Song: “America,” Neil Diamond
This past week I did something I’ve never done before — run with a group.
The day before I planned out my outfit. I knew I was coming home from work at about 1 p.m. and about four hours later I’d be getting up to get ready to run.
I packed to be seen, neon green with my black running tights and long-sleeve shirt. I packed my son’s black with neon stripes gloves. I made sure my headlamp worked in case I needed it, filled a water bottle and put it in the fridge and pulled the reflective strap off my husband’s triathlon bike to wear.
I didn’t know whether we’d run outside or inside, so I did my usual, back for the worse case scenario.
The day came and went. At the crack before the break of dawn, I woke up from my half-sleep and got ready to run.
The week before, I joined Team RWB (Ted, White and Blue), a nonprofit that does amazing work with the military veterans and active duty soldiers. I had no idea what to expect, other than we’d be running.
As we gathered near the Jerry West statue by the WVU Coliseum, I tried to keep warm. I dressed for running, not standing around. Eventually, all six of us (one of the members stopped by to see us off) had our introductions and warm ups. Then we were off into the darkness of the Evansdale and Suncrest neighborhoods.
The streets were well lit but a lot busier than I expected for 6-something in the morning. The chapter’s leader stayed with me, telling me about the chapter and all it does. And she did it all while running and carrying an American flag.
It was cool having people honk at us, not because we cut them off, but because they supported what we were doing. As the flag was passed between the group members, it felt like I was doing something pretty cool.
The route was about four miles and it includes part of a race course I’ve run a few times. It’s different in the winter. There’s ice to avoid, morning commuters pulling into parking lots and other runners to wave at.
It was the first run in a long time where I felt like I was pushing myself. I didn’t want to go too fast and burn out, but I didn’t want to go my usual slow pace. So I huffed up the hills without stopping. At certain times I noted when I would have taken a drink or slowed, I didn’t fall into my usual workout routine.
Near the end was a gentle incline that lead back to Jerry West’s statue. It was around here that I was give the pro ledge of carrying the flag.
It was about four feet in length and in a white-painted wooden stick with a brass ring that held the two sections together. It was kind of heavy yet kind of light at the same time.
As I tried to figure out how to sling the pole on my shoulder without catching the flag on my shoulder, I was a bit worried. I didn’t want to drop the flag or do something ridiculous in front of all the cars. So I worked a little bit harder to keep up and stand a little straighter. While I imagined the flag was waving behind me, it was probably just stuck against my shoulder and semi-sweaty back.
At the statue, we took a finishing photo and parted ways. I was on cloud nine and didn’t come down for a few hours. That’s when the lack of sleep caught up with me. Gets me every workday.
I like the group run. I’ve spent more of my training either running by myself or with my kids. It was cool to hang out with adults for a change. It was an awesome feeling to be nudged to do something I didn’t think I had in me for a little over a year.
Group runs aren’t for everyone. But if you find an awesome group, it’s members will help you do great things. Seeing the sun rise over one of Morgantown’s iconic buildings was one of the awesome things I did.
I can’t wait to run again. Eventually, I’d like to do more with Team RWB. I’ll let you know how it goes.