Every year my brother from Ohio rents a place on the Cape for a couple of weeks and we all get together one day to relax by the pond, cook out and just hang out together. In recent years, the day has started with running a 5k in Yarmouth called "Run for the Arts."
Last year I was going to do the walk with Mr. Pi - but about a half mile in, his stomach cramped up with some sort of bug and we bailed so he could find a blue can of death someplace. I was going to jump in with the 5k runners - but then my stomach cramped up and I bailed to look for one myself.
This year was a different story, this year I was looking forward to running a fairly flat course that winds through sleepy treelined roads and past the ocean on a beautiful day on the Cape. Buoyed by his success at the Johnny Kelley Race a couple of weeks earlier, Mr. Pi decided he wanted me to coach him through this as well. I was hesitant in signing him up as he hadn't done anything since the Johnny Kelley race, but he said he was ready and I said "OK."
We started off pretty strongly with a 3 minute run, keeping pace with a good portion of the pack before our first walk break. During the walk break, we ended up with the police car on our back sides and it was clear the pattern would be us, a group of two women - one coaching the other through - and a larger woman running while she could and walking when she couldn't. As we in our second run, he began to get a stitch in his side. I was trying to get him to breathe properly (from the belly, not the chest - slow and steady... c'mon). At our next walk break, he was starting to slack a little and that's when I finally began to understand personal trainers.
Now as an aside here, personal trainers are supposed to push you past what you think your limits are. Sometimes it hurts like anything and other times it feels great knowing you're growing stronger. I know there are people who probably thought "what a bitch" if they saw us out there or heard me, but part of this is knowing Pi, his penchant for drama and that he has little self-confidence. This wasn't as easy as the Johnny Kelley for him and that started the cycle of "I can't."
Fortunately for him, I wasn't going to let him bail. So for 2 miles I used everything I could to get him through - reminding him that the youngest was going to be at the end ... did he want to be last for him to rub it in Pi's face later? Stop saying "I can't..." and just do it. When there would be a minute left and he'd say he couldn't do it, I'd say, "40 more seconds" and then keep running past the 40 seconds. If he started counting, I told him he was counting too fast.
At one point he said, "I'm a lacrosse player, not a runner" and I replied, "You're an athlete and athletes run." He complained about parts that hurt and I asked him if he ever heard someone from the Cannons complain about pain. He said, "They're crazy men."
"I thought you said you wanted to play for them."
"I do, but I'm not insane crazy like they are."
"Well, what are you going to do to be that insane crazy or else you won't be playing with them now will you?"
The last mile became "run 2 phone poles. Ready, let's go." If he said, "I can't run 2," I'd reply, "You're running 3, now go..." He would get a little defiant but do it. He apologized for holding me back and I said, "Well, I'm not bailing on you - so you need to move." He quickly realized we were running half a many phone poles as walking, so when I'd give a number, it was easier for him to do run it.
The last quarter mile, people along the road either doing cool downs or milling around the end began to really encourage him with "you're almost there" and "looking good." Nini ran him in the last couple of hundred yards and we crossed together at the 42:53 mark. They asked us who crossed first and I said Pi did - so I'm on record as finishing last.
Later I reminded him that, as tough as it was, he did well and, more importantly, he didn't bail. He finished and that was an accomplishment. I thought it might have even been a PR for him - but he did the Johnny Kelley like 5 seconds faster. When school gets out this week, we talked about a training schedule for him. He knows he needs to run a two mile course in 16 minutes to make the JV and Varsity team next year - so he's committed, he just needs to believe he can do it and after this race he's starting to see he can.
One of my truths came full circle yesterday. I started running last year to help him prepare for lacrosse and I stayed with it long after he bailed after the season started. Now here I am helping him through it again with the realization that next year, if all goes well, he'll smoke me at this race. I have to admit, I look forward to that happening.