The Ottawa Running Club

Almost a year ago I moved back to Ottawa, Kansas, leaving behind a great running community in Missouri. I’ve missed to camaraderie and friends that pushed me to go faster and further. I’ve seen numerous people out running the trails in Ottawa and often dreamed of starting a group in my new community.

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It wasn’t until I was struggling during my last training cycle that I began thinking more seriously about starting a running club. In fact, my mom suggested that I start focusing less on myself and more on others. YES! I knew in that moment what I had to do.

Two weeks ago, I started the Ottawa Running Club. We meet every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening at the local Rec Center. I map out an out-and-back course (6 miles during the week & 8 miles on weekends, for now) and set up flags at each turn, provide two water stops- along with Kleenex, sunscreen, and band-aids and throughout the summer, I bring chilled washcloths for a post-run refresher.

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The turn out has been good. We’ve had anywhere from 3 (108 degrees yesterday) to 11 participants. For a smaller community, I’ve been pleased with the numbers, but see it growing this fall. I hope to continue to tailor this group to new, beginner runners.

In addition, I met with the county health department yesterday and look forward to working with them on an upcoming event to encourage activity in our area!

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Did Not Start

Grandma’s Marathon is a week away and I’ve decided that I won’t be running marathon #10, at least not right now. About 4 weeks ago, I started having severe back pain. I couldn’t run, couldn’t sit and could hardly move without hurting. For three weeks, I’d run every once-in-a-while just to be sure it still hurt and was only walking and doing some minor strength training. I began thinking that I’d suffer from chronic back pain forever. I’ve seen two different chiropractors, but going back to my original chiropractor (the one I went to before I moved away) was the best decision I’ve made. After 3 adjustments, I started feeling better and today I’m almost at 100%.

I’m back to running short distances because even though I’m currently pain-free, I’m paranoid about hurting myself again, and with so many weeks off, I’m way out of shape. I’ve done some nice 3-milers and I’m hoping to go a bit further in the near future. I’m certainly not marathon-ready.

The week before a marathon is hard, mentally. By this point you’ve tapered and are running just enough miles to keep loose. You’re going crazy hardly running at all and you start second guessing your training. You’re preparing your body though food and water for the long run and you’re mentally visualizing the course and the finish line.

I’m a week out from a marathon that I’m not going to start. This is the first race ever that I’ve signed up for and won’t be finishing….or even toeing the start line. It’s tough. I can’t help but have second thoughts, think I could have done things differently wonder if I’d be able to finish, or if I’ll ever be able to finish another marathon.

Running has been hard for the past year. I’m slower and I’ve become too embarrassed to run with a group. I used to run with friends every Wednesday and Saturday but lately it’s hard to want to run with anyone. I can’t keep up and I often end up alone anyway, so what’s the point?

The point is that if everyone felt that way, there probably wouldn’t be running clubs. Which, brings me to my next adventure. There’s something magical about a running group. The comradery, the passion, inspiration and encouragement is amazing.

Last weekend I volunteered at the Sunday Runday North tent and saw some of my former group members. It reminded me how important a group is, no matter what training cycle or life cycle you’re in. Sometimes you have more time to train and you run PRs… other times, you run for pleasure or stress relief with no time goals and sometimes, you fall off the wagon and dream of getting back into it. As with life, your running story takes shape around what’s currently happening and you just have to brace yourself for the rollercoaster ride.

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I’m excited to start a running club in the town that I now reside. I’ve seen people out running and I’ve missed that group atmosphere. I’ll be arranging a group Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings, where I’ll map out a course, and provide water. I don’t know how it will go over or how many will come but I want people to know that they have a consistent person who will be there to cheer them on. I’m excited to be  a part of someone’s first 5k or their 100th marathon. This group will be for all skill levels. Most of all, I’m excited to take the focus off of myself, and help someone reach their goals.