This week’s guest post is written by Rebekah, a woman of many talents. She’s a freelance writer, half-marathon runner, Montessori enthusiast, wife of an academic, and co-author of 2.5 sons. And, at six months’ pregnant, she could run faster and further than I have ever run in my life. In case you’ve wondered who Superwoman’s alias is, let me spoil the secret–it’s Rebekah. She blogs at Marshins.
It was Tuesday night. Over a bratwurst coated with plenty of mustard, my dinner companion said, “Running is one thing that you can share with another person regardless of age, education, gender or class. Wherever you go, when you find another runner, you find a friend.”
A little over a year ago, I started running. Or rather, jogging slowly and painfully to raise money for Compassion International. After my first 10K six months later, I had gotten past the hate and grown to love the activity. I loved long, solitary runs with nothing but my podcasts to keep me company. I loved the feeling of wellbeing. I loved how amazingly hungry I was and how good food tasted. I lived for races and would recruit other people to run them with me. I loved the camaraderie of the sport. Over time, I developed many new friendships around running and deepened others.
There was a running group in our small town – I had seen a sign advertising it one day when walking to the car loaded down with farmer’s market goodies – but it took me nine months of running and one half marathon under my belt before I got the courage to show up at the county courthouse at 6:05 pm on a Tuesday night.
They were tall, short, lean, chubby, fast, and slow. Later over beers at the local watering hole I learned they were irreverent and devout; Americans and ex-pats; seven-time Boston Marathon runners and beginning joggers; organic food enthusiasts who owned their own goats and chickens, and processed food connoisseurs.
My first day they had just gotten in new club running shirts that explained the dual purpose of the club: “Georgetown Run Club” on the front and “and Intellectual Society” with a picture of frothy mug on the back. Once the running was over, the real community building began over beer and dinner where books were exchanged, politics and religion were debated, and stories were told.
I started looking forward to Tuesday nights. As much as I liked running on my own schedule and completely by myself, I appreciated this outlet that kept me running when it snowed, when it was below 20 degrees, when I was dog tired and didn’t feel like going for a run. But more than that, I appreciated getting to know this group of people I never would have met other than the fact that running was the one thing we had in common.
Community tends to develop around commonalities, and we live in a world where you can splice down those commonalities to surround yourself with people who, really, aren’t that much different than you are. They are profoundly comfortable people – like comfort food or comfort books.
But it’s the people that you share practically nothing with that can force you to see the world from a different perspective and question your own assumptions. Kind of like one of the Run Club’s more hilarious members who, when asked which race he was planning to run next replied: “The Run for Recovery 5K. The woman I want to sleep with is a recovering addict and she’s running it.” Not the kind of person I tend to run across in my church, work or preschool circles.
It was this group of engineers, stay-at-home moms, personal trainers, lawyers, city planners; people who run for joy, for beer, for mental health; who gave me good and critical advice when I decided to organize a local 5K to raise money for the Montessori elementary program where I worked. And even better, they showed up that morning, ran their hearts out and gave their support to our city and to a member of their own tribe.
|From This is How I Roll 5K – May 21, 2011|
A few months later, we were gathered on another Tuesday night to run and send off one of our members who was moving to Germany after three years running with the Club.
Thus the bratwurst.
And a rare moment of putting words to what holds us together.