Community - a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals
When you grow up in New York City, everyone around you fits into your community. We take the train together, grab halal at the same stands, we love St Marx's $1 pizza (does that still exist?), and share many attitudes. New Yorkers, do you remember the first time you were on the train and saw the "No pants Subway Ride?" or your first gathering of people in Washington Square Park? Confusion, curiosity, frustration, excitement, and possibly some more emotions. That is the unique thing about NYC, you are never alone. Since moving to Los Angeles, I feel as if I needed to be invited into communities, and even living in Orange County, I need to stumble upon a community to feel welcomed. Across the world, finding a community is different for everyone, I have friends who can show up anywhere and create their own community and some people take their time stepping into one. We are all different and there is nothing wrong with that at all. At some point, in my opinion, to thrive to our best potential we should have some type of community.
Team - a group of players forming one side in a competitive game or sport
I've been a part of several teams growing up. Intramural football, basketball, and Track & Field. Each team was different because we all had goals of winning. The Intramural football team during high school brought my friends closer and we found ways to hang out outside of school. Our tradition was grabbing dumplings and then playing video games after school when the football season was done. Playing basketball was competitive, we had an ex WNBA player as our coach, she was intense but playful. When we didn't win, the team was down, when we did win, everyone was up, basketball brought a field of different emotions. Track & Field's concept of a team was so dynamic and different from anything I've witnessed in person or on TV. Multiple coaches, different teams within the team (sprints, distance, throwers, jumpers, and vaulters), and outside of the relays, there were never any team events. My high school was small so we couldn’t compete with the larger schools such as St Anthony’s and Chaminade but we motivated each other and pushed each other in ways that I could only imagine. My favorite memory in high school was the hardest practice of the year, I qualified on the relay team for the Penn Relays and we had 8 x 200m sprints at 85-90% effort. 6 of us had to complete the workout but only one individual can put in the work. Use each other’s energy to stay motivated, use each other’s drive to finish as fuel for yourself, and don’t give up on the person behind you or beside you. This was what a team is mean to be, working together to make the individual “better” physically and mentally.
Crew - a group of people who work closely together.
As I was preparing to leave New York City, I came across the growing network of running crews. The one that stood out to me was Black Roses NYC. A collective of individuals that didn’t look like the stereotypical runner: Asian, Black, tattooed, men & women running together while looking modern, drinking beers, and preaching “never stop running.” I questioned everything I knew about what a runner was and dove into learning about Black Roses NYC and came across the Jaybird mini-series, Run Wild. Crews from London, Tokyo, and of course NYC stood out to me. Equinox (the gym where I trained people) posted an article on Knox Robinson. “This guy isn’t a runner, no way he is. He looks too cool, he looks like me, no way he’s out here running marathons” I said when I saw the photos of the article. I walked past the LCD screen daily in the gym with a headline that pulled me in eventually. Multiple marathons, Prospect Park, running crews, “run culture”, fashion, poetry, and coaching. He created something that was not the norm for runners, something that the “normal” runner can join, you don’t need to race marathons or be fast. I took Black Roses NYC as a team that cared more about running, it was deeper than the physical act of putting one foot in front of the other. Crews in London, NYC, and Tokyo were gritty, grungy, hard-working, and willing to acknowledge that this is all a journey. They were willing to be your family through running. Not your typical running club, hard work, and good play.
I had the opportunity to run with a club inspired by Knox and it was a surreal experience. I ran a workout with Good Vibes Track Club and I didn’t feel as if it was competitive like some running communities in Orange County or even some fitness studios. I didn’t feel judged or out of place, it felt bizarre that my ego had nothing to say but “run hard and have fun D.” Running has a unique gift of creating communities, teams, and crews. At Good Vibes Track Club, we suffered together and cheered each other on. I didn’t know anyone but a single friend of mine and yet it felt as if I was meant to be there years ago. Running is competitive and a run team is meant to push you to win, win against yourself to be stronger than who you were before the workout. A running community won’t leave anyone behind or shame anyone. A run crew will grab some beers, tacos, and pizza no matter what. This is what it’s all about, doing it all together. A competitive family of growth. It’s unique and beautiful.
** post running thoughts **