Sole Survivor(s)

Thanks to Karen Holst for this account of her Sole Survivor experience with coach Bobby Garcia!

I’ve been training with Rogue for a couple years now and have been privileged to train with some of Austin’s finest running coaches: Bobby, Ruth, Amy, Carolyn and right now, Panther. Each unique and with a different style, it’s what keeps me coming back for more. Though I love them all, I will forever be grateful for the coaching and friendship of Bobby Garcia.
When I was asked to write about Coach Bobby and my experience as a runner of his Sole Survivors group, I immediately started to think back to all the fun memories our group had together. Each week we’d head to Aussie’s for some beers to contemplate why we were putting our bodies through all this. As a group made up of mostly first-time marathonees, we’d often rely on Coach Bobby’s words of wisdom and encouragement to get through the harder workouts and long runs. And let me tell you, for everyone that knows him as the Candyman, you’ll agree that it is quite the treat to get to mile 18 on a training run to see a plate of oranges and sliced Milky Ways brought by Coach Bobby. Just a small example of how he always went above and beyond to help us get through both our figurative and literal milestones!
As a Sole Survivor member, I had a blast training and the months went by quickly. Before I knew it, the Austin Marathon was upon us. I didn’t have many family or friends able to make it to Austin for my first marathon, but I knew that right at the end, I’d get to see Coach Bobby on the sidelines cheering his Sole Survivors on. He must’ve ran up that hill at the end for every single one of us and the whole time he ran alongside, he reminded me how awesome I was, how great I was doing, and that the finish line was right around the corner.
For my first marathon, I cannot imagine having a better coach or being a part of a better group than Coach Bobby’s Sole Survivors. And though it’s a clever play on words, the group’s name couldn’t be further from the truth. By traditional definition, “sole survivor” means to be the last remaining individual. And while running is often a solo sport, Coach Bobby was the driving force behind why our tight-knit group stuck through it all and completed the marathon as a whole. We ran together, drank beers together and celebrated our success stories when it was all behind us. I consider myself a Sole Survivor amongst many that I trained alongside.
A few months after moving from Bobby’s Sole Survivors group to train with other Rogue coaches, my 4 ½ year-old nephew drowned. Though I was no longer training with Coach Bobby, he was there to help through it all. I still remember seeing his supportive face at the funeral amongst the crowd of people that attended. He checked in on how I was doing and when my family started the nonprofit Colin’s Hope, he generously donated much of his time and money to help us get the word out about water safety. It was through all this that I realized that Coach Bobby was more than an awesome running coach, he is an awesome person and the reason he’s a supportive coach is because he’s a good-hearted, compassionate human being.
A year has passed since the accident and Coach Bobby still checks in on how I’m doing. Though I haven’t trained as a Sole Survivor for quite some time, he still wants to know how my training is going, what Colin’s Hope is up to and how life is going in general. And I know many others have their own stories about how Coach Bobby has touched their lives too. Just run with him around the Town Lake Trail. You’ll have about a hundred people jog by greeting him and you’ll see in their smiles that they too think the world of him. He’s the best of the best and everyone that gets to run with him knows how special he truly is. Thanks, Coach Bobby!

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