Friday, July 7, 2017

Saying Goodbye to My Coach

You're probably reading the title of this post and saying WHAT? Actually, I'm saying that. I'm still in shock. But it's true. My training sessions with Becky are coming to an end.

About 6 weeks ago, Becky told Steph and me that she was moving to Las Vegas to join the circus. Seriously. She is taking a job with Cirque du Soleil as part of their medical team. It's an amazing opportunity for her. I'm so proud of her for going out of her comfort zone and trying something new! After all, isn't that what she's been pushing me to do for the last 3 years?

Becky asked us not to share this information until the CrossFit box had a chance to let everyone know. I put it in the vault and there it has remained until today. This was a post I did not want to write. I've been struggling to put my thoughts into words. It's so hard for me to say goodbye to someone who has completely transformed my life.



Yesterday was my last workout with Becky. Not to worry, the workouts will still continue. Becky assures Steph and me that we will be in good hands with Coach Kate. I know Kate from being around the CrossFit box. Kate was also my oldest son's high school chemistry teacher. Small world, right?

Still, it won't be the same. Becky has changed me from an injury-plagued aging runner to a strong, tough mother runner--a perennial--who PR'd every distance I've run in my 50s. She instilled a "no excuses" attitude in me by threatening me with burpees every time I complained about an activity or apologized about making a mistake. Oh, and don't call them "girl burpees" because there is no such thing and if you use that term, there would be 100 burpees! I became pretty good at burpees over time, so she changed my punishment to atomic situps.

I became pretty good at atomic situps too!
She could always hit me where it hurt! She pushed me hard but never too hard--she always knew my limits. As tough as my workouts could be, as heavy as the weights were, I never was injured by anything Becky had me do. By pushing me out of my comfort zone, Becky made me believe that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. She taught me that there is more than one way to become a stronger runner. Becky also proved to me that age really is just a number as I started running paces I once saw in my 30s and winning AG awards in some of the smaller races I entered.

Ringing the PR bell after this past strength session where I PR'd my deadlifts and back squats.
One of the highlights of the past 3 years was my training for my second Chicago Marathon. When I first met her, I had no plans to run a marathon again. After I won a free entry and told her I wanted to give the distance another go, she didn't skip a beat. She developed a low mileage, high intensity marathon training plan that got me a 70 minute PR from my first marathon. The training was hard, it was completely unorthodox, but it was fun, and how many runners can say that about marathon training?

This was marathon training!
People often asked me why I chose a CrossFit/Strength Coach over a running coach. As I do with everything in life, I went with my gut on this one. I started looking for a coach because running wasn't working out so well for me--I kept getting injured. When I interviewed a local running coach with an excellent reputation, she outlined her plan for me. I don't know why, but what she said didn't feel right. After sharing my concerns with my friend who owns the local CrossFit box, I met with Becky, who began working with me, first with strengthening my hips and glutes. The running, she said, would be on my own.

The GHD--strengthening my hammies and glutes one extension at a time
I liked that. My running is very personal--it's more than a physical activity. Running is my therapy, my antidepressant, and my church. I needed to be able to run. Becky promised me that she would make me a stronger runner.

There was always a method to her madness!
What I didn't expect was that Becky's training would have an effect on me off the road as well. In pushing me through really tough workouts, she helped me to become mentally stronger. I won't lie--I never wanted to tell her I couldn't do something. Her tough as nails personality intimidated me a bit, and I didn't want her to think I was weak. Sometimes the work was so hard that I was near tears during our sessions. She always believed that I could do whatever she planned for me, and 100% of the time, she was right.

Deadlift PR
Only twice have I cried in front of her, and it was never because of what she was making me do. The first time I cried was when I was training for my bucket list marathon, Big Sur, and my plantar fasciitis was so bad that I couldn't run. I was so frustrated and the idea of a DNS was not at all an option. She was amazingly sensitive and between Becky and my sports medicine physician, I trained for a marathon without doing much running. On race day, I lined up at Big Sur and I finished. Not only that, but I was able to hike and enjoy the week at Yosemite with my husband. Pain free.

We have no hills to speak of, so Becky brought the hills to me for my Big Sur training.
The second time I cried in front of Becky was after my diagnosis with rheumatoid arthritis. When I first told her about my diagnosis, the look of shock on her face shook me. But her response felt cold. When we talked about it, she told me that training an athlete with RA was uncharted waters for her. She said she wasn't worried about training me, but she was unsure about how we would progress. We made the decision to push forward and see what happened. She didn't go easy on me, but when I couldn't push as hard as I wanted, she understood.


During that time, Becky brought out all my favorite activities, like slam balls, the slide board, and flipping the tire. As I continued to get stronger, she was pleased and the workouts got tougher. I never gave up and she didn't give up on me. I truly believe that the work I do in the box with her has helped me to return to the fitness level I was at prior to my diagnosis.

