So I wrote something for the LA Leggers newsletter this past week. Here it is!
In the past two years as a Legger, Nazbanoo has run 3 marathons, 4 half marathons, and is currently a mentor for the 12s. During this time she has shared her experience as a runner in her blog, runnersalmanac.blogspot.com.
We all know running is an individual activity - but I only started taking it seriously when I appreciated it as a group sport. My first race is a 5K in December 2007 in support of the Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda.
The participants are a small dedicated bunch, so small that I even place 3rd in my division. The course is simple, just a loop around the Home's facilities, but I cherish the feeling of community - something that is often lacking in our sprawling metropolis. So I sign up for my next race, and soon I get hooked. It gives me a chance to visit parts of Southern California that are new to me, or to which I never offer more than a passing glance from the comfort of my car.
It also gives me a chance to meet some really interesting strangers. At the Pasadena Marathon last year, I meet Lan. She is a running enthusiast (now marathon maniac) dim-sum lover who approached me in the parking lot. From our brief encounter walking from parked cars to port-a-potties, we form a running friendship that continues largely online - she is often one of the first people to give me any encouragement or advice.
Or Laura - a Bay Area local whom I meet around mile 8 of the Rock N' Roll San Jose Half-Marathon in 2009. During our 3 mile conversation, I learned a lot about her - how she recently had a baby, used to hate running, but how it helped her lose the baby weight. This is her first half-marathon. San Jose is an even friendlier race because of her.
My favorite stranger-turned-running-buddy is John - a 75-year-old member of the California Cruisers, an Orange County running group. He started running in his 50s, has completed 115 marathons, and is a 50-stater (his most memorable being the Delaware Marathon). He is on his way to Athens in the fall. I meet John at the Cinco de Mayo Half-Marathon in Irvine in May 2010, and we run together for a couple of miles. Technically, he is running with his wife at this race, but when I ask him where she is, he replies "I left her for a younger woman". Meeting John is one of the reasons I love races.
I also have had other buddies too - the kinds you don't actually meet, or even talk to, but whose energy pushes you through to the home stretch.
And my favorite running buddy? LA Leggers. People in my pace group may be surprised that I am not as chatty in real life as I am during a run - But the fact is, few things make me happier than Saturday mornings. This is especially true at events where Legger shirts flood the course - like at the recent 13.1 Marathon where we all cheered and rooted for each other. At events like these, no one is a stranger, everyone knows your name, and your name is "Legger".