I’m a creature of habit. This has been well established. I like routine, I like familiarity, I like knowing what to expect. I enjoy being in my comfort zone. Hence why it took getting engaged to finally push me over the edge to do something about my weight. So as if training for a marathon wasn’t out of my comfort zone already, I decided I was going to join a running club.
There are very few people in this world who I can truly just go out and run with. And when I think about it, pretty much all of my training long runs have been solo. It’s just what I’m used to. But I knew that it was going to be pretty hard to motivate myself to run 20 miles alone in the dead of winter, and all of my friends training for Boston are just too fast for me. So it made sense to join L Street.
I’ve pretty much “grown up” as a runner around the L Street Running Club. I still remember going to my first Boston Expo and meeting the President. She asked me if I was running the Marathon and I said “Oh god no, I’m just running the 5K, I could never run a marathon.” She smiled and told me that would change someday. And well… here we are.
I’ve got a handful of friends in the club, and it was thanks to L Street that I got out of the city safely the day of the bombings. To me they are the epitome of “real runners”, so you can imagine my trepidation in joining. As scared as I was I submitted my membership application and told myself I had plenty of time before training began.
Why is it that the more you’re dreading something the faster it happens? Because before I knew it it was the night before our first long run and I was a nervous wreck. I felt like I was laying out my clothes for the first day of school as I sorted through my winter gear. I didn’t want anything too matchy-matchy (didn’t want to give off the appearance that I was trying too hard), and I was hesitant to wear my brand new pair of running shoes because I didn’t want anyone to think I was a New Year’s Resolutioner (Because really- who makes a resolution to run the Boston Marathon?).
I walked in Sunday morning with my hands nervously stuffed in my vest pockets. Quickly scanning the room I immediately discovered a rainbow of Boston Marathon jackets scattered around. Yep, playing with the big kids now. I tried to casually throw on my running shoes (the brand new ones won after all) and clung to the familiar faces I knew in the back of the room. The president spoke, acknowledging all of the newbies and made the declaration that there was “no pace too slow”. Phew. “Just PLEASE don’t let me be last” I silently prayed over and over again.
Before I knew we were off, emptying into the sleeping streets of South Boston. Luckily the friends I know stuck by me, so it was nice to have familiar faces running alongside of me. Even though it was my first day it felt really good to be part of a group, to have the speedy guys give you a wave and a “keep it up” as they zoomed past. It was nice to have a water stop that didn’t involve begging the woman at Dunkin Donuts for a cup of water. And it certainly kept me running up the hills, because I wasn’t about to be the girl who walked. Maybe this running club thing wasn’t so bad after all.
That’s the thing about comfort zones. As warm and as safe as they can be, sometimes it’s not so bad to break out of them. Sometimes choosing the unknown things, the scary things, end up being the best decisions. It’s where new friendships form, change happens, and where you discover the person you’re truly meant to be. It’s why people take on the challenge of running 26.2 miles. Not because it’s easy and safe, but because it’s scary and electrifying all at the same time. And if I’m gonna break out of one comfort zone, might as well take on another while I’m out there.