Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Power of Good Coach

Today's run hit the double digits. Today was the first time we did 10 miles as a team. 

I was not ready to run.  I did not want to get out of bed. I did not want to run in the rain. I did not have any kind of desire to get on the course. But I knew I needed to and doubted whether or not I would be able to make next week's training, so I pushed to get out of bed. 

I arrived late and then I started out behind and figured that was fine. I took my time and started by walking and then doing some extra stretches.  Even the basics of the run started with a few SNAFUs.  When I took off my camel pack to stretch I saw that my water pouch was leaking. It was wet through the bottom of the pack and was soaking my shirt, sweatshirt, and pants.  And when I started my ipod, I found the battery was dead even though it was left charging all night.  It was not a good start.  But I knew those things were minor and just kept going.  My pace was slow but steady and I had to keep plugging along.  By 3 miles I was stretched out, feeling loose and pretty proud that 3 miles feels simple and easy on any given day.  I had to make a pit stop and then got back on track, only there was no chalking to indicate the way and no teammates in sight. I had no idea if I was going the right way or not. I had not taken an instruction sheet and I had not heard the general course overview.  Despite all that. I kept going figuring at least I'd get the run done, even if I was on the wrong course. 

At 4 miles, I saw some teammates in the walking group and then started seeing others on their way back.  At 4.5 there was a water stop and Coach Mel was there.  She joined me to go up the hill (the last bit before the turn around) and then stayed with me all the way back. She let me set the pace and we talked the whole way back.  I'm much slower than she is, but her presence made me want to push harder, run longer and more often. And talking made the time go quickly.  Not only were miles 5-10 bearable, they were easy, they were fun even. 

Mel has kept me company on more than one occasion and has never fussed about my pace. She gives me tips on form and answers questions and keeps conversation going.  And her energy, enthusiasm, and skill inspire me to keep trying and working on being better.  And every time I am grateful for her presence as a coach.  She has been a leader, an encourager, and a guide. I am blessed by her with my training and inspired to look at my own "coaching" as a pastor in light of her example. 

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