Most normal (I don’t know if that is the right word… what is normal anyway?) people who stay rooted in one place all of their lives don’t realize how difficult it is for military families to move every 2-4 years. They might assume we love it and that we get to enjoy endless adventures, but it isn’t always so much fun and definitely not so easy (especially in the beginning). Besides all of the obvious packing and unpacking, there is the relocation to a new area where you most likely don’t have any friends or family to lean on. It is easy to understand that kids might have difficulty adjusting, but the parents also have to learn a new place and find new friends. Granted, some military folks are good at adapting and very extroverted so they instantly make friends with everyone on their block. But, what about us introverts? We have to face more challenges in that aspect.
Of course, as a military family it is usually easy to get connected with other members who work with the military spouse. Yet, we appear to be in a very unique situation here because my husband will not be working. Instead he will be attending school. A school where there is currently only two other military members assigned to our service. I guess that doesn’t really matter to me much because I have always tended to befriend more of the “outsiders” (the people not affiliated with the military) so I am used to reaching out in different directions.
Now, here I am. I have taken some initiative already since I have done years of research into finding my niche. Anything that deals with running is always a good start. Therefore, I opened up my laptop and started a search for local running clubs. Hmm, I was surprised to see… hardly any in this area. I didn’t type in “cycling club” but I have the feeling that over a hundred options would pop up if I did that. But wait, I did find something that said “running and cycling” club. I guess that is better than nothing.
I kind of thought about the club for a couple of weeks before actually getting up the nerve to attend a track workout. You know, it is always hard to force your way into an already established group of people. People naturally tend to stick with those that they know (unless they are extreme extroverts I suppose). That’s not to say that people aren’t friendly, but you kind of just want to stick with what is most comfortable. I know that I do.
So, I showed up at the track 15 minutes early (of course, because I am naturally punctual thanks to my VERY strict curfews as a teenager… I would get grounded if I was even 10 seconds late). I watched the football coach on the field yelling at his little team of boys and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them. I was thankful that I wasn’t doing their workout. But, then again, I had no idea what I was about to partake in. Club members started staggering in and I tried to remember names, but it is almost not fair because they only have to remember one new name. They all seemed really nice and the one thing that I noticed is that they actually asked me a lot of questions. That always makes a new, introverted person feel more at ease (take some notes here!). The coach arrived with his two stopwatches around his neck and I was starting to feel excited about this whole track thing. I had never really trained on a track before and I suddenly felt like some kind of Olympian. Then he started talking about 400’s and 800’s and 1200’s and I had to turn to the guy next to me and ask “400 is one loop around the track, right?”. Fortunately, I didn’t feel like too much of an idiot for asking that question because I was already pretty comfortable with the group and I kind of played it off like this track might be different from other tracks (I mean, it was gravel and there were weeds growing on it).
So, we started off on a warm-up and I ran next to a girl that I enjoyed 2 laps of small talk with. I remember thinking that it seemed like a great speed to me and that it should be easier than I had anticipated. Well, then all hell broke loose when we started our intervals. “Run this at your 5K pace” said the coach. Okay, sure. I am just going to run with these guys. It appears that they run at my pace. Yeah, they run my pace during the warm-up! I was huffing and puffing and working so hard to keep up during that first lap. I finally realized that there was no way that I was going to keep up during all of these intervals because my energy was waning. I played off the altitude thing. “Yeah, I just moved here from sea level.”
Needless to say, even though I thought I was about to keel over at the end of those 6 miles, I had a good time through all of the pain. I love challenges and that was definitely a challenge. I bid my farewell and promised to return to another training. That night I received an email from one of the members asking me to run some extra miles during the week. People asking me to go for a run? Now that is a friendship in the making.
Funny thing before I close. I just got a phone call today from a lady my husband and I met in the pool at the YMCA (we started talking about triathlons). She called to ask me to go for a ride tomorrow. Granted, I have never been on a group ride. I am also very slow. Not only that, but I have a fear of going up and down hills. Yet, I responded with “sure.” This will be another new challenge that scares the crap out of me! I will let you know how it goes.