Since I graduated from college in May, I’ve been working days as a substitute teacher. After school, I help coach a high school level cross country team. I’m not paid for it, so I can’t officially call myself an assistant coach. I do, however, do all the stuff that’s expected of one. I clear courses, time during races, pace on difficult runs, and fill in for the coach when he’s not around. I have a great group of kids and it’s been fun, but not too challenging.
Yesterday I experienced my first real test.
I was timing the first mile of my racers’ 5k. The mile mark was right before a shady copse, which then led out into roads. It was under these trees that I had stationed myself. I was shouting out splits and encouragement, and waiting for the last runner to pass by. After they all passed, I was to follow and take care of any breakdowns (which happen an awful lot at the high school level). One breakdown, however, came directly to me.
One of our girls fell right after the mile. It wasn’t out of clumsiness, though. She cried out that she couldn’t see. When I crouched down beside her, she was reeling, and seeing double. Her vision had turned purple and black and then she, understandably, went down.
She was embarrassed for dropping out of the race, but I can’t blame her. It must have been scary as hell to lose her vision. Even I was a little spooked by her description. Being the best damn volunteer assistant coach I could be, I stayed with her, sent someone to get water, and called the trainer.
The trainer arrived and, after questioning her, came to the conclusion that she had bonked. The solution was simple enough– We grabbed some soft pretzels and some bottles of Gatorade and we forced her to cram them in.
So what is to be learned from this?
It doesn’t take a marathon distance or superhuman effort to bonk. The term brings to mind images of Chris Legh in an Ironman. It makes us think of ultras and marathons and triathlons. But bonking can happen to unprepared runners even over short distances. It can happen in a casual 5k, and it can even happen during training.
So please, please make sure you take in the calories you need… If only so that you don’t scare the crap out of any volunteer assistant helper coach-type guys.Share on Facebook