Tonight I ran with a stranger from the internet and did not end up as a picture on a milk carton. And, I had a nice run when I otherwise would have holed up on the couch in this frigid weather.
Sometimes I find someone via the internet and send him a bunch of t-shirts, but, generally, I do not do internet dating, gamble online, or answer internet ads to meet people, etc. I usually find friends and date within the intersecting circles of my friends, coworkers, neighbors, and groups. Luckily, it's a broad network, and I've met many folks.
But when I started running again, I just showed up at races, knowing nobody. Luckily, the San Antonio running community consists of great folks who want to encourage you, hear your story, run with you, and plan the next run/race/party. When I'm running with the Brak Pak (also once strangers/2 degrees of separation friends I ran into in Brackenridge Park), we've picked up runners on the roads and have had people stop in their cars to ask where/when we run so they can join us. So, really, everyone is a stranger to some degree at the beginning. Pretty obvious.
Anyway, Teecycle Tim suggested http://www.dailymile.com/ which is a great training site - allows you to connect to and motivate other runners, post your training log, and check how many donuts worth of calories you have burned. There is a great bunch of folks there to awe (training monsters) and motivate you when you feel like slinking home to curl up on the couch instead of running. Like today, when Bridget (stranger) mentioned she needed someone with whom to run about a 5k within the Brackenridge Park vicinity.
We met up and had a nice run on the classic J. Purnell Sam's Burger Joint through Brackenridge Park route. She is training for the Austin HM (her first) later this month and needed someone to make her run in these chilly temps. And I needed someone to save me from the lure of the warm couch on a cold day.
So, again, a stranger has turned into a potential future running buddy. And we were probably safer for the fact that we were running together, rather than solo. I would not recommend this technique of meeting up with strangers, however, for responding to "massage" ads on Craig's List, match.com, notes on bathroom walls, etc. But, I figure that serial killers are seldom runners, and I try to make sure that I can possibly outrun my strangers, if necessary. It would have had to be a dead sprint if necessary today, though - nice run and thanks for the run, Bridget!
No races for me this weekend. Next weekend's a hilly 15.5 miles, though, so I may need some rest.