Who knew? Running in the rain is actually awesome! The Blue Line Beginners had their first group outing in the rain, a misty drizzle on the Hike and Bike Trailhead at Stow's Silver Springs Park. It was barely above 40 degrees. But several people remarked that they had their best pace yet, and I never felt cold or uncomfortable. I have a feeling we are going to look back on these days fondly when the summer swelter arrives. So in short, if you've been avoiding Saturdays for fear of the rain, trust me. You might become a fan.

Another benefit that I marvel at weekly is the camaraderie. If you're fortunate to be able to be with us, then you know how motivating it is to have 40 to 90 runners and walkers spread along a mile or more of trail all trading smiles and words of support. On Saturday, it felt more like we were all playing in the rain than checking off a day on our training plan. If you can't be with us, I hope you can channel the energy we are sending you. You are still one of us, and wherever you are walking or running, you've got company in spirit.

For those who are following along at home, I promise to do a better job of reporting details on our group outings so you can compare your process.

* This week, we added a mile to our program. That was 4 miles for runners and 3 miles for walkers and run/walkers. It was super fun seeing the sign that we were leaving Stow and crossing into Portage County. And as Amy Freeman pointed out , 3 miles is almost a 5k. That was a fun milestone to reach.

* There wasn't a universal pace for runners. I think people are starting to figure out what their personal pace is and getting comfortable with it. We've got at least one runner planning to do the full marathon in September, and others preparing to run their first 8k ever in June, so having a wide range is to be expected. The Akron Marathon group leaders have been trying to keep about a 13-minute pace for those who want to settle in at that speed.

* The majority of run/walkers kept a 15-minute pace alternating 2 minutes jogging, 2 minutes walking for the full 3 miles. Again, if something else is working for you, that's perfectly fine. We all need to find our own rhythm.

* The majority of walkers walked 3 miles today.  Those who are planning to walk the 1 mile at our June 24 race always have the option of walking a shorter distance. Regardless of distance, the goal today was an 18-minute pace, something many folks exceeded.

Now, some fun news about this coming Saturday. Our guest speaker will be Gretchen Horinger from Do Good Yoga, and she is going to lead us through a 20-minute yoga session prior to our walk/run. If you happen to have an exercise mat, bring it along. If you don't, bring a blanket. If you forget, there's a nice grassy lawn.

Every week, we have added one or more new sole mates to Blue Line Beginners. While it may be getting late in the season for something as ambitious as running the full 8k for a brand new runner, there are so many other options, from walking the 8k to running the 1 mile to beginning training now for running the 10k in August. In other words, it's never too late to get started. If someone is feeling inspired by how far you've come, encourage them to join us!

Keep moving - and enjoy these photos taken by our BLB teammate and Beacon Journal photographer Karen Schiely...

- Paula



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