I’m not gonna lie. I went to my first WOOT event because I was desperate. Two of the three friends I’d made on the island were moving in June and there was no way I was going to go back to being the creeper awkwardly trying to break into other people’s conversations at the dog park. (For the record: I do at least have dogs.)
The women posting in the WOOT Facebook group looked nice and everyone always said, “All paces welcome! No one left behind!” but surely these amazing ultra-runners weren’t talking about me and my pace. That would just be silly.
So I lurked. I picked up a few podcast recommendations. And I lurked some more.
And then one day I saw a posting for WOOT’s “Couch to Top of Spider Loop” program – I might even have been sitting on an actual couch at the time. The program was designed for newcomers to trail running who might feel too intimidated to jump in on a regular Saturday run. It promised to start slow and build up to a legitimate trail run and a beautiful view. More importantly: June was closing in. If I had to risk poisonous snakes to make a few friends, then so be it!
From the first day, it was like those FB posts I’d been scanning: fabulous, supportive women looking out for each other, nailing outdoorsy selfies, and having a laugh. Trail Leaders Molly and Tammy were amazing throughout, covering topics including physical safety, fuel, hydration, pee shorts (!!), and trail-running techniques. They urged us without pushing us, helping gradually turn our walk-run intervals into run-walk intervals. We each had good days and less-good days as we explored more and more of the trail. We learned to start trusting our feet and to embrace gravity…at least little. We also learned that there’s no shame in coming off the trail with a muddy tushie, and that all of us probably should stretch more.
I wish I could say that I transformed overnight into a world champion runner, but that’s not true. In fact, I’m usually at the back of the pack on Saturdays. But I am out running with my friends.