Before I moved to Colorado, a friend gave me a card titled “How to Make Friends in a New City.” The advice was basically: meet people you may like doing things you definitely like.
Despite knowing no one in Denver and liking running, I was hesitant to join a running club. It took me years to get decent at running, and I didn’t want to feel bad about my pace around strangers who were faster than me. Hanging out with people who were slow didn’t interest me either. I also occasionally like to party, and I assumed the kind of people who joined a running club would be too serious about a full night’s sleep to be any fun.
But I finally did join a running group to take a speed work class, and while some people were fast or slow or square, I did meet some people who were down. I never went to the Saturday runs, the cornerstone of this club, because who wants to wake up at 5:30 on a Saturday morning to drive to suburban Denver to go running?
Well, a new friend of mine did, and she wanted to discuss going camping with me, so I went. A few days before, I went on a club trail run, and there, an older woman said of the Saturday morning run: “Finishing that run is the best part of my week.”
It struck me as odd and kind of depressing that the best part of anyone’s week is being done with something they didn’t really want to do. But after I went to one of the runs, I understood what she meant. Hanging out in a parking lot in Englewood after running 12 miles before 9 am did give me a huge sense of satisfaction.
Yesterday, around mile 8 of a 14-mile run in Broomfield sprawl, I was afraid I would have to do something unseemly in a manicured traffic island. I was desperate for a port-a-potty. I stopped running and started knocking on doors. Eventually, I saw a couple gardening, and asked if I could use their bathroom. The wife was a runner, so she knew the place I was in and also knew what would happen to her toilet. Still, she let me go.
I’m an optimist, so I’m hoping the week will reach greater heights than using a stranger’s bathroom. But if experiencing man’s empathy to man ends up being as good as the week gets, so be it.