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Posts Tagged ‘coaching’

The Reluctant Race Director

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

I never wanted to be a race director.  But, as head cross country coach at Manatee High School, it came with the job.  The Canes Cross Country Classic 5K is held every year on Labor Day and it serves as our cross country team’s main fundraiser.  When I first started coaching back in 2003 it also included a one mile fun run/walk which I changed to a 1K a few years ago in the hope that it would attract more families and younger runners in our goal to fight childhood obesity.  The 5K course gives the participants a unique experience in that it runs over our home cross country course and usually features tons of high school competitors in the field.

Start of the 22nd Annual Canes Cross Country Classic 5K

This past Labor Day was our 22nd Annual Canes Classic and my 11th year as race director.  Every year I state that my favorite day of the year is the day AFTER Labor Day.  The job of race director is a very challenging one and definitely way more stressful than I ever imagined.  Knowing that the experience of every runner, walker, and volunteer out there rests on me is a huge responsibility.  The one thing I can brag about is that we have the coolest t-shirt designs year after year!

Members of the MHS girls’ XC team showing off the 2014 shirt design

Working as a race director has definitely taught me to appreciate all the work that goes into the races that I compete in even more.  I no longer show up at races expecting things but rather appreciating all that has been done.  It is great idea for all runners and walkers to volunteer at races to develop more of an understanding of what makes a successful event happen.

Directing a race is much like training for a marathon.  You need to have a good plan and start working on it months in advance.  You must be consistent in that work over weeks and months in order to have the greatest success on race day.  If you lack that consistency, like I did for this year’s Canes Classic, you end up stressed out, sleep deprived, and struggling to complete all the tasks at the last minute.  And like with not so consistent marathon training, you may be able to cram in enough work in the last few weeks to get you through race day but you definitely will not do your best.  I thought I had it all covered:  permits, insurance, sponsors, registration, shirts, goody bags, volunteers, all the school paperwork and permissions, security, timing, awards, food and drink, course set up, and clean up.  But I forgot about marketing.  Without a plan, without the consistent work in the previous seven months, this very important item was left undone until it was too late.

While the race went off perfectly, our participation numbers were very low.  With this being our team’s fundraiser, this definitely hurts us.  I own this mistake and vow to improve.  I thoroughly enjoy following a tough marathon training plan and seeing the success on race day.  Now I just need to lay out a Canes Classic race directing plan and follow through with the same resolve.  Maybe the greater success next year will make me less reluctant.

Overall female winner Diana Sitar with me in the background announcing the award winners

Special thank you to Roxanne Britt for taking photos for our team this year!

http://www.CanesClassic.com

2 weeks

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Two weeks ago I received an email from a woman who needed help getting faster so she could pass the physical test for law enforcement school.  She had one more shot to pass.  Since time was of the essence I skipped the usual first meeting I have with coaching clients and we got to work.

She had to shave 11 seconds off her 300 meter time and 1 minute 1 second off her 1.5 mile time.  At our first workout I told her that the 1.5 mile time goal was likely but the 300 meter time would be tough in just two weeks.  I could not guarantee anything.

We worked together twice a week for two weeks and she ran on her own and cross trained the other days.  I showed her how to properly warm up and we worked on improving her form to make her a more efficient runner.

Two weeks is such a short time but during those training sessions I saw her form improve, her confidence in her running improve, and her ability to embrace the pain that comes with running fast improve as well.

I was able to be there the morning she retook her test.  We warmed up just like we did during our workouts and even did a timed 100 meters to remind her what her 300 meter pace would feel like.  Then she left to check in, take the vertical jump test, then returned to the track with the instructor and other students who were also retaking the test.  She passed the sit ups portion of the test then it was time for the 300 meters.

I timed each 100 meter section of it for her and called out her times so she knew exactly where she was.  She finished in exactly her goal time.  Passed!  Then on to the push ups.  Passed.  Now the final test was the 1.5 mile run.

I reminded her where she needed to be at each 200 and 400 meters.  She started slower than goal pace and gradually picked up the pace.  With a lap and a half to go she really started to push.  I could see the effort on her face and hear her labored breathing.  She learned to embrace that discomfort and in doing so she beat her goal by 24 seconds, which was 1 minute and 25 seconds faster than two weeks ago.

I don’t know who was more nervous and excited that morning.  I felt the adrenaline pumping through my body and I wasn’t even running!  Even her instructor who was giving the test came over to me afterwards and told me how impressed he was with her improvement in such a short time.

I don’t know if there is anything more satisfying than helping someone achieve her goals…especially in just two weeks.


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