Sunday, December 25, 2011


As 2011 comes to a close, I want to look back, back at the good and the bad, to reflect, to learn, and to prepare for what I hope may be an even better 2012.

2011 began with an amazing day followed by a flight back to Kansas. Back in Kansas I began what would be my last months as an assistant coach at Baker University. Through the spring I focused on coaching and my faith as I was in a very volatile situation. Luckily, the distance squad I was coaching ran very well, helping lead Baker to its first men’s team conference championship in over 60 years. I then went on to watch five months of hard work pay off for Megan Rosa who ended up 9th in the nation in the marathon at nationals. All in all, it was a fantastic spring of coaching. June came, and I knew it was time to move on. Back in Colorado, I was jobless and very nervous as I wondered where I would be coaching and living in the fall.

My faith had been growing as I had finished my Men’s Fraternity Class, and I was trying to implement what I had learned into my day-to-day life. SOAPing in my Bible regularly, attending great church services at Morningstar, and spending time with strong Christian friends who helped me grow, I couldn’t have been stronger or happier. Granted, there are always setbacks; however, with support and prayer I have done very well moving forward in my life.

Summer came and went with too many workouts and not enough hours with my friends of Buena Park Circle. Being unsure of my future, applying for jobs, and training was very stressful, but Ben Martinez and the rest of the gang kept me laughing and smiling. Most afternoons were spent sunbathing on the front yard recovering from the morning workouts until everyone else was off work. Summer also brought my Golden Birthday, turning 25 on June 25th at the Golden Bee with my best friends there to share it with me. The 2011 racing season went fairly well but left me hungry for 2012. In spite of the negative aspects of 2011, the memories of this past summer are as fond a memory as any summer I have ever had. It came to a close with a fantastic job offer, allowing me to maximize my enjoyment of the entire summer before accepting a position in August.

Much of the fall was stressful, considering I had been hired at Kansas Wesleyan with just one athlete returning. Now, with transfers I have taken the team to six runners and plan to bring in another ten to fourteen next year. Building a program from scratch has its advantages but also has taken so many hours of recruiting and coaching. I have found a church, friends, and some great places to run. 2012 in Salina is already looking brighter now that I have settled in.

While home for Christmas break, I learned that the “green bridge” along highway 24 is about to be demolished. Although it is not the prettiest or most famous landmark in Colorado, it is truly memorable. Almost everyone knows the bridge if you have ever made the trip to Colorado Springs. After many years it is going to be destroyed, and a new larger bridge will be built in its place. Many locals fought to have it moved and used somewhere else but to no avail. I am truly sad to see it go. I have many memories of trekking underneath it, looking at the jail cells underneath and just enjoying the view of Pikes Peak from there. Although it will be gone, my memories remain, just like the year 2011, gone but not forgotten. In all reality, it is not the bridge or 2011 that matters; what matters are the memories and the lessons learned. What also matters is what I do in 2012. Another year has come and gone, and I have achieved my career goal. Now it’s time for new goals. Making the most of my life is very important and seeing how quickly another year has flown by, it shows clearly that time is short, and I want to make the most of it. All that I have achieved has come from hard work and not always waiting for the opportune time but putting my nose to the grindstone and following my dreams no matter how crazy they may be. 2012, here I come!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Numbers in Coaching

A coach always has numbers on his mind. I feel that these numbers are hurting the sport of running.

Stop counting miles and stop worrying about the number of workouts! It can become addicting logging miles. Many runners hit a point where they forget to listen to what their bodies are telling them and instead focus on numbers, ending up injured. Rest is the number one workout that is forgotten by coaches. They are almost always former athletes who have a competitive gene that pushes them to sometimes forget about what is best for their athletes. Therefore, I have a simple point to make that I hope a few coaches and athletes may hear. “It is impossible to improve if you aren’t on the starting line.” Injured athletes may do a great job of recording splits, but that won’t be their goal, and it shouldn’t be mine. I must push my athletes, but I will err on the side of caution, pushing quality not quantity. A healthy athlete will race, but an injured one will be taking splits.

The next number epidemic applies to qualifying standards and personal records. I, of course, love running a lifetime best, just like all runners do, but to be honest, it is taking the real excitement out of running. There are days when it’s cold, days when it’s hot, courses that are long and others short, tracks that are at higher elevation and others on the beach. Whatever happened to the joy of just racing? When we hear the theme from Chariots of Fire, we should feel compelled to run, not for a PR but for the love of running.

Coaching in the NAIA, our national rankings are based on times. I am not a fan of this when so many schools have warm beautiful weather for their whole season, and here in Kansas it’s cold and windy at nearly every meet. It’s really hard to say who is running a true 8k or in what conditions. I am a proponent of regionals being reinstated to assure that the best teams make it to nationals. When it comes to individual performances, I still want my athletes to give everything they have. If they do this, I could care less what their times or places are because their effort would reflect the attitude and character of the runner in which I want to coach. I would trade five sub25 minute 8K runners who never work hard for five who would run 2 minutes slower if they would give everything they have and believe in me and each other. I want my runners to improve, but in a way that is conducive to the love of running.

