I was out running tonight and had one of those deja vu moments. I was listening to Black Eyed Peas, enjoying the cooler weather and looking up at the stars. And it hit me that I was doing precisely the same thing ago last year at this time.
But, whoa, it sure was a lot different than last year.
Last year at this time, I was scared. I was approaching my first half marathon, a monumental challenge for me. I’d been running for about 6 months and had only the most rudimentary knowledge of how to train my body and mind for distance running. I was also alone. I didn’t know any other runners. My training runs were all solo and I looked at this half marathon as a “one and done” thing.
Then everything changed. Oh a whim I joined the PbRC, an online running club, to try to find some answers to my questions. And it was a little intimidating. These people run marathons like they’re a jog around the neighborhood. They’re always in training for something. And their race schedules are full 12 months per year. In short, they’re insane.
And I grew to love them with all my heart.
Here’s the thing about runners: they’re the most supportive community of people you’ll ever meet. Runners want you to succeed. True runners (yes, I said that) are happy for your achievements and don’t begrudge the success of others. Because they realize this sport is about competition with yourself. Let’s face it: in a field of 26,000 runners in these races, very few will ever have the opportunity to stand on the podium. For the majority of us, finishing is winning. Running a PR is victory. It’s a great thing. This community reached out to me, accepted me as one of their own, and helped me claim my victories.
So here I am, a year later. A little bit stronger and a little bit faster. But most importantly, a lot more confident and a lot more happy. 5 half marathons completed this year. A full marathon in the works. And friendships with some of the most amazing people I could ever hope to meet. My life is changed because of one year.
If you’re just getting into running, my best advice is to get plugged in somewhere! Reach out to other runners. I guarantee you will find welcoming people that want to help you. There are clubs for everyone: competitive runners, distance runners, adventure runners, C25K groups, Jeff Galloway groups, Moms Run This Town, online groups… truly, something for everyone. Get out there and find a group for you! I promise you won’t regret it!
Tonight, I wasn’t scared. Tonight, I ran with joy (also something I learned from my running club). Tonight I celebrate one year and all the amazing experiences I’ve had. Tonight I look forward to next year and all the crazy adventures to come. With this amazing family who has taken me in.