Friday, July 08, 2011

Beginners

Yesterday was the last class for the beginning running program I teach at our local YMCA. For 12 weeks I've been coaching a group of people to complete a 5k without walking. Most of them have never run before. They were scared, nervous and lacked confidence that they could complete the program.

They started out running 1 minute/walking 4. When we hit running 5 minutes/walk 3, you thought I was asking them to run a half marathon. They were THAT sure they couldn't run 5 minutes.

Each week they accomplished something they didn't think was possible. They ran in 90 degree heat and awful humidity. Each week they did their homework of running 3 x's a week and their confidence grew.

Time to get ready for the "race."

I marked the course (with a few choice sayings along the way) and told them I wasn't running with them. Time to take the training wheels off. They were totally on their own. I would be out on the course on my bike, but it was all on them to get the job done.

The course for a first time runner is not easy (evil snicker). I am huge about running hills. They suck monkey balls, but they make you a stronger runner mentally and physically. There is a hill in the beginning that is like climbing up a wall (short wall, I am not that evil). At the end, there is a gradual incline then downhill to the finish (see, I am not that much of a bitch).

"Max" is in his 30's and has great potential. I wanted to push him because he is like a little volcano waiting to erupt. Last half mile he was cruising along. Of course, I wasn't having that shit and made him pick up the pace...faster...faster...and he was up the challenge. He finished in 27 minutes.

"Mary" is in her late 20's and a former cross country runner. She was in front of "Max" for most of the race. She started out too fast. As soon as she hit the straight-a-way, I made her turn on the jets. She finished in 28 minutes. She is SO going to kick my ass in races.

"Sam" is a big guy in his early 40's. Sam has lost some serious pounds and is the surprise of the program. He worked his ass off during this program. For his size it couldn't have been easy, but he was determined to do this program for his kids. Mid-course he just caught fire. Crossed the finish line at 36 minutes -- his goal was 40. He CRUSHED it.

"Gina" wife of Max. This girl had BLISTERS all over both feet and this was her first 3.1 miles. She didn't let the pain stop her. She kept pace with Sam for most of the course. Time: 37 minutes.

"Sarah" wife of Sam. Tiny little thing that is always smiling. BEST attitude ever. Seriously. Up for anything and will just do it. Time -- 38 minutes.

"Gina" in her early 20's came around the corner and you could see it on her face how hard she was trying. She was laying it all out on the course. She wanted it. You could just see it. During the program she had a lot of problems with her left foot. Despite her foot issues she put in the time and work. She finished in 38 minutes too. She was so happy.

"Suzie" also in her early 20's was next. Quite little Suzie. I swear I think she may have said 10 words to me the whole program. Face red and sprinting to the finish line - 40 minutes.

"Judy" in her mid 40's was the last runner. At the start she was so nervous that she couldn't do it. Her last couple runs have been tough ones. She ended up walking, but come to find out because she wasn't eating before class! She also battles that "negative" chatter that goes on in the head. She didn't walk. She finished strong and in 41 minutes. She had tears in her eyes as she finished because she ran her first 5k without walking.

All of them were cheering and hollering for each other. They were so happy. Inspired by each other. And just flat out proud of themselves. DAMN. It was awesome. This is why I teach the class. For that exact moment.

Now it is time for them to fly from the nest. Their first official 5k will be July 23rd. My hope is after this a few of them will catch the running bug. That they will continue their journey and come back to kick my ass in a race some day. Which will really piss me off.

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