Sunday, July 3, 2011

Getting along with Coach Sev

L ast week my coach, Bob Sevene, was visiting his old stomping grounds in Boston. I talked to him on the phone several times during the week, as I often do when he is out of town. But it's not the same as having him here. Even Quin was missing him. After Quin talked with him on the phone he declared, “I go to Bev’s house, right now!”
I've been fortunate to always have a coach, except for the one year I coached myself. That was before I found Sev. He’s definitely been my rock all these years. It’s a rare day he misses a practice and he never complains, even if he is riding his bike next to me in cold, sideways blowing rain. It’s nice to know he is willing to suffer with me. Sev was one of the best 800 meter runners in the country before he was drafted and served in Vietnam. He understands the pain of disappointment after a bad race.
This past Tuesday, Sev was back and we returned to our routine. I pulled up at Monterey Peninsula College and did my usual 3-mile warm up. Sev was down on the track waiting and enjoying the unusually warm weather. Often there is a group from the local running club doing a workout, but this day we had the track to ourselves.
I have not been ready for a real track workout until recently. It’s taken almost two months, but I am finally coming out of my running slump. Anemia, bronchitis, and general malaise have not made running fun these last few weeks.
I mentioned to Sev that I had some good runs, and I was feeling a lot better than before he left. “Good,” he said, “because it’s time for Coach to get mean. We’ve got a lot of work to do.” He’s not kidding, making this next Olympic team is going to be a lot tougher than the last time because there are more women running well.
Tuesday's workout was not too tough, but I know it’s just a matter of time before they become very challenging.
Sometimes he explains what's in the workout before I start running. More than once I've been prompted to ask what he’s been smoking. He just grins and tells me to quit stalling. Yes, I am a procrastinator in my old age.
A few years ago I started a workout running slower than Sev wanted. He told me, “Now, that you are older, you might want to warm up a little more.” My reply, I believe, was “bite me.”
When I returned to running after Quin was born, Sev not so gently pointed out that he wasn't sure my butt would ever be small again. I believe I invented a few curse words after that one. I mentioned it to Jon and his response was, “Brave man . . . and you look lovely dear.” I actually appreciate Sev’s honesty in a way, though I may not want to always hear it.
Sev seems to know when to coddle me and when to needle me. He knows my motivation comes from completing a good workout and trying to better it the next time. The more I run, usually the better I feel and seeing some good times in practice are what builds my confidence. I think his gift is picking workouts that are challenging, but allow me to succeed and walk away feeling good. He is quiet motivator, so when I get a compliment I usually tease him, “What’s the date? I need to write that one down.”
Though I don’t feel that race fit, I decided to do the Spreckles 10k on the Fourth of July as a hard workout. It’s nice to break up the routine and sometimes it’s easier to
push yourself when you have people running next to you. I have a feeling Quin will enjoy the firetrucks and parade. Come on out and enjoy the festivities if you are around.

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