By Aleta Wiley, FHR Saturday Morning Run Leader & Destination Run Planner, and Welcoming Committee
Joining a group to run with seems like an intimidating experience to most runners. We all remember when we first saw a flyer posted or did a Google search for ‘running groups’ or were approached by an enthusiastic future friend trying to recruit solo runners to join FHR, and we all had to make that decision the first time: Should I go to Stony Brook and see what these Forest Hills Runners are all about?
We know it can be a difficult decision, especially if you’re worried that everyone will be faster than you or that you’ll get left behind. Others might feel hesitant to join FHR thinking that they wouldn’t be challenged. One of the great things about seeing the FHR community grow is that the more people we have running together, the greater diversity we have in speed and distances!
In the past, when people asked, “How can I join FHR?”, the answer was, “Just come to a run! Any run! It’ll be great!”
This answer is still true. Everyone is welcome to any FHR run!
However, last Fall, FHR also introduced the Welcome Run. Once or twice a month, we designate a particular weekly run as a “Welcome Run”. Anyone who has been gazing from the sidelines, debating whether or not to join us, is encouraged to prioritize coming to a Welcome Run. If it is a regular Social Run (Saturday, Monday, or Wednesday), we make a point of having run leaders for a spectrum of running paces, including a run/walk group. If the Welcome Run is a workout (Tempo Tuesday or Track Thursday!), our run leaders assure that everyone knows how to complete a workout that will be challenging but accessible for them, whatever that may entail. Since both Tempo and Track workouts occur on short, closed-loop routes (say, around Jamaica Pond, between Stony Brook and Green Street T stops, or on a snow-free, outdoors, 400m track nearby in Brookline), they are actually excellent opportunities for new runners to the group! Everyone runs at different paces but there’s no fear of getting lost or left behind!
We hope that Welcome Runs can encourage some of our neighbors to give community running a chance while also providing an opportunity for our regular FHRunners to come together at a weekly run.
So, whether you have been running with Forest Hills Runners 0, 10, or 100 times, please join us for these Welcome Runs so we can all feel the power and excitement of community running!
2015 Welcome Run Schedule
* All runs meet at Stony Brook T stop in Jamaica Plain, MA; details will be posted in Facebook Events.
Saturday, April 11, 9:00am
Monday, April 27, 7:00pm (Welcome to Evening Social!)
Saturday, May 9, 9:00am
Thursday, May 28, 7:00pm (Welcome to Track!)
Saturday, June 13, 9:00am
Wednesday, June 24, 7:00pm (Welcome to Evening Social!)
Saturday, July 11, 9:00am
Tuesday, July 28, 7:00pm (Welcome to Tempo!)
Saturday, August 8, 9:00am
Monday, August 24, 6:00am (Welcome to AM Recovery!)
FHRunners tell us about their first run with the group:
“I knew that without a group to run with, I would have hibernated this winter so I came to my first run last November. I was not in good shape and was nervous that everyone would be faster than me. Instead, I found a super nice and welcoming group, including a group running my pace, and that gave me motivation to keep showing up through the winter.” - Mary Bovenzi
“I heard about FHR through a friend. I started running about three years ago. I ran the past 3 Boston Marathons for charity. I always wanted to join a run club, I tend to get lazy and need motivation. My first run was on a Monday night. Everyone was super nice and made me feel welcome. I have met some new cool people. It has got me to run even when I wasn't feeling it. I'm training for the San Diego Rock n' Roll marathon in May. I should be ready and it's definitely due to FHR!” - Chris Gavin
“Before coming to a run, I was a little intimidated by the pace that I read on the facebook page that people were running at, since I was slower and a beginner to running in general. But I came to a Welcome Run, and there were others who were at alternate paces. It was super casual and accommodating to anyone who was running slower. It felt so great to run with a group, and I was really grateful that we all met up along the way and at the end - it made me feel like part of the group!” - Mary Krantz
“My first run with FHR was a Saturday morning run. It was freezing, icy, and all-together overwhelming for a transplant from California who has never experienced snow to this extent. The energy from the group right off the bat was nothing less than a positive vibe; nobody seemed to care it was awful out, except me! Friendly people + diverse pace groups + exploring new places to run less than a week after moving here was great! So great that Natalie and I have come every Saturday since! To be accepted into a group of people who just love to run, among other daily activities, while also accommodating to the pace/needs of all the runners present is not something I have ever been a part of and I don't plan on leaving anytime soon! Overall, I would tell anyone to go and at least give it a try. Haven't done the same route twice, which I appreciate, have met new people, never once felt alone, and have enjoyed my Saturday mornings thoroughly!” - Corrin Rakowski
“I met Rebekah at the Marathon Sports 5-Miler (July 2014). I was handing out watermelon, a proven strategy to make new friends. Rebekah kindly invited me to a Saturday social run . . . When we went to our first FHR run, I was worried Alicia and I would be late, but we were early. The best thing about being early to an FHR run is that you get to watch everyone gather - from down Boylston St., across the grass on SW corridor park, and coming up from the T. My first FHR run was terrific fun. I was very hungry, which was great because the run ended at JP Licks! We came back the next week, and the next week, and then all of a sudden we were riding in vans and running from North Conway to Hampton Beach with 12 people that were strangers just a few weeks before [by participating in 1 of 2 FHR teams running the Reach The Beach relay, September 2014]. From my first experience with FHR I felt welcomed and part of a community - not just a running community, but a part of the neighborhood itself.” - Thom Gennaro
“Thom had come home from working the Marathon Sports race, and told me about meeting the nicest people, and about how there was a running club right in our neighborhood. Having just finished grad school, I was eager to get to know more people in JP and make some friends in our neighborhood, so I agreed (after a bit of arm twisting) to come with him. I was super nervous coming to my first FHR run! Thom has been running for, well, forever, and I was a casual runner at best. I had run a few Ragnar races with friends and had sort of trained for and raced for a half marathon for the first time a few weeks prior, but I by no means thought of myself as a runner. I was nervous that everyone would be as knowledgeable and as fast as Thom, and that I wouldn't be able to keep up or fit in.
From the start (after finally getting out of the door), those worries were allayed. People trickled into Stony Brook at all speeds, and everyone was smiling, happy, and extremely welcoming. There were plenty of pace options, and I fell into a group and immediately was swept up in conversation. I didn't even notice how far we'd run! I clearly remember meeting and running with Jill, and how exceedingly kind she was. It was there, on our first run, that we somehow started talking about Ragnar and Reach the Beach, and I mentioned that our team hadn't gotten its act together to sign up again. 20 minutes later, Jill had introduced me to Katie at JP Licks, Katie had gotten me in email communication with Jen Flynn, and less than 48 hours after our first ever run with FHR, we were signed up to hang out in a van with the team at Reach the Beach.
That, I think, perfectly encapsulates everything that was wonderful about my first run and about the group; we were welcomed so wholeheartedly, without any question of ability or experience, and that atmosphere is what kept me coming back!” - Alicia Green