Finishing on a hill

By Kathryn Reynolds

So this time around I made a promise to myself that I was going to improve my half marathon time. Why I registered for another half was beyond me. I ran 2010’s NYC half (my first long distance race) and obviously felt accomplished at the end, but also vowed I would never race that distance again. And here I found myself, swept up by the camaraderie of my running friend’s influence to register for Providence’s Rock and Roll Half…in August no less.

Since I have a direct line to Hot Bird’s running expertise, one of the co-founders is my sister, I asked her to put together an official training plan. I gave myself more time than I probably needed, partly because I’m a nurse on a rotating day-night schedule and knew I’d have an erratic training schedule.

The beginning was confidence boosting. I did the hill workouts, the intervals, the tempos, and ran an easy (and fast) 9 mile long run. Around this time, life started getting, well, life-y. I was working overnight shifts, the temperature in Boston was a humidity infused 90 to 100 degrees, and there were life stressors that I had no control over. So what was the first thing to go? Yup, my training.

My coach modified my training though.  She was privy to all the issues I was dealing with since she is my sister and all. Maybe most people wouldn’t feel compelled to tell their running coach as much as I told mine (ha) but she adjusted to my derailment with professionalism and realism. She didn’t condemn me for not being the all-star athlete I said I was going to be in the beginning, there was no scolding for not following her directions, no giving up on me. She boosted me up and told me what I needed focus on, picked out the important runs and scaled back on my mileage.

Race day came and I was nervous but I had my coach with me. In the beginning, I wanted to hold back, afraid that I might not even be able to complete the 13.1 mile distance. But she told me to just go and not think about it. She knew how fast we were running and kept me on my goal pace. We killed the first 10k. Around mile 10 things got hard. I kept telling myself, ‘it’s only a 5k left, you can do this.’ My coach stuck with me and kept a little ahead so I had something to focus on.  She was like the carrot, and I was the rabbit. This little rabbit, however, did want to rest and take a nap on the side of the course. If it hadn’t been a torrential downpour the day of the race, I might have. No, no, I’m kidding, but the point is, I was tired and understandably so. My coach kept me focused and not only did I finish but I beat my previous half marathon time...and killed it on the uphill finish!

Now I’m excited to keep going. I don’t know when my next half will be, but having a real live coach changed something for me. I think I gained the confidence to focus in on my goals. Previously, I had been too afraid of failure to really even try. But it's ok if you don’t meet your original goal - I didn’t run the projected time I had set out for myself three months ago - but I did run strong and ran faster than I had before. Little milestones and the help of a good coach seem to be the keys for pushing my running forward. Thanks Hot Bird!