When I first moved to Colorado Springs, I didn’t know anyone other then my friend/classmate from West Point. It was actually her idea for me to come out here to train when I was looking for a place to go last year. I liked the idea of going somewhere and trying to refocus myself after having Lyme disease for so many years. I didn’t have a whole lot of confidence in coming back, but knew it was time for me to do so.
A few months passed and I found it very motivating to be in Co Springs. I spent much of the year training hard and harder and trying to get back to the level I used to be at. So I made the decision to move-move back in the spring of this year. It was hard because I was going back to a place where I had no coach at, just because I liked it there. At 31, I just didn’t feel like following a coach around and being somewhere I didn’t want to be or be with a group of training partners I didn’t like. In your early twenties or mid twenties, you do these things. When you get a little older and more mature (which is usually the time that athletes do their best), they stop doing these things. Part of the success is about being happy.
When I have to do long run (which I hate doing), I think about how happy I am doing it because I’m running in the mountains and it’s motivating. Something I hated before, turns into something I enjoy.
In spring, I was at the track (and there are many good ones here) and I happen to meet a runner and his wife. The wife (a Bosnian girl who runs the same events), has the potential to be the perfect training partner for me and is very talented and a few years younger. After hooking up with them, I just recently met their friends, Khalid and Sandra Khannouchi. Khalid has won the Chicago marathon a bunch and is a World Recorder holder for the marathon. His wife is his coach! I see a lot of female coaches, coaching females, but when you see a female coach successful men…that’s REALLY COOL. That’s the ultimate respect.
I had a talk with Sandra last night for the first time. Sandra and Khalid are moving here. Khalid will be training some with my friend ( they are both originally from Morocco). Sandra had interest in coaching me so we sat down and spoke about it.
Usually I would not even consider a female coach. I had a terrible one in high school and my last year at Clemson University. Both were cruel, pretentious, control freaks and worst of all, the college coach was very insecure ( she fell very short in her actual coaching abilities and knew it, the athletes had no respect for her).
However, I have to admit. I had a few dreams this past year about being coached by a blond woman! And I have to also admit to the fact that some of the greatest female middle distance performances of all time, have had female coaches behind them. Some of the best athletes in my event have female coaches. So obviously, I’d be a fool if I let my past influence my future. There will always be a few bad apples everywhere…there are probably just a lot more involved in sports (coaches, agents and even athletes).
Part of my problem in the past is that after college, I never really had anyone put things together well enough for me. My support was just not strong enough ( it’s hard to find the right coach and the right agent). A good athlete is never out there by themself and even though I’m a total renegade I have to realize that I can’t go this alone. Especially since I’m eyeballing World Records and Olympic medals and have been since I was 5 and I’m starting to come into the age where I can make it happen finally.
Sandra was told about my 5 year Lyme disease ordeal and I believe she sees it like I do. It could be the perfect storm, because my gas tank is full. Everyone knows that once you start running hard (usually which starts in college) you only have so long before you are forced to break or just quit because your body is so beaten down. In college, I never ran every year. I pretty much had ONE SEASON, because of the school changing and the coaching changing (colleges love to fire and hire track coaches). I never really got ruined in college, but left pissed off because I should of been an NCAA Division 1 Champion. I couldn’t find the right program to get in.
So not only have I had a wishy washy college career (with a few amazing performances, which just gave me the realization how good I really was), I spent 2005-2009 on my ass. My body was working hard and rebuilding itself after my health break down.
The best part is that I’ll be 32 this December and Sandra said I have atleast two Olympics in me. She said I probably wouldn’t even peak till age 36-37. I knew this from what I feel with my “new” body, but having her say that meant we were on the same page and I liked that. I liked the fact that she realizes I’m speed oriented and that someone like me needs to race 400m, even though I am a true 800m/1500m runner.
I also like the fact she reminds me of my sister (an attorney) who is spunky and no bullshit. If I suck, she is going to tell me I suck….and I like that. If she doesn’t know something, she is going to get out her speed dial and call her contacts who do have gold medals in my events and will find out what needs to happen. She is going to ask my opinion about how I feel and take that into consideration, because nobody really knows their body the way an athlete does. She might kick me off the track on shitty days, but will make me dinner afterward. That’s the type of person I gathered from our conversations.
Sandra is also an agent. Apparently a very good one. The problem in track and I guess other sports is that the coaches and agents aren’t always on the same page. The athlete really suffers from this. She can act as a coach and an agent, so that everything is succinct. This is exactly what I’ve been missing. Her philosophy is know your race schedule and then plan training around it. I’ve never had this done for me and I’m highly motivated (I become a different person), when I know what will happen in two weeks, two months, 6 months and even a year down the road. I like to see what I’m going after and do not think I’ll have any motivation issues this year.
**I should say that I’m already motivated because of the Lyme disease ordeal (because I feel like I’m doing the impossible each day I go out and train…and realize a lot of people are watching me), but now having this come into place, makes me incredibly excited about what I’m doing and where I’m going with this running stuff.
I came to Colorado Springs now knowing anyone but my friend (who is now deployed in Iraq) and everything I came here for seems to have fallen into place very quickly. I wished for it and it came knocking. I couldn’t be more thrilled right now.