Erin and I were at Lincoln Park July 9th to meet this year’s group of beginner runners. We had a 13 week training plan ready for anyone interested in training for the Wild Hog 5K on September 27th. There was a good turnout with about 10 people with varying levels of running ability: Some hadn’t run a step in years and some had already begun weeks ago on their own. We set out that evening walking one minute followed by jogging for one minute, over and over again for a total of 20 minutes. The enthusiasm was good, and we all enjoyed nice conversation while making our way around Lincoln Park.
We slowly dwindled in numbers; even Erin struggled with her health, needing to have her tonsils removed during the summer. Eventually there were just three of us remaining, and since our names all began with the letter “J,” I began referring to our group as “J Cubed.” We (Jim, Joan and Julie) ran together most every Tuesday evening and Saturday morning this summer. We had lots of fun chatting while we ran up and down the Greenway twice each week and in addition to becoming more physically fit; we also became friends!
Joan was an accomplished runner before she ever came to Red River Runners. She had taken run/walk intervals to an entirely new level when she completed the Wild Hog Half Marathon in 2012. Yes, Joan had already proven that she could run/walk for a VERY long time. After the first few weeks, our running intervals became longer than she was accustomed to, but Joan continued along anyway, building up her strength and endurance in the process. This summer Joan set a new personal record (PR) for each of the 5K, 10K and half marathon distances. If that wasn’t enough, Joan also ran/walked the Sioux Falls Marathon a few weeks ago. That’s right folks; she completed a 26.2 mile race this month!
Julie had been going to the gym for some time, searching for the right workout routine that would both be fun and challenge her, and she decided to try running this summer. Julie’s the kind of person who, once she decided to run a 5K, didn’t blink once in her pursuit of the goal. I don’t think she missed a single run the entire summer, and perhaps even added a few extra in for good measure. Every time we discussed what the scheduled workout was supposed to be for the day, Julie said she wanted to go a little further or take fewer walk breaks. All of her hard work paid off this weekend, as she crushed her first 5K race at the Wild Hog in 28 minutes and 33 seconds! I ran the race at her side, and on numerous occasions she turned to me and exclaimed “THIS IS FUN!”
Both Joan and Julie have thanked me for helping them, but I don’t think they realized that they helped me too. I’ve been running 4-5 days a week for most of several years, but this summer they took me to yet another level; running twice in the same day on a regular basis. Each Tuesday I would run a 5-7 mile speed workout at the Wellness Center, and then join them for a 3-4 mile group run at Lincoln Park an hour later. This was difficult at first, but became easier as the summer progressed. They made me push myself a little more than I was used to, and I think I became a better runner because of it. Thank you, Joan and Julie, for making “J Cubed” a successful experience for all of us. I’m looking forward to many more runs together!