Go from being a non-runner to finishing in the top third of a trail 25k? Well your name must be Jeff Vander Kooi.
Jeff Vander Kooi ran his first race ever on April Fool's day, 2012. The Fool's 25k is a trail race in the Cuyahoga Valley in Ohio, some notoriously tough trails.
Jeff clocked a time of 2:26, earning him a 16th place overall.
I coached jeff with online coaching and a few runs in person. I surely take no credit for his accomplishment, but I was incredibly proud to hear about his success. I provided some workouts and a training schedule, but the determination was solely a product of Jeff's enthusiasm and tenacity.
From a personal standpoint, this couldn't have come at a better time. Just when I start having doubts about my own running, I'm reminded of why we do what we do. The human spirit can accomplish great things when our hearts are in the right place. Jeff remined me of what running in its purest form really means in our society. Strip away gadgets, money, and all that isn't our bare souls, and you've got the essence of physical activity. We do it to see what we're made of.
After a little time in this game, I had lost track of that. Thanks to being tiny part of Jeff's success, My vigor has been renewed. It's not about a flawless training record, nor is it about course records or ostentatious medals. Using a combination of brains and heart, he now possesses something that no one can ever take away with words or actions.
|Jeff ran the race in his only pair of running shoes, Merrell Trail Gloves.|
Jeff was the first person to allow me to coach them, and I'm thankful beyond words. I'm now even more certain that coaching is the path I want to take in life, and that my own weird way of doing it is going to work if I continue to polish it. No gimmicks, no pressure, and no bullshit.
Check out Jeff's training journal here at http://jeffvanderkooi.blogspot.com/.