Don't you love that feeling when you realize your hard work is actually paying off? And the subsequent feeling when you choose NOT to celebrate it with a Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks? I had that feeling on Sunday, when I put some of my training to the test with a hurdle coach on a soggy football field.
My boss, who is a runner/adventure racer/snazzy dresser/all-around good guy, offered to put me in touch with a track coach for a local high school for some coaching on hurdles. I wasn't sure if this man had lost some kind of bet or if news of my pitiful hurdle progress had made it all the way to my boss, but I accepted the referral gratefully. I had hit the wall, pun intended, and needed some help. And the fact that said boss asked me the next week if I had talked to him, I figured I needed to step up and do this already.
To be honest, I was intimidated. As we emailed each other to schedule a meeting time, I was sure to set the expectation early on - I wanted to make sure he was aware that unlike the 18-year-old leggy gazelles he may be used to working with, I am a 5-foot 4-inch 33-year-old mom with muffin top. A small, wheat-free flax muffin, but a muffin nonetheless.
We met at the local high school track, and as I entered I was immediately faced with memories of my own high school experience. Since I had already blocked most of that out, I was surprised by my mind's ability to recall feelings of restless boredom and escape-route-planning just by looking at a set of high school bleachers. I had never played sports in high school, preferring to perfect my angst-scowl with the theatre crowd, so I didn't have a lot of first-hand experience on a track. I kind of regretted that; I think I would have really liked it if I had been motivated to do anything other than make sarcastic comments under my breath when I was a teenager. Although, that was fun too.
Anyway, I was excited to see what I could do, even if it was embarassing. The obstacle course is in 6 weeks and I want to do well. So, we set up some practice hurdles and I ran over them pretty easily. He analyzed my stride and we determined my lead and trail legs. We discussed the distance between the hurdles and whether I should alternate lead legs or not. We made small talk and I decided that I liked him and he was pretty darn generous for spending his Sunday morning with me in the sun on a soggy football field.
I was feeling confident, but so far the highest hurdle I had cleared was maybe 15 inches. We turned to our next task - the 30-inch hurdle I would be faced with in the course. But instead of an actual hurdle, we created our own out of much friendlier materials - the foam yardage markers the football team used during practice. When stacked on top of each other, they equaled 30 inches, and crashing into them didn't seem so bad. I took a deep breath, started running, and....
I jumped over all three.
I did it! It worked! All of those days training my hip flexors, doing plyometrics, stretching my hamstrings, doing drills, and visualizing had paid off! It wasn't pretty and I had a lot of work to do on form, but I cleared all three of them and I was pretty stoked. I still am, actually.
We spent more time working on form and eventually parted ways with a promise to meet again in a few weeks. It was fun, and my confidence going into practicing on my own is much higher. I spent the rest of the day on cloud nine, looking forward to my next practice.
As this competition gets closer, I find myself shaping not only my training but my expectation. I started out in this journey wanting to just see what I, a non-athlete, could do. It's fun to know that I don't have to wait until competition day to find out. Thanks Coach Droze!
Have a great week, and go tackle a hurdle of your own.