Several years ago an acquaintance of mine and I decided to run a marathon. Neither of us had ever run more than a mile - and the last time either of us had done that was high school. It seemed like a lofty goal and we both figured "How hard can it be?" We were wrong . . . and we were right.
Many times during those first few months I asked myself what the hell I had been thinking as gasped for breath and fought the urge to curl up on the side of the road and wait for the buzzards to get me. As the weeks went by it got easier and my acquaintance became a good friend.
We survived. We raised money for charity. We made a bunch of new friends. Since that first marathon we have gone on to run several others, but that's a story for another day.
Our little group is not the stero-typical running group. We may not really look like runners. Most of us aren't super lean or super fast. We tend to slack off at times and are quick to cut a run short if we just aren't feeling it that day. We pick races based on how good the t-shirt is and how much swag we get.
One thing that we don't slack on is our post run routine. For years we have met in the same place on Wednesday nights at 6:45 pm. We run 3, 4, or 5 miles depending on the weather, training schedules, or general mood. Afterwards . . . we do not pass go, we do not collect $200, we go directly across the street to New York Pizza and Pasta for food and adult beverage.
We have been going there since the week it opened. We were one of the very first group photos that was hung on the wall and we were put in a place of prominence. (Since then, we have been bumped to the corner in favor of all sorts of local celebrities.) They welcome us warmly, rearrange their tables for us, and happily eat our extra birthday cake.
It's great to have a place where you are a regular, and it's great to have a group of friends that you can exercise with and then go put all those calories back with. Good times.