This morning we had our first practice for the new season of Team Challenge. Our team is officially the largest team in Team Challenge history… we have 170 members right now.
Yes, you read that right: one hundred seventy! 170!
I hardly even know how to keep track of everyone! But it’s amazing that so many people feel strongly enough about a cause that they’ll join together to raise money for it and to really challenge themselves by running a race.
Once again, the majority of our group is pretty new to the distance. There are some who have done marathons or half marathons in the past, but only about 10 or so. And we have about 50 or 60 people who are walkers. This means that I spend much of my time out there walking now. Due to this I’m no longer going to even count Saturdays as part of my regular running training! It’s more of an emotional training for me anyway, just because I get so much enjoyment from the experience and connection with other people.
My new co-coach is a great guy and he’s got a lot of energy. He wanted to start the day off with a dynamic warm-up. It was interesting trying to get the roughly 120 people that came to practice coordinated to do a warm-up. We were fortunate that the park we started at today had a big open space for us to do that, but not every run spot has that kind of room. But it was a good starting point to illustrate ways the team should warm-up as opposed to static stretching. So we went through a series of leg swings, butt kicks, toy soldiers, hacky sacks and walking lunges. (Perhaps I should do a follow-up post on these warm-up moves?)
Then we started the run/walk… we really must have looked pretty impressive (or intimidating), we had as many people in our group as some races! A lot of people who were out running/walking/cycling the same loop we used kept asking, “What group are you guys? What are you training for?” So I spent a lot of time explaining the group to random strangers on the road too.
I spent some one-on-one time with a few different team members during the run/walk. I hope I have the time to get to know more of them, because it seems like everyone has a story.
– One guy had his appendix burst about 4 years ago and that near-death experience caused him to rethink his life. He’s lost about 100 pounds (he’s down from 350) and is now meeting new people and working on his fitness (his mother and aunt have Crohn’s, thus his connection to the group).
– Another woman battled breast cancer and was given the okay to exercise again in April, she really wanted to do something to help her feel better about herself and to meet new people. She seemed pretty interested once I told her that breast cancer runs in my family and that my mom has beat the disease twice now.
– There is a cheerful girl in college who is doing this with her dad, in between her two part-time jobs and her 16 credits of schooling this semester. She talks about ninety-words a second and I don’t think she stopped smiling the whole morning.
Post run we had a fundraising clinic for the team as well as breakfast. There was a spread of bagels, cream cheese, peanut butter, fruit and juice. While the team chowed down and listened to the mentors, our endurance manager and a gal from the Team Challenge main office talk about out to fundraise, my co-coaches and I checked our sign-in/sign-out sheets to make sure everyone had checked back in at the conclusion of the run and that we hadn’t lost anyone. In the Napa season we had some girl get really off course and completely lost on this loop course. Success this time, everyone made it back!
I’m getting really excited for this season, not only do we have a lot of returning people from the Napa season to make it fun but the new group seems very motivated. I know we’ll probably lose a bunch of people by recommittment time (that’s just the way it goes) but I can’t wait to watch all of them tackle and accomplish this goal!
I am coaching a group of runners for the organization Team Challenge. They are fundraising for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America while training to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas half marathon in December.