Following the Leader

Fountain in Dupont Circle

Fountain in Dupont Circle

This morning’s run was a total success. Not only did I not get lost and I actually finished the route we were supposed to run as opposed to randomly making up my own when I forget where I’m going, but I managed to get everyone moving and be an excellent tour guide to our out of town visitor. Apparently he was being a tourist in DC and just decided to do a meet-up run to see the town.

Never in a million years would’ve occurred to me to do that but hey, cool.

Everyone was new except for one girl I’d met before through the group runs so they didn’t know I was a pale imitation of the regular leader and I was not telling them this. I managed to get my shit together, the weather was nice but warming up, but damn, I was like… Death. Going below 10 minutes per mile felt like I was killing myself and guess what? That should not have been the case.

This is more or less why I don’t enjoy group runs. Some days you’re off and you’re just not up to running at a certain pace but when you’re with a group you feel obligated to maintain their pace so you just make yourself sick because ain’t nobody slowing down for you. I shame myself into not taking break if I feel like I need one and I start apologizing to people for being so slow and pokey. I know why I ran like shit: I didn’t eat or drink anything after 3pm the day before. I haven’t been getting enough sleep. And I didn’t want to hurt my hip more. And I was running and checking my work blackberry at the same time. I was being responsible as a runner and as a young urban professional. And yet, I felt guilty.

F#$k it, I should not be apologizing for my pace to a bunch of strangers who got all uppity because they thought the route was too long, next time look at the map when it is posted online so you’ll know where you’re going and how far it is. This is why I don’t teach anymore.

The best moment, though, was as I ran home from the meet-up and a little girl told her mom “She’s dressed like Minnie Mouse!” and held up her doll as proof. I was indeed dressed exactly like Minnie Mouse. I smiled at the girl and told her I loved Minnie Mouse, too, and I dress like her all the time. (Which is apparently true because this is what I regularly wear to run.)

The experience made me feel a lot better about my decision to try out rowing on the weekends in July even if it meant missing out on the weekend group runs. They can’t leave me behind if I’m in the boat with them, right? Plus, I with the long runs and higher mileage I need to stick to a pace that’s comfortable for me on that day without the guilt and shame that comes with a running group. Acceptance.

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