Monday, February 14, 2011

On Valentine's Day: A Love Letter to my Team

Jeez. Put me in a full load of graduate level writing courses and what gets neglected? Laundry, for one. And as you can tell, my blog, for another.  But I am still running and writing: just not up here where you all can see it. 

So, what's it like to be a 37-minute 10k'er now and not a 40-minute person? Well, not much has changed, actually. I still train (90 miles a week now) and still eat cereal in the morning and still go to bed at roughly the same time. I've given up coffee completely (trust me: someone like me doesn't need stimulants. Running does the job as does my cup of maté in the morning.) But what has changed? Well, you see, I'm on a team now and I think that has made all the difference.

On the starting line of the Davis Stampede 10k. That's my teammate, Tim, next to me. He won the race outright. 

Before I trained alone. Not because I have a huge ego (OK maybe I do, a little bit) but because I didn't know anyone to run with me. Before I was living year-round in Tahoe, a place better suited for winter sports half the year. Who wants to run twenty miles on a treadmill when you can ski through fluffy powder, after all? So I was left to my own training regimen, my own solitary dreadmill miles. 

But since CIM, I've been training with the Strawberry Canyon Track Club based in Berkeley. They have 2-3 scheduled workouts a week (two on the track; one long run on the weekends) and it has made a huge difference-- in ways I hadn't expected. In lieu of solitary laps around a track, I'm now surrounded by people. Many of them run faster than I do, and I  push myself to keep up with them. Others don't run as fast, but everyone shouts (or in my case, wheezes) words of encouragement to each other. It isn't about "beating" anyone or out performing; we are all there to become stronger, better runners.  Tonight, on Valentine's Day, we were out there doing a demanding ladder workout (400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800, 400 for us distance folk) under a misty, rainy sky and it made all the difference to hear "good job" or even to have someone's back to focus on, to remind me to push harder.

Running is unique in sports, I think: it is a deceptively "individual" sport. Sure, you can run alone but how is excellence measured? By time, yes, but time as marked in races and races are run when runners are pitted against one another. So why not train that way, too? Why not run with others from time to time to see what "time" results? (OK, bad pun. I know.) I have to say, I still love my solitary jaunts over trails and through neighborhoods, but these workouts with others have made me noticeably faster in only a few weeks. 
Me, with my new coach, Carl. 

The Strawberry Canyon Track Club is led by a remarkable coach, Carl Rose. I don't think I've ever worked with a coach (in any of the various sports I've tried) who is more dedicated to the practice than he is. No matter what ability level, he is solidly your coach, offering advice, workouts and any other random information you might require (I know, because I ask some odd questions. And you know, he can answer them, every single one.)

My 10k finish: a PR by 3 minutes. I'm doing sub-six minute pace here.

And so, in honor of the day we honor LOVE, I wanted to post a post about my team, my wonderful team who has welcomed me and let me train with them.  Thank you. And though cliché, I might say, "I love you all." And though we might not have been loving that workout tonight, I would not have done it so well with out you. 

Thank you, thank you. :) 

1 comment:

Sean Mac Always said...

Great to have you around Rebecca! :)