Racing & Coaching High

I love racing and I love coaching! This holiday weekend had both that simply made me thankful for what I have. Here I will share a few highlights from my experiences doing both at the Gobbler 5k and 1 Mile Fun Run and team workouts Saturday and Sunday that gave me such a high.

First up was the Gobbler 5k and 1 Mile Fun Run Thanksgiving morning where we had a handful of teammates racing including myself. My daughter, Morgan, was home from law school for the holiday break. She was racing but had her own plan…no help needed from dad other than to warm up together. I was helping Lauren Nolan who was racing her first competitive 5k…ever! How cool is that?!? She had a goal in mind for the race, 27:00, and we set a pacing plan in place to reach it.

I also was racing and without competing in a straight 5k in nine months I had a goal to run 19:45 with a stretch goal of 19:30. I set my pacing plan to achieve as well. The horn went off and we raced through the winding trails of Starkey Park. I hit my first mile target to the second, missed my mile two goal by five seconds but finished with a strong 1.1 mile kick to finish 16 seconds ahead of my stretch goal with a 19:14, placing 9th overall and winning my age group. I was pretty happy with my effort and was ready to fight mentally so that kept me hanging around after the miss on mile two. Keep fighting and you never know…

When I was finished, I headed back on the trail and passed Morgan who was coming in quickly finishing at 21:28, placing her 5th Overall Female and also winning her age group. I continued to run a bit and met Lauren with under a 1/2 mile left. She was hurting – battling a stitch and the discomfort of racing a 5k which is an all out effort the entire way. She fought and fought her way in beating her goal by 1:40 with a 25:20. It was incredible seeing the look of accomplishment on her face…simply priceless. In her first 5k ever she placed 8th in her age group (of 97!!!) and was in the top 6% of the entire female field!!! I was so proud of her and hearing her recount the race was special. We caught up with Morgan who was really pleased with her effort as well. What a great start to Thanksgiving…

That could have been enough for the holiday weekend for both the coach and athlete but it wasn’t even close. Saturday morning I ran with three of our running mates – Mike, Rodrigo and Kevin. Mike and Rodrigo are training for the Clearwater Distance Classic Marathon in January and Kevin is running for fitness. On the plan for the marathon boys was 17 miles. Kevin ran for 12+ miles of them and after we stopped briefly as he departed the three of us continued on to complete the 17 mile effort.

We were all suffering a bit (or more…). We stuck together, never discussed cutting it short, and felt a great sense of accomplishment when finished. As a coach on this day my value was more morale support through the suffering but I am so glad I did to be a part of what they are going after in January.

The remainder of Saturday became an attempt to recover enough for a mock triathlon I was leading in Fort DeSoto Sunday morning. This was in preparation for Challenge Daytona Triathlon (December 6) & Top Gun Triathlon (December 13). The morning came quickly as we met at the park at 7:30 AM. We had two of our athletes training for Challenge Daytona – Dylan Nolan and Dan Radde. I am racing with Dylan competing in the triathlon relay while Dan is racing the sprint distance triathlon.

For Top Gun, we have two teammates racing their very first triathlon – Gail Hurn and Lauren Nolan. Lauren is coming off her first 5k as noted above…what a couple weeks for her! Gail has great run racing experience to draw from but has been working hard at the swim and bike portions this year…new to her. We set up, went over the game plan and started. I watched from the beach as they completed the swim. We all followed with the 10 mile bike effort around the park. I completed this effort as I have the bike leg of the relay with Dylan at Daytona.

We ended with the 5k run on the trail and beach. There was so much learning going on…all reflecting on what went well and things to focus on prior to the upcoming races. As a coach, it’s a beautiful thing to see when your team learns, wants to learn, and makes progress and this they did.

I’m not sure but I may be more excited about Lauren and Gail’s first race than them and that’s not saying anything about their excitement. I just can’t wait to see this happen. It’s going to be an emotional Top Gun Finish Line I know that…

I also can’t wait to see Dan race his butt off at Daytona. For as many ‘A’ races that have been canceled for him this year I’m excited he has this big race to show his stuff off. He is faster than at any point in his young triathlon career. He will be zipping around the Daytona 500 track for sure!

Back to the athlete Alan. My duathlon season is over but I can tell you I’m as excited about this relay as any race this year. It’s pretty neat to partner with someone in an individual sport by cheering for your teammate while also not wanting to let them down when you are doing your thing. So the hammer will go down on the track Sunday morning so I don’t disappoint my teammate Dylan and hope we can be as competitive in this large racing field as possible.

Oh the highs of racing and coaching…can’t beat it…and I get to do both…wow!

– Add Health to Your Life

Added note – Thank you to Mike Rymsza who after running 17 miles Saturday morning showed up Sunday morning to support the mock triathlon group by sharing his experiences and guarding transition. That is a true teammate and friend!

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