Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Journey

My journey started with the 2005 Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Race in DC. I ran terribly, 1:27:24 (8:44 pace), a backwards slide of 5:51 from the previous year.

As a result, that summer I joined my local running club’s 10-Mile Training Program, pointing towards the Army 10-Miler in October. I put down as my goal a 1:20 (8:00 pace).

I learned how to run in a group. Before that I had always run alone. I discovered there was a synergy in running with a group, that slower runners got better by trying to hang with faster runners, who in turn got stronger by running conscientiously for the benefit of the group.

My reward was a 2:19:44 Metric Marathon (16.4 miles) (8:35 pace) upon "graduation." Even though it was hilly, it went down easy.

The next spring I sent in my application for the 10K Training Program. The program director sent it back and asked me to be a coach instead. I was flattered and readily agreed. I enjoyed planning out a training program, having runners seek my advice (as though I knew stuff) and watching them all get better.

I coached the fast group during the 10-Mile Training Program last summer. My runners did very well at Army, with one at 1:19:15 and several more in the low 1:20s. I PRed by over three minutes in 1:14:34 (7:27 pace). I was in the best shape of my life.

Almost a year later, things are a little more complicated now. New responsibilities, as well as an injury, have intervened. I took on directorship of the two training programs this year and learned what a headache ultimate responsibility is. Everyone has a pet idea, and you gotta make ‘em all work.

The 10K Training Program in the spring went well. We had 39 participants, of whom 19 ran the target race. Four finished under an hour and one finished under 50 minutes. Uhh, that was me. The program received great help from Bex, who finished fourth in the target race’s accompanying 3K race, and Not Born To Run.

On Saturday the first meeting of the 10-Mile Training Program was held. The two wonderful run/walk coaches had unexpectedly bowed out of the program at the last moment. I was expecting disaster.

But Jeanne pitched in to help again. (Bex is moving away.) Last year’s program director showed up with her coaching certificate to help out. Three other wonderful new coaches came as well, with one or two more coming next week. Forty runners showed up hoping to get a quality workout.

The three large groups that went out ran from three to six miles on the National Mall at a good pace. The weather cooperated as the morning wasn’t too hot or humid. The National Parks policeman who joined our group as it gathered to keep an eye on us didn’t shoo us away from our meeting point at the Lincoln Memorial. Everybody was talking excitedly upon our return from our runs, forming new friendships and rekindling old ones. Can the journey get any better than that?


Dori said...

Wow, congratulations on becoming the training director. Sorry you lost your coaches. Although anyone can run alone, training groups are valuable! I learned how to run by joining a group, although I had already attempted a marathon. It took a while for us to gel, but I love my running group. I miss the one's that dropped out, but some have come back. :-)

jeanne said...

great job! we're gonna hang on to these people this time and finish strong!

and btw? i'm pretty sure you DO know what you're doing.

just a hunch i have.