Saturday, 6 a.m., & Running?


{Where I explain why I'm blogging at 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday}

Last Thursday I went to a karaoke bar. It was only the second time I'd ever been to one, but some friends from work were getting together, and once I realized the bar was (according to Google maps) .4 miles from where I was already going to be that night playing tennis, I decided to make an appearance.

I did end up singing a duet of "Stop in the Name of Love" with my friend Kalyn, which wasn't great because apparently I don't actually know any words besides the six that are in the title. And yes, I know they give you the words, but that doesn't help much when you don't know the tune. But my singing abilities isn't the point of this story. The point is, I started talking about running with this guy I met who came with another friend of mine.

He told me about the races he'd run, and what he was training for, and I told him about my one half marathon. Then he asked me a rather strange question: "Are you good at getting up early?"

"Ummm... I mean, yeah I guess so," I said.
"Well the first week of fall training for the OKC Landrunners started last week. They meet every Saturday at six in the morning. This week they're doing 8 miles. You should come."
"Eight miles? The last time I ran I did five and a half. I don't know about jumping to eight."
"You can turn back early if you want. And it's really fun."
"Well, I'll think about it," I said.

So the night went on, and Kalyn and I sang the aforementioned song, and then it was time for me to say my goodbyes. As I turned to leave, Brent grinned at me and said, "So I'll see you Saturday?"

"Maybe," I said, turning to go. "Maybe."

I fully intended to skip. Who wants to get up on a Saturday morning before the sun has even risen? Crazy people, that's who.

But I couldn't stop thinking about it, and soon I knew that my maybe was really a yes, and like it or not I would be seeing Brent for the 8-mile run. Before I made my final decision, though, I bounced my crazy idea off Audra and Jordan, who always have a fresh perspective and don't feel bad telling me if they don't think what I'm planning is a wise idea. I was surprised when they both had a positive response. The fact that I hadn't run more than 5.5 miles yet wasn't a concern for them; the only negative comment Jordan made was to say that he was worried it would be a group of "serious" runners--you know, people who run all the time at insanely fast paces. But the description of the group when I looked it up online was "for runners and walkers," so I felt confident there would at least be someone who was slower than me--maybe one or two walkers.

So last night I set my alarm for 5:00 a.m. When I woke up this morning, I was so nervous that I went to the bathroom like four times, and I was worried I'd have to go again once I got there (seriously, what is it with me and the bathroom when I'm running/about to go on a run? [and what is it with me and talking about it on my blog? no, don't answer that]).

I arrived at the meeting place around 5:40 and saw a pretty good collection of people. I'd say maybe 80 (though take that with a grain of salt; I'm terrible at estimating). I turned off the car, took my key off my key chain, hooked it through my shoe lace, and tied it, tucking the key into the laces so it would stay put. Then I locked the door and started walking toward the early-morning throng. "I think I'll grab my ipod," I said to myself. I turned around and walked back to my car, untied my shoe, and attempted unsuccessfully to stick the key in the lock. "What the... Oh crap."

It was at that moment that I realized I was holding my apartment key.

"Oh crap," I said again, peering inside the window to see the rest of my key chain sitting on the passenger seat. "Oh crap."

Since there wasn't really anything I could do at the moment, I just shrugged and started walking back toward the people. "Guess I'll deal with that later."

I joined the ever-growing crowd and almost immediately spotted Brent. I waved, and he walked over with a huge grin. "What's up!" he said, giving me a high five. "You made it!"

Even though this was only the second time I'd ever met him before, it was really nice to see a friendly face. "I'm good," I said. "But I...locked my keys in my car. Can I borrow your cell phone later?"

"Wow. That's a bummer. Sure, you can borrow my phone. Do you have a plan?"
"Nope. No plan, just gonna deal with it when I get back."
He laughed. "That's the spirit."

Just then, a lady with a bull horn announced the route, and we started running. I had forgotten how wonderful it was to run with other people; Brent and I started off together, but that was only because he said he liked to "start slow." He soon took off to run with the fast people, and I was left by myself. But even being by myself, I still didn't feel alone. I could hear people behind me--their quick breaths and the slap of their feet hitting the pavement. I could see people ahead of me--checking their watches and occasionally lifting their shirts to wipe the sweat off their faces. Then the sun started rising, and I could see glimmers of oranges and yellows through the trees. It was glorious.

Mile three was the hardest. I got the probably the worst cramp I've ever had. It felt like someone was stabbing me in the side, and I stopped to walk for a few minutes and catch my breath. When it was clear the cramp wasn't going anywhere, I decided I might as well keep running, so I set off again and started taking large, deep breaths. That seemed to do the trick, and for the next five miles it was just running, running, running. Brent passed me on the turnaround, and he gave me another grin and slapped me another high five.

All in all, it took me an hour and fifteen minutes. Not bad considering I'd just run 2.5 miles farther than I had since last winter. I don't know if I've ever been so accomplished before 8 a.m. on a Saturday. Despite pain in my left knee, right hip, and right foot, I was feeling good.

As far as the whole I-locked-my-keys-in-my-car thing, it ended fine. I borrowed Brent's phone to call Jordan, and it only took three tries before I heard an extremely groggy, "Hello."

"It's me. I locked my keys in my car."
{sigh} "Are you serious?"

I felt bad waking him up, but he seemed more understanding when I explained that this wasn't just a simple key situation--I had taken a key off my key chain and tied it to my shoe...just not the right key. After all, it was 5:50 in the morning on a Saturday. I can't really be expected to have rational thought processes.

So I waited for a bit, and then my knight in shining armor appeared with my extra key. All's well that ends well. And hey, if I have to wake up early on a Saturday, everyone should, right?

Okay, so here are my final thoughts for those who have considered joining a running group or might now be considering it:

---It really is a lot of fun. There are some "serious" runners, obviously, but today there were people of every pace, and in the end, it's not how fast you ran but the fact that you did it at all.

---It's low key, so if the group is doing, say, a 12-mile run but you only want to run 6, just turn back early. No one's going to yell at you.

---Yes, it's early, but you beat the heat. Also, you get to see the sun come up.

---They provide a few water stations along the way, and there was some food and chocolate milk at the end. Pretty nice of them considering the fact that to participate in the run is completely free. 

And finally, I unfortunately had to learn that your apartment key does you no good if the rest of your keys are locked in the car. That being said, have at least one useful phone number memorized. I don't know what I would have done if I didn't know Jordan's number. I guess I would have had to run home.

Then I wouldn't have been able to write about my early-morning adventure until later tonight--mostly likely from a hospital bed.
Caitlin said...

Too funny! I've made similar mistakes...and also love my running group and karaoke...and have bathroom/running related problems. :)

Amanda said...

Caitlin, I totally thought of you when the opportunity presented itself to run early on a Saturday morning! (since you'd just recently written that post about it.) :)