Unfortunately, after writing that post all about my new suite, I have to take it back. First of all, the gym was terrible – literally had one elliptical, one treadmill, and no weights aside from a set of medicine balls that maxed out at 8 pounds! That was just not going to cut it for me. I know that you can get a great workout with body weight alone, but if I’m going to the gym, I want something heavy to lift – otherwise, I’ll stay in my room. Furthermore, the location turned out to be a bit far from the rest of my colleagues. So next week, it’s back to my usual hotel – I’ll take the sweet gym over the two burner stove, and instead turn my attention to seeing if I can get a mini fridge and microwave in my room.
While I may not have been able to settle into Dallas as a home city by getting to cook, I’ve become serious lately about getting back into a running routine. I thoroughly enjoyed running last week with the Katy Trail Blazers, the Lululemon group that runs on the Katy Trail on Tuesday nights, so I decided to check out a few other running groups in the Dallas scene. One that repeatedly came up with the Wednesday morning 6am group that runs from Luke’s Locker, an athletic apparel chain that seems to be all over Texas. While it meant getting up at 5:15am (ick) to get there, I dutifully went to bed early on Tuesday night to give it a fair shot.
The drive from my hotel to Luke’s Locker was surprisingly short, since there was no traffic on any of the pitch black highways to slow me down. I arrived about 10 minutes before the start, joining the other runners beginning to congregate on the sidewalk outside the store. Everyone else seemed to be a regular, immediately forming into groups that animatedly gossipped about the week. Feeling somewhat shy and out of place, I tried to approach a few groups, but never quite got a vibe that said it would be okay to jump in and introduce myself, so when we finally started running, I was still solo.
I figured that as soon as I settled into a pace and found others around me, it would be easy to make friends – after all, there were at least 60 people there! However, I was pretty surprised to find that my moderate-to-me nine minute pace (which I planned to sustain for the full six miles) was amongst the slowest in the large group. I know that a nine minute pace is not even a little bit impressive, but I’m not used to going that speed and being at the back of the pack. Heck, for the Urban Girl Squad group runs, a nine minute pace is the fastest most people go! Clearly, this group was a lot more serious about their running – and maybe that’s not such a bad example for me to follow.
Of course, all this positivity is easy in retrospect; it would be flat-out lying for me to say I was happy while I was getting dusted by all the other runners. In fact, I was downright miserable! Besides just my speed envy, I also felt pretty down on myself in comparing myself to the female runners that were there. I was the heaviest one there by a good 20-30 pounds! I know I complain a lot about wanting to lose some vanity pounds, but I’m honestly fairly comfortable with my body – while I’d like to tone it up a bit, it’s capable of some pretty amazing things! Seeing all the other women’s six packs and tanned and tone legs (all very evident from the short shorts and sports bras that I’ve learned through my last few outings seem to be the female running uniform in Dallas) gave me some definite body insecurity, and I was not in a good mood as I ran through the neighborhoods of Dallas. I missed home! Where were my friends of all different shapes and speeds? And a more immediate question: why didn’t Dallas have any streetlights anywhere? Despite being in some clearly expensive neighborhoods, I felt a lot less safe running in the dark there than I would on the brightly lit streets of even some of the seedier neighborhoods of New York.
But the amazing thing about running? No matter what kind of mood you set out in, going for a run almost always improves your mood. The miles ticked away, slowly at first but gradually faster and faster, until by the time we were circling back around to the store and hitting mile 5.5, I decided to turn off for another quick quarter mile out and back to make it an even 6 miles for the day. I felt great as I sprinted through the parking lot to the “finish line,” and was even more thrilled when I checked my watch after stopping. Nine minute pace for six miles at 6am two days after crushing a marathon?? I’ll take it!
Furthermore, people seemed a lot friendlier at the end! I ended up meeting several people that I’m looking forward to running with next time (that’s right, my thinking had changed from “Never again!” to “See you next week!”), and I wished that I could have stuck around longer to chit chat instead of having to dash off to shower and get into the office. I have no idea whether it was my own insecurity/bad attitude at the start or other people’s morning exhaustion that made everyone seem so unapproachable, but now that mood seemed to have lifted. The power of a good run!
What are your tips for meeting people in a new running group?