6 months for several hours; up to 5 hours once we get into the 20 milers. I’ve had to move my kids’ tennis from Saturdays to Sundays. My husband works most Saturday mornings, so as Saturday morning activities come up during the school year, I will need to enlist the help of others….(mom and dad, I know you are reading, this means you….welcome to retirement.) But you know what, this year….I am just going to be selfish. This year…..it’s about mom and her marathon. This year…..everyone’s schedules will have to just work around my training sometimes, instead of the other way around. We are going to pretend that this marathon is my newborn baby, and only I can nurse it. And in order for me to nurse my newborn baby for the next 6 months, I’m going to need to do a few things…. rest when I need to, eat properly, enlist the help of others, and take care of myself.
At the LA Leggers orientation, they asked us to run a very comfortable 1 mile run at a conversational pace, and then assigned us to our pace groups. Once we got assigned our pace group, we met with our mentors. Each group has about 5 or 6 mentors and maybe about 40 or so runners in the group. There are so many pace groups, we pretty much take over Santa Monica on Saturday mornings. I love that.
We’ve had a few runs so far, and I am loving it. Each week, I’ve run side by side and talked to different people, and I genuinely enjoy hearing other people’s running stories (and sharing mine of course.) I’ve run with people who are 15 years older, and people who are 15 years younger, and why and how we have turned to running unites and bonds us, making us fast friends. I’ve even run with men, and while I generally find men much less interesting than women, when they are runners, I find their running stories interesting as well.
The mentors are just so enthusiastic, supportive, and all-in. They are all volunteers with lives and responsibilities, but they commit their Saturday mornings to helping to train you through your run, and they give you their all. They are invested in you. I’ve been thinking about this blog, my running, and where I want to go with it. Tentatively, my plan is to blog through running my first marathon, and then we’ll see if I want to keep writing or invest the time in other ways. I’m not making any decisions on that for the next 6 months. What I know for sure from my experience so far with the Leggers, is that at some point, I want to give my time to being a volunteer mentor. When readers message me and tell me of their running progress, it is so gratifying…. and eventually I want to mentor in person….to watch people increase their miles and see what they are capable of….see them transform and support them through it.
As cheesy as it sounds, I want to see people turn their I’m not a runner to I am an athlete… their I’ve never thought I could to what else can I do…..their I can’t into I can….. Mentoring people through nursing their running baby, whether their babies are 5Ks or marathons….that’s down the line…I know it. In a way it’s a continuation of my selfishness, because it will fulfill me equally, if not more, than the new mommies nursing their running newborns. “I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.” John Hanc.
***My post on Shalane, if you haven’t read it, was pretty fun to write: If I Were Best (Running) Friends With Shalane Flanagan. If you are new and you haven’t read about my friend Katie, you can read about her in my post Katie and Kristin.