I pulled into the Thomas Worthington High School parking lot. I checked in on Foursquare (there was a choice for the training group! Still not the mayor of anything yet.). The parking lot was filling up fast. I was a little early. We had been told to be there at 7:40 am to drop off our keys, use the bathroom and just get settled. Running wasn't supposed to start until 8:10.
I was a little nervous. I don't run with anyone and I'm not much of a conversationalist. But I vowed that I would talk to people, and try to make friends, especially among my pace group, so that I would have support as the training progressed. Talking makes the miles shorter. Really. I resolved to ask everyone their names and remember them. Lesson learned from one of my last sessions.
Once I got out of my car and walked toward the track, I realized why we needed the time to get situated. First, there were tons of people there. Second, I had to stand in a long line to get a card for my keychain so I could "check in" my keys. I stood in another line to "check in" my keys. (I'm not sure what the purpose was of this since no one was there to "check out" my keys when I picked them up.)
We headed to the bleachers for some announcements. I wasn't sure why everyone was standing until I looked down at the seats. They were soaked. I took my place among the eager runners, standing in the bleachers waiting for the important announcements. The important announcements consisted of asking us to raise our hands if we were brand new, telling us again how to determine our pace, and introducing the pace coaches. The first clue I had that things would not be smooth was that the 12:30 pace coach was not there today. 12:00 minutes per mile it was, then.
We filed out of the bleachers after a few more announcements, and found our pace coaches, who were lined up around the track. There were about 20 people circled around the 12:00 m/m pace coach. She asked us all to give our names and then announced she would be taking us north on the bike trail for two miles.
Wait - what? Two miles? I spoke up, "What about the marathon runners? We are supposed to do five miles today."
Our coach said, "I don't know about the marathon training. I'm committed to the half marathon. I don't know if there is a coach for the marathon." She asked how many people were training for the marathon. About 10-12 of us raised our hands.
Two women piped up indicating they planned on running five today and that we could follow them. But they didn't sound like they wanted to take on the responsibility of pace coach on the first day. I was fuming. I paid a lot of money to have a pace coach so that I would stay on pace. The coach had also indicated that there wasn't a marathon pace coach for the 12:30 minute/mile group either. This reminded me of when I started with this training group several years ago and they didn't have any pace coaches beyond 11:00 minutes/mile, which is absurd when you have beginning runners. I had been by myself most of the time back then. When I read on the website that they now had pace coaches up to 13:00 minutes/mile, I thought that was for the marathon, too. Stupid me.
We all set out running north on the trail, following the half marathon pace coach. Not more than five minutes out, a woman slipped on a wooden bridge and fell flat on her face. She was bleeding and had chipped a tooth. We all stood around while the pace coach helped her up. Someone offered to go get the person in charge, who we had left back at the track. The rest of us just stood there, staring, and most of us probably thinking, "glad that wasn't me." I hope this wasn't her first day running.
Finally someone decided we should keep moving, which I thought was a good idea since we were just all staring at the woman holding her tooth in a napkin like somehow it was going to be reattached if only she kept it with her. A bunch of us set out, with me and another woman leading the pack.
Yikes. I hadn't anticipated being out in front. Fortunately next to me was one of the women who volunteered to lead the marathoners today. She had a Garmin Forerunner like mine, and kept us on pace. When I finally remembered to look at my Garmin, two miles out, it was still set for my husband's last run, since I never reset it or turned it on.
This woman did a great job leading us. Some people turned around after a mile, since they were only training for the half. The rest of us kept moving. We chatted, getting to know one another, which was nice. The pace was steady, averaging 12:00 minutes/mile and no one complained that we were going too fast.
One of the women behind me said that this was her first time with the group; she wasn't a runner. A bunch of us said, "You are now!" I just love that support.
When the faster pace groups passed us coming back on the trail they called out to us, "Great job! You can do it!" I don't know if it was because we were pretty annoyed about the pace coach situation, but we all agreed that those words of encouragement actually sounded a bit condescending, like we needed the encouragement or something. We were doing fine, thank you very much. Six of us were in a group for almost the whole time, keeping a steady pace, and we all agreed that our new leader did a great job keeping us going.
The whole time we ran I was thinking about how to approach the organizers about the fact that we didn't have a pace coach. I suggested our new leader, Lisa, should volunteer if they had no one in mind, and she wasn't opposed to it. So when we got back, and I immediately informed the head organizer that we were lacking a coach, and he said yeah, I guess we need to find someone, Lisa stepped up next to me and I said, "She just did a great job leading us and I think she'd make a great pace coach." The guy asked if she was interested, and after a short pause, she said "Sure." However, I was still annoyed that I even had to do this, and I asked him, "So what does she get?" He responded that her training fee would be waived. It better be!
Things were looking up. Lisa, and her friend, who was also running with us and was the other volunteer for pacing today, were both drafted as coaches, and they were pretty excited. They want to have a close knit team if possible, making a point to get to know everyone. It will be nice to have a group to return to every week.
All in all the running itself was ok. I had a slight stitch in my side the whole time and my shins were sore but nothing out of the ordinary. It was really hot, but the five miles didn't feel too bad, especially at the 12:00 minute/mile pace. I was incredibly tired afterwards, which is unusual since I'd been running longer distances for a few weeks and haven't felt so tired. I am chalking it up to all the excitement and adrenaline that built up even before we started running; usually I just step out the door and start running, without a lot of fanfare.
In the end, I know that the running was pretty easy today, but as the miles add up, 12:00 minutes per mile for five miles will be a distant memory.