This past week I feel like I wore three different hats.
I spent a couple days satisfying the inner speed demon, then got my inner mountain goat some time climbing hills, and then finished off the week crazy coach mode. The latter was very interesting because I think I passed stationary race marshals and photographers over the last 1.5 miles of the race three or four times, it was a big race, but I was the only dork with a Garmin and Nathan Quickdraw in the New Charles River 5k.
Essentially, I wanted to support all of my walkers and runners, and after walking the first 7 minutes with my back of the packers, I was told to go on to support the runners. I blasted from 5th to last place (seriously) and passed about 50 runners and walkers, meeting up with a couple of my runners, they seemed to be okay, and let me know the whereabouts of the three others. I blasted by another 50, and met up with the other three. I doubled back and chatted with the first pair and they seemed to be content, I ran back ahead, passing some people for the third time, yeah, and saw one of the three ahead had dropped off a little. She was okay and wanted the tunes in her iPod over the coach, good choice. Up ahead I spotted the other two runners and sprinted back up to see how they were doing, both wanted to run the entire way for the 5k, but kept telling me before the race that they had their doubts. Upon rejoining them, both commented they felt okay, and were clamoring for some indication that they were at the halfway point. I assured them they were close, and were doing an excellent job. I really didn't have any doubts for one of the two, she was just coming back from a few months off, but had done some advance training with the Galloway groups in the area. The other, Rebecca, had never done a 5k before, so to run the distance would be a HUGE accomplishment for her. I stuck with her, and said little, only assuring her that she was doing great. She was curious why we hadn't seen a mile marker for the completion of the second mile, and was getting slightly discouraged. Having been here before, I tried to reassure her, because I know when the going gets tough, all one needs is that little excuse to stop. She soldiered on, and we saw a mile marker in the distance, it was for the 7th mile of the other race, which meant we only had a half mile to go. When I mention this to Rebecca, she elated says: "Rob, I am going to finish this!!". I was so happy for her! We heard the music and saw the flashing lights of the police cruiser funneling runners to the finish. Know she was going to accomplish her goal I urged her on, and then turned around 200 feet before crossing the finish, to a sea of upset and bewildered faces. I back tracked and caught up with the other three runners, they were laughing and assured me they were doing great. I ran with them for a brief moment, knowing they didn't need the coach, and head back to my two walkers.
One of the two was walking with her husband and was in great spirits. She also assured me that she was okay, and didn't need any assistance or encouragement. I continued back to my last walker on the course.
She was surprised to see me coming back, by that time I was running against the sea of runners in the 7.5 mile race, they were pissed, but I was courteous. She yells at me, "Why didn't you cross the finish line for a good finish time!?!" I tried to explain to her that this race was not about me, and we continued on with another walker.
Looking down, I could see she was close to breaking an hour for the 5k, which was way under her goal of 20 mins/mile. We came to finish and she crossed in 60:09, ahead of the ole coach in 60:10. This was easily the most rewarding 5k I have ever ran and walked, and I doubt there will ever be another to top it.
After the race my group needled me about not going and running a fast time. I told them my next race would be enough of a challenge, and that I was happy running like a mad man around the Charles to help them reach their goals. There is just something about beginning a program and hearing someone say "I can't", only to see them turn that into an "I did" eight weeks later.
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