In Praise of MarathonersMarch 28th, 2012
The group of runners that I’m coaching through Team in Training is gearing up for their last very long run (33k) this Saturday before the marathon at the end of April.
As I ran a 5k this afternoon, I thought about them. It’s a small team, made up of five people.
One man who lost his wife right before joining TNT. Aside from being a champion fundraiser, I’ve never heard him complain. Not once. Not about distance or energy or anything. With everything he’s been through, oddly, he’s the one I’ve “coached” the least. I’m not quite sure how it took him 40 years to discover running, but he is, at least to me, a natural.
One man who has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met. I’ve never known someone to embrace a team like he has. He teases me about my grammar in the emails I send out and affectionately calls me coach. He’s grunted through leg pains and injuries. Even after his toughest runs, he has given every single person on the run a hug and a high five after they’re done.
The woman who is my sole Flex participant. Who does all her runs alone on a country road. The woman who has never traveled nor fund raised and has raised almost $5,000 this season and who is flying to Spain to run. The woman who motivates herself to go and run, and then to run faster and farther.
The coach turned participant who has so much other stuff going on in her life that it amazes me she still has the energy to run at all. The woman who will do three back shifts and still manage to show up at 8:00 on a Saturday morning. I run with her and she tells me, “I’m good, Keep going.” And I know she is, because when she isn’t, she grimly informs me, “It’s hard going today.” And I so admire her honesty and her perseverance to always get that last 500 metres in, no matter what.
And the woman who started this not as a novice runner, but as a non-runner. The woman who has pushed through more injuries than I honestly would recommend. The woman who has started running, hated running and now has begun to excel at running through sheer tenacity. The only reason she has kept going is because this cause and this race specifically means so very much to her.
Five months ago, when I signed my contract, I had no idea it would be like this. I knew there would be laughter and smiles and probably even tears, but I didn’t know that by the end of it, there would be true friendships.
I’ve watched this group through the ups and downs of marathon training. Such as it is with marathons, the ups are very high but the lows can be very, very low. I’ve seen how they’ve managed to motivate themselves to continue, how they’ve pushed themselves on.
I knew that it took a special type of person to join Team in Training, but I didn’t realize just how special these people would be.
18 months ago, I wasn’t in the best place. I found myself in a spot in my life where I wasn’t satisfied with what I was doing or who I felt like I was. And so through some therapy sessions and a lot of deep reflection, I figured out a way to get pointed in the direction I was pretty sure that I wanted to go.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve realized that where I am now is the perfect place for me right now. Team in Training came into my life at the perfect time. Perfect for them, because they needed a coach who really cared about the participants, and perfect for me, because I was able to embrace this whole program in a way that it deserves.
Next week, I’m going to register to run the Montreal Rock and Roll Marathon as a part of Team in Training Halifax chapter. I am going to continue to coach through the summer, but in watching the runners I’ve met over the past 5 months, the 20 in my season and the 50 from the summer season who I also have the honour of running beside, I feel like it’s time to join them.
I didn’t expect friendship, and I really didn’t expect to care so much about them outside of running. And yet here I am, thinking about how I’ll start my journey back from Nepal just as they finish their marathon and wondering what airports will have WiFi for me to check in and see how they did.
This whole experience has completely reinforced my belief that we are all such wonderful creations, willing to share and suffer and love just because we want to belong. Because we want to make the world a better place.
And I am so proud to have been a part of it.