Last May I met a college student who said she was interested in doing some speed work with me. Jackie was a senior basketball player who wanted to increase her speed and fitness over the summer. Up until this point I was doing all of my speed work solo so the thought of having someone to pace with for some of my faster, harder workouts sounded too good to be true.
When she got to the track the first morning Jackie asked me what we were doing. I told her 15 x 200’s. I believe the goal time was mid to upper 30’s. She accepted the challenge without hesitating. While I was pacing along-side her I couldn’t believe it. Yes, I was in pain from trying to keep up with her killer finish kick but I was smiling from ear to ear. It reminded me of all my college speed work days at the track. Of course back then I never thought twice about being able to sprint along-side someone. I was too worried about the pain I was in and when I could stop running. Now being able to run some of the faster stuff with someone by my side was so encouraging and motivating. It made me feel like I was 22 again.
During the summer and over the past year something unexpected happened. Jackie turned into one of my BRF’s (Best Running Friends). Sure, I was 14 years older and in a completely different stage of life but she didn’t seem to mind. I may have taught her a few things along the way but she brought a new outlook and perspective to running which was very refreshing.
Jackie just graduated from college and is moving on in life. I couldn’t be happier for her but I will definitely miss having her around not only as someone to run with but also as a good friend. I decided to make note of a few of the things I’ve learned from her this past year. Obviously these observations do not apply to all 22 year-old’s but they are some of the things that come to mind that I learned from Jackie. (In no particular order…)
Running with a 22 Year-old:
1. Get ready for an all out sprint. This was the first thing I ever learned about running with Jackie. Her “kick” at the end of a track repeat smokes me every time. How can she have that much left in the tank? She has a whole other gear of pure speed!
2. Typical sleep and bedtime hours do not apply. Jackie didn’t go to bed at the typical “mom” hours. If for some reason I was up way past my bedtime (10, 11, ?) she was still always up later than me. I could text her and she’d still be up and optimistic about running early. She might not always get there right when I started but she would get there!
3. Not scared of shorter, faster races. While many women my age (myself included!) are intimidated by anything less than a 10k, Jackie was always up for the challenge. To her a 5k was the “longer race” distance and a mile was the norm. During the summer, Jackie joined me for a one mile, two mile and 5k race. (In basketball pre-season all the players have a goal to run a sub 6 minute mile. FYI- Jackie crushed this goal!)
4. Strength training is a priority. Typically I get so caught up with running that I “don’t have time” for anything else. I tend to view anything besides running as optional. I know I should do it and I might even make plans to do it it in the future. To Jackie, strength training was just as important (if not more important) than running so she would hold me accountable to meeting her at the gym. When I suggested we try to reach a goal of a 5 minute plank she was game. It was a tough build up (took over a month) but we made it to 5 minutes!
5. Flexible and willing to try something new- even at the last minute. Sure, Jackie had class (she was a 4.0 college student), played college basketball, had a husband, two dogs, and a part-time job but she was often willing to meet up at the last minute if she had time to squeeze in a workout.
Hottest day of the year? No problem! Sure, I’ll run with you!
Hill sprint repeats up the two toughest back to back hills in town? Of course!
Very last minute girls trip to Tennessee to run a race? Why not?! (I think she decided around midnight while she was in Nebraska??)
Help organize a kids track night event with 150 kids? No problem! Jackie created the logo and did all the marketing!
Then, somehow I convinced this one mile sprinter to run a half marathon… And she did AWESOME! 1:37!
Jackie works hard and is not afraid to try something challenging no matter how intimidating it may be. While many would settle for the bare minimum, Jackie constantly pushes herself. I admire this quality and hope I can be more like this. When we first met, I went into it hoping I would gain some speed- never thinking I would get something even better- a friend. I’m definitely going to miss Jackie but I know God has many big things in store for her. “Go Jackie!”