Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Being, Becoming and Belonging to the Crew

The Crew? What? Who are they? They are 'A' type personalities that come in many shapes and sizes. Oh yeah and ages. Mostly sub 35. With one exception. Yep you guessed it.....Me!

I met Coach when I was being coached by another guy. He was/is an amazing athlete, person, all round nice guy. Struck down by a car while out on a training/recovery ride with his Dad. He has been left with a brain injury and that was last June. I like to think of Coach often and send him my thoughts and hopes that he will one day wake up again and be able to at least hold his baby boy. He got me to Ironman. He never gave up on me, never judged, always believed in me, and my memory of him that I look back on with a smile and a tear over.. was on my final lap of the run at Ironman. He was running beside me, beer in one hand, punching the air with the other, totally drunk and high on life shouting....'You're gonna be an Ironman Sammi, keep smiling, keep running'. As his curls bounced about his head. He was right!

Throughout my training leading up to Ironman I worked with the team physio and together they communicated about my progress (like I was a real athlete or something). This tall skinny dude with a deep voice, huge grin and contagious laugh worked on me tirelessly and again never judged, never questioned my motivations and was always positive and shared his experiences and volumes of knowledge with me as I lay there for hours on the slab with needles poking out of both ITBs.

When we all realised that Coach was fighting the battle of his life we also realised with sadness that we were alone. We? As in the athletes that he coached. We all still wear his colours when we ride. But the team has scattered to the wind and most go at it alone now. I guess that Coach gave them enough information that they could go on alone. But for me I was still so totally reliant on him I needed the accountability, the wisdom, the direction and everything else that comes with having a coach in your corner.

So, I asked the team physio if he would coach me. A Ballzy move I have to say. He had a stable of fine athletes that he was looking after. The Crew! These guys and girls are winners. And then there's me. When I asked I said it in a cheeky moment, laughing so that if he rejected me I could fob it off as a joke and he would never know that I was serious and would be left alone. BUT!!!!! When I asked he responded with 'Yup, I'll Coach you.' Are you serious? My head and heart did a jumping high 5!.

Yeah I'll coach you he said. Are you sure? I mean I am hardly a winner. I am an average age grouper and well past my prime with not much room for massive improvement as far as I am a late starter, no athletic background to speak of other than horse riding, rock climbing and sailing. But we had worked together for over a year and had a great relationship that was comfortable and easy. He responded with 'You have the right attitude. I can work with you.'            Sweet............

So Coach and I have been in this nutsy relationship now since December 2011. He is such a huge part of my life now. Sunday nights is program night. He emails me my program for the week and I dutifully read over it and ask any questions before setting off into my week. Texts, emails constantly across the week as needed and just a Howdy occasionally to check in with me. Physio sessions continue every so often as my ITBs have a tendency to tighten up over a few weeks and no amount of rolling and self massage can get deep enough. And then there are training days where we catch up either for a swim or of late, a ride. It is so amazing to have this guy around. Yeah I have some Coach love flying here...but it is out of respect for the time and attention he gives me. Yeah I pay the $$$$ to have him do the job. But he ain't the type of dude to take the money, shell out a copy of a generic program and then ignore me or leave me hanging.

Coach disappeared overseas for a while to work with the Aussie Olympic Triathlon team in prep for London, but every Sunday night my program rolled in. While he was gone I worked hard on a number of aspects of my training, diet and life in general. So that when he returned and I went to see him he noticed. He saw the weight loss (6.5kgs who wouldn't) but he saw the training and he saw the attitude was even more focused and positive.

Saturday long rides with the girls in the Crew have earned me some respect and a feeling that he knows I am deadly serious about the training and about Ironman 2013. While May next year is miles away, I have a feeling it will be here before we know it. There is work to do. And the motivation (even though its cold windy and yucky most days still) is up and ready to go. It is an amazing feeling being a part of a stable of athletes and holding my own. I belong in the Crew!

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