Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Running With Coach Dave: A Look Back

Market Street run before Bro left for college Aug 2015

Last night I accomplished a major milestone in my running career by passing the RRCA running coach certification exam. Coaching & running goes hand & hand for me as I started doing both almost simultaneously. I started running in February 2010 as I prepared to take part in the Gener8tion Run 8k in April 2010 (now a 5k.) That was the inaugural year of the signature race for Students Run Philly Style (SRPS), a non-profit program that uses distancing running as a means to mentor Philadelphia youth ages 12-18. 

Me with my first coach. I set my 2010 5k PR that day 30:17
  I went on to complete that race and a handful of 5k’s throughout that that year which eventually ended with me running the now defunct WHYY 12kin November, which was my longest race distance that year. It wasn’t the longest distance I had run as I had pushed to 8 miles in preparation for the event. 

In 2011 I joined SRPS as a volunteer running leader. It would be here that I’d say I got my coaching start; although, it wasn’t much coaching going on that first year as I tried to prepare myself and students to race distances in which many of us had never dreamed of running.

 I started as a running leader on a previous formed team which ran out People for People (PFP) Charter School located at Broad & Brown Street. I was initially “recruited” to run with a different team during the off-season. However, once I heard PFP had a team I had no choice but to run with them. It was a computer program at PFP where I had taken a Comptia A+ Certification course which had led to me landing my current job, which led to me meeting my wife, which led to me running, which led to me joining SRPS. So given that ripple effect, I didn't even give it second thought. I had also been donating money to the organization via United Way for a few years up to that point so it almost like destiny.
End of the 2011 SRPS Season w/ my daughter & Bro

 My daughter had joined along with me and I remember both of us walking into the class room at the school for the first time to meet the team and feeling like complete outsiders. Youth, especially inner city youth, have a very distrusting disposition and in many ways rightfully so. I got the feeling that not many of them didn't like us as soon as we walked in for no reason other than we weren’t one of them. The beautiful thing about that day is that the young man the teachers sent to get my daughter and I from the waiting area, ended up being one of only two students that would complete that season with me, my daughter being the other. The students and running leaders that made it to the BCBSR that year didn’t return after school ended. It’s been 5 years and that young man & I just completed yet another half marathon together this past weekend. I don’t think another student on that team has completed a race after they left us that season. He and I completed four years in SRPS together, he often acting as my gateway to the students on each new team. I found a brother for life that year in the form of a little chubby 8th grader, go figure. 

BCBSR 2011
Philly Marathon training 2011
ODDyssey Half 2011

  In hindsight, that first year with SRPS I’d say was more about learning what not to do as a parent coach/mentor/ than anything else. At that point I was still trying to figure out how to parent a teenage daughter, without going to jail, as well as get kids through a 10 miler and later a half marathon. I was also still learning to run myself. Many aspects of that first year were difficult but I learned a great deal.
Bro & I at Disney with SRPS 2013
I spent four years with SRPS, starting two community based teams the next three years. We ran out of Love Park in 2012 & 2013. Then we switched to Kingsessing Rec Center for my final year in 2014. 

By the time 2014 came around I knew coaching runners was something that I wanted to do. Seeing runners achieve a goal that they never envisioned is pure enjoyment for me. It also inspires me to push myself to new limits. Heck, even if they envisioned it happening and just needed my help that is still a great feeling. It’s like set goal, accomplish goal, repeat.  
I’ve been called coach for a minimum of 3 years; it feels so good to officially hold that title now. I’ve learned so much about running, more specifically training for an optimal running performance, over the last 6 months as I prepared for both the NAASFP and the RRCA coaching certifications. I don’t think the average recreational runner even values the importance of a running coach and a personalized training plan. I know I didn’t for many years. Hopefully, hiring coaches becomes the new fad in the running world. LMAO.
Best year ever 2012
Kingsessing: Team of Kings & Queens
Push it to the limit!

 Whether we’ve trained together, I paced them in the race or the runner simply picked my brain, I’ve helped a number of runners PR from distances ranging for a 5k to the marathon. I’ve also been disappointed a few times when my advice was solicited but not heeded and the runner ended up not doing their best. We just regroup and try again. That's the beautiful thing about running, there's always another race. For a while, I really didn't consider most of this coaching. To me we were just running and/or talking about running. I recently congratulated a fellow runner on a great BCBSR run and his reply was, “thanks Dave, your coaching helped.” I thought to myself, wait did I coach him?  It's the moments like these that make you realize that when logging miles, sharing accomplishments and knowledge, you never know who you're inspiring. I may not have written his training plan or put in a ton of miles with him but I influenced him in some way. I don’t know how, all I know is that I inspired him. As a coach, as a runner, that’s all I set out to do. 

