So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Monday, April 6, 2009

When It's Out Of Your Hands

I've talked on one or two occasions about the challenge of remote-control coaching. My first reaction to the idea of having a coach who's not at the beck & call has always been, 'on-line or remote coaching is less than effective because coach so-and-so is not going to be available to you at 6:38p.m. on a Saturday one week out from your goal race.'
However, I also have had to be pragmatic about the whole d*mned coaching thing. I have friends in outlying areas (like Alberta, Canada) who developed a trust in what I knew about training & coaching from my own mistakes...okay, it's taken them seven years to know...and figure I might be able to help them achieve their running goals. Even with the trust factor nailed down, there's still a language takes a few months of running workouts with me to know exactly what I mean when I use a particular term. Some of it has to do with my inability to communicate, some of it has to do with what I consider a mild speech impediment - after 30 seconds, the Charlie Brown filter of most people turns on.
What's the Charlie Brown filter? Remember the old Peanuts cartoons (A Charlie Brown Christmas, He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown, etc.), where the teacher or principal, or some adult is talking & everything is Wah wah, wa-wa-wa wah wah, wah, wah...? That's the Charlie Brown Filter.
It's nothing that surprises me. I do the same thing when people are yammering on & on & on...
Once I can get the basic language of coaching & training figured out between the remotely-coached athlete & me, usually limited to intensities & feedback structure, things seem to go well. I've been rewarded with knowing I was responsible for the successful completion of several half-iron & iron-distance triathlon events, a couple of Boston Marathon qualifications, & the like. It's the kind of stuff that, as Mark Twain said, allows me to exist for two weeks.
This weekend has me taken care of for the next month:
My friend Betsy completed her first Ironman 70.3 in New Orleans yesterday. I remember one of my first triathlons just up the road in Perdido Key, near the Alabama state line; we both succeeded in getting ourselves hung up in the same marker buoy on the swim portion of the triathlon. I slowed to a stop, took a look back to shore and proceeded to freak out for ten seconds, thinking 'OMG, I am SO freaking far from shore this is not funny.' Betsy, on the other hand, was so seriously hung up in the line she needed assistance from one of the water safety guys. Swimming has been her most difficult discipline, and I've been close at hand to watch her progress.
What impressed me most was not so much that she finished the 1.2-mile swim in Lake Ponchartrain - which would have been a major accomplishment in and of itself - in an hour & 30-something minutes (CORRECTION: One hour, thirteen minutes. MB). It was the fact she took the time during that particular swim to help a woman who was in a panic over her own personal wardrobe (okay, wetsuit) malfunction.
From what Betsy mentioned, the woman's Velcro tab at the neckline had either come off or been taken off or had failed altogether, leaving her with the risk of having a lot of Lake Ponchartrain come into her suit. So, Betsy assisted in getting this woman to a safety kayak & helped her work the issue through. Sometimes it's the comfort by which we are comforted we are most able to provide to others. Even I don't think I would have done anything like that, not on the day. Well, perhaps. I'd like to think I would. Well, perhaps it was passing forward what I did last October on Santa Rosa Island, when I stayed close by during the swim because of her foot cramp. I then passed her along to another kayaker to shepherd to shore as I went back to watch for others.
I was more impressed at the fact she ran her half-marathon only a few minutes slower than I did mine during my half-iron last year. Kudos to you, Betsy! I told you you'd have a good day if you got the nutrition down pat.
Cheryl is working on a 22K/half-marathon training program after having baby number two (cutest little girls; something to be said about genetics). Rather than pushing her out onto a track to hammer out intervals & tempo pieces, I've adapted my workout to let her do them on treadmill so she can be mama & train. Yesterday was her first long run outdoors in a long time, in which she did 7.5 miles at right around 10-minute pace. She said there were no worries, no discomfort, & she was planning to do more long days on the road rather than the treadmill. She's got a few more months to her goal events, but the start is auspicious...and her coach is stoked.
Sometimes the genius lies within the athlete, not the coach. We only try to pull it out. Kind of like Glenda, the Good Witch from The Wizard of OZ. And if any of you ever call me Glenda...

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