I coached the Disney marathon and half-marathon for Team In Training (TNT) this year. Before the early-January trip to Orlando, I dyed my hair a brilliant shade of violet; Pimpin' Purple was the color name (kudos to Jenni @ Rock Paper Scissors Salon in Durham!). I thought it'd be fun, and might be a fun conversation starter with other TNT'ers and particularly with participants on course. Little did I know.
I coached / ran / walked both the Half and the Full, and loved the zone coaching plan; TNT assigned each of the 70-ish coaches a 4 mile 'zone' that they were to cover. I really think that I'm a more effective coach doing my thing in one place - where 'one place is my 4 mile zone - and having all the participants come by me. I know my run pace is such that I'd only see a small group of participants around my pace. So, I worked my zones Saturday and Sunday, and ran with whoever I could - fast and slow, those that looked like they needed it and those that looked like they didn't, from any and seemingly every chapter. I had some great conversations along the way, some mission based (Why TNT?) and some not (Running? Family? Job? etc.) - with way more participants than I can remember.
Jump forward a few hours to the victory celebration - with me still sporting the purple hair. I had a dozen (or so) participants from all over come up through the evening and thank me for running and/or walking them. "I wouldn't have made it through that part without you." "I was doing great, but thanks for running with me and talking to me." "Thanks for the encouragement." (and other similar sentiments). And this was on top of the gratitude and love I got from the utterly awesome NC crew I traveled down there with. I know it was the hair that had them remember me and that made me findable at the victory celebration, but I had no idea that there'd be this effect when I had it done. Those people taking the time to come up to me and thank me and share with me really made my coaching experience. And it guarantees I'll be doing the hair again for my next event coaching assignment. Nothing like direct feedback to have you get the difference you're making with people. I certainly got it that evening. In spades.
I love what LLS does for cancer research and for patients and their families. I love what TNT does for participants - enabling them to train for and finish their (for many, first) endurance event. And I love that I get to be involved in making this happen!