Once I got to Shelley Lake (where the group met to run this morning), I had a hard time finding a parking place, for starters. The Raleigh Galloway training group as a whole is nearly 400 strong, and while there are group members absent on any given Saturday, there are still a lot of group runners there each Saturday morning. As it happened, the local Team in Training group was out running around Shelley Lake too, in addition to the normal traffic (which often includes some North Carolina Roadrunners Club running groups too). Crazy tight parking, but I ended up creating a parking place under a tree, so my car was nice and cool when I got back to it.
I found my 13:00 group leader and told her I was going to join the 14/15:00 group today, and she said, "Okay, well go ahead and sign in on our board." Another 13:00 pace groupie overheard me, and it turns out her mom is one of the 14/15:00 group leaders, so she introduced the two of us. That made me feel a little better.
Once I got to my adopted group, I asked about the 12 mile plan for today, and the leader said, "NO!" This group was running 10 miles, all we needed, considering the planned races, she said. She was adamant about it. I backed off, but felt a little put off. I was already feeling a little tenuous over switching groups.
Today was group and pace group picture day. I participated in the Raleigh group photo. My 13:00 pace group opted for a pace group photo, but the 14/15 group I was running with today wasn't going to stay for a photo, so off I went with them, missing out on the photo shoot with the folks I've been running with for several weeks. So, I was still feeling a little out of sorts.
We walked for a little bit to warm up as usual, then we started the 1 minute run/1 minute walk ratio. Without meaning to at all, I was at the head of the group, sometimes by a good bit, and the leader lady had to keep calling me back to run with the group. This was pretty frustrating--for both of us, I'm sure. I introduced (or reintroduced) myself to everyone in the 14/15:00 pace group, and they're a friendly and determined group of people. I found out that another lady in the group, Gloria, is also planning to run in the City of Oaks Marathon, and that was a treat to learn. After a while, a lady in the pace group came up to me and asked if she'd like me to have her run with me in the 13:00 pace group for a while, then rejoin the 14/15:00 group later in the run. I jumped at the chance! Nancy turned out to be a long-time runner (and professional personal trainer) who's running as a guest with her sister, a first-time runner in the 14/15:00 pace group. It was nice to be back with the 13:00 group, still at the back of the pack but with willing company.
At the half-way point, we rejoined the 14/15:00 pace group, and at first I felt a little out of sorts again, as people were already into conversations. But I overheard Gloria talking with another lady about music, and the other person mentioned a washboard band she was in while in school. The school I went to had a washboard band, so I started singing their theme song and suprised her! Yes, it turned out we'd been to the same school, St. Mary's, though at different times. She graduated from the junior college division when the school had one, and I graduated from the high school part several years before. Still, it was great fun talking to her about it! To add to the connections, we found out our first-date anniversaries with our boyfriends is the same day-Halloween! :) Unfortunately, I don't remember this person's name, so I'll have to get it next time.
I continued to be at or near the front of the group, until we stopped for our final bathroom break at one of the park's restrooms. I wasn't going to go, but decided to at the last minute. While I was in the restroom, I thought someone else was still in there, so I said through the walls, "I'll be out in a minute," assuming "she" was heading on outside. When I got outside, though, there wasn't a single person in the running group left, and I wasn't sure how to get back to the parking lot! It was a surreal feeling, really. I decided to start heading in the opposite direction from the one we came in, and hoped to seeing something or someone familiar. I came to a fork in the path before that happened, but I saw someone coming toward me who looked friendly. I asked her which was the way back to the Seratoma Arts Center parking lot. (The arts center is next to Shelley Lake, and the parking lot there is the biggest of the Shelley Lake parking lots.) Her response: both ways! The expression on my face must've read: Okay, so which way is shortest?! She pointed to the left, and asked if I were part of the Galloway group. It turns out she was too, and was already done and walking around a bit. It was nice to meet someone new and have a little company for the walk in.
I ended up doing 10.01 miles in 2:54:00. I had to walk around the parking lot to log 10 miles on the Garmin, though I probably did a little more than 10. (I forgot to start the Garmin up at the very beginning, and then forgot to restart it after a couple of water stops.) My left leg bothered me again this morning. Susan suggested it might be Illotibial Band Syndrome or something similar, and she could be right. *sigh*
Once back in the car, I tried a Gu Gel I bought at REI earlier this week. This particular flavor was called Espresso Love, which is coffee flavored and has extra caffeine, among other electrolytes and vitamins. As much as I like the smell of coffee (not to mention the taste of coffee ice cream!), I'm not a big coffee drinker, so the taste of it after a run (did I mention it was hot outside this morning?!) wasn't very refreshing. Bleh! Oh well, it's fun to try different things, especially with recommendations from others. I still have a Vanilla Bean flavored Gu Gel to try, and a Honey Stinger Ginsting-flavored gel to test drive too. (The Honey Stinger Banana flavor sounds good to me, but didn't see it at REI.)
On her way out of the parking lot, Gloria passed me, rolled down her window, and asked me if I would be back next week. I smiled, and told her I would. (It was nice to be asked, eventhough she was probably alluding to the holiday weekend next weekend.)
I need to decide what to do about the pace group thing. I feel like I'm in between pace groups and don't have a comfortable "home" group, at least for now. There are worse problems to have, I know, but this is a several-month commitment of Saturdays I've signed up for (there was money involved) , and I don't want to dread going. There were certainly several bright spots today, mostly involving people instead of running, though. Perhaps I need to rethink my running goals for the rest of the year, and remember that the City of Oaks probably won't be my last marathon, and that the social aspect of running is a lot of run.
Have you been in a similar situation? If so, I'd welcome your insights!