The blogosphere is an interesting place. You read and comment on other people's blogs, and they do the same on yours. Sometimes, you find people that you relate to more then others and you form friendships. These are often friends you will never meet due to geography, but sometimes geography isn't such a barrier...
Jen from Triathlete Within is one of those friends. We've had a long online courtship. I think she's pretty amazing. She's done the Banff triathlon (that I'm training towards this year) in some pretty severe weather conditions. She even looks good in a wetsuit, which is a feat in itself. She also only lives about 30 minutes away from me.
My husband claims we've been stalking each other online. When Jen mentioned that she was starting a Sunday running group, I was super excited. I missed a few because of my crazy craft show season, but this weekend, I had a craft fair on the Saturday and the Sunday was free. So, on a snowy day, I made the drive into the city to meet up.
Now, I have to admit, I get anxiety about running with other people. For all the weight I've lost, I still have a ways to go. Sometimes it makes me feel like the "fat girl" all over again. In your average group of runners, you don't see too many people my size. We also were going to be doing 10 km, a distance I have done many times. It's also a distance on which I've crashed many times.
Having said that, I haven't transformed my life by letting my insecurities hold me back. I now acknowledge them and carry on. If somebody wants to look at the "fat girl" running, that's a big improvement over the "fat girl" eating a donut.
I had a smooth drive in and got to the parking lot a bit early. It was cool outside, so I waited in my car for a bit. When it was almost 10:00, I took off my big winter jacket and changed from my boots to my running shoes. Jen arrived a couple minutes later, and we greeted each other with a hug. It was a new experience. I've never "met" somebody before that I already felt like I knew so well.
In a few minutes we were off. We were all dressed for running after all, not standing around. I declined the suggestion to run with the faster runners and ran with Jen at a bit of a slower pace. It made me feel a lot better about my fear of crashing towards the end of the 10km. I can push my pace for shorter distances, but I know if I push it for a full 10km, I may pay.
We chatted as we ran - the kind of talking where you say half a sentence then take a breath before continuing. It was one of the first times for me that a long run didn't feel like a battle to complete. The time flew by. When we hit our turn around point, I had lots of energy to keep going. We're both garmin addicts and regularly checked our distance. When we reached the end, we hit exactly 10 km. We both knew we had to run an extra little circle if that's what it took to make our garmins get the last 10th or 100th of a km.
Afterwards, four of us went for coffee and chatted some more. We laughed and joked and tried to convince Jen's husband to do a triathlon. (He runs and bikes, but doesn't swim.) Never once did I feel like the fat girl in the group of runners. I simply felt like a runner in a group of runners. For the former fat girl, that's a pretty cool feeling.
So, thank you for the run Jen. And thank you for a new friendship. The internet is a new social venue, but it's great to transfer one of those friendships into real life. :)