I am a very shy person. It doesn’t always seem that way to people in real life and some folks think that I am standoffish. I am often by myself at races because I don’t always know how to approach anyone. Ironically, in the past I have corresponded with people in the community online, but never interact with them at races we both attend.
I have almost always felt like I needed a purpose to be comfortable at a location or in a setting. This frees me to communicate with much more confidence. I was very fortunate that my beautiful wife is a librarian. As a bookish type, I was able to go in and “check her out” (her words).
I think that my shyness contributed to me ballooning up with weight. I let it act as a buffer between me and the world. This of course exacerbated my issues and I started to feel even more out of touch with others.
In 2012, I finally decided to lose the weight and eventually this led to my taking up running. After I had some success at it and shared my history, I was asked if I would like to appear on a podcast to talk about it. I was honored for the opportunity and then realized that I liked to write and would like to continue sharing with people what I had discovered.
That is where social media has come in. I launched this blog and then created a Facebook page facebook.com/hamptonrunner and Twitter account twitter.com/hamptonrunner. I had always been leery of social media in the past. I had an aversion to the word “social”, but I wanted to try and promote my blog, where I started to meet a cast of really good people.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of the amazing people I have met online, but rather a chronological sampling of the kind of generosity and good will I have discovered on Facebook and Twitter.
Brian Burk of Brian’s Running Adventures
As the user @Cledawgs on Twitter, Brian was one of the first people to follow me back and to read some blog posts. Then later on, I was surprised to see that someone had come to my site from his. I looked it up and he had posted about my blog and shared it with everyone.
He also introduced me to the concept of Follow Friday. It is amazing to have people like Brian out there who gently take a newbie like myself and give me such support. I try to practice the same as much as I can to follow his example.
Steve Carmichael of RunBuzz Radio
Steve was kind enough to invite me out of his thriving RunBuzz community on Facebook to appear in a podcast. It actually was the first one published online even though it was the second one recorded.
Steve is always following his community closely and really giving sound advice to help aspiring and experienced runners. He does this with humility and wisdom.
Lisa Hamilton of Conscious Runner
Lisa Hamilton is an elite runner who only surpasses her talents with compassion. She runs a very popular podcast The Conscious Runner and has started up her own community on Facebook – The Conscious Runner Academy where runners can support and cheer each other in addition to getting great training input from her.
My first interaction with Lisa was when she put out a call on Facebook asking if anyone had any questions or issues. I seized the opportunity and asked her about a problem with my gluteus medias.
I expected a quick reply with maybe a link or two. Instead I received a long multi-paragraph response with great information and links to videos that could help me. Then she kept checking up on me from time to time.
We have corresponded many times since and she is always generous with her time and knowledge.
Brandon Wood of Gearist and IronBrandon
Brandon is a special case out of everyone here. I actually got to meet him in real life and he exceeded my expectations for what kind of person he would be.
I first heard Brandon Wood on Episodes 9 and 11 of GingerRunnerLive. I immediately checked out his YouTube channel The Gearist TV where he does very thorough gear reviews and just completed his excellent 23 part Ironman Chattanooga series.
I of course followed him on Twitter and to my surprise, he followed me back. We then talked and I found out that he is actually from Hampton, VA and grew up a few blocks from where I live now.
We chatted back and forth on Twitter and he mentioned that he was coming out in about a month. We tentatively planned to run together.
When he did come out, we went out for a ten mile run. Toward the end of the run, we saw an older gentleman sitting down on the sidewalk with a lady speaking with him. Brandon and I approached the scene.
Apparently, the man was a little confused and was wearing a medical wristband. He said that he was trying to get home. Since we were on the grounds VA Hospital campus, we figured that he was a patient.
Brandon immediately started chatting with the man in a very friendly manner. He seemed completely comfortable and amiable. He offered and helped the man up, meanwhile apologizing for being sweaty.
I was extremely impressed with the kindness and charity that seemed to just flow naturally from Brandon. This, I feel told me more about him than any of our conversations up to this point. I am a firm believer that actions speak louder than words.
Jill Angie of Running with Curves
Jill is an always supportive netizen and communicator. She has put together a tribe of other incredibly active and supportive people. She is always jumping into groups and engaging with others in any way she can.
She is also amazingly generous. Recently, I had commented in her very active Running with Curves Discussion Community on Facebook (you can find out how to join by clicking http://www.runningwithcurves.net/jointhecommunity) and felt an immediate traffic surge on my site. I also started to get some likes on my Facebook page.
Then later, the likes really started to come in. As I looked at the tags, I learned why. Jill gave me a shout out and asked for people to check out and like my page. I never asked her to do this and was blown away. She is yet another wonderful giving person on the Web.
All of these folks are trying to build a Web presence and increase their business. But that never stops them from helping each other or promoting others. It is a real privilege that I can associate with them.