Sunday, July 24, 2005

More About This Later

Welcome! to your weekly bitchfest.

I've been promising myself that I would write about my reasons for running this marathon, just to get really clear. Which they haven't been so much.

But on Saturday's run—and in fact, the entire week leading up to Saturday's run—one of my goals got crystal clear: I wanted to be the kind of girl who belongs to a big, fun, relaxed group of people pursuing a common passion. Like, um, say, running a marathon, for instance.

Everyone I'd met who did this training said, oh you'll have so much fun with your Group. The staff at the info session back in cold, bleak, dark February held out Group bonding as an incentive to get people to sign up. (And apparently, it worked.) Bloggers raved about how they'd found lifelong friends. Some even posted Group photos pre-, during, and post-Saturday morning runs (p.s. those are shots of the actual training site I run at on Saturday mornings. Cool, huh?).

And in the 7 gazillion Galloway articles and books I read, he never failed to rhapsodize about the power of the Group.

So, here I am, it's week 11170th and do I have a group? I do not.

The first pace group I was put in sort of fell apart.

I tried another, slower group the next week, let's call them "pace group 'B.'" But when I had to stop and pee (yep, that word again), off they went. By then I had met the Divine Miz M, and she ran with me, and waited for me while I attended to those sorts of things. PGB was not into waiting; well let's just say if you dropped dead on a run, I'm pretty sure they'd step over you. (Ooh that's harsh.)

So, I spent the next few weeks running with Divine. We have a grand time running together, but we have different paces. Plus, I was worried (what me, worry?) that I was becoming dependent on her. If one of us got injured, or ill, we'd be screwed. And I wanted a freakin' Group already...

So last Saturday I decided to give PGB another try, even if it meant not running with Divine (and thank god she is not the drama queen that I am, so she completely understood). So, off I went with PGB.

Now B's pace leader (as in the "one who sets the pace") refuses to set the pace, instead letting the fastest runner set the pace. Apparently all 10 people in this group agree with her, because I talked with pretty much all of them, until I'm sure they were ready to slap me silly to shut me up, about the point of sticking with the pace your group is assigned. One of them finally told me "hey, you really aren't gonna be able to get 10 people to do what you want them to do."

She had me there.

PGB trains this way: they charge out hard and fast, and die on the way back, like it's a race.

And they did this on Saturday despite being specifically told by our coaches that day to add a minute to our pace. Instead, I think they took 3 minutes off (for the first few miles).

So the long and the short of it is: I don't have a fun group, I'm not in synch with them, I'm not gonna bond with these people, even though I'm sure they're perfectly nice, I did run 16 miles with them and came out fine, I know what they're doing is dumb, and well, i I'm not sure what exactly to do about it. And yeah, I already talked with the coaches, who pretty much shrugged. I mean, really what can they do? We're all grown-ups.

And yeah, I know 40 kazillion people will be running the marathon, so I'm sure i'll find plenty of people to talk with and pass the time with, but ya know what? I'm just disappointed. Which sucks, because I just ran 16 miles! So I have nothing to be disappointed about!

In church Sunday, our priest talked about the "Melodrama of the Self."

So that's what this is, probably in spades. Everyone is happy but me, and I'm gonna go eat worms and die.

Like I said, we're all grown-ups.


Anonymous said...

no, you're not a drama queen (unless I am too, and I'm not admitting it so you needn't either).
I am doing a half-marathon and I joined a group b/c I wanted to have someone, anyone, there on the day I do such a fearsome thing (can you tell I'm really scared?), and also maybe make some new friends who are into this running thing that I've just discovered. So anyway, not only was the organiser lying when he told me that there were people who run my pace (aka as slowly as me), everyone else knows each other already. I'm very disappointed. I feel lonely and a bit sad. BUT I have also learned much earlier than I otherwise might have that it is not about anyone else and how fast they are - it's about me, me me me. LOL. Me getting off the couch and running by myself b/c all the others are doing their long runs faster and at times when I can't. Me breaking through distance and mental barriers. My little victories and triumphs. I'd like to have had a friend in all this, but I haven't. It's not how I envisaged it , but it's still good.
Anyway, well done for doing so well, and thanks for your hilarious blog. Take care and keep at it!


jeanne said...

Well LBTEPA, you have a friend now! And I'm scared to death, too. Thanks for your thoughtful and nice comments, and I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who feels this way. I wish you trained here, we could make our own group!

And who knows, we might end up smoking their asses on the big day. Slow and steady, ya know? Hang in there!

Lara said...

I've never run with a group (other than in races) so I'm not familiar with that whole dynamic but what you're describing does sound frustrating. Can you start a splinter pace group? Maybe some of those folks in PGB would like to slow down too.

I love the phrase about the Melodrama of the Self - that could be the caption for my life :)

Jen Z said...

OMG, I feel your pain about the drama of the pace group. I think it must be universal. My group last year (AIDS Marathon, Honolulu 2004) was very, um, harmony-challenged. My group this year (Dublin 2005) is infinitely better, and gets along, more or less. But I've discovered that some people are just going to run fast, and will flat out ignore you if you ask them (repeatedly!) to slow it down.

Your coach should absolutely be helping with this -- it's a shame that (s)he's not. My (totally unsolicited) advice? (A) If your coach isn't helping, talk to your program rep. If your program rep won't help, call the office and talk to whoever it is that the program rep reports to. Running on pace, together, is a tenet of the program, and they are supposed to make it happen. (B) if this doesn't work, run with Divine, and then advertise yourselves as a fledgling pace group that people of your pace can join if they DON'T enjoy getting trampled. Maybe more folks will join up and you'll have some pleasant company.

