This week, I received the most unexpected gift, Christmas or not, in an email sent to this web site. It came from a young woman who had just read my book and was now devouring everything else I’ve written here.
She is very new to running, or in her words (excerpted from her blog in Runners World):
“– when you’re illiterate about society except what you can get your hands on to read for the first 23 years of life (and my father heavily chaperoned what I could read; Reader’s Digest and Time Magazine were considered too eye-opening for our household), it takes a LOT of time to catch up on politics, current events, music, movies, art, football, and yes, running. After all, I’m only ‘7 in world years…’ “
“Very early on race morning the next day, after I’d been awake for over an hour… I grabbed the book, left Quadracool soundly sleeping and tiptoed down to the kitchen. I spend the next hour reading the first few chapters. I was immediately intrigued and impressed, and I thought about Jacqueline frequently during my marathon. In a way, she helped inspire me en route to the finish line. And I reached the finish line in almost exactly the time I trained for, wildly happy and in love with the marathon distance. When I got back home, I finished the book. And then I read it again.”
For your consideration, please read the full blog here: Jacqueline Hansen: Runner, Pioneer, Hero.
I was quite taken with her comments, both in the email and the unexpected glowing review she posted in a blog about my book. It moved me to tears.
Teachers and coaches are in a place to make a difference in the lives of their students and athletes. I have worked long in the field of education, both in teaching and coaching education. When speaking on coaching philosophy, I often ask my audience of coaches to think back to a time when they were athletes, and to remember a coach or teacher who influenced them.
I have only to remember my high school coach who started the first track and field team for girls at my school to know that it changed my course of life. I have only to think of the Hungarian Olympian, middle distance runner and world record holder, who defected from his home country, landed in L.A., and with our chance meeting, running charted the rest of my life.
The reason for this exercise in my coaching workshops is to give developing and veteran coaches alike something to ponder about the legacy they themselves are creating. They are the role models, by word and deed, for so many impressionable youth and young adults. In my years of coaching and teaching, if I am fortunate, I will hear from a former student and learn about how I may have influenced them in a positive way. These are cherished moments. These are the rewards of teaching and coaching.
Then there are the times you are caught off guard. The unexpected gift of learning that you have been of influence when you have never even met someone. It’s not an “aha!” moment, it’s almost “serendipity,” but I’m not quite sure what to call it. I know it can bring tears to my eyes, although.
Previously, I said that I met new friends after returning from the Boston Marathon in April. I encountered a couple, Brad and Nancy, and I said that as time goes on, our relationship takes on new meanings. Who knew that the young woman Brad has been coaching would turn out to be a new marathoner in more ways than you can imagine. She has no history of running or any athletics in her life, and is so new to the running world, she is absorbing a great deal of knowledge about the running world in such a short period of time. I feel sure Brad is enjoying some gratifying moments in her progress.
He made a gift of my book to her before her first marathon, and the rest is, as they say, history. A history she is taking in day by day. And she simply made my day with this kind and glowing book review, written from the heart. A young woman, after my heart. Thank you to Brad and Nancy for introducing me. Thank you with all my heart.