Sunday, April 15, 2007

Running club

Last year we started to run some of the monthly 4th Sunday runs at Lake Merritt. There are 5K, 10K and 15K races (1, 2 and 3 laps of the lake). There is also a kids race every second month.

The club which organizes these is called the Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders. This year we became members, as one of our goals for the year was to be more of a part of the running community.

So far it seems like a great group.

Yesterday we practically spent the whole day with LMJS activities. By the end of the day our heads were spinning with running and runners.

9am: We met at Skyline Gate trailhead in Redwood Regional Park. About a dozen runners from the club gathered as the rain started to drizzle down. The forest surrounding us was shrouded in mist but was beautiful and inviting nonetheless.

Our running plan had this week being a fallback week but here we were out for an 8 mile trail run with a running club. Sometimes you have to give in and go with whatever feels right. We headed off down the trail as the rain picked up.

The pace warmed us quickly. Our HRs left our training zone within minutes. These were runners. These were runners who get up on a Saturday morning in the rain and want to do a brisk 8 miles in the forest. These were runners who could leave us in the dust (or mud, in this case) whenever they wanted. But they didn't. At least not by too much.

As we continued the rain got harder. It was pouring as we crossed Skyline Blvd and entered Jouquin Miller park. Trails had become rivers. We couldn't get wetter but still made an effort to avoid the lake-sized mud holes. It's hard to say why. The runners in front of us disappeared into the mist and the redwoods and we were left to run by ourselves. Those who had been behind us decided to take a shorter option, leaving us at the back of the pack.

As we neared the turn-around point, we realized we weren't very far behind. It wasn't a race. A while later the run organizer Karen was waiting at a trail junction in case we got confused which way to go (although these are our trails, we know them pretty well). We ran with her for awhile (she recently won her age group in the Chicago Shamrock Shuffle , the largest 8K race in the world). We talked for a while until she effortlessly pulled away from us.

10:30am: after the run we were all covered in mud and soaked to the bone. Hard work behind us, we headed to the club president's house for brunch. Much needed calories made of bagels and warm coffee and chocolate covered cherries!

Several of the founding members of the club were there including Ruth Anderson, one of the pioneers of women's ultra marathon running.

3pm: nap.

6pm: In the evening we attended the 30th anniversary club dinner. It was filled with stories about the founding of the club and the characters which have kept it going for 30 years. By the time the music kicked up we left it to the old guys to party the night away. Old guys who can run 6:00 miles.

9pm: Driving home I feel all the more determined to become a stronger runner. Now that I've found the running community I just have to be able to keep up with them!