Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Morning Gaggle

For some unknown yet wonderful reason, I have been blessed with a plethora of amazing, fun, hilarious, inspiring running partners.  I was able to enjoy a run with several of them this very morning, and it was a pleasant reminder of just how much I love them.  After a week of tapering for the 50 mile, a week of recovering from the 50 mile and then two rain-outs, we finally got to run together this morning, and it felt like a family reunion. 

Our group has grown and shifted since I joined, which was about 2 years ago this December.  I had just run a string of marathons, achieved a few PRs and then burned out.  I knew I needed something new to change things up a bit, but I had no idea what that should be.  One day a friend from church told me about a group of girls in my area who ran most mornings, and I knew one of them from local running events.  Her name was Madelyn, and I wasted no time contacting her in order to invite myself to run with them.  She welcomed me without hesitation and so it began.

After an early  morning run
I got to know Madelyn, Alice, Courtney, Angie and Kristi, as they introduced me to new running routes of all sorts from hard hills to secret passage ways, and with great conversation along the way.  Before long, we were joined by Kristen, Julia and Stacy.  Several of these girls attended the same church, and a few discovered they did once they started running together.  We used to see Julia running alone almost every morning, so when Madelyn and I spotted her at a local race, we introduced ourselves and invited her to run with us. She has been in like Flynn ever since.

Joining me on my 30 miles for 30 years journey on the coldest day of the year!
Our most recent addition was Katie, who contacted me after reading this very blog.  We were both on the Fleet Feet Racing Team at the time, and we had both attended Auburn University.  From our very first run together, we became instant friends and now it seems like I've known her forever...just like the rest.

At some point on one of our runs, we realized that we were quite a group running the streets of Madison in the wee hours of the morning.  We'd surprised many a lone runner or walker, and once we were jokingly asked what race we were running.  It is common to see one or two runners out in the early morning hours, but seven or eight?  And we weren't just running, we were usually engaged in several conversations at once, with laughter, interruptions, crazy topics and the occasional squeal.  We were not a quiet or small running group.  

Celebrating Christmas at Angie's house

Were we a herd?  No, we didn't want to be referred to as cattle.  A flock?  No, that did not fit either.  A posse?  Getting warmer.  What about a gaggle?  YES!  A gaggle of girls!

Girls Night Out!
I recently looked up this word in the dictionary.  It can be used as a verb meaning to cackle (which some of us do very well, Alice).  It can also be used to describe a flock of geese when they are not flying, an often noisy or disorderly group, or an assortment of related things.

I think that fits us rather nicely. 

We are indeed an assortment.  We bring a variety of personalities, life experiences, religious backgrounds, and athletic ability to our morning activity, while having two main things in common - our faith in God and our love of running.  We are most definitely noisy and disorderly as our conversations range from G-rated to not rated, and the approach of anything dead or alive in the animal family sends us squealing and scattering in all directions (which I'm sure our sleeping neighbors appreciate).  And I personally like to think it is this time spent running together, dragging ourselves out of bed when we otherwise wouldn't, running farther than we would have on our own, and the daily prayer before each run that gives us the ability to achieve our racing goals and fly.

Celebrating Julia's wedding, October 9, 2010.

Among our group we have had three pregnancies, two babies born (with one still on the way), and one marriage. We have a wide range of professions and experiences in our gaggle with a Major in the army National Guard, a nurse, teachers, Boston qualifiers, moms of babies, toddlers, and teenagers, rowers, cyclists, dancers and the newest newly wed.  We have cheered for each other as we each ran events of varying distances.  We have encouraged one another, laughed with (and at) one another, shared disappointment and sadness with one another, and prayed for and with one another.

Courtney's Baby Shower
Needless to say, I run with a pretty amazing group of girls, and I consider myself extremely blessed as I look forward to many more running adventures with the morning running gaggle.


  1. Wow!!!! You said it!!! That was so well put and I want to refer people to this entry when they ask why I like getting up in the a.m. to run!!!!

  2. I'm glad you agree! It took a little while to get it just right, but I wanted to do justice to our awesome group! And yes, it does explain why (and how) we get up SO early! :)