Back in April, I joined a local running group that my soon-to-be friend Michelle started on Meetup.com. Most of the new Meetup groups I get alerted to are in Orlando, but this one was local…I mean REALLY local. I could run to the meeting point (but I don’t). I didn’t know any of the group when we started, but many of them I’m happy to count among my friends now.
- Jessica is my competition – we’re usually neck in neck. (But today she beat me, literally, by a mile.)
- Jacqueline is my alter-ego…she has three kids, just like me, and they run her in every direction.
- Michelle is the organizer, and she shows up to put out cones and water even if she isn’t going to run. She’s the group mom. She also runs completely barefoot and is the source for many comments from other runners on the street.
- Glenn is the one I never seem to see. Once he starts, I won’t catch a glimpse of him until after he’s doubled-back. Oh wait, put Giles and Charlie in this group too.
- The two Karens never show up on the same day, but they’re both great runners and super fun.
- Tam usually does the longest run, finishes near the front of the pack, then goes BACK out to find the last person and keep them company. So he does a couple of extra miles most days.
But in addition to the people I actually KNOW, there are the people that I FEEL like I know, because we see them every weekend. We run on Saturdays and Sundays, so I see these people so often I feel like I know them. And possibly because we live in Florida, in an older county, there’s a variety of characters that I swear one day I’m going to hand out party invitations too. Even though I don’t know their names.
The Bipolar: For example, there’s one man, probably in his 60s, who bikes for hours both days each weekend. He knows and recognizes each of us, and oddly, half of the time he sees us, he tells us to stop running, and the other half of the time he tells us to keep pushing on.
The Couple Who Plays Together, Stays Together: Then there’s a couple, maybe late 60s or even 70s, who go out on Saturdays with their dog. The man runs a 7-and-a-half minute mile with his stumpy-legged little dog on a leash. (I don’t know how the dog keeps up!) And his wife follows them on her adult-sized tricycle.
Yesterday was a new twist though – we met another lady coming the other direction, also on a full-sized trike. It was a bit of a sidewalk traffic jam.
The Zumba Lady: I’ve never seen her in my local classes, so I assume she goes to a different gym, but one lady is always wearing Zumbawear whenever she’s out jogging. Hey, whatever works. Personally, until Zumba starts using dri-weave, I’ll stick to race tees!
Happy: That’s her name – she’s a lady that goes to the church we used to be members of. She’s the only 60-year-old I know with the body of a 25-year-old. She’s a power walker, and she always says hi, but half the time she doesn’t recognize me (I assume because I’m hiding behind my awesome runner sunglasses.) By the time I see her again, after we’ve both turned around and headed back the way we came, she’s usually figured it out.
Mr. and Mrs. Hardcore: Two of the only people who can’t be bothered to say hello to anyone else…IMO they take themselves way too seriously. Young couple, very focused on their run. VERY. FOCUSED.
The Bikers: This is a group of roadie cyclists out every Saturday morning in their logo-adorned jerseys. I don’t know when they start, but I don’t usually see them until I’m at least 4 miles in. Depending on how hot it is, I’ve thought about flashing them to see if I can make them all crash. Don’t judge me – by this point I’m nearly depleted of sweat, glycogen, and sanity…it’s a good sign that I’m thinking at all.
I really like that there’s a sense of community with all the runners, walkers, and cyclists out on the sidewalks every weekend morning. I find that it’s one of the things I actually look forward to each Saturday and Sunday!