June 22, 2015

Brooks PR Invitational

As you might know, I’ve been sponsored by Brooks Running for 6 years. I started in the Brooks ID program as a Bluestreak member, members that are chosen for their running performances. Not that I was a total speedster, but I did win many local races and placed in larger ones. One or two years later, Brooks did away with that area of the program, and I moved into the Inspiring Coaches category. It shifted the focus from my performance to my job. Brooks began providing my team with a swag kit each year, as well as continuing gear pack for me and a stipend to spend on ourselves through the website.

In 2011, I attended my first ID Coaches Clinic weekend. It was an amazing weekend in a fancy resort just outside of Seattle. Aside from the generous gear pack, it was a chance for me to bond and communicate with other coaches, especially female coaches. (There are no other female head coaches in my county, and very few even in our entire section.)
2013, I attended my second ID weekend. Once again, I was able to connect with other coaches and gain ideas for my team.

This year, I had pretty much decided that I wouldn’t make the trip out. Flights were very expensive, and as you’ve previously read, I’m attempting to simplify and declutter the chaos in my life. Then I received an email asking me to chaperone the Brooks PR Invitational Track Meet. The trip would be all expense paid, with agreement that I would help chaperone the teens that would be competing in the meet. Hubby was supportive, agreed it sounded like a great experience; so I said yes.
Leaving my Squishy was HARD! I missed her so much. Aside from that, the weekend was beyond description of cool. It was a bit different in the past, where I spend a lot of the weekend goofing off with other coaches. We were actually WORKING this time. We arrived Wednesday afternoon and after a quick orientation, Brooks treated us to a Mariner’s Game. I’m not a huge baseball fan, but I got some good pics for hubby, who played a year of college ball after HS. And I had a fun time socializing with the other chaperones.
 After hitting the nearby bike trail for an 8 miler that morning with one of the Brooks gurus, we worked most of the day helping check in athletes and coaches. Thursday night, after meeting our groups (I was in charge of Girls 400M) we took them to the 1-year old Brooks HQ. Whether or not you wear Brooks, this is most likely the coolest running store you would ever visit. Not only is it a store, but it’s where the design team does their work. We got to tour offices, see some sneak peeks of new shoes and clothes, and see some memorabilia from famous running events, like Scott Jurek’s WS trophy. The HQ has an excellent balcony where the athletes and chaperones ate dinner, followed by some great picture opportunities with the beautiful Seattle skyline.

Friday morning, I met another ID Coach for 8 miles on the same bike path, followed by 3 miles with the Girls 2 Mile group. Then the other chaperones and I took groups back and forth from the breakfast hall and the track where some of the athletes wanted to do some running and drills. Friday afternoon, we took the athletes on the famous Duck Tour. I love this! We had so much fun touring Seattle on a bus/boat! After that, the athletes had free time, but I helped one of the gurus heat press names on the back of the athletes’ uniforms for the next day. In the process I met most of the Brooks Beasts team, and got to watch Flo Track, Mile Split, and ESPN interview some of the top athletes. Friday night was the Inspiring Coaches Award Dinner. This was a semi-formal event, with delicious food and a beautiful venue. The top 13 finalists were presented, and we got to hear their stories. Most of the presentations brought tears to my eyes. These are coaches that have faced much adversity in their careers, yet somehow they have managed to thrive and inspire. I know it inspired me to be the best coach and teacher that I can! In addition to the presentation of the finalists and eventually the winner, The winners of this program were announced. AND MY SCHOOL GOT CHOSEN!!!!!!!!! I hope to come back to this in another post or two, but our school receiving this grant is truly an answered prayer. We have struggled so much financially over the past few years. And for anyone that works with children of poverty, you know all the stigma and self-esteem issues they face. And while it’s “just shoes and gear” and “just money” to some looking on, to our team it’s vitality. I assume that most of you reading this are runners, but can you imagine NEVER have a new pair of running shoes? When it was time to lace up, you put on shoes that were previously worn and you didn’t even pick out? The shoes are your size, but may not feel the best on your feet? CAN YOU IMAGINE THAT? And then there’s me over here studying for my CDL in attempt to save money by driving the team bus myself. I will be eternally grateful for Brooks and all that it’s done for me and my athletes. Friday night was an early night for the athletes; so some of the coaches and I went to a neighboring establishment for some socializing. It’s kind of funny when coaches or teachers get together. We attempt to take a “break” from the daily grind, but end up talking about running, coaching, or our athletes. LOL! I love it, though. It’s a time when I can pick coaches’ brains about what I can do better for my team!
Saturday morning, we were up early for a 10 miler around Green Lake. 
Then we gathered the troops and headed to the track. It’s a good thing that track coaches are running and track nerds, because we all completely geeked out at the intensity, talent, and caliber of racing that we got to witness, which was basically the top runners in the country, all competing in one meet. And we didn’t just get to witness it, we were IN it. On the infield, helping athletes, total track access. It was crazy. I saw the world record in HS Girls 100M broken, and other athletes run times that were in the top 10 in national record. That night after a recovery period, we took the athletes to the Huskey Stadium. They enjoyed dinner and a band, while the chaperones ate upstairs in an area of peace and quiet. The athletes and chaperones also got to play on the turf field while a highlight video from the meet played on the huge screen. We got back pretty late from that, and most of us had early flights. So, I checked on the athletes and went to bed. This morning I ran Green Lake again (7 miles) and now am headed home!

The biggest gain I take from this weekend, aside from complete humbleness and gratitude to Brooks, is that these events always open my eyes to what “could be” for me and my team. Part of being a successful coach is aiming high, never settling, shooting for the stars. Every coach I meet and athlete I’m involved with teaches me something, gives me things to think about, or ideas on how to improve my program. I intend for my next post to be about some of my short and long term goals, but right now I need to let the awesomeness of this weekend absorb into my brain.
Thank you. Brooks Sports, for being more than a running company. I am forever grateful!

Run Happy, friends!


  1. So cool. Thanks for sharing. I love Brooks.

  2. Great opportunity, and so happy your team gets a grant. Wow, that will be a game-changer for some of these kids.

  3. Wow, what a cool experience! I have heard neat things about Brooks HQ and what they are doing for your team is HUGE!

    The notion that somebody cares-in this case a huge running corporation-is a game changer...but it all starts with their coach :)

  4. There is so much talent here, but almost no will... with programs like that and money behind it maybe we to could build a culture of racing instead of just finishing...

  5. That is so cool! Congrats to you and your school for being chosen.

    I like Brooks too. I just wished they did a better job with their Run Happy Ambassador Program for bloggers. Yes, I am sort of jealous. ;-)

  6. This is a wonderful post. Everything about it warms my heart-- from the fact that you were able to have this experience in the first place, to everything you took from it. Your kids are SO lucky to have such a dedicated coach that truly cares. It's no wonder Brooks keeps coming back to you because you are passionate and warm-hearted and giving to the community.