Friday, June 21, 2013

We Are All Runners

For the past 3 years, I've been a volunteer coach at my running club and have loved every bit of it. It's so gratifying to see someone you coached go out and achieve their goal(s). I mostly coach our spring and fall marathon programs, but when the training program coordinator for my club asked any coaches if they'd be interested in coaching a Couch to 5K program, I let her know I was.

I wasn't quite sure what I was getting myself into since I have never coached a 5K group, but I immediately loved our trainees. Most of our trainees had never run before this program and it makes me so happy to see people going out and giving running a try. It makes me even more happy, dare I say, giddy, when I start to see start them catching the running bug. When I see that, it takes me back in time to that point in my life and I can't help but smile. They have no idea what they are getting themselves into! (and I mean that in a good way!)

The 5K program started at square one. During the first week of training, our trainees were alternating between one minute of jogging and one minute of walking. Six weeks later and we've built them all the way up to running two continuous miles! For some of our trainees, that's the furthest they've ever run. Seeing the look of accomplish on their faces is awesome. I'm slowly starting to see them believing in themselves.

Last night, after finishing our second two mile run, I got caught up talking to one of my trainees. She told me that her run was very tough and that she was worried if she would be able to run the entire 5K race next month. I told her not to worry and gave her some tips on how to ignore the pain she was feeling. I let her know that proving to your mind and body that you ARE capable of running long is half the battle.

She later asked me what my favorite race distance was, to which I replied, "The marathon, for sure." "How many have you run?" she asked. I smiled and replied, "Too many." "Well, I'm sure you can run two miles no problem. You probably have to run twenty miles to feel the way I do after two." I smiled again and let her know that she was doing a great job and that pain is part of the running game and that if you stick with it, your body will adapt and it will become easier. I also told her that I believed that all running pain is relative, regardless of the distance or runner.

Runners all share a commonality which ironically is, running. It doesn't matter if you're a sprinter, a 5-10-15K rat or a 13.1+ runner, we are all RUNNERS. While the distances we train for might set us apart, our emotions, pain, and will to succeed are all the same. I believe that's one of the main reasons why runners can relate to each other so well and why they feel like they are part of one big family.

My trainees are all rock stars and a true inspiration. I can't wait to help them achieve another personnel best next week when we run 2.5 miles!

The Couch to 5K group before setting off for our run with 2012 Olympic Marathon Runner, Claire Hallissey. (center holding the singlet)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Change of Plans

For months, I had been looking forward to The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler in DC. I first ran in this weekend extravaganza of running awesomeness back in 2011, participating in their marathon. Last year, I did the 50K. So, it was on to the 50 miler this time around. After my DNF at my last ultra, I was excited to have an opportunity to redeem myself.

Unfortunately, 3 days before the race, I came down with a really bad intestinal bug. I thought I might still be able to run if I could get rid of whatever was in my system quickly, but things didn't pan out that way. I spent the next two days resting and keeping my fluid intake high. I was starting to feel more like myself on the eve of the 50 miler, but I knew there was no way I could race the next day.

Luckily, I was able meet up with a couple friends at The North Face store in Georgetown to pick-up my half marathon bib (I signed up for the half in addition to the 50 miler in what was to be an attempt of my own version of the Goofy Challenge) and listen to Michael Wardian and Dean Karnazes speak at the pre-race panel. I chatted with Michael for a bit before it started and asked him how he felt about his chances the next day. He told me this was gonna be his first 50 miler since coming off his injuries over the winter, so he wasn't exactly too sure how it was going to go. (He won.)
Michael and Dean
After some more resting and hydrating on Saturday, I was ready to go on Sunday. Many friends from my running club were also running in the race, so it was nice to have people to hang and chat with before (and after) the race. I hadn't run in almost a week and was definitely worried about how it was going to go for me. I decided the best thing to do was to go out nice and easy and keep the fluids in me. It was pretty warm when the race started and the humidity was very high, so hydration was paramount.

The course was a point-to-point, which was a change from their traditional out-and-back half course. I thought the change was good and helped ease the congestion on the trails. The trail conditions were perfect and after a few miles, I was able to settle into a nice rhythm. After being cooped up in my house for 3 days, it felt awesome to be outside, doing what I love. The trail was about 50% single track, which made passing a little tricky, but with over 700 runners participating, I expected that.

The last few miles of the race were awesome. I was feeling really good and was able to put in some quicker miles. I crossed the line and met up with my friends. They all ran awesome times and most placed in the top 5 or 10 in their age groups! TNF did an awesome job organizing this race, just like they always do. While I was bummed that I didn't get to run in the 50 miler, I was glad that I was able to do the half. I love this event and I highly recommend anyone that lives near a North Face Endurance Challenge race to sign up! You'll have a blast!

Garmin Upload

Post race on the podium