Monday, August 20, 2012

My Compass

Saturday I was told to start preparing. At the beginning of September, my Trainer would want me to start running one minute during each of the four miles that I walk. I freaked out.

Then I went out today and jogged 4:30...maybe out of the 60 minutes I was on the trail. I started with two minutes at the beginning of Mile #1...did a couple of short 5-10-second bursts in Mile #2...started Mile #3 off with another minute of jogging...started Mile #4 with 40 seconds of jogging and ended it with a 50-second stretch.

BOO- (wait for it........) YAH!

When texting my Trainer afterward, I realized something. This is what has been missing in the past when I've tried to lose weight and/or get in better shape. I would just be sort of blindly doing it without a real goal, much less a plan for getting there. The analogy that I came up with is that I was like a boat on the ocean without a destination to steer toward, much less a compass to know how to get there.

But this time I have a compass. I have my Trainer, Matt Elliott.

(That still sounds odd to me. "My Trainer." Yeah. Just weird.)

Always look for the neon yellow shirt.

As I've mentioned before, Matt is a professional runner. He has traveled the US and at least two other countries competing in meets. His specialty is the 1500m, although he has done everything from the 800m to the 5000m. 

Matt ran in junior high and high school, and in college, but didn't start to really be competitive until his later years of undergraduate and then graduate school. He'll tell you himself that he's a late bloomer, relatively speaking, and a perfect example of how hard work can make up for lack of natural giftedness.

Here are a couple of videos from what I'm sure still ranks as one of the best nights of his life running-wise - his first sub-four-minute mile at the 2011 Music City Distance Carnival in Nashville, TN. (Thanks, FloTrack!)

2011 Music City Distance Carnival Men's Mile
Interview with Matt after the race

"My kids" circa April 2012 - Amber, Cassie, Kim & Matt.
Originally from South Carolina, he moved to Bloomington this past January to join Team Indiana Elite - a group of professional, post-college runners who live on campus at IU and train here in town. We first met when he ended up at my church, then in choir, then in the Easter musical that I was helping to direct this past spring. With no family in town (or in the state), he quickly became one of "my kids."

Matt's original plan was to be here with TIE for four or five years. But plans have a way of changing. When you are an elite athlete, you know what kind of training and coaching works for you. If you find yourself in a situation that isn't working as well as you thought it would, or as well as what you had before, you go back to the system that is best for you. So Matt went back to his former strength coach and running coach at the end of July.

Before he left, though, he agreed to help me set my goals, and teach me about what kinds of things to eat (and what to stay away from), and guide me in getting from Point A to Point B.

He agreed to be my compass. And thankfully we live in a time when computers and cell phones close the distance, so it doesn't matter whether someone is six miles away or 600 miles away - they're as close as a text, a phone call, or Skype.

So thank you, Matt, for being the inspiration that lit the fire, for giving me the kick-start I needed, for showing me that good food could be GOOD food, for plotting my course and pointing the way, and for always being just a text away to cheer me on, even as your own life has gotten crazier since you went home. Even though you're not right here on a daily basis, you're just as big a part of this process as Sandi, Jim and Kim are.

You'll always be in my heart.

1 comment:

  1. Love your blogs and awesome writings. You are doing awesome. We r all so proud of u. It is our pleasure to be doing this along side u. You are such an inspiration to everyone who crosses your path. Sandi