Good luck, whatever you decide to do! It's challenging. You have my best wishes.

Shortcut said...

Hey Streak!
You worry too much. I am not going to get hurt.

I'd like to be as fast as you, but I know I am not going to set any land-speed records in this marathon.

Jen Z's comment reminded me that last year, by almost this time, my pace group had self-destructed into three pairs. The Coaches knew this and applauded it. All the pairs, in fact crossed the finish line together, despite the party line encouraging everyone to run their own race. Just like the blog I read about the guy in Alaska (except that his friend got hurt, so they split).

In every pair, trio, group, there is always one person who could go faster, but doesn't.

It becomes a Look-Into-Yourself thing, to ask if you could be that person. If so, you trade faster times for the companionship. For this marathon, I am a person who could go faster, but isn't. That is why I was pleased to wait for your personal needs on various runs. I am not running this marathon to beat the clock on the arbitrary time I set, nor to beat anybody else. I am running this to do better than I did last year. I already see that I am, and I am at peace with that. Part of the experience for me is the people I meet, and I won't run ahead, pull away, from someone interesting just to trim a few minutes. It's just a training run, to me.

That is not everyone, of course. If you are not the person who can trade a faster time for companionship, well, then you aren't. That's just the way it is; accept it and disregard the conflicting goal of finding a happy supportive group. The same thing happens in tennis: some tennis players will NEVER play with a player of lesser talent. You don't advance your personal athletic ability if you don't look out for yourself first. If your goal is to kick ass and take names, then embrace your goal.

jeanne said...

Jen z and shortcut:
Wise words, both of you.

I don't think i'll be kicking any ass...except maybe my own. I thought I'd share my disappointment at not finding my happy little group. But, hey, i'll live.

I still think I can have a little of both ... find a pace i can live with, plus run with some interesting people, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. I'll just have to wait and see what happens. It's nice to have one marathon under your belt; gives you so much more clarity.
What can I say? I obsess.

a.maria said...

jeanne, i totally understand your frustration. one of the reasons i decided to do the marathon was also for some commaraderie... however, i quickly learned that i have a hard time running with others b/c i then feel pressured to keep a certain pace (usually faster that what i want) and i end up too tired in the beginning to finish the with any gusto... TNT doesnt do pace groups, but they do split us into little groups and we fundraise and what not together... not to be snotty, but i have nothing in common with the people in my group. age-wise i'm probably the youngest, i'm not where NEAR... and i just... ya know. dont have anything in common. so the group runs have become me running by myself in a group of people. (with the exception of the past saturday's run) they're all very nice people, to be sure, but... they're not MY kinda people, and i do get frustrated and worry about what i'll do on marathon day, when i need some encouragement and dont have any real friends out there with me...

anyway this is more of a post than a comment!!!

i hope you find some people to run with, but regardless, just try to enjoy the running...thats all we can do, right?!

jeanne said...

Next year: TNT!!! I think TNT has a great approach. But yeah, i hear ya. The nothing in common thing is tough (and it's not snotty, it's just the truth.) And the watching others bond thing is tough too!

Ah, I worry too much!

21st Century Mom said...

I trained with TNT and had some fun but no long term bonding. I did run the marathon with 2 women I had bonded with the most and I do occasionally see them around town but no life long friendship developed. Of course they are cousins, one of whom is 10 years younger than me and the other is 20 years younger than me. I expecct there is an inverse relationship between the age difference and the strength of bond. But I digress.

Your PGB sounds like a bit of a nightmare but I see a solution. For your next long run join them but DO NOT go out at the fast pace. Go out at a comfortable pace and see how long it takes before you naturally catch up to them as they all suffer burn out and slow down. You will still be in good shape and you, and you alone, will accomplish the goal of a long, slow, distance run which is to get yourself used to distance. They may or may not get that depending on whether or not they injure themselves. The further into the training you are the more likely you are to get injured.

So - have fun and keep up the good work. For what it is worth I am training solo this year and it's a little lonley. I might actually like to have a group to bitch about. On the other hand I think I'm a total stud for actually doing this.

My marathon is Sunday - wish me luck!

David said...

I'd hate to see you eat worms and die. What would we read to keep ourselves entertained. As several have written, it's really all about you unless you're lonely and looking for a friend. In which case there is the library, the bar and the blog world. Take your pick. We like you right here and now.

jeanne said...

21st century mom: GOOD LUCK!!! and dope slap to head, what a great solution! Training solo is an amazing feat ... I can't wait to read your recap. Yeah, I count myself lucky that I actually have a group to bitch about, considering the alternative.

and David: You are funny. And nice. And smart! I think I'll skip the bar, cuz I've got the library and the blog thing down. (And let's not forget the big band dance class...) So, I'm all done rantiing now. Onward!

Stephanie said...

I, who as you know, run alone, cannot relate to your exact situation. However, it sounds very stressful to say the least.

I have always been very slow. In fact, in college, I started a cross country team for my school. (Small, Liberal Arts school didn't have one) It was really hard for me to watch all these other great runners during practice. I was so far behind (and I was "coaching" the team.) It got to the point where if someone was running with me or behind me, I would say, "You aren't running fast enough because you should be up there."