Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Happy Two Years with Java Joggers!


"Years later, thinking back on beginning, I see that while eventually, I came to understand that running would be good for my body and for my mind, it took me longer to know what it would do for my heart. Not the knobby muscle that pumps blood through the body, the organ that keeps the physical self alive, but the notional place where feelings pool and clog and eventually spring free. What I didn't realize, when I first started lacing up my shoes, was that for me, running would be so much about love.

Running with another person is an intimate activity. Run with someone long enough at a time and you will be stripped bare. Modesty falls away with the miles. The body -- its functions, its excretions, its wants -- cannot be ignored. The heavy breathing, the sweating, the soft talk that comes after exertion, the hours spent together -- running with another person is an intimate activity. it's hard to keep the heart uninvolved."
--except from the book "Personal Record: A Love Affair with Running" by Rachel Toor

My friend Cathy wrote today:
"Helen is one of the most fabulously craziest woman I've ever met! She is one of a kind and I know I speak for the rest of the JJ's when I say, "We are the luckiest runners/cyclist to have her in our lives." She has come into our lives only two years ago and she has done so much! She is our biggest cheerleader, our biggest supporter, recruiter and most of all biggest crazy crown wearer! Thank you Helen, I know my world is much more colorful with you in it. You really are an inspiration. I look foward to the next two years and can only imagine the extraodinary feats you will accomplish."
Two years ago, I was a shy little runner. Barely a runner. Searching for running groups, I found this group called Java Joggers. It seemed to be a low pressure group welcoming all levels...walkers, joggers, marathoners...slow and fast people...And, of course, the "java" part of Java Joggers appealed to me.

So, on April 4, 2010, a Sunday morning, I went out to the Aquatic Center for my first meetup with Java Joggers. I wore some cotton t-shirt and shorts and cheapie running shoes. I felt really nervous. I had started to do some running around the neighborhood and think the most I had run was 4 miles. No idea how fast/slow. The only goal I had in mind was to be able to run 3 miles in the run portion of a triathlon I was trying to train for.

The day of my first run, David, the organizer, greeted me in the parking lot along with other runners. We talked about what we were going to run. Some talked about doing the "lake loop," whatever that meant. Two people said they were going to do about 5 miles slow/easy. So, I stuck with them. We all started off and I saw the backs of David and Cathy as they took off to do the "loop." I then ran behind Diane and Gerry. Both were super friendly and chatted my ear off as I did my best to keep up with them. I was also surprised as to how much personal stuff is talked about while running. Gerry talked about his son. I can't quite remember what Diane talked about. I was just trying to keep up. Boy was I relieved after a couple miles in, they decided to walk a little bit. I finished the five mile run/walk. This would be my longest run at the time.

After the run, we gathered at Starbucks. I remember asking Gerry, "how long will the others be out?" Gerry said they were running around the lake so probably be another 45 minutes. Around the lake?! How far is that? 11-12 miles. Wow! I was in awe.

Eventually David and Cathy joined the group at Starbucks. And, I just had a nice time listening to all them jabber about this and that. What a friendly group!

So, I came back. . .I ran...I java'd...I became a crazy runner...and, I fell in love with some of the greatest friends to be part of my life...:)

In two years, I have attended over 250 meetups with Java Joggers. They helped me be able to run my first 10k, my first triathlon, my first lake loop, my first half marathon, my first marathon, and my first ultra-marathon. They have helped me become a faster and stronger runner. They have kind of made me into a crazy person too. I started off as just as girl who just wanted to be able to run 3 miles at the end of a triathlon. I did not plan to ever run crazy long distances. I did not believe two years ago I could ever run a marathon. But, Java Joggers changed me somehow. They made me a happier and healthier person. They got me to believe in myself. Believe that I can do what I once thought was impossible. And, I love they just encourage and inspire the craziness.

While I do love my other running friends, my cycling friends, and my swimming friends, there is something particularly special with me and the Java Joggers. They have become family to me. Cathy sometimes jokes that we should be called the Jabbering Java Joggers because we talk so much when we run. But, it is because we talk that we are so close to one another. Hours are spent running together. In those hours, we have covered many subjects from serious to silly. From personal to just pure randomness. We have talked, shared, listened to just about everything and anything.

What I did not know back when I started was that I would just fall in love with these people. I did not know that these are the people I would end up sharing so much of my life with. And, not just my running life. I have grown to cherish them because they have helped fix what was once a broken person, that they have continually picked me up when various life things just knock me down, and they continually make me smile and laugh. They have become the greatest group of friends a person could ever ask for. They are always my greatest cheerleaders and greatest supporters!

So, for my two year Java Joggers anniversary, I wish to thank all the Java Joggers for all the wonderful runs and other adventures we have shared in the past two years and I look forward to even more runs and crazy adventures in the years to come! :)

I almost always wear the Java Joggers shirt in my races...Because Java Joggers are the reason I am good to the last mile.

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