I went back. For whatever reason, I have decided that 5 tries is a good effort and that after 5, if I'm still finding it too awkward to want to continue, I can stop in good faith knowing that I made a decent effort.
So far the benefit of going has been to get me up early on a Saturday....Not something everyone would be happy about, but since I'm typically awake early every day during the week, I think it might actually be better for my biological clock to get up early on the weekends, too. The second benefit has been to help me increase my mileage. I ran five miles yesterday for the first time since about a year ago -- so I feel proud of myself for that, and I also know that I wouldn't have increased to five miles on my own. Having someone to follow also pushes me to maintain a decent pace (my five miles were run at about 10.25), since I run pretty slow on my own.
The awkwardness, though, is definitely still there. No one talked to me yesterday (really) except for my running buddy, who showed up at the very last minute and only ran with me for about the first mile before turning back. When my normal running buddy stopped running, I picked up my pace a little to catch up to a girl running by herself in front of me, thinking that I would make the effort to chat a little with her, but as soon as I got about five paces behind her, she started walking. I wanted to finish running, so I kept going. Later on in the run, the two men I was following about a block behind separated as one continued to run and one began to walk. I passed the one who was walking, and he started running again...about ten feet behind me. I adjusted my pace to see if he would catch up to me and chat...But no. Just super awkwardly matched my pace for a mile or so, then began to walk again.
When I got back to the parking area, I walked a lap to cool down and started stretching. As I was ready to leave, two (other) guys were returning from their seven mile run, talking and stretching. They waved at me as I pulled out of the parking lot. First and only friendly gesture of the experience.
So I still have mixed feelings about the running group -- I'm not impressed by their inclusiveness (ha!), but I am liking new routes and pushing the mileage/pace.
I'm looking for a group that will push me on mileage/pace, but that will also help me find more friendships. Check out the group above, from the university church, that ran race number 2 of 2012 with me!