Shreveport-Bossier City has the third largest metropolitan population in Louisiana, and it comes in behind New Orleans and Baton Rouge. There are less than 500,000 people here. It would barely crack the top ten area populations in Texas. Yet, here in a much smaller setting, the running community is thriving. I will argue that it rivals running groups from populations two and three times its size. That’s why on Wednesday, when my alarm went off at 5:05 a.m., I had no option but to stand up, throw on running clothes and shoes, and head to Lee Hedges Stadium for one final Shreveport track workout.
There is no place in Louisiana I’d rather be than running around a track with friends on my last Wednesday in town.
I have been lucky to run with the people of Shreveport-Bossier City and lucky to land in the South Highlands neighborhood (had no clue what a running hub it was). I was lucky to meet mentors like Jeff Thomas and Wallace Robertson and lucky they extended an offer to run with them. Other running cliques, no doubt, would have extended the same offer. That’s what makes this area so great. No runner left out, and none left behind.
This morning’s run at the track wasn’t easy. Mike Hutcheson knows how to dial up a good workout, and today it was a ladder. 200m, 400m, 600m, 800m, 1,000m, 800m, 600m, 400m, 200m, with 200m recoveries after the 2s, 4s, and 6s, and 400m recoveries after the 8s and 1o. (Side note: I’m grateful for Hutch, and what he does for the running community is commendable. Runners respect him for a reason, and his consistent donation of time and money to run WMT is a powerful example to me. I hope to be like him one day, and I’m going to emulate him as best I can. As the training program director at Fleet Feet San Diego I will have opportunities to be like Hutch.)
My thoughts during the workout were as follows. 200m, I’m not really happy about the weather this morning. 400m, this is going to hurt. 600m, how much longer until we can cool down. 800m, I can’t believe I’m not even halfway. 1,000m, I might not finish. 800m, I’m going to be sick … wait, I am sick. 400m, I feel a little better. 200m, finally.
I struggled with the ladder, so I had little brainpower to spare being sentimental. When I was done, however, I realized how much I’m going to miss running with everyone here. I already knew that, but in the sticky morning air this morning, a sadness washed over me.
I haven’t been consistent the past several months, and I’ve missed far too many track workouts and Sunday long runs. While I know I needed more recovery this year than in the past, I’m disappointed I didn’t spend more time to running alongside the awesome members of my Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday groups.
I will miss all of you guys, and I will keep up through social media. So many of you have big races coming up soon, and I can’t wait to see all of the PR posts on Facebook and Instagram.
I know for a fact that Wednesday morning track workouts at the end of 2015, and at the start of this year, set me up for my best races in the spring. It’s an incredible advantage to know there are so many dedicated runners who will be at Lee Hedges, and no matter rain or shine they will work hard to improve.
Shreveport-Bossier City runners: stay awesome. I was an outsider. You took me in and changed that. I’m proud to call myself a Red River Road Runner, and I’ve spent some of what I know will be my best running years with you guys. I’m grateful for WMT. I wish we had racing singlets for my Thursday group. We need to be the rat pack or something. If you don’t get that reference, ask Gary Wilson.
Anyone in the area not plugged into a group — don’t waste any more time. Shreveport-Bossier City has so many options, there is no excuse for staying on the sideline. Take advantage of the incredible running opportunities around here. You won’t regret it.
Thank you to everyone who has made me at home here, and I can’t wait to see you all again, whether it’s on the west coast with you visiting and running a race, or me back here in Shreveport for Firecracker or another area event.
Keep the track at Lee Hedges and the roads in South Highlands warm for me. And yes, I’m writing this now on purpose, before I get too emotional when I’m actually pulling out of town.