Yesterday I ran my first ever track practice with a group. I loved it. Absolutely loved it.
I joined the Genesee Valley Harriers, a running club here in Rochester coached by the amazing Mike Reif. Anyone who is anyone knows if you are serious about your running at any level, Coach Reif is the guy to go to. I am not sure what prevented me from joining before…. probably my schedule. Throughout the past 18 months Coach Reif has been my Special Education guide as we navigated the waters through admission to the Norman Howard School. It is time I handed him my running.
I love to be coached. I love to be the student. Especially because I spend so much time coaching. I love to learn from people who have much more knowledge and experience than I do. I am very coach-able, I follow direction well. And my running needs some help. I had often thought about joining up with GVH but honestly…. I thought it was just for runners.
Admittedly I was nervous. I have run intervals on the track alone but never with other people. I didn’t know the etiquette. Who runs in what lane? I knew I would look like a literal fish out of water anyway….. so I went for it and showed up.
Coach Reif was amazing, and I wasn’t the only new girl! Enter Jordan…. recent Cortland graduate and Nationally ranked runner (amazing) and another kid named Mike. Coach walked us through the mission of the club, the history of the club, and how things worked at practice. He introduced us to the near 30 runner group that gathered after a quick warm up and then it was time for warm up.
I did find a few familiar faces in the crowd. One guy joked that this was a track and not a pool, so no flip turns here! I even made the rookie move of tripping over the metal edge of the track and face-planting in front of everyone. I was just glad I got THAT out of the way. After a 2 X 800 warm up we went through some agility drills. Over some short hurdles, through ladders and cones. This was stuff I could do (Thanks Steve for getting me ready for that!).
I was less nervous but still nervous as the workouts hadn’t truly begin yet.
Coach gathered us again and ran through several workout options. With another Ironman on the horizon I wasn’t really sure which to choose from. Luckily coach grabbed me before everyone began and had me run some 400’s to get used to the track. After my first one (running in lane 5… rookie!) he schooled me on the rules of the track. Lane one…. run in lane one (really?) yes, the other runners will pass you, make them work.
Pass me they did! I was fascinated at the different abilities and the different ages of the group. The masters women especially inspired me. Some were short course specialists, some marathon and one woman had recently done a 50 miles in under 9 hours. I’d rather do Ironman! I couldn’t have been more welcomed, people couldn’t have been friendlier. It was hot and it was tough and I loved every second of it.
After a few 400’s Coach Reif pulled me aside to work on bio mechanics. No one has even worked with me on mechanics quite like that before. I have had video done and suggestions made, but actual drills and specifics to work on was new to me. I was assigned several 200’s (from here to where?) and worked on form.
As I ran those 200’s I felt good, I felt light. I especially loved rounding the corner and hitting the straightaway. It was a bit like pushing off the wall in the pool. I felt a whole new level of intrigue. There could be something to this track thing. There could be something to this whole running with a team thing. It’s been exactly what I have needed. I have done so much training, especially running…. alone. I am a people person, I am social. I crave being coached by great coaches.
I left practice feeling incredible. I was the student again. I learned new things, I felt so much hope that my best running is still before me.
I felt like now I have something to work towards this fall after the Ironman in August. Normally I feel lost but finding something beyond August 18th has given me entirely new interest.
I came home, jumped on the website and looked at all of the events they have. An august cross country series for kids and adults that I can make, click here to learn more. A fall cross country series that I am going to sign up for! This is so out of my norm and my league and I can’t wait! Click here for that information. I have never done cross country, it sounds so much fun!
“It was awesome.” I told my husband as I came home last evening. “I can’t wait to go back!”. It was. I am learning something new. I am under the guidance of one of the best running coaches in the country. I have a long learning curve and a long way to improvement but if there is one thing I am…. I am patient. Most of all….. I am grateful to be able to do this. Every single day I thank my lucky stars for this ability and for the gift of health I have been able to gain back. I will never again waste it.
My payback is to get out and do fun things like this. And never stop learning. Never stop aiming.
Thank you so much Coach Reif and to all of the GVH runners who were so incredibly welcoming to me. I am a fish out of water, and happy to be!