Guest Blogger Alisyn Gularte

When I was in seventh grade I had my very first boyfriend. Back then the term for dating was, “going around.” I hadn’t the slightest idea of what, “going around,” meant. However, I was very excited about my status all just the same. I liked the idea that a boy would call me after the hour each night that I was supposed to receive calls. Thank goodness call-waiting technology had just been made available to the public, as I was in fear that I would get grounded from talking on the phone after hours. I would simply call the popcorn lady, remember her? Dial  P O P – C O R N or S O S – 1 2 3 4 and an electronic voice would immediately greet you by saying, “At the tone pacific daylight time will be 11:20 P.M. and 30 seconds BEEEP.” Yes, she and I became the best of friends as I listened to her robot tone dictate the time to me until the boyfriend would call. Once he did, I would then simply click over, and talk the boyfriend’s ear off for hours without anyone in my household to know the telephone had even rung. I was a sneaky little kid back then!

Oh how far technology has come since those days of my youth. Sadly, the popcorn lady no longer exists, but with all the advances in technology who needs her? Okay, I admit I do miss all those cherished moments we had together, but a new era has emerged and I welcome it with open arms. It’s the era of social media, and what an exciting time it is!

As a runner, social media outlets have become my primary source for connecting with other runners whether it be locally, nationally, and even globally. When traveling, I use websites like Twitter or the dailymile to connect with other runner’s in that area. Not only do I discover fantastic new places to run, but from cyberspace to real face, I might even be lucky enough to run with those that I have been electronically interacting with for so many months. At races, I get alerted on my cell phone by a social app called Banjo, that lets me know when other runner’s that I follow on Twitter are at the very same race! It’s that location-based technology that makes it all possible and thrilling.

Other outlets like Runkeeper, and Nike Plus not only track your pace and miles through a phone app, but then post to their website where others are able to comment and applaud you’re efforts.

As a blogger, I was floored to discover so many like-minded individuals who share my passion for pounding the pavement. They are there reading about my triumphs and defeats. They electronically celebrate my PR’s, provide a cyber shoulder for me to cry on when I don’t achieve those goals, and know the date of my birthday, and other interests in my life. When actually meeting these people in person, we are like old friends reconnecting, rather than strangers meeting for the first time.

Summer Bay Area blog meet-up posing with fellow 2012 SF ambassadors. Left - Right Me, Courtney, Alyssa, and Aron.

Runner’s World is another social site that not only provides great training tips, but a Runner’s forum, and wonderful blogs to read as well. Want to stalk your competition at your next race? Athlinks is a database that holds race results from thousands of race events and also allows you to connect to other runner’s. Last but not least, while not necessarily social, MarathonGuide.com is an amazing tool for discovering your next big marathon through reviews from others who have run those races in years past.

The sites above and beyond what I have mentioned are great networking tools creating lifelong friendships, giving training advice, and well, the possibilities are endless. I had no idea that these electronic communities could be so supportive! But why not?  Whether virtual or not, the running community is made up of happy, motivated people, who strive to improve themselves everyday by pushing their limits.

Yes, it certainly is a great time to be connected!

Alisyn Gularte, a native to the Bay Area, is a Social Media Manager by day, Blogger by night, and a runner everywhere in between. Alisyn is ecstatic to be representing The San Francisco Marathon as the 2012 Ambassador as she hopes to give back to the running community that has been such an amazing support. You can find Alisyn on Twitter or visit her blog at Runinsyn.com.