I teach school for a living, and Monday was our last day until August. However, on Wednesday I was back at school at 6:30 in the morning. I didn't go to teach a class or tutor a student. I didn't go for a meeting with other teachers or the principal. No, Wednesday was my first day to run with our cross country team.
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you." -- Psalm 32:8
Yes, that's right. This 44-year-old, 225 pound old man has decided to run with the kids, from 7th grade to seniors in high school. I offered to come out and the coaches were glad to have the help. We'll be practicing three days each week, and by God's grace they are the three days I usually run alone during the week. It didn't take me long to figure out these kids are younger than I am, but I was able to offer a little advice to and run with a couple of kids attempting distance running for the first time.
My first day with them was a speed work day and that was tough. I don't usually don't do speed work because speed is not my priority in the running I do. When the kids arrived and the coach told them, "Today we're going to do mile repeats. The girls will do 4 and the boys 6," I wasn't sure what I'd gotten into. Then she told them we'd be running in a field!
Actually, only about 2/3 of the loop was in the field, but it was a big change from the smooth pavement I'm accustomed to. The coach took us around the loop once so everyone would know the route. She called it a warm up, but my Garmin called it an 8:30 mile. Those of you who read us regularly should know that's a fast workout for me. My fastest training runs are usually around a 9:15 pace, but this was a warm up!
I managed 4 more with them, my best at an 8:24 pace and worst at a 9:19. The 9:19 was my last one and I took off several minutes before the others on that loop. By then I knew I was going to be lagging behind the two boys who stayed to finish their planned 6 miles. Those two caught and passed me with a little more than a quarter of a mile to go. They finished the last mile in 5:40 and I, like I said, at 9:19.
Still, I think I hung in there pretty well for an old, fat man.
Today was my second day training with the kids, on their long run day. They were scheduled to run 4-6 miles. I arrived an hour early and did 3 miles before they came, then did 5 with them for a total of 8 miles. Oh yeah, that's the other big change that began for me this week. This summer I'm going to be attempting two long runs each week, one on Friday and the other on Saturday. I ran 8 today and am planning to run 10 more tomorrow.
I know 8 miles doesn't exactly fit my previous definition of a long run, but I'm trying to do this smart. My plan is to do 10 and 10 on Friday and Saturday next week, 10 and 12 the next, 12 and 12 the next, and so on. I'll keep increasing like that each week until I can get a double 15 in this summer. Then, hopefully, when the weather cools in the fall I'll be able to work up to a double 20.
If you're wondering why this radical departure from what I've been doing, check out our Schedule page. On there you'll notice I've registered for a double marathon, the first on December 20th and the second on December 21st. My thought is, if I can work up to back-to-back 15 milers in the heat, a back-to-back marathon won't be too bad by December.
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." -- Acts 1:8
Part of our mission is to show that with God, anything is possible. Anything, from surviving the devastating loss of a child to running two back-to-back marathons, is possible. With Jesus Christ the most painful emotional experiences and seemingly impossible physical challenges can be overcome, can be survived. I am extremely grateful that Jesus gave me this ability to run, an ability to work with kids, and the opportunity to demonstrate how great His power is through the first and to the second.
The 8 miles went pretty well today. My best mile split was a 8:59 and my worst an 11:52 when I stopped for a bit at the water cooler. When it was all said and done, I averaged a 9:53 mile. That works for me, especially taking into account the 200 foot climb on the route. We don't have hills like that where I usually run, so that too was a new experience for me.
Tomorrow we'll see how the 10 miles go. Memorial Day will throw a little wrench into our cross country practice, but the Cabot Country Cruisers have a Memorial Day run scheduled to make up for that. So far though, I'm liking the changes this summer's bringing.
If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.