Monday, September 28, 2009

It Worked!

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.


Anonymous said...

Oh - your post brought me back to the horrors of a junior high track meet and my fear of hurdles. Please, make it go away!!! :)

Debra Bonson said...

good for you for resisting the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte...One of my favorites :) You would've liked track and I would have enjoyed running with you! Keep up the good work. You're an inspiration, Heather!

Fran Gilbert said...

Awesome and Inspiring! You just keep reminding me that it's the culmination of the little steps that leads to clearing big hurdles and meeting our goals. Hard work and consistency pay off!
Way to go, Heather!