As a coach, I am forced to also face another number game. That game is known as weight. Weight should not matter. I have seen and raced against all sizes. I am tired of girls and guys thinking that speed and success comes from being thinner. This is not to say that a 300 lb man will have the same success as a 160 lb man. However, if one is running my prescribed workouts and eating sensibly, there is no reason to fret if you are gaining weight. If the day ever comes that I have a runner who is losing a battle because of genetics and can’t stay at a healthy running weight (which is heavier than most think), then they will hopefully talk to me so that they can hear how important their health is and not how important their weight is. An athlete who is living on lettuce and calcium supplements will not be strong enough to survive a full career of college running. Taking these pills may hold off the early stages of osteoporosis and bone deterioration, but not for long. Also, in addition to ones bones becoming brittle and unhealthy, another worry for a coach of girl distance runners is amenorrhea. If a woman loses her menstrual cycle for too long, she faces being infertile the rest of her life. When it’s all said and done, I want my athletes to look at me with respect rather than resentment. As a male coach, I know I must be extra cautious about how I speak to my female athletes. I keep my eyes open for signs, such as cut knuckles, discolored teeth, bad breath, and irregular eating habits.

I hate the numbers games. Simply said, run hard and have fun.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Freezing 5K

Although the name of yesterday’s 5K was the Holiday Hustle, it could have been named the Freezing 5K due to the 22degree temperature. Starting in the shadows of Junction City High School, the race was full of Kansas collegiate standouts. As we took off up the longest hill of the course, I knew the majority of the top competitors were all very fit because they recently raced in the DII cross country nationals. The first mile we packed up, running with a slight head wind as we came through the mile at 5:28. After the mile, the pack quickly broke apart with a surge, and the lead group all went sub 5 for mile 2 and 3. I finished with a 15:54 and had a lot of fun even though I was in 6th place. It was exciting to know that I could go sub 16 on a hard course with hills. I will be heading back to Colorado in a few days to finally put in some great miles at higher elevation where I might also throw in some speed. I am planning on racing a 3K on January 7th at KU and will need to be able to get out a lot faster. All in all, it was a fun event, and Tim Testa did a great job running the event. Post race with his family and several of the guys I enjoyed some amazing pancakes at his parents’ house. What a great start to the Holiday Season!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas, hosted the 2011 National Coaches Convention for NAIA, NJCAA, and NCAA track and field/ cross country coaches. Flying out Sunday night to San Antonio after a great evening with friends in Baldwin was an exciting start to a great convention. For three days, I went to presentation after presentation on all forms of running. It was fun to listen to top Division 1 and professional coaches who talked about their success and gave tips on training, recruiting, and many more relevant topics. Traveling there not only was a huge learning opportunity, but also an exciting vacation, between rooming with Coach Kindler and spending my evenings hanging out with some of the best coaches in the world. The conference allowed me to learn, network, and flat out enjoy a beautiful hotel. Also, it was great to hang out at the Brooks booth and catch up with Steve DeKoker. Seeing him reminded me how amazing of a company Brooks is and how lucky I am to be a part of their team. Although my time at the convention was only three days, I really enjoyed the opportunity to voice my opinion on very important issues facing the NAIA and to relax with other coaches. Thanks to Zach, Kevin, Sean, and Maleah for many laughs.

After the Mondo Dinner and reception, Maleah dared me to race up the escalator that was coming down. After I easily made it up the first one, she decided to join me and nearly made it to the top when she lost her shoe and fell hard. This picture was taken the next morning, remembering her glorious failed attempt.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Well, I had wondered if this day was coming, and my suspicions were confirmed tonight. After only one year with Kompetitve Edge, I was dropped. For over two months I had been trying to contact them without getting any response.

This past summer I had a mediocre summer of racing and wondered if that would affect sponsorships. Luckily when I joined Kompetitive Edge they knew I was still maturing and growing into training full time for triathlons. I was assured that this was like a family who wanted to help me out and who liked who I was, as much as what I could do in a race. Unfortunately they no longer feel the same way. What is truly sad is that I did not even get a phone call or a personalized email.

So, what now? I train harder, I train longer, I train faster, and I train even smarter. This summer cannot get here fast enough. I cannot wait to let them see what they passed up. After a year living only a block from a pool and spending time training with amazing coaching and ideas from Jim Hallberg, I hope to see great results.

I know that I only live in Colorado a few months out of the year, and they must not believe they were getting enough referral business, but I was under the impression I was part of a family. If my brother moves to Ohio, I will still love him. Every company is different and everyone does what they have to do. I am sad to see them go because I thought so highly of them. I hope to find a new company that is willing to work with me, and I will do all I can for them, as I did for Kompetitve Edge. If this is how they act toward those they do not support, I am excited to find a new family. It is one thing to be rejected but to be dumped is completely different. So, to whatever company who chooses to endorse me, I promise to work hard, race hard, and do all I can to help them.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Time!!!

Thanksgiving was a much needed break from the stresses of coaching and a trip to see friends and family in Colorado was long overdue.

Welcome Home!

Limon Colorado is home to many giant stuffed bears...

Decorating the Christmas Tree at Benjamins house! Good Times

Bailey Family Christmas Card Picture

Bri, Ben, ME, Houli, Elizabeth at the Broadmoor Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration

Broadmoor Hotel

Jelly Fish Christmas Tree

ME, Benjamin, Hooli, Jaron

Me, Bri, Hooli, Elizabeth, Jaron

Thank you to everyone who helped make a fantastic Thanksgiving Break, I cant wait to be back for Christmas. Not pictured but great times (Adam, Andrew, Victoria, Kodi, Whitney)