Thursday, April 6, 2017

Joel's Angels

Coach Joel and I have been together now for 7 years! 
I believe I'm the runner he has coached for the longest period of time. I fondly refer to him as (whether he knows it or not) my "Track Daddy".

In the early years, Coach was, how can I put this ... ROUGH!
He always seemed to come to the track with a specific agenda. He'd yell out, "Too fast, Too fast!" Or "C'mon, Let's Go!" When I would try to steel some extra time between repeats he'd bark out, "C'mon get to the line! Now - get to the line!" You'd seldom hear a, "Great job, today," and might hear a "Good effort, Good effort" every so often. I never really minded because I had my own agenda: To build running speed and strength.

Well, I guess that's not altogether true, I minded a little. Over the years, I'd come home and tell my better half, "Joel barked out this or that, today." I mimicked his voice and his gruffness, I had Joel's voice and mannerisms down pat. It became funny, and when I'd come home, Ron would ask, "How was Coach Joel today?"
I mean, I was already in my 40's when I started training with Joel, 
and it wasn't as if I was trying to make it to the Olympics 
- or even to the Boston Marathon for that matter! 

And I actually appreciated Joel's intensity about my workouts and level of seriousness he showed to each of my strides and repeats. And whether it was 19*F or 99*F - he was always there. At the end of the workout, I'd get my homework for the week. Always on recycled scrap paper, from whatever paper he had laying around in his house at the time. And, yes, over the years, I began to treasure these homework assignments.

Then something happened to Joel ....about 4 years ago, Joel's daughter and son-in-law started a family. Joel would come to the track with these incredible pictures of him and his grandchildren - holding his grandbabies, on the floor playing with his grandbabies - even in silly poses with his grandbabies ... Yes, Joel! My Track Coach Daddy - aka Drill Sergeant - was becoming a "SOFTY!"

I mean - he was never a mean person - always Coached kid's running events, always extended himself to the community to inspire people to run, and always looked for ways to promote his beloved sport: Running.

Over the years, not many, but a few women dared to join me and Coach in these track workouts - and to date, only a few have hung in there with me, and Coach Joel.
Coach Joel, Half-Crazed Runner, Rebecca, Sephanie
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when Coach tells us we should run in a local relay race.
Okay! Everyone is in - but I'm skeptical.
My track partners in crime are so much faster than me - Steph's goal is to run a sub 6-minute mile, and Rebecca has this incredible ability to hang back - and power through the last 1/4 mile like everyone else is standing still - all while holding a conversation (no joke!). And Jodi - I'm recently getting to know. For some reason, because I tend to be socially unaware, I thought she was in her late twenty's early thirty's - until we were recently at a local half marathon, and Coach said, "That's Jodi's Daughter" What? She's married and has kids? She's always been such a strong runner - I never thought she was even older than 40!
Okay. So we have a team of four women!
And we call ourselves Joel's Angels.
Turns out Jodi even has a job! She's an artist and is an Art Teacher!
She buys the shirts, designs a logo, and makes iron-on presses:
Joel's Angels
Race day: I just don't want to screw up and slow our time down. Of course, me and my tummy start to act up!
Steph picks us up. 
Rebecca's in charge of the directions.  She gets us to "A" park - I immediately head toward the port-o-john. When I get out of the port-o-john, I see 3 women running toward me screaming, "Get in the car, Get back in the car, We are at the wrong race!"
Okay back in the car. Jodi's turn at directions. 
I start to panic (literally freaking out on the inside). I start my 4-7-8 breathing. Steph rubs my arm, and whispers," It'll be okay, Beth".
Thanks, Jodi, but how did we end up on that dead end street?
I literally grab the race sign up papers out of Jodi's hands, read some cross streets, and talk to my droid for directions. Twenty minutes to the start of the race - and I haven't done my dynamic stretches, warm-up, strides;  4-7-8, 4-7-8, 4-7-8. Breathe Beth, just breathe.
Coach calls: "Where are you guys?" 
Me:"We got a little lost, we will be there in 3-minutes."
Steph's still rubbing my arm.
Rebecca and Jodi are singing the Immigrant Song from Led Zeppelin - Don't ask.
We get there, warm up a little.
Steph's first. She kicks unbelievable ass! Coach says we gotta worry about the green team - the women in the tutus.
Okay, Rebecca is next.
Stephanie and Rebecca
We are all screaming. Steph gives us pointers about the course. I start my strides. Coach starts screamin' at me (so used to it), "What are you doing? What are you doing? Get back here! Not 100 meter strides. Get back here. Just do 50 meter strides. Rebecca will be here any second."
Don't drop the baton, don't drop the baton - OMG! 
What a Teammate!

Look at Rebecca's face - she looks totally exhausted ...Yeay, that'll me in a ..."Gooooo, Beth, Run!"
Focus, girl, move your legs
until they feel like they're gonna fall off your body!
Next up, Jodi. I pass the baton off. And we wait. Through some trees, on the other side of the park - you can see the runners as they clear 1.25 miles. I see Jodi, I start screaming, "Go Jodi, Gooo. Ruuuuun!"
Jodi, runs through the home stretch ... 
We did it, we did it! 
Our 1st Relay!
Jodi Runs It Home!
We placed 3rd Overall - beating out even some men's groups - and took First Place Female Master's Group in the De Novo Harrier's 4X2-mile Relay.

City/Town,State Age Sx U Code Time Pace Place Place PLP 

1.Team Dad Bodz , 91 M M 56:14.04 7:01 1/13 M91-91:1/3 0.00 

2.Team Touch Of Grey , 91 M M 56:20.03 7:02 2/13 M91-91:2/3 0.00 

3.Team Joel's Angels , 94 F B 58:58.51 7:22 1/12 F94-94:1/4 0.00
4.Team Va Rove Lightni , 95 M X 1:00:59.57 7:37 3/13 M95-95:1/7 0.00 
I turn toward my teammates and say jokingly, "And we were worried about the tutus?" They actually did an awesome job! They took 2nd Master's Female. Congratulations Ladies!
First Place Female Master's
DeNovo Harriers 4X 2mile Relay
And Coach Joel - my Drill Sergeant Coach - who when I started to cry a few weeks ago because he told me was taking his Granddughters to Disney World in the middle of my training for Boston (yes, he got me to Boston!) kissed and wiped my tears away, hugged me, and told me not worry b/c everything would be okay -  couldn't have been more proud. He, my transformed Coach, now a Grandpa and a real softy, was hugging and kissing my teammates, telling them all what a great job we did, and shaking his head like we just landed on Mars!
And people say running is boring!
Train Smart Today!
#Women #Runtoinspire
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