In 2005, I had recently moved to Tigard and was working at a very small company in Lake Oswego. I didn’t know anyone in the Portland area besides my co-workers and my mom’s cousin, and I wasn’t in a financial position to sign up for a monthly gym membership. Fortunately, I lived just about a mile from Portland Running Company, and while there one night to buy a new pair a running shoes I was invited to go on a group run by a few women.
Those women – Kelly Paul and Pam Rinehart – are still friends, but we rarely see each other. However, meeting those two women at a running store opened the door to the great running community we have here in Oregon. Thanks to them, I joined the Red Lizard running club (where I ended up meeting my husband) and then Oregon Road Runners Club (where I’m on the board and co-race direct the Hagg Lake Mud Runs). I started running longer distances than I ever had before and thanks to Kelly Paul, became a marathoner. And I was introduced to the wonderful dynamic of a group run.
Now, I am not running very much at all (six months pregnant will do that to you) but I still rely on my running community to stay inspired and get things done. I seek out other runners or people who understand runners when recommending everything from podiatrists to mortgage loan officers.
I’ve had the pleasure to pace the Portland Marathon and still get goosebumps when I recall that last mile when my group of runners realized they were about to finish a marathon and suddenly stood up straighter and ran stronger. I’ve coordinated group runs, paced for both Coach Jim and the Portland Marathon Clinic, and put on a number of events. But what keeps me motivated – and what I’m most thankful for – is that there are always new runners entering this same cycle. They decide to try it out, and hopefully they find a few people to support them and help them build their own community.
Those that are “new runners” today are those that will be signing up for their first races – their first 5k, their first half marathon, maybe even a marathon. They’ll discover whether they prefer small community races or large events with huge medals and finish line parties; or maybe they’ll find that they prefer training to racing.
Down the road – both literally and figuratively – they’ll find that when they meet a “new runner,” they’ll start not by giving advice, but by listening, encouraging, and helping each runner become one more supportive block in our running community.
Happy Thanksgiving, Run Oregon readers. Thank you for your contributions to our community.