My knee’s been holding up pretty well, not bothering me so much when I walk or sit and not aching when I run. A run Friday, a (trail) run Saturday. (I’m beginning to think that my knee pain was the product of trying ever so slightly to move my landing point a bit forward with my brain overflowing with advise about the most-efficient way to run and have decided to stop even thinking about it and just running.)

So I decided to head up to the Rockies this morning, and I awoke early enough (for me) that I thought I’d hook up with Paul T, who regularly heads out at about 8:30 from Sleepy Hollow High School. A couple of email exchanges this morning, and I was ready to join Paul and Fabio (sporting a cast on his left wrist, broken in a soccer game) for what Paul describes as an “easy” run. That’d be the ticket, thought I, an easy hour or so.

Paul’s “easy” and the civilized (or civilised) world’s “easy” are not necessarily the same, though, and dark clouds appeared as he said he hoped to meet-up with Jimmy L. “Jimmy starts out with a group he coaches,” Paul said, “and after about an hour he cranks it up.” Jimmy is a very fast guy (he ran 25:07 last week, at age 45) and is supplanting Paul as the primo Masters runner around these parts.

We came upon Jimmy a bit past a mile out, he with a group of three. Paul, Fabio, and I turned around to run with them. I was doomed. I held on the back for as long as I could, successfully making it to the top of the switchbacks (which we would go down) before 13-Bridges Trail. After that, the group was gone, kept in sight for the most part, but gone.

I struggled home in about 56 minutes, but was buoyed by feeling quite strong for the final stretch back to the parking lot. Paul and Fabio continued on — I waved as they headed back out — and I found myself at the high school packed with cars and runners. I don’t know if I’ve seen so many folks — including Iona College’s team — using the Park was I saw this morning. It truly is a Mecca.

What’s the Point?

What I glossed over in the foregoing is speed. I’m curious about other’s experience. You would think that running in a group would be easier than running alone. You would think. I find, however, that this seems not to be the case. I’ve run with clubmates in the Rockies several times and, as with today, wearing my Garmin. On the same course my pace is a good 20 seconds or more slower than when I’m on my own. Yet I struggle mightily, as I did today.

The pace was pretty relaxed, nothing I shouldn’t be able to handle with ease. But I can’t.