n the middle of our 21-mile journey from the Lower West Side to Central Park this weekend, my Flyer friend BH and I passed by the usual running grounds of the famed Monday Night Group Run. I had heard extensively about this weekly run from many Flyers over the passed year, but since it was held in the opposite corner of Manhattan from where I lived and Mondays tend to be my busiest clinic day in the hospital, I never had the chance to run with this particular group before. It was too bad really as many of the faster guys in the club usually run with the Monday group and I would relish the opportunity to get to know them better. Before we left that day, BH extended an open invitation for me to join their run and I promised I would make it out sometime during the year, as my schedule and time permits.
Of course it didn’t dawn on me until the next day (Sunday) that Monday was a holiday this week, which meant I could actually come out for my first ever Monday night run! I contacted BH to confirm the time and meeting place and made arrangements to run with them the next day.
Unfortunately, BH didn’t make it to the run today. He got stuck at work and couldn’t make it downtown in time to join us. So instead, I ran with a couple of new Flyers. (There was a bunch of people at this run that I didn’t get to meet. Such is life when you’re fast and you come late.) Well, actually it was one new Flyer (GG) and one old Flyer (ES) that was new to me. We lead the pack and ran together for the duration of the run. Apparently all the speedsters bailed on the run today which allow ES and I to dictate a relaxed and manageable pace for the run. It was cold and at times windy but it truly was a beautiful night for running. Underneath a sky so clear you can see stars, with the bright lights of city life on one side and the serenity of the black Hudson on the other, we had the West Side bike path all to ourselves as we made our way down through Battery Park to the tippy tip of Manhattan Island before doubling back to where we had started.
Along the way, we talked on and on, sharing stories of marathons past and training philosophies of marathons to come. It’s been such a long time since I’ve run with anyone new that I forgot how fun it was just to hear about running from a different perspective than my own. Although I’m often hesitant to run with a group for fear that my easy pace is faster than what any of the other runners can maintain, I do enjoy running with others when the timing is right and opportunity presents itself. As I was trying to explain to my friend over the weekend, life in the fast line is not as glamorous as it would seem to the outside world. When no one can keep up with you, guess what, you’re always going to be running by yourself.
I thought a lot about this “fast runners’ dichotomy” on the subway ride home that night – that as I’m getting faster and stronger from marathon training, I’m also separating myself more and more from friends in the middle of the pack. This can be advantageous in a race, but may not be so in a planned group activity. Does anyone else ever feel that way? ANYONE? (And in case you’re wondering…no, this wasn’t a ploy to elicit any congratulatory comments on my speed, but a real concern I have!)
Needless to say, I discovered a bit about others and myself after that run. I finally realized what I miss out on when I’m out there pounding the pavement on my own day after day. And even though I ended up running many more miles (12+) than expected that night, I think I gained a lot more than I lost in terms of training. Believe it or not, it has also renewed my interest and enjoyment for my own individual running as well. Hopefully, I can incorporate more social running on a consistent basis in the rest of marathon training.