Yesterday was the inaugural OctoHalf Half Marathon. It was organized, timed, and run by the best in business, by far in my opinion, ACT Sports Management. A group of people that understand what runners want to see at a race, and who care about every runner from first to the person who crosses the finish line last.
I really try to do the same with my coaching business. That’s my goal, anyway. I am also hoping that’s why ACT Sports Management asked me to be the “official coach” of the race. I offered two types of training for the race, online and a group “learn the course while we train” method. I ended up coaching 6 awesome runners.
When I first started coaching, my first group class was through the North Penn School District’s Community Education Program. I had about 25-30 people sign up for a beginner’s running class that took people who have never run before and taught them to run enough to finish a 5K in 8 weeks. I am still coaching several runners from that first class. Some of them are doing half and full marathons now. That was only 4 1/2 years ago. One did a half marathon the year after she came through the beginners class.
The first class ended with a 5K, which 10-15 of the class members had the time to run. All of them finished that race that day, many took home age group awards for placing first through third in their age group. What hit me that day was two things. As a coach I never got to meet their families while we trained. They were the supporting cast for their desire to get healthier and finish a 5K. But that day I got to see how proud their spouses and children were of their accomplishments. That really made me happy. I never forgot how that felt. I said to myself that day “that is why I do this.” The second thing was seeing how much finishing that class, that 5K, meant to each one of those runners. Words cannot describe the feelings I had that day as each of my running “students” crossed that finish line. It cemented the decision I made to start up this coaching business.
To me, a hug or a warm handshake makes me feel like someone cares about me. It feels better than anyone handing me a trophy for crossing a finish line first. It sends a chill through my body that says “I really appreciate you”. For my personality a hug works better than anything spoken, written, or better than any drug could possibly make me feel. I remember hugs or meaningful handshakes forever. I remember from that first class, that I got dozens of them. From my students to their spouses. The feeling that every one of them appreciated my role in their accomplishment sent me home that day feeling like I was in the clouds.
Yesterday it was a half marathon instead of a 5K. It, however, ended with the same feeling of euphoria. Watching families and friends of the runners I trained for this race and seeing how happy they were sent chills through my body that I will never forget. It is why I do this. Sometimes I never see or hear from one of my runners again. I understand. I did my job and while I get attached to each and every one of them I can’t take them all home with me. I do see and hear from most of them and continue to coach a lot of the original gang of runners. My circle of runners is growing. And I love every one of them.
I love my job!