One of the things I was most worried about when leaving State College was leaving the Rec Hall Regulars running group. How would I be able to find a group of goofy, immature guys (and girls) who run fast enough to push me but don't leave me in the dust? On Saturday last week I went to my cousin's track meet in Pasco (a tiny town in eastern Washington nestled among sagebrush and velvety grey hills) and my cousin's coach suggested I try Club Northwest. They meet Wednesdays and Saturdays for tempo and track workouts, and Sunday mornings for a long run.
Sunday morning I met them at 9am in front of Super Jock and Jill and we did 13.2 miles around North Seattle at a brisk pace. There were about 10 people running, mostly younger guys. Everyone was very friendly and they sold me on the perks of the club - pay a $50 yearly fee and get a free Club Northwest t-shirt, discounts at local running stores including Super Jock and Jill, enter races at a discount, get a free stride evaluation, and get to run cross-country against other clubs. The runners seem to be pretty hardcore and focused on improvement. After the run I lay in bed and ate chocolate the rest of the afternoon and didn't even feel guilty about it (not that I ever feel guilty about it).
Tuesday night I decided to try the Green Lake Running Group, which I'd found on meetup.com (seriously, this site is a lifesaver in a new city). They have runs around the lake every day of the week except Sunday, and two track workouts on Mondays. Basically, no matter what time of day you are free there is a run for you, and since there are over 1,000 members you will never have to run alone again. Some of the perks include 10-25% discounts at Road Runner Sports and special First and Third Thursday runs where they drink beer afterwards.
Even though it was raining Tuesday night there were about 15 people there at 6:30pm, and we took off to do three miles or so around Ravenna Park, with an optional extra lap around Green Lake (three miles) at the end. They divided into different pace groups as we ran so that there was something for everybody.
I skipped the tempo run with Club Northwest on Wednesday night and went bouldering instead. Shout out to Max if he's reading this!
Thursday I showed up for Green Lake Running Group's special "Thirdsday" run at Road Runner Sports. They were raffling off running gear so I put my name in the hat. It was raining again but there were still at least 50 runners meandering around the store. One group took off for a 5 mile 6:40 tempo run. I didn't do that, but I did do a five miler past the Zoo with Tony, another runner from Tuesday. At the end of our five miles we stopped to stretch and chat in front of Green Lake Bar & Grill with the group. It was a smaller group, about 16 people, but very friendly. They asked how we had found their group and we said we'd seen their meetup. "Oh," said Matt, a guy who seemed to be in charge, "we don't get many runners from meetup. Usually people find us on our website." "I didn't know you had a website," I said. "Yeah, it's just www.seattleantifreeze.com." He said. I wasn't sure why it had a completely different name, but I didn't ask.
"Where are we drinking?" I asked. "Tacos Guaymas," answered Matt.
At Tacos Guaymas, as we were chatting and sipping our beers and eating our nachos, I asked about the raffle. "When do we find out who won?"
"Raffle?" Asked Lauren, the girl sitting next to me. "What raffle?"
"You know, the Road Runner Sports Raffle...?"
"Uh...I think you ended up with the wrong group."
It was true. We were drinking beers with the Seattle Antifreeze Runners. They are part of the greater club, Seattle Antifreeze, whose mission is to disprove the "Seattle Freeze" phenomenon (when people from Seattle seem friendly but never call you back). They run on Saturdays and Wednesdays. There's a lot of overlap with the Green Lake Running Group, and they said they also join them for their special Thursday runs.
We had a good laugh. In the end it was a great mistake. Matt, who described himself as "Seattle's biggest social whore" promised to make it his mission to introduce me to as many people as possible, and Lauren invited me to see a Johnny Cash cover band, "Cash'd Out" tomorrow night. Looks like I won't be spending my evenings talking to plants anymore!