The Running Club

 

The Charlotte Running Club (Allen in the white shirt and white hat on the back row)

The Charlotte Running Club (Allen in the white shirt and white hat on the back row)

 Sunday, I went for my first run with the Charlotte Running Club.  Club chairman Aaron Linz had recently stumbled upon this blog and invited me to run the Davidson cross country trails with the group.

When I pulled into the Davidson gym parking lot, I noticed that the people gathered there looked young and extremely fit.  I approached with a certain amount of trepidation.  In my recent races, I’d been struggling to maintain near-7:00/mile pace and the individuals in this crowd looked like they’d have to lose limbs to be reduced to 7-minute miles.

I found Aaron and introduced myself and we spent a little while chatting and stretching.  After a few minutes, the gang took off and I followed, settling in at the very back of the group of 12-15 runners.

After only a few strides, my initial fears were realized.  I glanced down at my watch and discovered that we were cruising at about 7:25/mile pace.  In the 4-mile race on Saturday, I ran the third mile in 7:27.  If I wanted to complete my 10-miler and/or have any hope of keeping my legs fresh enough to run decently in the upcoming week, I’d need to back off.   So I throttled back and let the pack go.

 The club pulled away.  If we had been antelope, lions would have quickly feasted on me, the old, infirm one rapidly being separated from the herd.

A few moments later, Aaron, who had started a little later than everyone else, easily caught up to me.  We chatted for a bit about North Carolina track (we’re both Tar Heel alumni and former members of the track team),  about upcoming road races, and about the Charlotte Running Club and how well its members had fared at the prior day’s race, the Run For Your Life Run For Your Cause 4-miler.  The club swept the first 3 spots in the women’s race and took places 1, 2, and 5 in the men’s (see Aaron’s update here).  I had finished 129th.

So you can see how I might have been feeling a little out of place.  But Aaron’s easy-going and affable manner soon put me at ease.  After a few minutes of talking, it no longer felt like ‘the fast guy who finished fifth and the slow guy who finished 129th’, but instead like ‘just 2 runners talking during a training run’.   

By the time Aaron took off to rejoin the ‘fast pack’, I relaxed and settled back into my usual 9-minute-esque,  long-slow-distance training pace.  During the next 8 miles or so, I used the time for introspection and to refocus on my goal. 

For a while now, I’ve been a little disgruntled with my relatively slow times (see my earlier blog entry, Running, We Need To Talk).  I need to remember that there’s a reason this blog is called Allen’s Road to Boston and not Allen’s Road To Sub-6-minute Miles. I don’t need to be able to run sub-6-minute miles, I need to be able to string together 26 consecutive 7:39 miles.  My sub-18-minute 5K’s may be behind me, but I’ve got to believe that my sub-3:30 marathons are ahead of me.  And surely running with, or behind, a fast crowd like the Charlotte Running Club can’t hurt.

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