Saturday, March 9, 2013

Happy Anniversary, East Nasty!!

   Today is a special day in my running history. You see, today is the Tom King Half Marathon, and it was three years ago at this race where I became an East Nasty. While I had run with EN a handful of times on random Wednesday nights before this race, THIS race is when I felt like this group was home.
   What's really funny about this race is that I have no idea why I signed up for it. I had literally just run the Princess Half-Marathon with my college running gang the week prior. I really had no business signing up for Tom King. I didn't know anyone running it when I registered - it was just a little, local race that sounded fun, and I signed up.

Yes, I've been taking photos of bibs and race shirts or a long time!

   I showed up on race day and met up with Holland Carley. We had met at a bike ride a few months prior and she was the one who told me about East Nasty originally. She was kind enough to let me run with her and her friend Polly Alexander. Of course, at the time, I didn't know that these were two of the most popular / awesome / inspiring East Nasties out there, or that I would still be running with these amazing ladies three years later. I was just happy to have someone to run with that day.

Totally jealous that I don't have an East Nasty shirt.  

  So the race starts and we're running along and we hit the first-mile water stop, which HAPPENS to be the East Nasty water stop. If you ever want to feel the true power of East Nasty - run through one of their water stops with people wearing East Nasty gear. They start cheering for you about a quarter of a mile before you get there and cheer, scream and clap for you the entire time. It's truly awesome. And, unbeknownst to me, it also happened to be Holland's birthday, so the cheering was EXTRA loud AND they had signs for her. It was very cool. 
   This was also the first time that I REALLY wanted an East Nasty shirt. I had seen Holland and Polly's shirts before the race, and thought they were cool, but I realized during that water stop that there was more to East Nasty than just running. It was about supporting and celebrating each other, while having one heck of a fun time doing it. And I wanted to be a part of it. 
   So the race goes on, we did have 12 more miles to go, and we're just running and chatting - chatting and running. It was great. I had never run a race where I laughed so much. My running career was still less than a year old at this this time, and I did most of my running solo, so I didn't really understand the camaraderie that is built over the miles pounding the pavement with friends. Plus, the miles pretty much flew by! Before we knew it, we were passing through the East Nasty water-stop again on the way back in to the finish. Again, there were cheers and claps, and group sing of Happy Birthday for Holland. This was probably the most fun I have ever had while racing. Granted, we approached it as more of of a long training run rather than a race, but that's OK. No way would I trade the experience for a faster chip time. 
   I made a few realizations that day. 1) Some races are for time and some are for fun. You need both. 2) Running with friends is a lot more fun than running solo. 3) East Nasty was definitely an awesome group of folks.

Post-race happiness
   
   I guess you might say that the rest is history. I started running with East Nasty on a regular basis and have never looked back.  Well, except in pictures...

My first time coaching in the East Nasty Potato to Tomato 5k program.

One of my favorite running moments ever - and one of my favorite photos.

Just, you know, getting an Age Group award from Ronald McDonald!

Somewhere along the way, I became a triathlete. (Pretty sure Holland is to blame for that, as well.)

I'm in a truck! With the Mayor! (Singing the National Anthem at the 2012 Tomato 5k)


I've met some amazing people along the way.

   So Happy Anniversary, East Nasty. May we have many more years of sore legs, ice baths, foam rollers, bad tan lines, hill repeats, horrible race photos and breakfast sandwiches after long runs together. 

ENFL!!