There are lots of reasons to run: weight loss, social time with friends, alone time without friends, training for a race, shirtless boys, therapy, eat more fro yo, drink more margaritas and now – GET FREE BREAKFAST TACOS.
This morning I joined Luke’s Locker, a Texas-based running store, for their weekly Tuesday morning Taco run. A sleepy and quiet crowd gathered outside the store a little before 6 AM and I felt like the outsider I am. I think for two years I took for granted the familiarity of the running group in Memphis. Being an outsider was almost scary enough to convince myself not to go, but the free tacos overpowered that one.
A little after six a lean man in an official Luke’s shirt stepped forward and I dubbed him the leader. He asked if there were any new runners and I dutifully raised my hand along with no one else. Liars. I could tell from the way some people were standing away from the group they had never been there before either. Thanks psychology degree.
Lean-leader-guy said not to worry, it’s a social run so the group stays together. Yea right I thought, I know how these group runs work. We’ll end up spread out over the route as we go. I wasn’t worried though, I had already picked up a handy direction sheet so I knew which streets to turn on. And we were off.
I hung with the front of the group for a while (still no watch so not sure of timing or distance) but when we got into the downtown area I watched them power up the rolling hills while my pace slowed considerably. We’re talking bigger than Auction Street bridge hills that I’m going to have to learn to embrace mentally, along with the change in shape (i.e. getting bigger) of my quads, calves and jet-pack (butt).
I watched them disappear around the capitol, but my cheat sheet was still with me so I wasn’t panicked about losing the group. Instead I took the opportunity to take some pictures of the Texas Capitol, which was actually very beautifully lit up before the sunrise.
I ended up sandwiched between two young male runners as we headed towards the lake. I was still following my cheat sheet and stuck to the plan even when the guy in front of me turned too early on First Street. And eventually I lost the guy in green behind me. I was a little doubtful of my path but was just following the directions, and if anything at least I knew how to get back to my car. We were supposed to cross the lake at the Congress bridge and hit the south trail heading west back to the pedestrian bridge.
When I got back to the store I saw some of the runners hanging around stretching outside. I found the two boys I was sandwiched between talking to one another and talked myself up in my head to say hello to them. “Nice run y’all,” I finally managed.
That broke the ice into a pretty decent introductory conversation while we waited for the breakfast tacos. I learned that the boy in front of me who turned too soon had never run with the group before (I told you there were some liars earlier!) and when I inquired about his evasion, he blamed it on his headphones. He’s originally from Dallas but moved here for undergrad in business at UT and lives here full-time now. The guy running behind me (who said “You were the one taking pictures” Yes, I’m a super tourist) doesn’t normally do the group runs but since he didn’t get a spot with his rowing crew this morning, he decided to join the run instead.
Their names are Jason and Richard but I’m not sure who is who…..they were polite and friendly, asking me what things I’d done in town already and I impressed them with my checked-list. We agreed to meet again the following Tuesday – following the correct route and trying to hang with the lead group.
And then I grabbed my taco.