Gratitude Letter (of sorts) to my coach

A few months ago I took a mindfulness course. As part of it I was supposed to write a Gratitude Letter. This is a letter to someone who has had a positive impact in your life. You are supposed to write down all of the things you’re grateful for and then send it to them. I didn’t do this. But I did do it in my head. My person was my running coach who I started training with when I was 15; Ross Ristuccia. Since that first practice in 1991 when I showed up at Winston Churchill Park in my shorts, t-shirt and running shoes, Ross has been a steady, guiding influence in my life. He’s never asked anything of me, but I’ve always known that he will be there and eager to help me whenever I ask him. There is a lot to be said for unconditional, reliable support. Especially as you go through all of the torrent of changes which happen between the ages of 15 and 42 (there are a few). I often think about what Ross has had to hear from me over the years. Here is a sampling in chronological order.

“Ross, I can’t run today – I brought the wrong bra”

“Ross, I ate too much before practice and have sour burps”

“Ross, I know you said not to really run the Terry Fox 10K at school because I have practice today, but I kind of raced my friend, so now I’m tired”

“Ross, I’m tired from swimming and my shins hurt from wearing cleats for field hockey”

“Ross, my parents found a 2-4 of beer under my bed and now I’m in trouble”

“Ross, I know you tell me to slow down and not do too much sometimes, but I’m a teenager, so I’ll listen but I won’t really hear you”

“Ross, I’m injured”

“Ross, you know those shorts you once told me you don’t like because they’re not very professional looking for big meets? Big mistake. I will now wear them every single time. Just because I’m a teenager and we kind of like to test people and we’re assholes sometimes”

“Ross, do you think smoking would hurt my 1500 m time?”

“Ross, I’ll be working up north all summer and I might run sometimes if it works for me”

“Ross, I’m back – can you get me back in shape?”

“Ross, I’m leaving for university out of town. I expect to be able to show up at your workouts whenever I’m in town and it suits me though, ok?”

“Hi Ross, I’m back”

“Hi Ross, I’m back”

“Hi Ross, I’m back”

“Ross, I’m traveling. Don’t know when you’ll see me again”

“Hi Ross, I’m back”

“Ross, work and life are stressful. I just need the constant grounding presence of you and a workout”

“Ross I want to run marathons – will you train me?”

“Ross, now I’m doing an Ironman. I’ll show up for your workouts when it suits me”

“Ross, can you make me fast again?”

“Ross, I’m getting married! Ya, same guy you used to coach in high school too”

“Ross, I’m pregnant”

Long silence

“Ross, I’m pregnant again”

“Ross, not sure what I want to do with my life. Can I try coaching with you?”

“Ross, now I have my own business and my kids are busy. I can’t do it anymore”

Long silence.

“Ross – Thank You for Everything”