I went to my first Lululemon run club in Berkeley just after the Oakland half marathon back in March. I’d seen signs for run club in the Berkeley store, but felt totally intimidated. I envisioned a group of speedy girls in perfectly matching, bright colored lululemon outfits, frolicking along at a brisk 6 minute pace. (I clearly have a vivid imagination) I wasn’t speedy at the Oakland half, but I had a blast doing the race. I figured I could probably survive one night of run club since I’d just reminded myself I could survive 13.1 miles.
It was surprisingly hot for March in the Bay Area, and I nearly wore myself out just biking to run club (it’s uphill all the way there, but smooth sailing all the way home!). My first day at run club actually was the same day that the Berkeley store was launching their beginner run club. There were a bunch of people in the store, and I could sense that I wasn’t the only nervous one! I was tempted to take the easy way out and do the 2 mile run with the beginners, but after talking with someone else about having just run the Oakland half, I decided to suck it up and go with the “experienced” crew.
A small group of us headed out to the Golden Bear track. I’d been up there once, but had driven to the track previously, and somehow hadn’t noticed that it was up a serious hill. (Actually, mapping out routes and then failing to check the elevation profile has been a hallmark of all of my Berkeley training). It was hot, and I was so anxious to keep up, and that hill just killed me. I had to walk up the last part of it and was pretty disappointed. When we finally got all the way up to the track, we were rewarded with gorgeous views (on a clear day you can see both the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate). We were up at the track to do a timed mile. I don’t think I’d done a timed mile since moving out to Berkeley. Plus it was hot, I was feeling none too speedy, and I didn’t have my ipod with me. Excuses, excuses…
We all lined up and set off, and my goal quickly became not to get lapped. Some of these girls were super speedy! I sweated and trudged my way to a 9:42 mile. I was a little discouraged, but I’d learned that run club does the timed mile once a month, and I knew that 9:42 was a time I could definitely improve upon. We all headed back down to the store (the joy of running up into the hills is that what goes up, must come down!). We got back to the store and met up with the other group, and all had water and granola bars and took a big group picture.
I’ve gone to run club nearly every week since. I’m closing in on the 50 miles run with Lululemon mark, and I’ve had a blast. I look forward to Wednesdays, and for a while I was even running to run club, running with run club, and then running home from run club. The group of people who meet up is ever changing. We’ve been led by lululemon girls as well as by a bunch of different run ambassadors (all awesome!). I’ve run with Cal students, with a gentleman training for a 100 mile race (just one of many he has done!), a mom and her young daughter, and many other people from all stages and walks of life. We’ve run on trails, on the track, on the roads (somehow it’s almost always uphill!), and I brought that mile time down to 8:04. My goal is to get that mile time under 7:30 before too much longer!
I never thought I’d like running with a running group. Even running with sports teams, I always felt like I could never settle into pace with the person next to me, and I was always running too slow or too fast. I still fail completely at holding a consistent pace, but with run club, there’s someone running at every pace so I always have a buddy. I can fall in and out of conversations with people, and we’re all connected by our running, whether we’re training for a 5k or a 100 mile race. So many of the friends I’ve made since moving have been through running. When I first moved to Berkeley I signed up for a training group for the Oakland half marathon as a way to meet people. I just went to my first really awesome running blogger meetup, and through the months of training I’ve had my Wednesday Lululemon run club to look forward too!
I’m holding out for that 100 mile shirt! For locals, the Berkeley run leaves out of the Berkeley store at 6pm on Wednesdays!
Do you train with a running group?