Sunday, August 22, 2010

(My) Vision for the 4:30 Training Group

This is an open letter to the DRC Fall Training Program - 4:30 Full Marathon Training Group.

Dear friends,

Ashley and I are so thrilled that you have chosen to make the journey to the starting line of the marathon with us. What an honor you have bestowed on us, and what a responsibility we now have!

If you haven't already, I think you will soon get a sense that Ashley and I (and all the pace leaders) take this very seriously and have dedicated this season of our lives to helping you get to the starting line trained and healthy. Yes, we're for real. Really.

But it's more than just getting to the starting line -- it's discovering who we will become between now and then. We won't be the same people then as we are now; trust me. We will be something supremely different, and better.

I'm reading Tony Dungy's new book "The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building Teams That Win Consistently." Can I be so bold as to attempt a Vision, Mission and Values for our group? Having a vision, mission and set of values will enable us to make group decisions that are focused on where we want to go and be.

Vision A picture of where we want to be, what we want to look like, what we hope things will be like in the future.

I have a picture in my head of us huddling together at the starting line of the White Rock Marathon, near the person holding up the 4:30 sign. We're each wrapped in one of those cheap fleece blankets (imagine that, now!) - that we're going to throw off to the side when the race starts, to be picked up and given to someone else who is trying to stay warm but can't afford a cheap fleece blanket. We're all there, every one of us. Not a single one of us was lost to injury or burnout this fall. The race starts, we say our goodbyes, and we're all off to run our race.

My next picture is of us gathering together again for a group picture in the chute past the finish line of the marathon. We've each run our own race and are together again. Some of us ran together, some of us didn't. We've all just had the time of our lives, can't even really remember what our finish time was, and are on top of the world. What smiles! And, we're wondering when we can go do this again.

Mission Why do we exist? Why are we doing what we're doing? Why bother with all of this, anyway?

We exist, the DRC Fall Training Program - 4:30 Full Marathon Training Group, to help each other accomplish that vision. We are in this together. At least two days a week, we will run not as individuals, but collectively as a group. There is a higher power in group running - we can accomplish things together we would never be able to do on our own (for example, run 4+ miles in 100+ degree temperatures!)

We are doing this to find that person inside of us we kind of knew existed, but may have never met. Again, trust me, the person standing at the starting line of the marathon won't be the same person you know right now.

Why bother with this, anyway? Because this new person is going to be infinitely more-capable of giving back to others. I think we do this because there are others, who we might not even know right now, who are counting on us to become these new people, counting on us to be prepared to help them take this same journey we just took, maybe even as early as next spring. We are preparing ourselves now to be able to share this experience with others in the future.

Values "Rules of the road," how we will treat each other, what is important to us

We can come up with these as we go along...
What is important (to me) is that every time we get together to run, we have fun. Running is meant to be fun. Group running can be a blast. It's really a social event - a chance to get together with our friends, enjoy each others' company, and accomplish something that is good for our bodies and for our souls. Let's enjoy each route we take together.

We will encourage each other. We will do our best to stick close together when we run. (We didn't join a group to then run by ourselves, did we?) If someone needs to take an extra water stop on a hot day, we'll stop. If we need to take a little longer stop so somebody can sneak in to the restroom, we'll wait. Our group is special in that we have two pace leaders - between Ashley and I, we can make sure that nobody gets left behind. Ideally, though, we will start and finish our group runs together.

We will be known for our respect and encouragement of the other DRC runners, other runners, cyclists, walkers, skaters, etc.

Basically, we will create an environment that we all can't wait to get to each Wednesday and Saturday. That's the 4:30 Full Marathon Training Group.

So, there you go. We have a long journey ahead of us, one we've just started, and I promise you, one we will never forget. It's going to be a real trip!

Thanks again for trusting Ashley and I with your presence in our group. Hope you had a good run today, friends.

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