Sunday, September 23, 2012

Back into the swing of things

Last weekend was my first race back after taking a few weeks off from training.  That first race back, the ever lovingly dubbed “rust buster” is always a mystery.  You never know for sure how the body will respond to such a hard effort without the calluses built up over a season of races and workouts.  I arrived in Providence, RI for the US 5k road Championships the returning champion, but with claims of a “deeper, more challenging field” I was anything but the favorite.  This was actually a relief, allowing me to take a laid back, nonchalant approach to the race.  The evening before the race I toured the newly minted course with a few eager high schoolers who bounced and fluttered about.  I had to tell them many times to slow down as they sped through the city dropping me at every corner.  It was fun having my own escort for a run.  Rarely do I get the pleasure of running with other people, and rarer still, my repetitive pleas for a slower pace.  But they were happy to oblige and trot beside me on my plodding shakeout.  The race the next day played out ever so nicely in my favor.  A slow early pace meant my early season “fitness” was still intact and I was able to vie for the win.  Crossing the finish and becoming only the second man to ever successfully defend his title, showed we are still on the right path.  The bad luck and hiccups of yesteryear are now in the past.  What happened happened, what is done is done, and taking things one step at a time, I will use the ashes to build the future and move forth.  And this year?  It was able to take a great first step.

Until next time,

Ben

A close battle to the end, but I was able to break the tape first
The podium: Andrew Bumbalough, Robert Cheseret and me

I don't know what to do with my hands




Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fall in New Hampshire


Autumn in New Hampshire is slowing creeping upon us.  Every night the temperature drops and every morning the crisp air threatens that this might be the day when the mercury refuses to rise and the jackets and hats are pulled out from storage.  This is my favorite time of the year for training.  Long easy miles in the cooler mornings, followed by the warmth of day, and perfect sleeping weather at night, evoking the memories of high school and college cross-country and the simple joys of running.  While no longer competing for a cross-country team myself, I yet again have the privilege to work with the kids of Indian River Middle School and coach them to another great season of running.  Beginning the last week of August, I have begun coaching twenty-three middle schoolers three days a week.  Being able to return to the program I helped start last year and see the familiar faces (now the old pros) help the timid beginners through form drills and practices has been great.  And not to start off slowly, we just completed our first race of the season- after only three practices.  Green, might be the word to describe many of the runners as they toed the line still not quite sure what they got themselves into, but they persevered nonetheless to great results.  With five more races throughout the fall, I only hope to see their confidence rise, their smiles widen, and their times drop each time out.  For fall is the time for cross-country, the time to fall in love with running, and the time to embrace the last remaining days of warmth.

Until next time,

Ben