Monday, November 22, 2010

The Harrison Running Club

After a rather productive and eventful few days, I am finally sitting down to my blog again.   Sitting here blogging in the dark with headphones and Christmas music from an internet radio station is quite peaceful.  Although I hope the Maria Carey Silent Night song ends soon... nice voice, but overkill on this song.

Following the Columbus Marathon in 2009, I immediately set my sights on Cincinnati's own Flying Pig Marathon.  I was asked by many if it was a good idea to use that marathon as a qualifier considering the hilly course.  I did consider that, but also knew I had plenty of opportunity to train on hills where I lived.  I had been told by a girl who qualified at the Pig that she incorporated hills into all of long runs (as well as many short runs) and they did not really phase her during the marathon.  The other positive to training for the Pig was that Sarah was going to be training for and running Boston two weeks prior to the Flying Pig and we could do many of our long runs together again.  I would tweak my plan a bit, throw an additional twenty mile run into the mix (making 4 total) to match her training and this would be a piece of cake!  We also knew another friend training for the Flying Pig.. Ryan Stroud.  He, Sarah and I decided it would be great to get a group together and train, similar to the Westside group I had run with over the summer.  Thus began the Harrison Running Club!

The Harrison Running Club was started as a Facebook group.  People could "join" and get posts about upcoming group runs or events.  The basis for this group was to incorporate runners and walkers of ALL abilities into a group setting.  Our goal was/is to connect runners with other runners who could exercise or train for an event together.  Like all things new, there was huge interest at the beginning, followed by a long lull.  However over a year later, the group has begun to pick up a large amount of activity.  I think staying encouraged and continuing to post despite lack of interest in the majority of "members, made a huge difference.  Sarah is training a couple of 5k groups in two sessions three times a week.  She also organized our own Thanksgiving Day Run at Miami Whitewater Park which has over 30 people attending.  This run will allow beginners and seasoned runners the opportunity to run whatever distance they are able as many of the runners are not able to complete a 10k yet.  People are also bringing food donations for the food pantry and tech shirts are being printed.  This encouraging activity has been very inspiring, especially to me.  I enjoy staying connected to the running world even while not running.  There was a point during the year when I began to think "screw it.  No one cares about running except the 5 or so people I consistently see and train with.  I am not putting any more effort or posting anymore on this Facebook page."  When you don't get the response you want, or people lose interest after the "honeymoon period", it is hard to keep at something.  But I really wanted a group like the Westside bunch and I knew we could have that here.  So I kept posting because I kept thinking I would capture someone's attention who wanted to start running or had been running..... and that is exactly what happened.  Sarah posted her training program on the site and things kind of exploded.  We are beginning to see posts from runners who've never posted anything before.  Sarah has taken the absolute very beginner and has transformed them into runners.  I cannot tell you how awesome it is to see the transformation in these runners.  Their bodies, their attitudes, their lives.  I love running for so many reasons, but one of the things that I love most is watching people "get it" and learning to love it, regardless of the blood, sweat and tears it sometimes takes.  I meant it when I said it is a life changing sport and I do believe many of these new runners are seeing that.  As I type, Sarah is getting ready to meet one of her groups at 5:30.  Obviously getting up at 5:00 a.m., three times week to run takes serious commitment.   They are committed and they are succeeding.  She also trains an equally committed group at 10:15 a.m.  These groups will run (for most, their first) 5k in mid-December.  I hope to be at the finish line cheering on these amazing athletes, as some of them are friends of mine.  My friend Molly, put it best... when you are able to connect the quantitative and qualitative elements of running, it is magical.  For me, I love the fast times and competitiveness of trying to reach this goal and experiencing the improvement that comes with hard work, but I equally love the inspiring and motivating stories that come from the beginner.  Every runner started with that first breathless and difficult mile that felt so horrible they weren't sure they were cut out for the sport.  Yes, even that runner that wins marathons.  Day by day, with consistency and commitment, you become better, stronger, faster.  Some of us my never be able to get a basketball into a hoop or make contact with a baseball bat, but with the rare exception, we can all run.  And we can all improve and get faster.  You don't have to try to get to Boston or qualify for the Olympic trials to be a great runner.  Focusing on your own goals, whether it be finish a 5k without walking or run that 5k under 20 minutes, is what it's all about.

Ok, well I've now heard Mariah Carey sing about 5 Christmas songs and am losing focus on my blogging, however, I want to say to my good friend Shonda, who posted her fearful reaction to registering for that December 5k, that a wise 13 year old who died of Leukemia last spring had a saying that sticks with me constantly.  Apply this saying to getting to the start of that race.  Apply this saying every time you are really afraid of something.  It will allow the fear not to paralyze you.  It is what has gotten me to the starting line of the Flying Pig and Columbus.  They are the words that this child lived by:  COURAGE IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF FEAR.  You will be afraid, but have the courage to try anyway.  Looking forward to sharing your wonderful day!

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