Today was our second and last twenty miler. Rick laid out a great course that offered some new scenery as well as a handy spot for an aid station. The course was an out and back with a five mile loop at the far end. We would pass the aid station where Rick was handing out water and Powerade every five miles. We all agreed that it was a well thought out course.
Our group started out running at a conservative pace. Jon pointed out that these long runs were all about spending time on your feet not about speed. We were all feeling great at our first aid station stop. As we approached Rick's van we caught up to a runner from the class walking along the road. She apparently had some severe pain in her IT band and naturally was quite upset about it. As one of our guest speakers put it, our training forces us to tread the fine line between peak performance and injury. We all could certainly empathize with her.
The loop part of the route circled the Prairiewood golf course so traffic was light. We ran the first loop clockwise, stopped at Rick's van for a water refill, and ran the same loop counterclockwise. Kristy and Shirley, who had started a bit faster than the rest of us, were waiting at the van for us. We would finish the last five miles as one good sized group.
At the start of our last five mile stretch, Jon was going to push us to maintain our pace. It is hard to force yourself to keep going after this many miles. Having someone to motivate you makes a huge difference. We gradually increased our speed over the last five miles, and the last mile was the fastest of the day. Erin really kicked in the afterburners with several blocks to go. I had all I could do to keep up. The whole group had a SUPER run! We all finished strong even after twenty miles.
The marathon is only three weeks away now. Everyone in our little back-of-the-pack group should do very well. We have inspired and encouraged each other as we strive to accomplish a pretty amazing test of endurance and will. I know that I could not have come this far without the group and our amazing coaches. In fact I think it's time to express my opinion about some of the "coaches" and brag about the coaches I have had the privilege to run with.
I have noticed that some of the "coaches" tend to treat these group runs as nothing more than a chance to get their long runs in. They can be seen running in pairs or singly. The only encouragement from them is a "good job" as they run past. In my opinion, as a "coach" they should be running with one of the groups, monitoring everyone's progress, and offering advice on any issues that come up. Or, if the entire class gets too spread out, they could adjust their speed to allow them to spend some time with the pairs or single runners. I know I would be quite frustrated if I signed up for the class and found myself running alone every week.
As it is, I do not run alone. None of us back-of-the-packers runs alone. Rick and Jon see to that. They have been incredible coaches. While one of them may spend time with another group or individual, one of them is always with us on our runs. They are there to answer any questions and pass along the lessons they have learned through their running experiences. Some days we have Lamont or Eric (both from the Fargo Running Company) there to share their experiences. That's is what I expect from someone working as a coach.
Wow! Sounds like a pretty serious rant. Maybe a little levity at the end of this post is in order. I saw a preview for the new version of the movie Arthur when we were in St. Cloud. I enjoyed the original version when it came out. The character that really made the movie was Hobson played by Sir John Gielgud. His character is still one of the funniest I've seen. Here's one of my favorite scenes. Hobson is meeting Arthur's latest lady friend/escort. Funny stuff.