I can clean and squat now!
Becky has not only been a strength coach for me. She has also been a therapist and a friend. I am truly going to miss working out with her. It's funny though, as I reflect back on all our time together, I realize as I write this that if we needed to take a break, now is a good time for this to happen. Even though I will miss her terribly, she has brought me to a place that I would never be without her guidance. I wonder how the old me, the pre-Becky me, would have handled my diagnosis with RA? I doubt that I would have pushed through all the obstacles as well as I have without all that work we've done together. Everything I've accomplished, both on and off the road, over the past 3 years is because of Becky.

Send off for Chicago 2014
What wonderful gifts she has given me. Physical strength and endurance, yes, but confidence and mental toughness too. All in the name of having fun. To use Becky's favorite quote: "Good Vibes Only.

She even played yoga with me!
Thank you, Becky. I love you and I will miss you. I wish you the best. And I'll see you in November!

I'm linking up with the Friday Five, Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy. I did list 5 things Becky has given me in the paragraph above the yoga pose. You and I both know there are so many more...




70 comments :

  1. Awwww, I was in shock when I read this, thinking you were having to stop crossfit or something. While it is super sad that Becky is leaving, that is so exciting for her! But I am sad for you. You have adored her!

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    1. She's leaving some big shoes to fill, that is for sure!!!

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  2. ahhh this is such a sad post! I can feel how much you're going to miss her. What a wonderful coach she's been to you over the years.

    Best of luck to Becky in Vegas. Sounds like an incredible opportunity! And I'm sure your new coach will be just as kick-ass.

    Hugs to you!

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    1. Pretty sure I've been in denial about it for the past 6 weeks. I'm almost in a panic now--she has done so much for me and I don't want to go backwards. Not that that would happen. Stay tuned.

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  3. I'm so sorry that you are losing Becky. What a wonderful adventure for you!

    Many years ago I worked out with a personal trainer for quite a few years. I don't struggle with anxiety as much as you do, but I never saw myself as a physically strong person. Not at all. And my trainer taught me that I was.

    I still miss her! I know you will miss Becky, too, but I hope that Kate will be an awesome breath of fresh air. Sometimes you need a switchup!

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    1. I think Becky needed to move on. I could feel it over the past couple of months. This is such a wonderful opportunity for her.

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  4. Awwe I'm so sorry to hear this! You have often spoken to fondly of Becky and I know it must be really hard to say goodbye to her :(

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    1. I was in shock when she told us, and I think the reality of her leaving will hit me in the next couple of weeks when I don't see her!

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  5. I can only imagine how tough this is for you, but I would imagine Becky (and her #toughazz workouts) are gonna remain in your life, regardless if she's present at the gym. Hugs to you ;-)

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    1. She has transformed my approach to training, so yes, you are right!

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  6. oh wow it's never easy to say goodbye and I know from reading your blog for a few years now how important your relationship w Becky is. Finding a coach/trainer that really gets you and is invested in your well being is a gift to treasure.

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  7. Wow, I know this is hard for you, but what a great opportunity for her! And, based on all you've shared here and across the time you've been with her, Le Cirque is lucky to get her! This was such a touching tribute and shows how "fitness" is so much more than what it appears on the surface.

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    1. It's been a wonderful ride and I'm so grateful for everything she's done for me.

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  8. What an awesome tribute! I know how much Becky has meant to you and how much her coaching has done for your running and your life, especially recently. And congratulations to Becky for this new and exciting career opportunity!

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    1. When she told us what she was doing, we couldn't even be upset! I mean, wow!

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  9. Wow! I can't even imagine how scary this is for you...but you've had lots of time to contemplate it before getting these words out. I'm sure you will do great with Kate and that Becky wouldn't have matched you up with someone you wouldn't meld with. Can't wait to hear about your new adventures with her!

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    1. I don't think it will be as transformative as my training with Becky because I'm in a different place now. But I still want to do the work!

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  10. AWWW- I know this post was hard for you and losing her even harder! What a great friend you have in Becky and what a great post!

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  11. Sorry for your loss but that is an AMAZING opportunity for her!

    PS, when I first read the title I thought it said "saying good bye to my Cocoa" and I thought, is Wendy getting rid of her dog already?..lol

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    1. As much as Cocoa drives me crazy, no, I love her too much! LOL!

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  12. What a great tribute. I am always in awe when I see what you do to train. But I can't imagine that without Becky, you will do any less. RA doesn't know whom it is dealing with!!

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    1. Sometimes I look with awe at the photos of stuff we've done--in the moment, I just want to do it but later I"m like what? I will miss her terribly!

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  13. Wow, Becky sounds amazing! That is a great opportunity for her in Vegas but it sounds like her clients will definitely miss her.

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  14. Damn...Becky is the shiiiiiit. How cool is the Vegas opportunity though?!?! That's amazing! I'm sad you're gonna miss her though. Interesting about how you wanted a cross-fit coach instead of a running coach! That actually makes a lot of sense to me. Your paragraph on how you feel about running really resonates with me. I hear ya. I was nodding along with you. All the best to Becky and her new adventures, and all the best to you and yours as well! I'm excited for you!

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    1. I love all the things Becky's strength and CrossFit training has done for me! She proved (at least to me) how important strength training is to being a stronger runner!

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  15. oh wow! I feel like I'm going to miss Becky! she has been part of your training for as long as I can remember! Good luck to her, what an amazing opportunity !

