I often hear people refer to their “tribe.” I have some great, lifelong friends and they’re definitely my people. However, with distance and life, we don’t always keep up like we used to. That’s what happens when we become grown-ups, right? I love my friends - new and old. Luckily social media makes it easy to stay in contact. I know that I have a strong network of amazing women and men in my life. We are there when we need each other. I’d say these are my lifelong tribe members.
Late last fall I met some new people. I took a leap of faith in joining a group that, quite honestly, terrified me. A running club. I knew of some of the people who went and, well, they’re amazing runners. I knew I couldn’t keep up. I knew that the chances of a group run happening were slim because some of them can run nearly two miles to my one. I don’t register for many small races because I don’t want to be last. How could I possibly join a group of fast people knowing that I would be last? It was frightening.
One day a friend, also a fellow turtle squad runner (I hope that doesn’t offend her; I wear my turtle status proudly), said that she would go. So I went. And we ran. And it was fun! For a couple more runs I planned to go only when she was going. There were a couple times after I first joined that one of the fast runners slowed down to run with me. A very kind gesture since he’s fast and I know I slowed him way down. I think he could sense my comfort level change because after a couple runs, he re-joined his speedy people. Also, my friend was there to run with sometimes too! As my comfort increased, I realized that it didn’t matter if I ran alone or with someone. The best part of run club is after the run. We gather at a local pub (they sponsor our club) to socialize. Some eat dinner, some have drinks, some have water, and some only stay for a few minutes. In whatever time we have together, we all have time to talk. We have become a part of one another’s lives. There are inside jokes, a ton of laughter, and true friendship every week. This is my one constant social activity. And I love it.
They say that runners are a community; a very accepting community. We are brought together by something we enjoy. Pace doesn’t matter. Size doesn’t matter. Age doesn’t matter. How long someone has been running doesn’t matter. What truly matters is the shared experience of running. Each of our experiences is different but one thing always remains; runners are there for one another. I’ve done races where fast runners have stopped to cheer on slower runners. I’ve finished half marathons at the same time fast runners are finishing their full marathons. I’ve had high fives from strangers. I’ve given high fives to strangers. We share a bond and when we’re out running, that’s all that matters.
I’ve found this in my running club. Every week that I go, I fit in with this weird little group of diverse characters. Believe me when I say, we have a few weird ones (they know who they are!). Fun weird. Not creepy weird. We have our fearless leader who put our group together. She works hard to plan things for us. She’s also the race director for some of our local races. She’s a badass runner who can whip the boys! Then we have the competitive three. These men are hilarious and their competition makes for a fun time. We have couples. We have people who can only come sometimes. We have parents; grandparents; and dog parents. We have Boston alum in our group!! We are so much more than our running. We are an amazing group of people who are part of the big running family. Most importantly, we are friends. I have met so many great people in this group... People who inspire me; to be a better runner and sometimes to be better in life. I wish I could write about each of them, individually, and share them with you. They are kind, supportive, and encouraging. They may not know it but some days they’re my motivation. They inspire me. They are nothing less than amazing. They are a tribe that I’m so honored to be a part of.
I do have one regret about running club; that I didn’t join sooner. I thought I’d gotten over my adolescent fears that kept me from joining, and sometimes just trying, groups or teams or other things I loved because I didn’t feel like I’d be “good enough.” Rejection has far too long been a fear for me. In many ways I’ve gotten through that. I’m much more confident and outgoing than in the past. That fear still has a little place inside me though. It’s working through that that matters. Eventually I put my fear aside, and with a friend by my side, I joined. The true test in that came when my friend couldn’t go. I went anyway. This is just another life lesson in knowing that our fears are always there but what we do with them is what matters.
I’ll close with words from the great Babe Ruth as a reminder to try new things, do the things you love even if you’re not that great. Living with less fear can result in more happiness... That’s something we can all be reminded of from time to time.
“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”
Peace and happiness.