"Can this really happen?", I wondered. No way, I thought to myself... could I really have all eight of my athletes PR? I wasn't even looking at small PRs - most were on track for 10+ minute PRs.
Any coach can relate to the nerves that come on when looking at splits that look too good to be true. This could be the best day possible, or there could be some serious blowing-up that goes on, which is never fun.
As each athlete crossed the 25M mark and I received yet another update, I began jumping up and down inside. My heart swelled.
No need for nerves from me, this was their day and they proved it! Collectively, as a team, we all dominated that Grandma's course.
|The group, sans Rael. I'm starting to fill out my cow suit quite well! :)|
I'll share some fun individual stories for the day:
Craig Cardinal: His time says it all: 2:38. 13 minute PR (!!). He looked smooth and in control the entire time. Way to go, Craig!
|Sharon getting all of our nails ready for the race. Maybe there's something to this sparkle nail polish?|
Let's just say Jeff ran (yes, literally ran!) into our meeting area in the finish area after the race, threw down his stuff, and yelled while dancing about, "F' YEAH!".
For those of you that have the pleasure to know Jeff, you'll be able to picture the excitement and raw emotion that was in his celebratory dance :).
2:51. Nearly a 30 minute PR. Who does that?!? It'll be fun to see what we can do in more than just a few months...
|Jeff Lanners at mile 26. Terrible picture quality, sorry about that!|
|HAHAHAHA, Jeff! What would our team be without you?!?|
Her goal in contacting me was to qualify for Boston in 2015. She'll be just a few short months from her 40th birthday then, so running Boston will be a big milestone for her. A BQ for a 39 year old woman is 3:40.
As we continued to work together, Amy kept improving at a really quick pace. By 2 weeks before the marathon, when we did a MP simulation workout as a team, I told her that I thought she was capable of 3:20 or below - and on a great day, 3:15. I was tentative to say anything, especially since the original goal was 3:40...
The night before the race she wrote goal times on her arms (if you're cheering for a marathon, you'll notice my athletes have their arms or hands written on!). We had looked over numbers before hand and stared at each other with big eyes.
"I think it's possible, so have that in the back of your mind", I coached. If you don't set yourself up for something great, it won't happen.
The other part of me said, "Nichole, she is a NEW runner. She's never run a marathon before. 3:15 at age 39? Are you being too greedy as a coach?"
Except, Amy executed as well as a seasoned veteran. She practically even split the course, and finished in 3:15:09.
She was a complete mess of tears when we met afterwards. Her family surprised her by coming up to cheer, and I don't think she quite believed a 3:15 (much less finishing?) was possible. She was so emotional, and so thankful for me, that she even brought Nate to tears :).
Seriously, I have to ask, is that not incredible?!? Watch out for this woman, I'm telling you. She may just be a new elite master's runner next year with another year under her belt!!
Nathan Porath: 3:15!! He PR'd by 5 minutes over Fargo in 2013. He finished in a 6:30 mile, his fastest of the race, which is impressive!
Sharon Snyder: Sharon flew in from Indiana for this race. She was a huge challenge for me coaching-wise because she had just raced at Boston no less than 10 weeks prior. It's hard to race (truly race) marathons that close together, but I knew she was capable of a big PR. I had emailed her earlier that week:
You are ready. I believe in it. Do you?
She didn't reply. Rut-roh.
|Sharon received a surprise package. For those of you that know her well, know there was a lot of significance behind the weekend!|
And conquer it, she did!! 3:18 for the day, and when we saw each other in the finishers area our hug was filled with tears, replaced quickly with bubbly excitement over an enormous PR.
She told another Indiana runner afterwards, "I will do whatever Nichole tells me to do going forward!"
Hahaha, I'll wait a few days before I propose our next cycle, and we'll see what she says then!
She saw Claire and I at the start (guess we are easy to "spot" in our cow costumes!), and I watched her pink compression socks lightly dance off into the marathon crowd.
4:24 later, I received the text that she had pulled through! YES!!!
Her post on Facebook captures her excitement:
My rule is that you can't sign up for anything until at least 2 days (at least!) after an A race, so I'll have to hold her back :)
Jake Huot: This guy is hard-core. 2 weeks ago his Achilles wouldn't allow him to finish our 1/2 marathon sim workout.
He then proceeded to roll his ankle walking out of the house the morning of the race, bad enough that it swelled considerably on the car ride to the start line.
He still pulled off a 3 minute PR, and had a huge smile on his face as the finish :)
But, he was able to comfortably cruise to a PR in a 1:16 finish (5:50 mile pace), finishing his last 5k HARD. It will be exciting to refine his training to set him up for a great last year of collegiate XC racing!
I. LOVE. MY. JOB.
Other fun pictures/highlights:
4 of us picked up Sharon from the airport on our way up to Duluth Thursday evening.
|Back window of the Prius. 5 runners + a lot of food and gear. More food than gear, I think :)|
|The inside of the Prius. PACKED. Good thing we all know each other well...|
|We arrived after midnight at the TNC "host hotel". Just don't look under the couch cushions - it's a college guy's house!|
Thank you, everyone, for making this Grandma's Marathon the biggest highlight of my coaching career!
There's some magic happening within the TNC Endurance team. I have room for about 2-3 additional individuals for a fall race. Let me know if you might be interested in joining!