Wednesday, June 11, 2014

CTC Phalanx

I decided that this morning would be an ideal time for me to do a workout, and I sent out an email to the RMR team soliciting company. Mark emailed me back saying that I was welcome to join his Wednesday morning Charlottesville Track Club group at the track for warming up and cooling down, so I took him up on his offer. I arrived at the track just before 5:30, and there was a group of about 50 people standing around in the parking lot. I got out of the car and stood on the outskirts of the group, where Mark noticed me and came over to touch base. I was going to be running faster than his fast group, but I said I didn't mind and was just happy to have the company on the oval at the same time. He went back to his flock.

A little after 5:30, he started to address the group. This involved a debriefing from the weekend's races, a Wounded Warrior 5K and a downhill mile. Congratulations were in order to the members of the group who had won their age groups or performed exceptionally well. In some strange display of congratulations, one man was given a very long pair of basketball shorts, which he put on and ran around the inside perimeter of the group to much applause, and then gave the shorts back to Mark. I had no clue what was happening. Mark split the masses into groups based on their goal/workout: A September marathon group, an October marathon group, a fall shorter-racing group, and a "just running" group. For the most part, the groups all took off together for the warm-up loop that Mark had described to me as "classic RMR."

I silently found my place on the sidewalk as we headed away from the track towards The Park. Something different about this group, aside from the number of people, was that they were running in the street. In Charlottesville with RMR, I have learned to run on the sidewalks, especially on the warm-up loop. Maybe these people realized that it was early and that there wouldn't be cars out, so they didn't have to worry. But I don't mean they were just running in the street, they were running ALL OVER the street! I was in the middle of the pack (one group had taken off quite quickly and broken away from the rest of us immediately), but I turned around to see the rest of the runners and it looked like they were having their own personal road race in the lane of the oncoming traffic! A car started coming towards us, one person yelled "CAR!" and no one moved a muscle. They just kept on going! Most of them had on bright yellow shirts or something else easily seen by cars, but not everyone!

It was amazing! I think they must have had the mentality of "someone else will get hit by this car, and I'll be fine," or maybe "They'll definitely see all of us, we don't have to worry." I've always thought of myself as somewhat of an outlier when it came to running in traffic. Most of the time, I'm going to know that the car is coming. If I don't think that they can see me, I move. If I know that they can see me, I still try to move a little bit so that I'm not running in the middle of the street or anything, but these people just threw caution to the wind! I was very impressed. These are definitely my people! To hell with traffic, my taxes pay for these roads and I'm going to use them!

As we got down to The Park, I noticed that their loop is not "classic RMR." They just run to the end of the parking lot and turn around. I went along with my own normal warm-up, running around The Park, because I wanted to get in the extra distance. Breaking off on my own was so sad. I went from running in the midst of this huge group of chatting people to complete silence and solitude. If I weren't confident that I'd see these people again in a few minutes back at the track, I would have been very depressed.

The funny thing was that on the way back, all of the stragglers were running on the sidewalk, because they didn't have the protection of their phalanx to keep them from getting hit by a car. It wasn't even dark anymore, but there they were, running on the concrete like good little pedestrians.

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