As I get closer and closer to race day, my runs get harder and harder. The interval sprints, the sometimes cruddy weather, and my own tendency to have a beer (or three) too many the night before a long run can make for tough training.

But my new recession-minded brain thinks the same thing every time I lace up my tennis shoes: Thank goodness running is free.

Unfortunately, running can also be lonely. That’s why I’m digging the Irish Snug Runners Club, a free club of 2,800 runners who meet Thursday nights at the Irish Snug, at 1201 E. Colfax Ave.

Not only do you get company on your runs, you also get a free pasta dinner afterwards at the Snug, complete with beer specials. (Us runners find unique ways to hydrate.) Because of the club’s growing popularity, runners now leave in two waves, one at 6:15 and the other at 6:30 p.m. Newbies need to sign up online, and be sure to get there a few minutes early to sign a waiver.

Best of all, if you run with the ISRC 10 times you get the coveted t-shirt, which, as an astute reader noted, is the real reason we all run these races. And I’m happy knowing that there’s a friendly group of folks to run with me through my last batch of miles–and help me carb-load along the way.