Son of Author’s Note: I’m excited to share a slightly different perspective this week from that of the best mother I’ve ever had, the finest (but hopefully not the only) Mrs. Mocko I will ever know, and the hardest working athlete (albeit the only athlete) I have ever coached. Mama Mocko has been an avid walker for her entire adult life and maintains exceptional fitness and overall health, but before two years ago she had never run more than a mile consecutively without taking breaks. This past weekend she challenged herself to run an entire 5k, and then I challenged her to write down her thoughts so that I could share her slightly-more-relatable story with others. Thank you, Mom, for sharing — this was very meaningful to me and the best possible form of coach’s compensation (although I still expect that home-cooked filet mignon meal when I visit next week!). The following is a race report written by Maddie Mocko herself, supplemented by some quotes she provided during a phone call after the race.
Where to begin? Please forgive any awkwardness because I have never written a blog before (haven’t even read very many of them).
MY FIRST ATTEMPT
Perhaps some background will help. I am an older woman who has walked quickly and for long distances for many years. I am fit, and quite comfortable with walking an average of 8 miles most days of the week. About a year and a half ago, I decided (at the urging of my son who is a very skilled distance runner) to train for and run a 5k. My son developed a 4-week plan, and much to my amazement I was able to run fairly well as a result of this training. Then race day came around, the weather was perfect, but…my GPS activity tracker didn’t start (how long does it take to acquire satellites, Garmin?!), my iPod wasn’t working (low battery…), and my running pants (which I had never worn before) were slipping off my waist to the point where I had to hold them up with one hand while attempting to run. NOT a good start.
“My heart was racing, I was scared to run…so I walked.”
Needless to say, I was completely distracted and ended up walking a good part of the race. I blew up on the course. Finish time: 39 minutes. Defeated. I will never forget that feeling. I could have almost walked faster and skipped all the training. I was silent on the drive home as doubt entered my mind — maybe I’m just not meant to be a runner…
“I was bummed…definitely bummed.”
GIVING IT ANOTHER TRY
(Warming up for a key workout)
Despite lingering doubts (I’m older, I can’t run anymore…), I decided to give it one more try this year. Seven weeks of training this time with a weekly plan developed by my coach, aka my son, email reports from me recapping my efforts, and a tailored plan for the next week based on my success (or lack thereof). Speed work and hill training became a part of my weekly efforts. I dreaded each one of these workouts, complained vociferously, and was elated when I could accomplish the assignment. I don’t know how my coach had the patience to handle my whining and say just the right thing to keep me training. Not all workouts were a success, but encouraged by my coach, I analyzed why I failed and then focused my energy in correcting my problems. While I am on the topic of my coach, let me say that I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive, encouraging individual to help me with my training. (I know he is my son, but he believed I could run an entire 5k and pushed me to do more in training than I EVER would have thought possible).
His final word to me before race day — “Believe.”
(Mocko family well-represented on race day)
Ok — so the weather man announces that this weekend is breaking the high temperature mark ever recorded this early in the spring and the humidity is at 84%; if that wasn’t enough, when we arrive at the race we are told that the course has been changed due to construction. And they’ve added a mile-long hill! So my well-thought-out race plan goes down the drain.
“I had my whole plan for the race…and then they changed the damn hill!”
I have no idea what I will face today, but I know it will be very hilly and it is HOT. Then I remembered my coach’s words: “Your race will never go as planned; be prepared for anything, trust in your training, and you will be fine.”
And I was…one year ago I ran/walked this race in 34:42. This year on a more difficult course I completed the race in 30:45, proving that an aging walker can become a runner with the right support. I had an amazing coach, I was about 30 seconds behind my husband for the entire race (he was a terrific pacer!), and my older son joined me on the course to escort me for the final 100 yards. SUCCESS! (with a little help from my friends…)
I didn’t realize how relieved I would feel finishing this race. The last race was 18 months ago and I couldn’t believe it had stuck with me. I was afraid that I would never be able to run again. Now, I’m ready for my next 5k!
– M, runner in training