First and foremost I must apologize for not being on my “A” game with my blog posts. Time starts to fly when you’re having fun and training hard. I left off with the sweet beginnings of joining a triathlon club and checking out some new running groups.
I need to be honest with you and share with you that when I first moved to Tempe I had every “opposition bone” in my body telling me not to join groups or explore this city. I had every intention of leaving and set a time limit of 5 years in the valley. So up until most recently I stuff to my friend group and my work. I have grown more so over the past 6 months than I have in the past four years that I’ve been here and it’s because I started building a relationship with my city and becoming an engaged citizen. Now don’t be fooled, I’m still only touching the surface of politics but some day I’ll get there. For now I speak to you about being an engaged outdoor citizen. After all that is the subject of this blog.
Why is it important to build a relationship with your city? We seek to be accepted, but in order to do that we must put ourselves out there and the people before us. To do this we must immerse ourselves in the things we love to do and build relationships with those in that community. In the past few months I’ve created a routine orchestrated to compliment my triathlon training.
Step 1: Find or make the groups
I started off joining a triathlon club. I decided it was time to create relationships despite it being hard if/when I decide to leave. I knew I had pushed myself as far as I could as an individual and that I would need others to get me where I wanted to be. I’m still deciding where that is exactly.
So I’ve been regularly attending spin class twice a week, a ride on the weekend and swimming twice a week. Not only have I built up my strength and endurance, but I’ve built friendships with a wide range of people that I normally wouldn’t have come across had I not found Landis. My friend Kolby keeps me in the loop on Tempe politics and where our city is headed. Anthony keeps me updated on triathletes across the world. Dwight keeps me informed on how to care for my Subaru. John, Jerry, Amy, and Anne make spin the reason to come back; for a good laugh, good music, and generally ok beer. The Landis Tri Club has held me accountable as well as trusted me as their events and communications officer. A role I’ve taken a liking to by sending out a weekly newsletter!
Another group that has taken my heart is November Project. I talked about this group before, but each week I return they feel more like family. I’m racing in Flagstaff this weekend and I skipped the stair portion and opted to help tag shirts for our stair climbers. I told a few people why I wasn’t running and at the end the leaders announced that I’d be running. Everyone gave me love and luck for my race on Sunday. It was a very good feeling to know that all of those people are excited for me.
The last of my groups is one that I’ve been able to formulate over the past 4 weeks. I somehow convinced other runners as crazy as I am to run trails in the mornings on Tuesdays. This is my Tuesday Morning SoMo (South mountain) group. We run a 3 mile trail to get our morning started. In total it’s Adam, Nick, Ian, Sean, Ryan, Mac, and Sara (it only took 4 weeks to get a girl to join us!). More people plan to come out, it’s all about just showing up.
Step 2: Cultivate those Friendships
Take time to get to know the people in these groups. Yes we all have one thing in common and its exercise and physical fitness. What are they interested in outside of this? A few of these people I have been able to dig deeper into who they are and others I’m still breaking through the surface.
Step 3: Nourish Old Friendships
An important part of this is remembering that while building a relationship with your city and the people that live in it, you must always remember your old friends. These are the people that helped you discover who you are and the important things to look for in new relationships. I’ve had several friends over the past few months really become involved in running and biking as well as friends that are ready to dive into other activities such as climbing. Kaitlin is running her first half marathon in October and Tanya will be running her second! Kelly is breaking out of her shell and joining running groups and asking me to come to spin! Katy who is now finished with her masters is ready to jump into climbing (I’m so excited about this one)! These girls are ready to make these commitments a priority and I’m so glad to be by their side.
Step 4: Have Fun! and Be Challenged.
I wouldn’t be so drawn to these groups if I wasn’t having fun. I get to let loose and work hard at the same time. They make me laugh. They know my limits and push me just beyond them to become a better cyclist, runner, swimmer, climber, and friend. They challenge me as a person to think and act outside of exercise and fitness, and consider how I am an active member of my community. We talk about their passions which teach me about topics I wouldn’t normally wouldn’t learn about, making me a well rounded individual.
I’m thankful for the people that have come into my life in the past weeks. By building a relationship with these people, I’ve built a relationship with Tempe. It’s a place I will now call home because of what I allowed myself to discover. Every city has a gem, you just have to go find the people to help you mine it.
Until the next great adventure!!