Sunday, November 22, 2015

The DRC: My Daily Run Community

By Meg McC

A lot of you already know that the Daily Run Club was created to encourage a small group of locals to log at least one mile a day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. This idea was set in motion by the club’s founders David and Drew Beaty with the intention to stay active and begin or sustain a running lifestyle through the holidays. Fast forward 3 years, the DRC has become something of an enigma within our running community. Here is my personal account of the Daily Run Club’s short but VERY full history.

I begged, I pleaded, I could find no one to join me for a run. I was new to Washington, hell, new to Missouri, and there were no mountains here…but there were floods, rattlesnakes, and freaking tornadoes. I needed a running buddy to contend with all of the potential natural disasters I might encounter. I was a trail runner that knew no trails. I made peace with the KATY and began to consider that home turf as I learned to run on flat land again. Still, I was lonely.  

I started looking online and found a handful of run clubs in or around Washmo.  St. Louis might as well have been a six hour drive; directionally challenged, I was lucky to find my way to the grocery store, I needed local. All those sites were quiet.  I joined them anyway and begged some more.  One club, Daily Run Club, seemed to have occasional action so I just started posting…Every. Run.  I think Jimmy Brooks probably wanted to wring my neck from the onslaught of new notifications, when he wasn’t busy laughing at the stories I would add to my mileage or the stupid memes that I would find to post with my daily run. I am sure he just found me hilarious, didn’t you Jimmy?  We began challenging each other. Then something interesting started to happen. Maybe it was just that we were entering spring and members were starting to stretch their hamstrings and gaze a little more longingly at their running shoes. Maybe it was the mild winter receding and the smells and greens fooling with our senses OR maybe it was time for the Daily Run Club to truly begin to meet its potential.

Week by week, new members stumbled across our club and the numbers have grown from 60 runners to more than 500. At any given time, our active membership might fluctuate, but every day there is motivation to be found in each post. A few of us decided to begin brainstorming about ways to really increase our value to existing members.  We would meet for a run, then bullshit until we had pages and pages of notes about potential DRC ideas.  We still do this once a month.  For us, this meeting galvanizes essential plans that have often been recommended by you guys.  Our “think tank” has grown and nothing is more exciting than being able to implement new concepts to the DRC’s already colorful and successful scope.  A few months ago, I spent a long time scrolling back and finding a few of our most influential member’s first posts.  We have all grown so much, not only as runners, but as people. This club has shaped outlooks on health, humor and maybe above all, our expectations of ourselves. DRC members gain a sense of connectivity when dedicating a small portion of their day to supporting this community, and it happens in such a simple way, whether through a “like”, a comment, or a personal message. If you are one of the fortunate ones, that support transcends to real life encounters and lasting friendships.

And so it goes, members started meeting up with other members… that they didn’t know! No one was the victim of an axe murderer (though there was that one day we found an abandoned axe on the Lewis Trail). We started snapping “runfies” and imperfectly perfect circles of shoes. Third Thursdays were born and have become a monthly staple.  Those are so special as they allow a real life chance to make eye contact and touch the shoulder of a fellow runner that you have known via the group page.  Regular run groups formed or were incorporated and on any given day, you can find a clan, flock, herd (I still haven’t found a measurement that fits us just right), that you can join for a run just by peeking at the Pinned Post. We have run/bowled, run/wined, hit trails and road routes, we have run as a group when the heat was fierce or with frozen faces, we’ve road tripped, we've challenged our speeds, tweaked our form and cross-promoted with other clubs, organizations and businesses. Our members range in level and type and every one of them can call DRC their running community because this club genuinely fills a need for every member that wants to utilize it.

We make mistakes along the way. Sometimes an idea doesn’t really fly. Occasionally an injured member feels left behind when they aren’t checked upon as carefully as they deserve. Often, we bite off more than we can chew on already tired legs. Our recovery isn't always as solid of an example as we’d like. (You guys and your doughnut posts…) But, I was reminded today that our club is young, it is kind of an unprecedented phenomenon and we are still learning, every day.

You guys don’t realize, but I get a notification for EVERY SINGLE POST on DRC. So, if it looks like I am on Facebook all the damn time, well…ok, I don’t know what to tell you. But, I also wouldn’t change it, I love seeing every acknowledgement of perseverance, frustration, elation, etc.  Also, you all probably don’t realize how influential each one of these posts can be to a newbie, someone coming back from a hiatus or injury, or even for someone that just plain burned out. I think that running is always there for you to some extent, whether that is on your feet or not. Supporting the running community is one of the most fulfilling duties I have ever taken upon myself. I get back every bit that I invest. Every PR from you all has me swelling with pride as I understand the work and effort that went into your accomplishments. Cheering at a finish line, meeting up before a Third Thursday, throwing out an opinion on hydration systems, sharing a sweaty post run pic, VOLUNTEERING, all of that strengthens our network and empowers our runners.

Washington has always had a very motivated running community. We have incredible athletic talent, also busy paths/trails/tracks/roads, and regular local races through community centers and charities. There was just no basic forum, our bulletin boards were spread all about and there was no connecting factor to share ideas and information when looking for resources and inspiration. The Daily Run Club that we know today has risen to fill that need and its potential is vast.  How exactly did it come about, that part is a mystery, my gut feeling is that Washmo was finally ready for the DRC.