Breaking into the Boys’ Club

Five years ago, after Little Ironman was born and Skipper had his surgery, I decided it was time to start pushing myself to run competitively again. Two years ago, I realized that if I wanted to really improve that I needed to take asthma by the horns and fight it. With the exception of support from my husband and boys, I’ve pretty much done this on my own.

Enter 2010, the year things started to change. I was running the best that I had in twenty years and my non-running friends were starting believe that I was a runner. The only thing missing was a group to run with, to hang out with at races, to compare training tips.

But, typical me, I was particular about where I went. The local store-sponsored clubs didn’t appeal to me because they were mostly beginners and running at set times. A local chiropractor has a group but, again, timing didn’t work with my family schedule; besides, it always filled up faster than I could get on the list. The clubs that interested me were too far away for my mommy/work lifestyle.

Then there were the men whose wives I knew. “Perfect,” I thought. “They live close, run on a day that works for me and their pace is compatible with my own.” Never, ever did I imagine that they didn’t want me to run with them because it was “just the guys”. So, I resigned myself to running single for the rest of my life.

In the past six months, though, things changed. Shawn, a parent at my school, and I started running together – tempo runs midweek; on the weekend, he ran with the boys. Afraid that history would repeat itself, I never suggested running long with them on the weekends.

But often, one of the boys, Renaud or Graham, would join us for our tempo runs. They would tease me about going out too fast but would never complain if I slowed them down later. But there were one or two runs when I dragged them along.

A few months ago, Shawn suggested that I run long with them on a Saturday morning – prepping for their Boston. “Oh no,” I told him, “that’s really tempting but I’d just slow you guys down.” So, they ran the hills in Hamilton and I ventured solo along the lake.

After a few more conversations like this and a lot more self-confidence, I decided to head out with them yesterday morning. Graham and Shawn had 34K on the books; I had 28K. They left me with a magazine and ran a 6K warm-up, then picked me up for their last 28K.

The first part of the run was easy. I matched their pace, not really knowing if that was how fast they normally ran or if they were slowing down for me. An hour later, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to hold my own but I wasn’t going to complain; I had to keep up.

And I did. Up and down Boston-prepping hills, along North Shore, and with no idea where I was going, I stuck with the boys. Now I did have to stop once or twice – and they waited with me – and, by the end, I was able to pull ahead of them. I held my own.

I felt pretty good about how I ran and it made such a difference to have their company. I didn’t want to ask about this week, though; Renaud, the speedster in the group is going to be back from his holiday and that means the pace will be different.

But last night, I got an e-mail ending with “We’ll send you info about next week’s run on Friday“. Looks like I’m in with the boys.

7 Replies to “Breaking into the Boys’ Club”

  1. Hey Cynthia – I wrote a comment about the Boys' Club, but it doesn't look like it posted. I wanted to say congrats for being invited to join and in there hanging with the boys. Whether or not you decide to continue to run with the Boys' Club you have the satisfaction of knowing the decision is completely yours to make. I hope you saw the “If you let me play” video I posted the other day. It's perfect for this situation. Big cheers!

  2. hooray!! you better start crushing beer cans on your head and chest bumping people. That is what guys do in their spare time. πŸ˜‰

  3. Awesome! However, I feel I must warn you that there is a hidden danger to being the only girl in the group: having to listen to many miles of guy talk, most often about sports. I much prefer to do my long runs with girls or at least with another girl in the group. πŸ™‚

  4. I love 'em what a girl can do! It's funny, I run with all women. We had a couple of guys ask to join our track workouts and after talking about it, we deicided to keep it that way. Right or wrong? don't know but you made me thinkg!

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