I did it. It took me four years to get up the nerve to do it again, but I went. Anyone who knows me will understand that this was big step for me: Meeting up with complete strangers at a running store for a group run.  I’m generally a solitary runner, as well as a solitary person; however, I’ve made a conscious effort to run more with others, perhaps to get out of my comfort zone.

Why did it take me four years to try a group run again?  I have no idea. Perhaps because I ran into a fire hydrant during my last group run?  I should note that I don’t always run alone. Once in a while, I’ll run with my wife Jill or my friend Paul; however, that is not the same.  That is more of a one-on-one interaction with someone I already know.

A group run is different, especially when you’re the new guy.  I can only describe it as moving to a new neighborhood, and being the new kid at school.  Everyone in the class is sizing you up, and they’re not sure what to make of you.  It takes a little while to fit into the mix of personalities.  It takes a while not to feel like the odd person out.

As for the experience?  The run was great.  There were a handful of us, so it wasn’t too overwhelming.  We had two different pace groups, and I ended up running with a couple of really welcoming guys. They put up with my uncertainty about the route, and soon enough we were in a group groove.  We talked about how we got into running: the general consensus was that we didn’t fit into any other sport (throwaway misfits of little league?). We also discussed our next races, hills, Philly sports, etc.

Not so bad:  “I can get used to this I thought.”  Then it hit me: “Gerard, you’re running: this IS your comfort zone.”  It felt similar to the group runs with my high school or college cross country teammates.  It was a good feeling.

Post-run?  Beers and pizza.  This is when I got nervous again. You see, at this point, I’m not running anymore.  I’m out of that comfort zone.  Now, I’m in a store with five strangers who already know each other. However, it turns out these guys are nice, and not very different from me.  I guess we’re all a bit quirky and odd. The running community is full of incredibly nice misfits.

So, I’m glad I went, and I’ll be at the next group run.  I’m sure I’ll be nervous again, but I’m ok with that.

Do you participate in group runs?

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