Sunday, September 23, 2012

A(nother) Perfect Saturday

Yesterday will go down as one of the best days I've ever had...a little slice of life the way it ought to be. It actually reminds me one of the very first posts I ever wrote for this blog.

For the last 13 weeks, I have been training a group of people to run a Fall 1/2 marathon. We have met every Wednesday evening and Sunday morning for the last three months. This program, however, was actually not a 1/2 marathon training program - Running was simply the vessel for a much more important program...facilitating community.

Some of the "Just For The Run Of It" Team after the
Denver Rock N' Roll 1/2 Marathon.
Yesterday, most of my group ran the Denver Rock n' Roll 1/2 marathon (a few of us were training for other races), and I don't think it could have gone better. Quite a few of us ran our first 1/2 marathons while the rest of us soared on to new highs by either beating old personal bests or surpassing our goals. I waited nervously at our post-race rendezvous point to hear who would have the horror story of the day, but it NEVER HAPPENED. I was shocked and overjoyed. I'm so proud of those guys for following the training and adhering to the race day strategy so well...they worked so hard and earned every ounce of that glory.

But as I was saying before, this wasn't a 1/2 marathon training was fertile ground to begin to grow organic community. During our first meeting, I told my team that I didn't care if they finished or even ran the race, but if they just trusted the training they would be ready come game time. "The purpose of this group is to build community and be a safe place for you to explore running."

Time spent in a program like this is probably 98% training and about 2% racing, so one of the things I'd hoped to facilitate in this group was finding the joy in the journey. Most of the magic happens during training (or recovering at the restaurant afterward), and not so much when you're pushing too hard to speak to the person running next to you. If you're "present" for these moments, the rewards are unfathomable.

Growing organic community is something that you can't do on purpose. All you can do is supply the ingredients, show up, buckle in for the ride, and free up all five senses to take in as much of it as you can.

It was amazing to watch the bonds between our teammates become stronger throughout the season. The team continued to show up for tough workouts every week, not out of guilt, but because "teammate" progressed to "friend," and who doesn't like spending time around their friends? We weren't half-way through the program before the "hey, what's going to happen after this is over?" question popped up.

Maybe it's just a Pavlovian association, or maybe we really are "Born to Run." I think we're just starved for true organic community in a society that is characterized by individual independence, self-sufficiency and a lost understanding of how to "need one another." Running just happened to be the conduit in this situation.

In a couple of weeks, when we're all recovered from our races, we're going to open this group up to anybody interested. This group gets the community vision, and it would be a cruel/selfish thing to try and keep it to ourselves.  If you live in the Boulder area, please feel free to join us. Even if you've never run before in your life, join us for food afterward...remember, it's a community group, not a running group.  8)