In my last post, I explained how I became interested in running, but the idea of a triathlon had never crossed my mind before I started running with WITC. How did I first come across the club? I imagine a lot of members had a similar introduction….
By the time I arrived in Warsaw last summer, I could legitimately call myself a runner. I ran several days a week, respectable distances, and I actually enjoyed it. Many upsides accompanied this new hobby. I looked better, felt better, and could justify spending money on cute athletic clothing (such luxuries must be earned!). But I was already far more active than I’d been in years, so I had little incentive to expand my athletic horizons further still. And then I met Ken Globerman, WITC’s founder, and Mark Mulrainey, one of the club’s first members… at a bar.
I had only been in Warsaw a few weeks and was still enthusiastically making the rounds of the various social events attended by other expats and the Polish folks who tolerate them. My aim was clear – make new friends and build a life for myself in my new home. Shortly after meeting Ken and Mark, the conversation somehow turned to running. I’m not even certain they knew or cared that I was a runner already. These guys were out to recruit for the club. Or were they just hitting on me? It was hard to tell at that point, to be honest. But they seemed keen to have me join one of the Tuesday night runs with the Warsaw International Triathlon Club. “The what?” I say? I’m no triathlete. But, then again, were these guys? Turns out they were, but I was comforted by the fact that they were out socializing on a school night. Perhaps they weren’t too serious. Perhaps I could keep up. And the idea of finding a social outlet that didn’t necessarily involve a bar had strong appeal.
I managed to come up with excuses not to join for a few weeks thereafter. I’d never run with a group, and I wasn’t sure of the protocol. Running with other people (strangers, no less) opened up potential for scrutiny. How do I know I’ll keep up? What if everyone else is really serious? What if I look funny when I run? Not to mention, we don’t exactly look our best after 10 kilometers. Did I really want to meet new people this way? Networking while sweating seemed to have downsides.
Then one Tuesday evening when I planned to run anyway, I decided I’d give the group run a try. The need to expand my social circle outweighed the intimidation of running with strangers. As it turns out, I do look funny when I run, but eight months on, these strangers make up some of my closest friends in Warsaw, and running was only the beginning.
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