What a Year OTRA Had!

December is always a crazy month. While recovering from family Thanksgiving adventures, we are expected to happily gear up to do it all again a month later! This time we also must Santa, Elf, and Hanukkah correctly, while simultaneously attending every party under the sun, and finishing all our normal daily tasks. Don’t forget to get those holiday cards out because nobody sees pictures of you daily on social media or anything. We become balls of stress in order to create the perfect memories each year. Speaking of balls, let’s only make Christmas balls if they truly make you happy. Let’s quit all the bullshit, and remember the real reason Christmas is here. I know everyone doesn’t share my belief in God but I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t mention His importance in my life, on Christmas Day and every day. I’m very grateful for all He has given to me and lessons he’s taught me. As long as I focus on spending more time being grateful and less time doing things “just because that’s what you do during the holidays”, my season is wonderful. The other part of this time of year that can be especially rewarding is looking back on the moments that brought you joy over the last year. Even more so this year, as we can look back on a whole decade.

In fact, let’s use this newsletter to highlight a few of my favorite coach moments of the year!

🎉 January was the OTRA party which is fun every year! A highlight for me because I get to share my home with all of you. My love language is gifts so I love to get you all a special treat and the cups this year were beautiful thanks to great and talented Danielle O’Neil!

❤️ February was especially fun at our Group Race – Best Damn Race Safety Harbor. Verity’s face when she PR’d her 10k and came to tell me, she was shocked! John Cooper’s awe at his own incredible pacing abilities that helped him realize racing is fun! I also truly enjoyed being a part of Cooksey’s first race, another pacing perfection. February was also special because Leigh Spann interviewed me for Gasparilla at my home. It was so fun to be a part of her incredible work for the Gasparilla Distance Classic.

☘️ March – Dinner before the Little Rock Marathon and Half. We had a blast laughing and talking! Little Rock Half in the rain was also spectacular because I got to run it with my client Kristin and best friend EVA! It was raining and cold and fun because well, running is fun. Mandy ran great in that crap weather and had fun doing it. That was fun to watch. Hank finished after a nasty injury that held him back. Also in March, I loved watching Lisa Sode qualify for Boston. She worked for years to do that and it made my heart beyond happy.

🎲 April was a blast! I took a large group to Vegas for the Run Revel Mt. Charleston Half and Full Marathon. I had complete beginners and 2 runners that BQ’d that day. We had 19 runners altogether! I smiled all day because it was the first time I used my new tent and everyone enjoyed it! It was soooo hot that day and was nice to have at the finish line while we partied and celebrated lots of firsts and PRs! Rarely do I get to take a trip with Beth and Cindy so that was extra special. I also got to put 2 jackets on 2 first time Boston marathoners Sheila and Chris at the Boston Marathon. That is ALWAYS SPECIAL.

🏕️ May. Camp! We had such a great group that went to camp this year in Blowing Rock NC, at Zap Fitness. We were lucky enough to go with Brian and Anne Marie Fullem who taught us strength training for runners as well as proper foot health! Although we ran in spectacularly beautiful places and ate delicious food, the highlight for me was a pile of us in the hot tub getting our palms read by Kendra. Kendra is amazing guys and she can also do one hell of a bird call. May also brought us to our usual chalk/hill workout in Bellaire Bluffs. That clinic is always fun for me!

🦀 June. I have to say June is always a quiet month for me as I am in Maine. June this year was special because I got to run with my first running partner ever Michelle Donald. We started running together in 2002 and have run every time I’m in Maine since. She talked me into running my first half marathon in 2004 so I blame her for my endurance obsession!

🎆 July. Do I need to mention it? Yep, 4th of July LL Bean 10K with my family AND special guest MICHAEL WILSEY! They also used my face on the poster for the race this year which was so fun to see! Michael ran the entire race with me and my family. We didn’t race hard, we just played the whole course. Thanks again Michael for making my favorite holiday even more special!

🌴 August. The highlight for me was coming back to all you crazies!!!!!! It was also a very fun month to watch Trish run. She won the award for the happiest summer runner this year BY FAR! She loved all things running and chose to be happy despite 79 dew points!

🏃‍♀️ September hands down for me was at the old “Sea Dog” race. Kendra PR’d this race and looked at me and said “coach I’m really proud of myself today! I did really well!”. She was genuinely excited about her race execution and turn out. This is music to my ears because as a coach I rarely hear it and I believe it’s incredibly important. A Personal Best is THE BEST YOU HAVE EVER RUN THAT RACE DISTANCE! No matter what the obstacle, try to avoid the disappointment and be proud of your accomplishment. Kendra did that! Kathy P. also felt that way after her first race back post-injury and that was pretty fun as well. Also in September, I had the pleasure of having Denise FaceTime me at the end of her marathon to tell me she got a 32 minute PR while crying! That was a very special moment. There was also a long run I did with Dale and Tom that was especially fun. We talked a lot and joked and told stories and it jumps out at me as a special UTBT run.

🎃 October. There were so many. Carla Nolan is the one that comes to mind the most. After years of health struggles and fighting doctors, she PR’d her marathon and it definitely made me smile. Zach breaking the 3-hour barrier was very fun as well. I also got to watch my Wine Glass Half Marathoners push through some pretty tough racing conditions as well as my Marine Corps Marathon runners/swimmers. In spite of rough conditions, Haley earned a PR and that was pretty darn special to witness. I also had a really great lunch chat with Ryan. I watched Traci and Kim blow through training miles and Coop crush just about anything he touched. There were so many October moments, I could be here for days.

🦃 November. One of my favorite highlights was watching Cheryl S. run a 1:40 half. Seeing that let me know we are ready for some big marathon numbers. Watching Dom get her running legs back after her Ironman, and seeing Rachel conquer her racing fears. I also loved watching Kari S. run a 10k she was proud of after the second baby! Do you know what else was great about November? I got to coach my son to his first half marathon!

😃 December happened at track and would actually be one of my top 5 best coaching moments of all time. Cheryl will tell you she’s the girl nobody picked to be on their team. Cheryl could barely walk up the stairs without being winded a short time ago. But at the track, she came up to me and said, “Coach, I got 2nd in my age group out of 95 the other day. I can’t believe this is me”. This is why I do my job folks. I love watching you all do things you never thought were possible. I love watching your eyes light up when you hit a goal. Believe it or not, I even like talking you off cliffs when your expectations are too high or you can’t do quite what you’d like to just yet. My job is a major highlight in my life.

Thanks for a great year you guys! Let’s make many more this year! Bring on 2020!

On Track

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