Social Running

When I joined the Twin City Track Club, our local running club, I wasn’t sure whether or not I would participate in any of the social events or not.  Honestly, I wanted them to have my 20$ because they do such a good job orchestrating local races with timing and finish lines etc etc. I wanted to support them whether I did any “club” stuff or not.

My first social run experience, a breakfast run, did not go over so well.  I had a bad feeling that I was gonna be way slower than the other runners, but this was supposed to be an easy, slow, talking pace.  Well, I guess for these guys that’s a 9 minute mile instead of 7.  They left me in the dust.  One guy fell back to stay with me, and I apologize I can’t remember his name to thank him, but we ran our own thing, a slightly different route than the rest of the runners at about an 11:30 minute mile pace, which at that time was still blazing fast for me, but I managed to hang on.  We were the last two to finish, but talking and meeting people and eating afterwards was cool, so I guess it made up for it.

This afternoon’s run was a whole different animal, it was fun, and crazy and bizarre and just all kinds of stuff rolled into one.  Tonight was the TCTC Hash and Splash, a hash run followed by a pool party (which subsequently got rained out).  I had read about hash runs, and so I had a general idea how they worked, but here’s how it went down.  Two guys (the “hares”) went out with a 10 minute lead and a couple bags of flour.  As they ran they threw down little handfuls of flour to mark where they had been.  But, that also lay down false trails on side streets and intersections.  You want to catch the hares, the hares do not want to be caught.  The route is winding and circuitous on purpose to be as confusing as possible to the chasers.  So after the 10 minutes, we the chasers head out.  This is where things get interesting.  Even if you’re not familiar with a race course before hand, you kinda “know” where you are going, follow the crowd, the barricades, the water stops etc.  For this run, you literally have no clue at all where you are going.  We have to follow the trail of flour, sniff out the false leads and see where the hares are leading us.  We must have been a funny group of people to see we were running all over the road and sidewalks and the people up front were yelling out “MARK” when they saw a flour mark on the curb.

Once again, this was a pretty fast crowd, and I knew I’d not be able to keep up, so I hoped I could stay on the trail.  The false leads did help slow the pack down to allow me and some of the other runners to catch up, but the guys at the front were so fast, they would sprint down a side street and determine it was a dead end long before I got there.  I ran with my buddy from work Carmen (the trail runner) so that was very cool, and her brother and his wife were there (from the Ultimate Runner), in fact he was one of the fast guys up front sniffing out the trails.  I did OK for about 2-2.5 miles with the opportunities to catch up, but then I started to peter out a little bit and as the trail wound it’s way back towards Bill’s house it was more straight and true with less false leads to slow people down.  One of the guys (Robert I believe), hung back with me and we actually took a short cut as we got closer to familiar territory and were the first ones back.  I ended up running 3.3 miles, those that followed the full trail somewhere between 3.5-4 and those that were doing the side street running to sniff out the trails were pushing up towards 5.  So it was something for different experience and pace levels, but I surely would have gotten lost if they had left me on my own.  Thankfully the guys at the club tend to watch out for each other.

I’m starting to get more into the social side of running, and even without the group runs I have noticed it is a little bit like a secret underground community like “Ohh you run? Nice.. where do you log your miles” etc… it’s all word of mouth and you don’t hear a lot about it, and if you’re not in it, you’d never know it existed but there’s this huge subculture of people out there pounding the pavements.

Now that I’ve started to come to some of these events, I start seeing the same people over and over again at races and other things. One lady recognized me from the breakfast run, Bill knew my name from Facebook and that I had been at the Beat the Heat and the Stony Knoll runs.  Robert, who stayed back with me, knew he knew me from somewhere but couldn’t think of where, and I didn’t realize it at the time, but realized it as I was writing this I had also talked to him at the breakfast run.

And no, Amanda, I didn’t forget the beer.


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  • About Me

    I am a recent graduate in Food Science (NC State, 2009) and I work for a major food manufacturing company. I love food, but I can no longer eat anything that crosses my path. About 24 months ago I begin a serious struggle to get my obesity under control and reduce my chances of developing Type II diabetes. Since September of '09 I have lost 50 pounds and I still have a long ways to go. I've started eating better and exercising more, including taking up running.