Today was the very first official Team in Training (TNT) Buddy Run for the summer 2011 season. I was a little bit nervous about coming to this Buddy Run because I am a mentor this year, which means I am responsible to make sure that the run flows smoothly and that all the participants are accounted for at the beginning and the end. I was also nervous because I have never done a Buddy Run at Lake Merritt in Oakland before, and have only run around Lake Merritt once or twice in my life, so I wasn't very familiar with the territory where we would be running. On top of all of that, I had my usual nervousness about whether or not I would be the slowest person running, and what other participants would think of me given my slow running speed.
Despite all these trepidations, I arrived at the Buddy Run site ten minutes early, and found the location where we would be meeting very easily. I was the first mentor there, so I was the welcoming committee for the various members of the team who decided to run with us tonight. I expected to be somewhat nervous about this part as well, but found that it went quite smoothly. All of the ladies who attended the run were very friendly, shared their names and a little bit about themselves, and soon we were talking about how the run would go.
The beginning of the run was fairly disorganized, I'll admit. Between my lack of experience running Lake Merritt, the injury to one of the other mentors who was supposed to be helping lead, and some confusion about how far people should actually run today, it felt pretty scattered. But we made it through, and we began the run - if little bit later than we would have otherwise hoped.
Sure enough, as soon as everyone took off running, I was in the back of the pack. But unlike previous run with TNT, I was not as far back as I have been. In fact, I was just a little bit behind the other folks in the group, a new situation, and one that I was quite happy with. Initially, I was running by myself, and found myself focused on attending to the surroundings and how the runners in front of me were doing rather than my own running experience. However, as I eased into the run, I found my body responding and relaxing. Then some of the gals in front of me slowed down. I realized with a start that although they had started out faster than me, I was in better shape for a longer run than they were. That was a revelation!
I caught up to them quickly, and struck up a conversation with one of the gals who looked like she was struggling a little bit. For the remainder of our time around the lake, she and I talked about training, my experience with TNT, and her questions about different ways she could move forward to get herself where she wanted to be. It was a great feeling to be able to offer her my experience and suggestions, as well as information that would help her move towards her goal.
It was also a personal accomplishment because I have very rarely run with other people, and when I do I usually don't have enough breath to hold up a conversation. But today's run was different because I was able to have a conversation with another runner while still running. Granted, I had to take a few deep breaths from time to time, and my sentences were a more choppy than if I were just having a normal conversation, but I was able to do it! Having the conversation with her helped the rest of the run pass very quickly for me, and I left the run feeling happy about how I did both as a runner and as a mentor.
What a great way to start!