Saturday, September 17, 2011

In The Beginning...

"From small beginnings come great things."

Back when I was a wee lad sitting in church, and the priest would bellow "In the beginning..." I always thought, being a super baseball fan, he was saying "In the Big Inning..." and he was about to tell some story about how
Jesus was a great third baseman or could hit a wicked curveball. Of course, he wasn't doing anything of the kind and went off making me drowsy with tales of Adam & Eve, burning bushes and the like. Later in life, I found that throughout my years, life was chock full of both "Beginnings" and "Big Innings".

This week, we have a beginning all over again. Back in 1984, I was asked to help coach runners train for our local Vulcan Marathon along with my friend, Murray Binderman. I was nervous about someone actually listening to me about how to cover 26 miles...afterall, I had been running these things only 5 years at the time. But, I found that new runners just want some direction from somebody who has "been there" and not killed themselves in the process. I guess I fit that criteria. After a year, Murray had enough and the reins were handed over to me. I continued in this position, even as this race morphed into the present Mercedes Marathon, until the present. So, along with my co-coach, Ken Harkless (since 1998), we will again present our super laid back Sunday Mercedes Training Group. No hand-holding. No hard book-learnin' facts and workouts. Just a friendly group of folks training together. It's free, and well worth the price.

As another beginning, I didn't want this Running With Al blog to become simply a vehicle for training tips, so I began another blog - Training With Al . I think this will make it easier for all concerned (ok, mostly me), to separate my training thoughts from my random-whatever-my-fingers-decide-to-type thoughts. Be sure to go to TWA for all the particulars about our training group, weekly tips about all the terribly exciting aspects of long distance running and be sure to subscribe NOW here!!! I don't intend for it to be "Long Distance Running According to Al" with just tips you can find in numerous books and running magazines, but I want you to realize that it's not done with smoke or mirrors. I always approach training with a common-sense outlook and try to keep things as simple as possible. It's done with hard, CONSISTENT work and no hocus-pocus. If you come to me looking for that magic pearl to make marathoning easy, I promise you this...I will let you know AS SOON AS I FIND IT!! Hope you continue to enjoy both blogs.

As I begin another training group, I was trying to remember back 32 years ago when I decided to run my first marathon (Vulcan '79). You know, I really can't! I vaguely remember training for it. And if you ask me about the specifics of the race, I'd have to stare at you and finally say..."Nope, ain't got nothing". The only thing I really remember was crossing the finish line, not because of the great, individual accomplishment, but because I was so happy to hit the end that I jumped up and tried to slap the finish line banner over-hanging the road. Both thighs immediately cramped when I came down and for several seconds. I couldn't move - wonderful finish line picture! But, you'd think that something that caused your whole life to take a huge turn in direction would be more scorched in your brain. Well, not in this brain. I can remember my first 10k, and my first trail 50k pretty clearly, but most other "first" races are a blur. Ok, it was three decades ago, I know, but how come I vividly remember hitting a baseball in High School over 50 years ago, that traveled at least 500 feet (ok, it was 350) - the sweetness of that bat/ball contact at that very moment can instantly be recalled. That didn't change my life, and I was still a benchwarmer after that prodigious shot, but there it is...clear as a bell. Are all of you like that? Can all of you "veterans" remember your first marathon? Or was it just not as important as I would like to think it was? Just strikes me as funny that this "beginning" into marathoning didn't brand itself into something monumental. Like I said...sometimes my fingers just start typing.

So, we've come from the beginning to the end...the end of this post, that is. Every run, every sunrise, even every breath is a new beginning. Hopefully, this week, some new runners will discover the beginning to a new phase of their lives as they begin training for their first marathon, and no matter how many years I do this, that is always a new beginning for me and I love it.
I'll see you on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

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