Just about anyone can learn how to train middle schoolers to run 2 miles.
Repeats, Intervals, Hills, stretching, Run, run and run..
Mixed in with teaching them self discipline, commitment, dedication, and hard work.
But the cherry on top is Encouragement.
Not Every Coach is good at this.
I may not be skilled as a coach in many ways but one way I have been gifted is ENCOURAGEMENT.
I can pump sunshine up just about anyone's hiney and mean it.
Tuesday night, our XC kids had a meet in Brighton. Our team had got wind of their new course, with more hills.
I had tried to prepare then for the challenge they were going to have. As we drove out, Alec casually says "Well mom, if I don't make Varsity time on this race I still have 2 races."
I knew where his mind was going. He was already throwing in the towel because it was a hard course.
I smiled and replied "Alec, never count on a second chance. You do your best like it is the only chance that you have....What if the other meet gets canceled or you get sick..."
He didn't reply.
Tuesday was cold and windy. As we walked the course before the meet I prayed.
It was a beautiful course through the woods, However, Holy Hills!
The GO screamed through the air. The 1 milers took off. I did too. I ran as fast as I could to get to the 1/2 mile mark right before 2 very large back to back hills.
"UP UP, Look at the TOP of THE HILL." I screamed.
My voice cracked as I continued to cheer on the runners.
I looked at my watch and had 3 minutes to get back to the Finish line to guide them in.
I could hear myself breathing, I was winded running through the tall grass trying to beat our 7 minute 5th grader.
"GO GO, Pick it UP, Right HERE, Right NOW!" I continued to shout. "Turn Em over, Look at the clock, RUN!"
They came in beat up, winded, dry heaving and empty.
I was stoked, excited, and charged!
Alec runs the 2 mile. This was going to be really difficult. They took off. So did I, again. I ran to my same spot. This time I climbed the first hill.
I was overcome with adrenaline. "Where are they?" I looked down at my watch."
I was nervous for them, who was going to be the first to come out of the woods?
One of OURS! "YES! There you go, Get up this hill!"
I needed to find Alec. I kept looking at my watch and squinting towards the woods.
There he was!!!
He looked pretty good. "That's it ALEC!" I continued to scream. "PASS HER, make your move, Kill it, UP UP!"
As soon as he passed, I ran into the woods and waited for them to come through.
A course like that changes the dynamics of your fastest runners. It becomes a mental game. Who can tolerate the most physical pain and move through it.
As each of the kids came through they were surprised to see me. "Keep your eyes on the person in front." "Stay with THEM."
Don't let up, YOU got this."
I had 3 minutes to make it to the Finish line. I ran out on the trail screaming at each of the kids. "That's it, GO, Don't let up!"
Running backwards and sideways out of trails I found myself winded too.
I saw our first runner. My voice cracked as I ran towards him, up and down I shouted his name.
Then they came in, one after another.
I was jumping and hollering at each kid as they came towards the chute.
I could see how bad some of them looked.
Lil Kaitlyn, at about 65 pounds soaking wet, came down the chute pale. She didn't slow down, I could see she was going to fall apart.
I ran to her as fast as I could to catch her. Her eyes filled with tears. I wrapped my arms around her and told her how proud I was. She cried harder. Then started to puke.
"WOE, sister!" I jumped.
I found myself picking up several kids. Hugging them, sharing high fives, and listening to people whispering about me.
"Coach Harless, we love watching you with the kids."
This is what I LOVE.
I love watching them see me at the end and run harder than they thought they could.
I love when they wrap their arms around me sharing their PR.
I love seeing them exhausted, sore and tired.
I love that final KICK at the end."
I love the gleam in their eyes as they discover they can run through pain, exhausting and
I love hearing them say "I passed 6 kids!"
I LOVE hearing "Coach Harless"
As for Alec. He hit his Varsity time! "Mom, I just kept thinking how you made me run on Monday through the trails and how much they helped. I thought about what you said about something happening to one of the other meets. I looked at my watch at the 1/2 mile mark and knew I had to run harder."
Lesson #1 - Go like there are no second chances.
Lesson #2 -It's just puke, wipe your face and smile for the camera!
Lesson #3- Always listen to your mama!
Damielle and I found some great trails in Fenton. We had 10 miles to run. We ran about 4 miles through the woods. It was beautiful, green, lush and quiet.
"Whether you turn to the tight or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:21