Friendships grow stronger by the mile
It's difficult for some people to wake up at 5:30 a.m., let alone go for a run.
But that's just what Nanda Nair, Dan Gorner and several other people from Dublin do each day as they prepare for the Columbus Marathon on Oct. 18.
"If it weren't for these people, I wouldn't run one step," said Gorner, the group's chief recruiter.
The group got its start in December 2007 with Nair and Gorner, early-morning workout buddies at the Dublin Community Recreation Center.
"We used to run about one mile," Nair said. "We thought we were marathoners."
When another recreation center patron asked to run with them, Nair and Gorner found themselves running farther than they thought was possible.
They chatted while they ran, and the miles passed with ease. The running group "Two Fat Guys Running," or 2FGR, was born.
"We ran three miles and didn't realize we ran three miles," Nair said.
Gorner, who claims to be the more outgoing of the two, set his sights on recruiting.
"I was very innocuous at first," he said with a grin. "I really became a thorn in the side until they finally came."
Amidst the recruiting the group pushed farther and farther, into nine- and 10-mile runs, but Gorner said he never had marathons in mind.
"My wife kept on harping on me and asking if I was training for a marathon," he said. "We did nine miles, 11 miles and she kept asking me. But I never wanted to do a marathon."
Nair did, however, and the group, now called "Two Fit Guys Running," began planning training sessions for marathons over the summer.
Most members of the running group that meets at the recreation center each morning at 5:30 a.m. are planning to run the 26.2-mile Columbus Marathon. Others are injured or opting for the half-marathon.
Tim Mills, who is running the full marathon, said he ran by himself at first. Once he got involved in 2FGR, he couldn't walk away.
"It's such a great group," said Mills, whose wife got him into running by signing him up for a half-marathon as a gift. "Everyone has a can-do attitude. We all work together and encourage each other."
The group, despite its male-centric nickname, currently consists of about 20 men and women. They plan routes together, including water and food stops, and devise ways to keep runs lively. One member brings questions for 20-mile runs.
"She had questions like, 'If you could be a super hero, who would it be? What's your favorite candy bar?' " Mills said.
The runners also help each other work through injuries and mental blocks. Nair said the help of others in the group got him through a marathon.
"When I ran a marathon I didn't think I could because I'm so old and broken down. But (group member Darrin) Bright told me I could do it," Nair said. "I couldn't have done it without him."
The group is always looking for new members and anyone is welcome, said Nair, who appreciates the efforts of Dublin recreation center employees to help recruit runners.
New runners will get tips and encouragement.
"No matter what size or shape you are in, this is a fun group," Nair said.
Although the group has been doing an 18-week marathon training session in which the most intense week takes them more than 70 miles, 2FGR is more about the friendships than the running, Mills said.
"What you'll find is a lot of people are there for the social aspect," Gorner said. "The bonds you form with people over a miserable 20-mile run are strong."