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Paying it forward

June 25, 2011

I ran my first race (a 5K) in June 2010. My friend Melanie Spring, an accomplished runner, was kind enough to train with me, offer encouragement, and run my first race (the MCRRC Capital Crescent) with me. I’m sure it was brutal for her to run at my pace, which is more like walking for her. Nevertheless, she stuck with me providing encouragement the entire time. Less than a year later Melanie & I ran the Cherry Blossom 10-miler together, although as a more confident runner, I didn’t need hand holding and Melanie could run at her much faster pace. [Side note: it’s partly Melanie’s fault that I’m hooked on racing. I got the bug after crewing for her at the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in 2010. Right after the race I committed  — on Twitter no less — to run a 5K for my birthday (8 weeks following). One year later I ran my first half marathon.]

Now it is a little more than a year after my first race and I’m the one offering encouragement to a friend running her first 5K race. [This is the second time I’ve run a race with a “first-timer.” I ran the Rockville 5K with another friend last November.] Angie and I first met when we had back-to-back training sessions and recently decided to combine our workouts into one session. Several months ago our trainer, Sedric Otuya, and I convinced her to start running and yep – she’s been bitten by the running bug. So naturally a 5K race is the next step (although she’s got the October 2011 MCM10K in her sights). The funny thing like Melanie, Angie is also a much faster runner than me at shorter distances. However,  she hasn’t yet built up her endurance. But when she does — look out. 🙂

Since Angie and I started running together, I’ve passed on information I gained from more experienced runners, as well as tidbits I’ve learned over the last 1.75 years. Angie really needed good running shoes, so we went to Fleet Feet Sports Gaithersburg a couple of weeks ago to get her properly fitted, and to buy a hydration belt and technical socks (very important to prevent blisters!). It’s amazing how quickly the proper equipment improved her running.

My job on Sunday is to keep her from going out too fast, keep her on a steady pace, be a cheerleader, and make sure she has a great time as she finishes her first race. It’s kinda nice to be in this position again. Even though I’m a fairly new runner, I’ve spent more than half my life as an athlete. During that time I was also a gymnastics and tennis coach, and a dance teacher. It feels good to once again mentor someone.  Maybe this is my baby steps into the world of coaching runners. We’ll see…

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