Coaching: A race report…


Spencer, my coach, asks me to write a race report after big events.

What did I feel?  What did I learn? What went right/wrong?

That kind of stuff.

A professional writes a race report to talk about strategies, course design, etc.  People can then learn about them as an athlete and the race from a runners perspective.

My report? Well… mine is not meant for anyone but Spencer to read. Just keep that in mind.  It’s more personal reflection than actual race report.

Corvallis Half Marathon is coming up next month. My friends are getting ready for it!  I will be in Bend running a trail event this year instead. Bittersweet from a tradition standpoint, but my happy place is really on trails these days.

Spencer and I had been working together for close to a year at the point this was written. This was a race that I wanted to run faster.

So we trained.

Corvallis Half 2014 Race Report

I do best when I look and plan forward. Having said that, I enjoyed a bit of reflection relating to this event…


2012. 3:01 finish time. Weaning off of insulin. WILD blood sugars. 254 pounds. One goal; finish the sucker. My first half marathon. Trained to walk it all, but day-of decided I would jog across intersections. There were a ton of intersections. I had already signed up for 2013 Maui Marathon. Hoping I would enjoy 13.1 since I’d already blindly (stupidly?) committed to something a bit bigger. Hannah finished the race, doubled back on her bike and then walked me in from about mile 9. Gently. I was chafed and tired and sore and blistered. Climbing the stairs out of Reser Stadium (at the finish line) back to my car had me in tears. Literally.

2013. 2:41 finish time. Solid year of no needles, close to being off all prescription meds, 199 pounds. Walked/jogged race with Gums until mile 10 when I had a sugar crash and just couldn’t function. Corrected it way too late, and not well enough. Walked in… Thrilled I’d beat the previous year. Walked all of Bald Hill, and up Walnut.

2014.  2:09 finish time. Med free, 5 months post-op (skin removal), 172 pounds.


Slept well, ate clean all week. Felt totally ready, rested, excited to run. Nervous under it all. I never really fought tapering. I could tell I was bottling up energy that I would want and need.

Fastest mile was the last. I’m proudest of that small accomplishment within the race.

I felt easy and comfortable to mile 8. Strong and not a question in my head that I could do it until mile 10. At 10 I started to wonder how much longer I could push as hard as I was pushing. The last two(ish) miles hurt.

My mind started to flirt with thoughts of stopping and walking around mile 10. I didn’t want to quit, but toyed with the thought of what would happen if I did. How would you react if I just refused to run? My thoughts would then rebound strongly back to ‘but that’s not what I want. I can out last this. I $%*king trained for this. I can do this.’ I was absolutely starting to battle my head the last two(ish) miles. You encouraging and barking at me to pick it up/keep it up would snap me out of it. I was aware enough to know that you were intentionally breaking up the negative thoughts in my head.

My mind was oddly blank while running. I have no clue what I thought about. I can remember snapshots of the event. I remember fighting my head the last two miles. I remember seeing Drew and he said I looked strong. I remember seeing Josh at Walnut/Oak Creek. I vaguely remember that there were aid stations. I know you were talking to me, giving me instructions the entire time; but can’t really remember words. Not much else registered. I normally remember with clarity; people, scenery, stupid outfits, people who I can tell are struggling that I just want to cheer on, or that arrogant ass who walks until I catch him (it’s always a guy) and then he takes off not wanting to be beat by me. None of that registered. I don’t remember passing but a small handful of people that I had to actually work to get through/around, never looked at the aid station volunteers, only the sunburn reminded me that it must have been sunny. No clue what occupied my thoughts after mile 4.

DAMN you can be pushy. I knew NOT to argue. Wow. Have seen flashes of it, obviously, given my penchant for arguing with you.  You have a very distinct ‘coach’ tone that means NO refusals.

I asked you for fuel around mile 10. Should have taken it a bit earlier. Proud of myself for trusting you and for asking for help when I started to realize I was going to need it. This was a big step for me.

Being paced is really an amazing experience. Intimidating, powerful. I felt like I was able to follow everything you asked me to do, responded or reacted appropriately. The training pieces were starting to click together in my mind. (Gotta stop hating on track/speed work.) All the work WE have done in the last 10 months was in motion. Bit overwhelming to grasp that THIS is what we had been working for…  And it was working.


I keep looking back this week, since there are now events and experiences I can compare with some understanding of the effort needed to improve. I try not to get caught up in living in the past. Seeing this all written down makes me realize that I need to cut myself some slack from time to time and simply acknowledge that as far I want to go… I really have come a long way.

Wendie right before the race – after you had left to go to the start with Hannah – I blurted out/confided in her what I’d worried about all week; I didn’t know if I could even beat 2:22 (my goal). I was afraid you would find me on the course and l would already be done wanting/able to run. I was scared I would disappoint you and Hannah. Wendie listened to me then grabbed my face and said: ‘Get those thoughts out of your head. Do not let those {creative expletives} rent any space. Do you hear me???! Kick them to the curb. Right $%#&ing now. ‘ She then kissed me hard on the forehead, threw my head back, told me to run my ass off and stalked off. Never even looked back at me. CLASSIC. Perfect.

Asphalt is boring.  Trail for me.

Up next/Questions?

Ramp down into Reser!? Felt like I was going to fall flat on my face if I ran down the ramp at the pace I was running right before hitting the ramp… Spencer, I don’t think I know how to run downhill.

I need to work on cleaning up my diet again. I think I have it mostly dialed in, but then spent last week re-focused on healthy carbs, more veggies. Had great blood sugars. Solid control. Felt great. Slept well. Drank TONS more water.

I need to learn to carry a water bottle. Period. I skimp on water every single time I run. You forced the issue before/during the race and I could feel the difference toward the end and after the race.

I have some mental strength issues to work on… Confidence. Trusting the training. Trusting you. Trusting me.

If you don’t write a short report once you are done with a big event – you should think about getting in the habit. It is FUN to look back and read what you did, what caught your attention, what you learned.

And how you have GROWN… 🙂

2:09 on a 2:22 goal. 🙂 Thanks Spence.

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