First marathon 2011 4:58 but I didn't die LOL
Run Hard, Train Harder
Coach Dave

"Achievement comes from continually taking the next step, whatever that step must be."

Monday, March 21, 2016

Running With Dave

 It was another great weekend of running. I was able to log about 21 miles between Saturday and Sunday. I followed Sunday’s long run with a strength training session led by @jbarringerfitness. He put me through a nice workout tailored to my ability which is always great. There’s nothing worse than a PT that wants you to lift heavy weight even though you have shared with them that you don’t lift often. This trainer didn’t do this which allowed me to get much more out of the workout. Follow @jbarringerfitness on Instagram.

Saturday was amazing, the Philadelphia chapter of Black MenRun hosted this month’s Tri-State Run. We had a very diverse group, which was the goal when these runs started back in January. Runners of all levels and walkers joined us for routes ranging from 1 to 7 miles. We had everyone from Carl Ewald, the race director for the ODDyssey Half Marathon to the former Eagles 2000 2nd  round  draft pick, who later won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens, guard Bobbie Williams. Runners and walkers from JF Fitness came put in some miles. Of course the members from the Delaware and Jersey chapters of Black Men Run were out representing in great numbers.

This was our 3rd installment of the BMR Tri-State Run and since it was happening here in Philly it was important that we accomplished the goals that I had in mind when I shared the idea for these runs with the brotherhood.
  •   Run in a different city that has a BMR chapter. 
  •  Allow time to fellowship after the run   
  • Invite others from the running community
  • Spend money with a African-American owned business

While each of the previous group runs reached at least three of the four goals, Philly was the first time we were able to accomplish all four. It’s good to be able to get out the city you’re from and run pre-planned routes, free of charge, with other runners. By inviting the running community, it allows others to see what BMR is all about in a way that they may find less intimidating. However, the goal that was dear and near to my heart was bringing an economic boost to a local black eatery. It’s funny, trying to find a black owned diner that will seat 30 people isn’t as easy as you’d think; however, we found a spot in the newly opened A’s Place. There were a few snafus that I won’t get into here; however, all in all we had great food and the service was second to none. If you get a chance I suggest you go show them some love.

Getting the runners together for brunch allowed us to get to know each other and share all types of stories; some running related, others not so much. One of the topics that came up was about runners who like to run the same race(s) year after year. While speaking with one of my runner friends Saturday, they shared a conversation they had some time ago with a fellow runner. In that conversation the fellow runner was grilling my friend on why they’d continue to run a specific race year after year. The person was very emphatic in their questioning; they really couldn’t understand the reason behind running the same race. The questioning almost reached the personal attack level In fact the person later apologized to my friend for the incident. I personally don’t understand the one and done mentality as far as races are concerned, unless I didn’t enjoy the event. If the race has an enjoyable expo, a good course, great volunteers and good swag, why not continue to support the race when you’re available to do so? From my stand point it’s a no brainer, especially with local races where I might meet the race director or have ties to the local charity they’re supporting. I’m more inclined to support things to which I have some type of connection.  I’d love to hear you’re thoughts on the subject below so leave a comment.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Please join us for a short 3-3.5 miles run through Folcroft this Sunday morning, 3/16/2014 at 9am. RSVP below for more info.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Disney's 26.2

I had a blast running the WDW Marathon in Orlando Sunday. I finished in 4:34, a PR for me. My wave started at 6am, at which time the weather was ideal for running. Around 8am the sun came out and was blazing, however, it didn't really affect me as much as some of the other runners. I ran with a hydration belt and used some of the water stops as well. Being well hydrated helped me stay cool.  Although there were a lot of dead zones in the race I never got bored, I think I was really having fun with how well I felt. I finished the first half in 2:22, which is 20 minutes slower than my slowest half marathon time. It was a combination of the crowd (27,000 started) and me holding back. At mile 14 I started to pick it up some, it started to thin just a bit and I was feeling really good. Miles 14-21.5 were awesome, around mile 21.5 I guess my legs realized I was running a marathon, LOL, because they didn't want to move as fast as I would have liked. Starting back up after walking through water stops also became harder. I didn't stop at the last water stop because of how hard it was to get back going again. So miles 21.5 to 25 were pretty sluggish but I was smiling the entire time, which shocked me once I realized it. At mile 25 i decided I was going to stop running like I was hurting and run as strong as my aching legs would allow me. I was able to finish strong and with the biggest feeling of accomplishment I've ever felt after a marathon, this being my third, and the awesome finisher medal helps too, LOL. Disney really put on an amazing event. If you ever have the opportunity I'd suggest making the trip. One day I'll think about the Goofy Challenge but for now I'll just enjoy this feeling.