Guest Article By Nate Johnson
Back when I graduated high school, I couldn’t get out of the building soon enough. While everyone threw up their cap, I ran to grab my diploma and left. Looking back, I did enjoy my high school, just not in that building.
Back in 2009, I ran my first marathon. My mom also found this group called “Minnesota Running Wild”. It started off as a forum on the Runner’s World website. The forum quickly grew and I began meeting these people that were avatars on the internet.
The group was informal. Runners would simply post they needed to run so far on a given weekend. A few would join and planned a place to meet. All paces were welcomed. I would wake up early (6 AM) to head out with my mom.
The group was intimidating at first for me. I was a shy awkward stick. These were adults, like how do I even talk to them?
Needless to say, I loosened up eventually. I began looking forward to these weekend runs. People in the group were uplifting and would push me.
My mom and I started running more and more races with the group. I was known for having my Cheetos and Mountain Dew before races. I would enjoy a mountainous post race sundae. I was in high school, so I could anything.
The group was an encouraging environment for me. I never worried about being good enough, wearing the right brands, or even performing well enough. I would show up and run. Some days went better than others. After those tough runs, the friends I made were encouraging about getting back to the next run.
I learned to be comfortable with people of all different ages. I ran with people in their 50s and 60s. I ran with people from all different backgrounds. What I loved most was that stuff didn’t matter. Could you run and be a kind person? That’s all this group required.
I learned so much from the group. More than I ever thought I would. I learned by observing. I saw how to be comfortable in your own skin.
I enjoyed meeting up at races. We got singlets made with the quote “suck it up buttercup” on the back. I still have mine and I love to wear it to this day. That was our unofficial motto. No matter the day or how the race was going, you could still muster to finish the run or race. There were road races I bombed. There was always someone to pick up the pieces of my race to the finish. Even when I acted like a high school brat.
Thanks for all of the memories, Minnesota Running Wild.
Nate Johnson writes at his site, Above Average Nate.