Well summer is finally here, I’m just over a week away from school being out and I find myself behind writing the Coaches Corner this month. May has been the culmination of a lot of irons in the fire for me, with the track season winding down, school winding down, our local running program finishing up and the one race on docket happening over Memorial Day weekend.
The month came to a satisfying end with two excellent outcomes from two very different races 24 hours apart.
The first was my Mascenic 4x800 meter team won the Division 3 State Championships title. Made up of one freshman, one sophomore, one junior and one senior, the boys took the race by the throat from the start, opening up a substantial lead from leg one, and held that all the way to the finish. Having the boys go all in on a team title was rewarding, as we tend to go after individual titles in the spring and focus on the team title for cross. Each guy did their job, and their excitement was recognizable.
The second was at the Pinelands Trail Festival the next where I was slated to run the 25K. The race went well for me, and while I didn’t set a PR or anything, my latest rash of injuries were kept at bay and I was able to finish strong and felt really good. But that’s not the satisfying part.
Also entered in the 25K, along with my wife, a bunch of friends and former runners, were my two kids and a friend of theirs. As an eleven year old, a twelve year old and a fourteen year old, they were noticably the youngest entrants in the race. Under trained and overwhelmed, I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t see them “done” when I came through the finish area. The race consists of two loops, one of 16K and the other 9K, and I almost thought I might get done the 9K and they’d be there, finished after 16K.
But no, the report was they had come through the exchange zone 18 minutes before I finished and were out on lap two. I figured I had about and hour until they finished so I relaxed for a while, changed my shirt and my shoes, and headed to the food tent to get some vittles and head out towards the finish to cheer the girls in.
As I turned from grabbing my refreshments I practically ran smack dab into my oldest daughter Victoria. Before I could think I blurted out “What are you doing here?”, amazed she had already finished. She looked a little bewildered and said she had just finished. When I asked about her sister Amelia and her friend Gracie, she said they weren’t far behind. I rushed her along so we could go cheer the girls in, took three steps and ran in to them as well.
Not only had they not slowed down over the last brutal 9K, they had smiles on and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Both events gave me cause to stop and reflect about their performances. While in some ways the accomplishments are similar. Both were running events where focus and determination were important. Both were a testament to all the time and effort they had put in as athletes leading up to race day. But in many ways they were vastly different. One race was done in just over 8 minutes, while the other took more than three hours. One was about owing to your team mates to push as hard as you can, the other about sticking together and helping each other no matter how hard it gets.
Seeing the same satisfaction, the sense of accomplishment on the faces of the athletes from these vastly different events was the same. Both “teams” had set a goal, brought all their collective nerves, confidence and running history to the table, and in the end, were victorious.
While individual success eludes me and my own running these days, I get the opportunity to share my experiences with my younger athletes in an effort for them to benefit from what I’ve learned over the years. And there are times I get to have them share their experiences being successful with me.
See you out there!