I’ve been looking to join a running club for a few months now. After much heckling from my running buddy and former assistant track coach, I tagged along with the Excelsior Running Club today. Showing up bright eyed and bushy-tailed, I arrived at Kezar Stadium 30 minutes early.
I was in my running gear ready to go! But wait, where is everyone? And if they’re already there, how will I know it’s them?
It was my first time meeting the team. I had no idea how everyone looked and I only had some sort of inkling of where they meet. I waited patiently (read awkwardly) and did a few laps around the asphalt perimeter and stretched a bit. I watched the Impala women zoom by (they looked so fit and strong). Freakin’ talented women, why do you have to be so fast!
Side note: The Impala Racing Team is a mega-talented all-women group of elite runners. I first heard about them from my coworker, when he strongly encouraged me to join their team. “You have a lot of potential,” he said. “You can definitely expect to improve with them.” I think I would like to train with them at some point.
Okay, back to me stretching awkwardly, glancing around, a little bit lost and a little bit of eager nervousness. My former coach appears and comes to the rescue. He introduces me to 4 other runners, 1 of whom I’ve already met during a random workout in Golden Gate Park.
And we’re off! We run westward through the park. It’s a route I’m really familiar with. (Golden Gate Park is my lightly-treading [stomping is bad for the knees!] grounds for trail runs.) The pace is as light as the conversation and I’m pleasantly surprised by how everything is flowing so smoothly. I’m geeking out by swapping marathon stories and times with the other runners, while keeping up them, stride for stride. We run to the beach, where the sunset paints the sky majestic shades of pink, orange, and blue. Then the hard part.
We cross over to what I call “the Richmond side of Golden Gate Park.” It’s where the buffalo and bison graze. It starts to get pretty dark and I stay off the trail, not wanting to trip over a protruding tree root or sneaky devil of a rock. It’s uphill and the pace doesn’t let down. In fact, I think it speeds up! What the! I thought y’all said you were recovering from Saturday’s race.
After a while, 2 of the guys wait for me and the last guy to catch up. We reel back in to where we started, by my coach’s car. A little more chit chat about teams, races, how the scoring system works, impressive runners to watch out for, impressive runners we’ve beaten (no matter how old they are now…), etc.
Verdict: I think I will try them out again. They were super friendly to me, and I liked how I wasn’t the fastest nor the slowest. Running with them will definitely help me step up my game while not feeling like I’m holding them back. They’re a goofy bunch that are fun to work out and chat with. We’ll see… ;)