I buckled under pressure.
After about six months of pestering from Bill Kossmann, I joined Bill and his running pals for a post-run drink at the Troubled Monk last week.
I felt slightly guilty about enjoying the refreshments without any actual running so on Wednesday I ran with the Red Deer Runners group.
For the longest time, I have shied away from joining the group. I often run solo because the group runs often did not mesh with my training or work schedule.
There’s also that perception in the local running scene that the Red Deer Runners are “hardcore” and “too fast to keep up with.”
Okay I get it. Joining a new group or to starting a new sport like running can be intimidating.
Get over it, people.
We all have those fears of being the odd person out or not feeling welcomed.
There will always be a faster, stronger or more experienced runner.
Truth be told, I am socially awkward, which is my only real excuse for not joining the Red Deer Runners.
I know my abilities as a runner. Some days I am golden, while others days I am like the runner from The Blerch.
The group meets on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Recreation Centre.
Feeling slightly out of our element Amanda Skinner and I stood off at the side and waited until we ran on Wednesday.
I expected a quick hello and we would be off.
Nope. It was a bit of a love in (no hugs) where everyone shared the race reports from the previous weekend and about upcoming events. A roll call of sorts concluded the pre-run business.
Runners had the option of running an 8K or a stair workout. Normally I would have opted for the stairs but my right leg is still giving me grief. I figured a relaxed 8K would be in my wheelhouse that day.
Bill ran with Amanda and I for the first two kilometres before the groups split.
I first interviewed Bill in 2011 when his daughter, Alesia, then 21, was training for her first half marathon. It was part of a story on families who run together.
But Bill has graced the Advocate’s pages over the years with his ultra marathon feats. Years ago he was my co-worker Paul Cowley’s running coach when Paul ran his first marathon. Paul said Bill had a beer waiting for him in a paper bag at the finish line.
That’s my kind of running coach.
Bill chatted away about this and that as Amanda and I tried to keep up.
Amanda ran with him about eight years ago when she first joined the Red Deer Runners. (Her membership has long lapsed.) Amanda said she will never forget what he said to her – “You will make a great runner one day.”
Bill is one of those amazing ambassadors for running. Every community has one.
I digress … Amanda and I followed the group along the trails near Rotary Park and near Kin Canyon. We ran on trails that I have never seen before. (Yes, I know I need to get out more in Red Deer.)
A runner in a red shirt led the way and provided commentary on the local landmarks. We really enjoyed the play-by-play and the high fives every time we climbed a hill.
I could get used to that.
The Red Deer Runners meet on Wednesdays and Saturdays every week at the Recreation Centre. Tomorrow the group is meeting to do some proper trails at River Bend. More information about membership and planned runs is available at www.reddeerrunners.org.
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