Sunday, February 21, 2016

Character Building

I remember reading old Calvin and Hobbes comics. Every time Calvin was sent outside to shovel snow or wait in the rain for the school bus, his father referred to it as an opportunity for 'building character'.  This is the kind of stuff that comes to mind when I arrive at Wednesday night track practice to see this:

We're pretty spoiled in California when it comes to weather. We're also in a four-year drought, so it's hard to complain about any amount of rain we get. At the end of training, the crosswind drove the rain horizontal. We only had four participants get to Woodside this week to do a modified circuit training workout, doing strength exercises under a small overhang near the restrooms. Each of them got some Rock n Roll Marathon swag for being brave enough to show up. That's a building block for a strong season. They also will be prepared if it rains on race day.

Yesterday before our 4 - 6 mile training, Patty Rodriguez spoke for our Mission Moment. She's a two time cancer survivor. I met Patty in the first few miles of the Hot Chocolate 15K in January. She's got an amazing outlook on life. It inspires me to think about all the things that other people overcome just to wake up, get to training to run, walk or cheer.

Three weeks of coached training and so far so good. This weekend, the participants are on their own for 4 - 6 miles or 1 - 2 hours depending on their event.

On the Roads:
Character can be displayed by determination, like the teammates that showed up last week. It can manifest itself in determination like Shalane Flanagan at last week's marathon Olympic Trials. Shalane paced training partner Amy Cragg for 24 miles before dehydration slowed her enough for Desiree Linden to pass her with less than a mile left. Shalane was able to hold off Kara Goucher for the final spot on the 2016 Rio Olympic team. On the men's side, 10K specialist Galen Rupp, won in impressive fashion, joining Meb Keflezighi and Jared Ward to represent the USA. This was the first time we watched the trials, having had the privilege to meet many of the Olympic hopefuls over the last few years. Being able to have this kind of connection is one of the things that makes the sport great.

The day after trials, our friend Jessica V. ran the Skechers LA Marathon in just under 4.5 hours. The story here was that she was running on serious expo legs as the week before the LA Marathon, she was one of the organizers of the event. She ran her first half marathon less than five years ago and now was responsible for one of the best organized race events of the year by all reports. Her boss told her she was nuts running the marathon on Sunday. For Jessica, "Nuts" is just another day at the office.

This weekend were the Olympic race walk trials. In 2013, at the Moscow World Championship, John Nunn finished dead last, in pain with every step, but didn't quit. Something about representing his country pushed him to finish, regardless of the time. The tight-knit race walk community watched and agonized with him for every step.  This weekend, Nunn fought off a flu bug to win the men's 50K in a personal best 4:03:21, qualifying for his third games. Heart and dedication pays off.

Also finishing up this weekend was the three-day Florida Ultraman - 6.2 mile swim, 261.4 mile bike, 52.4 mile run. Jessica D. won the women's division, finishing 10th overall, setting a few course records along the way. We've watched one IRONMAN event. I can't imagine the amount of extra preparation the Ultraman would take.

Character. It's all around us. You recognize it when you see it. People show it through their words or actions and for the most part, they don't do it for recognition, they do it because that's who they are.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some knots that need some foam rolling. I need to be ready for our next character building event.

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