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    1. Yep, 3 years! I started working with her about 6 months after I started the blog.

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  16. What a great opportunity for her but sad that she won't be working with you. I will miss reading about her through your posts.

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  17. She sounds amazing. I totally get why it is hard to say goodbye.

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  18. Aw man, I'm so disappointed for you! But you will continue to do great - I suspect Becky's voice will always be the one you hear whenever you might have some doubts about your abilities. Big congrats to Becky on her new gig - that sounds pretty amazing!

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    1. Funny you mention that voice--I hear it when I'm racing and struggling! LOL

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  19. That is so sad, but what an incredible opportunity for Becky! You will never forget her!
    I miss Crossfit so much! I used to do it in college and loved the atmosphere of the small classes and cheering everyone on. I wish there was a crossfit box where I live now!

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    1. I have never done the classes, but when I'm there working with Becky, the classes are going on and there is a lot of camaraderie!

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  20. Sorry to hear about your coach leaving for Las Vegas. Sounds like she won't easily be replaced. However, one upside of her switching jobs is that perhaps you can get a good deal on Cirque du Soleil tickets when you visit Sin City? :)

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    1. The thought has crossed my mind--if she offers. I'm not good about asking people for deals...

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  21. This a beautiful tribute to what a great coach and friend Becky is :)
    I am so sorry you are losing her, but I agree you are so strong now, you can continue on and make her proud!
    Hugs!! I know it is not easy.

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    1. I think it will hit me after a few weeks of not working out with her!

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  22. I hope you're able to find someone just as amazing! She sounds like she was a pleasure to work with!

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    1. What is it about that first time, though? She's leaving big shoes to fill.

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  23. Are you in the group doing RnR Vegas? Becky can now come and cheer you on!

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    1. I am! Hopefully we can connect when I'm there.

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  24. What a loss for you but so exciting fo her! Sounds like she has instilled many new thing within your training!!

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    1. She completely transformed my running.

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  25. It's rare to find someone like that. So sad she's leaving but what an amazing opportunity and time you've been able to have with her and that's so awesome!

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    1. I am so happy for her--she is going to be amazing. I'll be fine. Just really sad.

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  26. Aww man I'm sorry you're losing Becky. It's clear from both this post and other times you have mentioned her what an important role she has played for you.

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    1. I think that's the hardest part! All that guidance she's given me. I'll have to forge on..

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  27. Oh man, this is so sad. Ive never worked with a strength or running coach in person but I did feel like I had a really solid relationships with one of my chiropractors, and it was really hard when he left. Sometimes the people who help us with our sport are also so emotionally supportive.

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    1. I get the comparison! When recently I was out on my LOA, upon my return my patients were so happy to see me. They were worried I wasn't coming back.

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  28. Beautifully written Wendy. I believe it is rare to find a trainer such as this, one that knows you so well and finds that perfect balance between pushing you beyond your comfort zone and being sensitive and understanding to life's challenges. And I have no doubt that she has reaped many benefits from knowing and training you as well!

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    1. You think? Ha. I was one of her first clients and I'm not easy to train (I'm so uncoordinated, among other things)--I think she really had to dig deep sometimes and not throttle me!

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  29. Oh gosh. Becky has been such a huge part of your life for as long as I've been reading your blog. I can only imagine the emotions you must be experiencing right now. Becky is getting a really amazing opportunity and the Cirque du Soleil is lucky to have her. I am definitely looking forward to see where you go from here. <3

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    1. Both Steph and I are a little bit at a loss with this one. We'll see how things play out.

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  30. I'm sorry to hear that Becky is moving, but it sounds like an incredible opportunity for her. I know that you're going to miss her incredibly. Hopefully Kate will be just as great of a coach to work with as Becky has been.

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    1. Knowing what an amazing opportunity this is for Becky is what makes it a little less painful! When she told me, I couldn't help but be happy for her.

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  31. Congrats to Becky on her fantastic new job opportunity in Vegas! I know you will miss her terribly and hope that you will learn to love your new coach just as much.

    BTW, that's a fantastic yoga picture of you two!

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    1. We had fun with that one! The owner of the box is also a photographer, so we recruited him to shoot some pix of us.

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  32. This post really brought tears to my eyes Wendy! So much personal growth for you and what a wonderful tribute to someone who seems pretty darn special!

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    1. Yep, she was definitely the perfect fit for me!

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  33. Oh my gosh - I'm so sorry you're losing Becky! I know she's been amazing for you! And I like the sound of her low mileage/high intensity approach! Hopefully, Kate will work out well for you.

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  34. I enjoyed reading about the workouts that Coach Becky would give you...it was always so intriguing to see how CrossFit can make you a stronger runner. I hope she has a great time with Cirque du Soleil and that your new Coach will continue to take you to new heights!

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  35. Oh gosh how sad, yet how exciting for her. I am sure you will keep in touch, and hope the new coach works out well for you!

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  36. What a wonderful tribute to your coach.

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  37. She sounds like a fantastic coach and person!

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  38. Oh, I know you love your coach. So sorry. Hope the new one is just as good.

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