Member Submission

You don’t have to go fast, you just have to go

By: Julia Neily

I parked at the Lebanon Green and walked to Omer and Bob’s. Hannah was standing there in a neon LL Bean jacket and running pants. It looked like she had auburn hair under her hat. I love red hair, the same color as my daughter Emily’s. Freddie stood beside her wearing a blue Detroit half-marathon shirt. He had an easy smile and a beard. 

“Hi, I’m Julia.” 

“Are you new?” Hannah asked.

No, I just haven’t gotten off my butt or had the courage to show up for one of these runs in a couple of years. I didn’t say that. But I did say, I’m the one who finished dead last in the Hanover Turkey Trot.

“No, I just haven’t come to these runs in a couple of years.”

They smiled and chatted with me some more. We stood outside Omer and Bob’s. It was cold. 9am. Pam showed up. I knew her from other races. She is in my age group and always won. I used to be envious, jealous of those women who were my age and always won. I wanted to walk home with a medal and a gift basket. But after a while I got to know them and found out they were really nice and could teach me about running.

Then came Michael and cheerful Sven who said, “I’m always late!”

Tim and Daniella, very young - no wrinkles and a big smile. I felt intimidated, my fault - not theirs. We went around in a circle and shared how far we wanted to run, how fast and if we had any races coming up.

I told them my goal for that day was to show up for this running group. They smiled. I told them I planned to run 30 minutes out and 30 minutes back in about a 14 minute per mile pace. No one laughed at me or made me feel bad. I guess I am the only person who could make me feel bad. Hannah was welcoming and friendly. I’d seen her running from a distance many times. So lithe and strong. I decided to get a neon LL Bean running jacket too. 

The run was hard. My hips hurt. During the run I thought I’ll turn back now, this is too hard. But I told them out loud that I was going to do 30 out and 30 back so I’d have to follow through. For me this is the value of showing up and running with others. Accountability. Inspiration.

As we left, I said, “See you next week!”

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