“You talk when you run?!” People always ask me after I tell them I run with a group of people for hours at a time. They are usually sorry they asked. That question requires me to explain my evolution as a runner, which obviously takes no shorter than 30 minutes if they are brave and ask clarifying questions in between.
I was a horrible runner when I was a kid, or at least that is how I saw myself. Running was something I did in college as a form of exercise and I dreaded every minute of it. I ran the Steamtown Marathon in 2009. I trained alone with the encouragement of my family and friends. Then I took a decade off….. until 2019. That is when I learned about group running and the conversational pace. The rest is history.
I joined Team for Kids in June of 2019, the week that I knew I needed to start training if I wanted to run the NYC Marathon. I went to the first practice on Saturday dressed in all black with my earbuds securely in my ears. I walked into the Run Center and was engulfed in a sea of neon green with smiling people chatting around me and talking to me as if they knew me. Out went my ear buds and I am a talker so happily obliged in all conversation.
When the run started I put my earbuds back in because how could I run without music? People started talking to me again so I took one earbud out and made sure they were on the side of my empty ear. Many weeks and hours later I was in neon green, running with a hydration belt and left my earbuds at home. I could tell you what people had for breakfast, what they did for work and what books people were reading. I took a photo to memorialize every run. I now was running at a conversational pace and haven’t looked back since.
Conversational Pace is now something my friends and family joke about. I have taught some of them the beauty of it; many of my friends jumped in and ran with me during the 2020 Virtual NYC Marathon. They wouldn’t have been able to do that if they didn’t take my advice and learn of the beauty of conversational pace.
Realizing how much I enjoyed group running led me to seek out another group to run with and keep me motivated on the cold dark winter nights. TFK Coach Dave K also ran with the Flyers so I wasn’t going to be totally alone and Kristen S – the Flyers other newest member – also said she would take the plunge and go to the Thursday run.
I was nervous the first night. On my way to Columbus Circle, I was on the phone with my friend telling her about this new group and how I was nervous. She told me to text her when it was over to let her know how it was. When I got to Columbus Circle I learned they were trying out this new acronym – TNF for Thursday Night Fun. Everyone greeted me with a smile, there were announcements, introductions, a wonderful 5-mile lap and then an offer to go get a burger afterwards. Running, conversation and now FOOD! I am sold. On the way home, I texted my friend and said “I loved it!”
The Flyers Thursday 6:30pm Group Run is now a fixture of my weekly routine. I tell stories about what my week has been like at school, we talk about Netflix’s latest shows and what races we are running next. I also joined Flyers Speed Pass on Tuesdays after rave reviews from the Thursday runners. I have met even more people and I now see myself as becoming a stronger runner in the process.
Team for Kids and the Flyers have taught me that I am strong enough to run marathons, I can run up Cat Hill six times and I won’t collapse, and most importantly you can have fun while running!