Thursday, January 28, 2016
Full Circle - Pre Season warm up for Team in Training Spring 2016
There's something comforting about track workouts in winter. The distances are defined. At the right place, the lights come on and this night, I had the the Woodside High School track to myself. The high school soccer team was using the field. I could stay as long as the lights stayed.
Eleven years ago, I joined Team in Training. In exchange for raising $5000, they would train me to walk a marathon. We had a coach who'd been an Olympic and Pan American Games race walker. I remember showing up the first day in cheap running shoes, cotton sweatpants and sweatshirt and a hiking belt pouch that held two 20oz plastic bottles for a 45 minute walk at the Presidio. It was the end of January during a particularly excessive eating season and I was pushing my heaviest weight of my life. Two hours later, after a basic gear clinic, I left with a pair of Saucony Grid Stabil motion-control shoes, a long sleeve white quarter zip shirt and long grey Munich pants. Looking back, I probably looked like an mid-1970's weekend warrior type.
The second week we were at a track learning good marathon walk form. Our first timed mile made my shins burn and I think I finished around 14:30. Coach Tom said that this is an indication of how fast you'll be able to sustain your marathon pace once you go through the season, get stronger and fitter. I chose to believe every word he said. This is something I wanted to do. This was a bucket list item. It was supposed to be one and done.
Come race day in Anchorage, it was pouring rain, pretty much the entire race. I walked my first marathon in 6:23, right about the pace that Coach Tom said I would. What struck me about the journey was a lady at mile 24. According to the veterans, her name was Faith. She stood at that same spot, cheering on the full marathoner for 9 hours, rain or shine, holding a sign saying "Thank you from a Cancer Survivor".
It took me until that point, nearly 5 and a half months into the season, to realize why this was so important. This wasn't about me, my time or my bucket list. This was about a bigger cause. The money I raised went to support research, education and patient services for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma. It went to help people like Faith. The mission meant enough to me that I came back every season for the next 5 years.
We've done a lot since that first year. We've upgraded gear, gotten faster and healthier. But even with all the races we've done in the last three years, the milestones we've crossed, the countries and continents we've visited, I started feeling like something was missing. This year I'm going to get that spark back. It's not the reason I started racing, but it was the reason we kept going back year after year.
I've joined the coaching team for the Peninsula Chapter of Team in Training for Spring 2016. We'll be training runners and walkers for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon and Rock n Roll Seattle Half and Full Marathons this season. If you're on the Peninsula or in the South Bay and are interested in joining us, please let me know. We'll be back at Woodside next Wednesday, February 3rd at 6:15 PM for kick off.
Maybe this is on your bucket list. Maybe you want to meet new people or get into a healthier lifestyle. Or maybe you've been away for a while and just want to get back in the swing of things. Whatever the reason, we'll make sure this season is one to remember.
Back at Woodside, the soccer team was just starting to go into break away drills as I was finishing my workout. I'm well below that first 14:30 mile these days and I'd like to think I have a few years left in me before I can't set PR's anymore. Treadmills are great to monitor pace, but there's something about being out on a track that's that much closer to real racing.
Tonight, I wasn't doing laps.
I was coming full circle.