I am always full of fear the first time I do something. And sometimes I get so scared that I do this thing where I start crying which, for whatever reason, turns into laughing. Running with a running group was no different. I would love to say that I took every effort to make sure that I was going to be at my best for this first run. But I didn't. I stayed out late with a friend and only slept 4 hours before my run. Which leads me to my do's and don'ts for your first run with a running group.
Don't stay out late the night before you go on your first run with a group of people you know are faster than you. You need all the rest you can get. So if a friend asks you to stay out later, just apologize and let them know that you have made a commitment to become a better you and need to get home for some rest.
Do lay out your clothes the night before. I had to be in Galveston, about 45 minutes away, by 6:15 AM. That meant that I had to leave at 5:15 if I wanted to give myself some wiggle time. Having everything together meant all I had to do was brush my teeth, pull my hair back and put on my clothes. No hunting through my drawers for matching socks or headbands. No running across the house to the laundry room to find my bottoms and then to the living room for my shoes. Just do it.
Don't leave the address to the running group at home. Thank goodness I had wiggle room because I made it there at exactly 6:15. I lost time when I had to Google the store and then GPS the location from downtown Galveston.
Do hydrate the night before and the morning of the run. It was hot out there and you'll see later on why it was so important for me to hydrate well.
Don't take off on a run without knowing the route. You see I was slower than the rest of the group and within the first few blocks I was alone on the road. I didn't know the route so I spent alot of time GPSing my location and trying to figure out how to get back to the store where we started. I wasn't frustrated but I was annoyed with having to stop, pull my phone out of the armband, turn off my Nike+ app and go to Maps. Eventually I made it back to the store but not on the same route as everyone else.
Don't beat yourself up if you get left behind. I have to admit there were a few times on my run that I felt a lump in my throat and thought I was going to cry. It wasn't because I was alone...I run by myself all the time. I felt defeated. I felt that my inability to stay up with the slowest group just confirmed my inability to be a part of a group. Bottom line, I just felt less than. And true to form, what started out as a feeling of wanting to tear up and give up became a feeling of just wanting to laugh. But when I shared how I felt to my husband and daughter, my daughter said something profound, "Stop beating yourself up about how far you have to go and start celebrating how far you've come. Remember the first time you cried because you couldn't run a minute? Well look at you now. That is what you need to focus on. " She is 17 and wise beyond her years.
And yes, if you caught that...I have cried before. I am a llorona (Spanish for cry baby). I cry for joy and I cry for sadness. So don't feel sorry for me because I cried. The physical expression of the emotion that I am feeling seems to get exaggerated in my body and I know it is ridiculous so I start to laugh.
So this week I am taking on the Kemah Bridge. Fortunately, I live about a mile from the only safe bridge to train for hill work. I believe it is 1.9 miles over and back. Wish me luck.