March Bloom: "Coach"

This month’s Blooming Good story honors the memory of Dave Coyne, founder of Twin Cities Running Club – TCRC, who passed away unexpectedly in January 2024. I spent several years running with this group that is open to all. Dave welcomed anyone who donned running shoes for any distance at any pace.

"Coach"

feet wearing sneakers on a path“Name again? Lacey Gold, you said?”

“Yes,” said Lacey, knowing what would come next. The inquisitor averted her eyes by bending to tighten her red Nike running shoes. Head down, she spoke her mind.

“I’m really sorry, Lacey, but we don’t. It’s difficult to accommodate. Other running groups may suit you better. Mine is for serious runners. Good luck,” and Nike woman sprinted off.

This wasn’t the first time Lacey found herself left behind when approaching a running group that billed itself as social, informal, non-competitive, and open to all.

Despite growing discouragement, Lacey let her parents talk her into trying one more group.

“We heard about a new one from friends who said the coach is different, really different.”

Lacey hoped they were right, but had her doubts.

The next Tuesday at 6:00PM Lacey exited her parents’ customized van and guardedly clumped across the street.

“Pick you up later honey,” and they drove off.

Lacey inched toward a circle of runners chatting on a grass patch near the pedestrian path. As she edged closer, the runners stopped chatting and smiled.

“Hey there, you’re a new face. What’s your name?, said the one who seemed in charge.”

“Lacey Gold.”

“Hey, like Olympic Gold, that’s great. I’m the TCR Coach, stands for Taking Care of Runners.”

“Glad you found us.”“Welcome, Lacey,” the group said in unison.

“Okay, let’s review the somewhat consistent stuff,” the Coach said. “Meet here on Tuesdays for our regular river road loop, at the track on Thursdays for speed work, and on weekends, it’s a long run at varied locations. Sound good?”

Then the group strode out under the fall colors hugging trees along the Saint Paul side of the Mississippi River.

“Hey Lacey,” the Coach said while matching her stride near the back. She expected the inevitable conversation that always began with “I’m really sorry…”

Instead, she heard,” How about signing up for next Saturday’s 5K, if you haven’t already. We’ll all be there,” the Coach said, catching her eye.

“Me, a 5K, 3.1 miles, I don’t know?”

“Lacey Gold. I know you can.”

On race morning, Lacey warmed up with TCR before the Coach’s pep talk.

“Clear skies and no wind. Have a great time on your own pace,” he said. “See you at the end.”

The gun boomed at 9:00 AM. Runners raced through a gauntlet of well-wishers. The Coach gave high-fives to each TCR participant along the course.

At noon Lacey rounded the bend, saw the finish banner, and heard the Coach yell, “Go Gold, you’ve got this.” Lacey Gold crossed the finish line with her walker and a record-breaking smile.

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