The coach, but not exactly


A favorite hat I wear is that of running coach. For six months out of each year (6th year in a row now), I play a part in training people how to successfully cross a marathon finish line. These six months of training are some of the best months of each year. Each team is different. Each year I worry that it won’t be as special as the previous year’s. Each time, I’m mistaken.

While it is my “job” to assist with all that goes into running 13.1 or 26.2 miles, each year I am the one who learns the most. That I’m sure of. Training schedules, track workouts, hydration, running nutrition, form, shoes, clothing, toe nails, rest days, socks, etc. top the list of coaching points. Surely I couldn’t do this without some of the most supportive mentors around!

But, throughout our training season, I’m the student too, acquiring  far greater knowledge than I offer. From each person I learn about  dedication, goal setting, perseverance, determination, schedule juggling, strength-mental and physical, people supporting people they just met, kindness, in essence I witness the power of the human spirit.  These amazing runners allow me to be part of their lives. Each one comes with a life story. Many share these stories, each one always unique, and I’m always honored to listen.

I hear of disappointment, sadness, uncertainty, milestones, and celebrations! I’ve heard disappointment about being too sick to participate in a 20 mile run. Now that’s determination. I’ve witnessed tears from people who are injured and may not be able to achieve a goal. I’ve witnessed time management at its best as people juggle young families and aging parents, active schedules, contract negotiations, work commitments too numerous to name, family gatherings including Thanksgiving and Christmas, all the while trying to be there for everybody  who place demands on their time. Factor in training for a marathon, and it’s clear to see the high level of commitment that is the norm for this team.

Our “scheduled” training culminates with smiles, tears of joy, cheering families, flowers, blisters, sore feet, tired legs, and the greatest sense of satisfaction at the finish line where the coveted medal is finally placed around each person’s neck. But, the training doesn’t usually stop here. I am again full of admiration for each runner as they immediately set new goals.  You see, the training really doesn’t end at the finish line. It’s really the start of more new and great adventures.

Each year my life is enriched with new friendships and knowledge gleaned from the team. Even though I’m the “coach” on record, it is truly me learning and growing from remarkable people, now friends. While I’m the “coach” in reality, I’m the student. Another hat I enjoy wearing.

Slainte! Susan

Optional Reading******************************************************

We refer to our team as geese. Do you know the story of the geese?

When you see geese heading south for the winter, flying in a “V” formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.
People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily, because they are travelling on the thrust of one another. When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front. 
If we have the sense of a goose, we will stay in formation with those people who are heading the same way we are.

When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.
It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs, whether with people or with geese flying south.Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
What message do we give when we honk from behind?

Finally – and this is important – when a goose gets sick or is wounded and falls out of the formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies; and only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their own group.
If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.







Books on a Street Corner, Maybe in your own Yard


Books on a street corner, right in your own neighborhood!

Reading is one of life’s restorative  moments. Some of the fondest memories I have of my mother involve walking to our public library. She would help me tote home piles and piles of books. Our librarian, Sharon A., knew me by name, and particularly  doted over me when my mother dressed me in the blue and red Raggedy Ann pinafore along with the curly hair I didn’t like, even then. I enjoy talking and sharing books with fellow bibliophiles. Having an abundance of books to read… well it’s just the best feeling. Browsing through books at the book store, the thrift store, the internet, the library, my own shelves at home, and now even “taking and sharing” a book on a street corner near my home is cause for jubilation.

You can have a mini library right in your own front yard. Little Free Library is a movement cropping up. Their mission…

“To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations. There are over 36,000 Little Free Library book exchanges around the world, bringing curbside literacy home and sharing millions of books annually.” See here.

We have a Little Library in my hometown, and I love being a regular “customer.” I’m sure it’s all a mindset, but I seem to thoroughly devour every book I select from this little gem. Both selecting a book and returning a book are simple, restorative pleasures. My general guideline: I can’t take a book unless I leave a book.

Enjoy an article  about one Little Free Library from our local newspaper.

All of this, of course, makes me want to join the Little Free Library movement. Stay tuned for this new and fun endeavor.

By the way, here’s the latest book I borrowed from the Little Library. You just can’t help but be touched by this grandmother’s quest to help her quirky granddaughter. You’ll be rooting for both of them in the end.  It’s on its way back to the corner library, if you’re interested. Remember to take a book to leave too.


Slainte! Susan

Additional Reading Info Below******************************************

More words for people who love books, reading, and words:

  • librocubicultarist: (hasn’t made its way to the dictionary quite yet) someone who reads in bed (indeed!)
  • Bibliophagist:  a devourer of words (me, me, me!)
  • Bibliosmia: the smell or aroma of a book (can’t get this on the iPad)
  • Logophile: a lover of words (see above)
  • Ballycumber:  one of six half read books lying in your bed (or for me, the nightstand) (Also a small village in Ireland, of course!)
  • tsundoku: a Japanese word with no direct English translation, the act of leaving a book after buying it, and piling it up with other unread books (reality!!)
  • Omnilegent: reading or having read everything (impossible!)
  • Book-Bosomed: one who carries a book all the time (or at least has one in the car!)