Sunday, June 28, 2015

All About That Base

No, silly it's not the song; and it's certainly not about my ass because I don't have one.
I do remember a time during my junior year in high school...
The 2nd base drum player passed out before we got moving in the Halloween parade.  We rolled his body off the course, onto the sidewalk and I strapped on that drum.
Ooop, that's not it.

Where am I?  Ah, yes, base.

Early May, I hired a coach to help me run a BQ at the LVHN Via Marathon.  That's such a small statement for a big project.  Those words look pathetic in print, so I'll add a little perspective.  The process kicked off with a two layer assessment: 1). Q and A/interview and, 2) running.  I received a multi-page document to ponder before our first face-to-face meeting.  My insides bubbled with excitement at the thought of pouring my running soul onto this near blank canvas of interrogation.  And then, I started writing.  I stressed about completing the 11 page document with enough detail for the coach without making my 'athletic career' (huh?) sound like a waste of time.

Best or favorite race?  How could I possibly choose?
Describe last week.  Wow.  I only ran 3 times at 5 miles tops.  Shoot.
Athletic resume.  Huh?  Yea, so I was the chubby kid in elementary, the bando in high school and the stoner in college.

I sent coach my responses before our planned meet up at Starbucks.  We spent the better part of an hour hopping around the document where I had the opportunity to elaborate a little further on my weak-sounding answers.  At first, I might have given off an uptight air, but I quickly released a few 'f' bombs which took the interview process in another direction.  I let my virtual hair down.  After all, if this dude was going to train me he might as well get acclimated to ME.  We wrapped up an hour of discussion with an exchange of money and the promise to set up the second half of the assessment: the physical challenge.

The following week, I met coach at the shop around 9 am.  The day already started competing with itself for the most humid May morning.  I'd be sweating like a pig in no time.  I walked in, nerves firing, and immediately inquired about the deliverables for this appointment.  We would run together, then he'd put me through a series of progressive drills to analyze my form, acceleration and overall pace.  He also mentioned that some of my activities would be captured on video.  I immediately informed him that this would be absolutely awkward, but he could have cared less.  We walked about a half block to the stop sign and started at an easy pace with a left towards the trail.  Coach and I looped the trail together before coming to a stop in the middle of a straight stretch.  He instructed me through a handful of drills, a few were video taped, then we headed back.  I was drenched in sweat, smelling like a foot suffocating in a nacho chip bag.  He offered a few corrective comments on my form and told me what to expect in my upcoming plans.

I paid for the first four weeks with the caveat that I'd sign on for another three if I liked him.  'Fair enough,' coach said.

So last week, I planned to swing by the shop and drop off a check for the next three months.  I glanced at the week ahead noting the period comment for each week.  The labels defined the upcoming week as Base 3 Week 1.  Wait.  What?  Base?  Base?  I was still building base?  I spent all winter and early spring logging 25-ish mile weeks and I was still building base 7 weeks into training. Oh, shit.
The girls accompanied me on the short car ride to Emmaus.  We walked in to find three athletes on trainers; coach standing in front.  He approached me and the crew, welcoming them with a gentle hello; they put on their shy faces as they peered into the gym.  I made a comment about me continuing to build base, following up by mouthing the words 'Crap, I'm gonna get my ass kicked.'  No sooner than those words left my lips, I suddenly felt the rest of the air in my chest being sucked out.  The sun no longer shone through the windows and the room grew cold.  Coach focused on my eyes as his turned black, reaching into the belly of my soul.  He breathed the fear of the unknown into me, all the while chiseling a crooked smile across his stone face.  He said nothing, but his mental whispers educated me on the storm of hell that's coming right for me.

At least, that's how I remember the encounter.

The Road to Via