Never Too Late To Begin

Growing up I played just about every sport that was offered: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Soccer, Track, Indoor Track, Cross Country, Tennis, Triathlon, Rowing, and probably even a few more that I am forgetting. While the sports may have rotated in and out as my passions changed, there was always one constant. This constant would sit in the bleachers or stand along the course through the heat, humidity, cold, snow, rain, wind, and whatever else nature threw her way. She enjoyed and cherished every minute of these events and never missed a single one, despite having three kids and a job as a nurse. She is the forever faithful fan, she is my mom.

The Forever Faithful Fan

My mother and I have had a unique relationship over the years as we tend to challenge each other on ideas and philosophies and oftentimes disagree. I am strong willed and strong minded, quick to form beliefs that I believe define me. She on the other hand takes a more cautious route, evaluating all sides of the issue before jumping to any conclusions. Even after she has come to her own conclusion, she keeps an open mind to other’s opinions and thoughts. While her cautiousness in these situations proves to be a blessing, I believe her use of it in other aspects of her life can hold her back. Over the years, I have called her out on it and it seems there has now been a breakthrough.

My mom recently retired this past November and has come into her own. A new version of her has emerged that I had only seen flashes of before. I call it “the kid”. The kid in my mom comes out when she is in a state of complete happiness and a beautiful smile comes across her face as pictured below. I used to only see it when she went on trips or other rare occurrences, but it now defines who she is. My mother is coming into her own. She now takes every chance that comes her way and fully embraces life. Since retirement, she has been away from home more than she has been at home. She has taken trips to Egypt, NYC, California, Delaware, Indiana, Montana, New Jersey, and many more. She has also sought out new hobbies and passions and there is one in particular that I could not be more excited about.

“The Kid Smile”

I can now proudly say that my mother is runner. I had always pestered her about the idea in the past but she was always worried about looking funny, awkward, weird, or any other number of excuses. Over the past few weeks she has set aside her doubts and has laced up her Newton Lady Isaacs to become a runner. The roles have reversed and I now know the pride that swells in a parent when watching their child do something they love. I am beyond proud of her for having the courage to take up a new sport at the age of 54, having never done it before.  I’m also excited to share a run with her, most likely at our favorite place, North Park. The Park will always be her and my special spot and and I imagine us circling the lake at a nice conversation pace. It appears its time to trade places and for me to be the forever faithful fan now, cheering her on to the beautiful victories running bestows upon us each day. Just remember, it’s never too late to get started.

Mom and Dad Forever Young at Heart

Always in Stride,

Coach Jack, a.k.a JH

Song – Rod Stewart – Forever Young

Quote – “As every runner knows, running is about more than just putting one foot in front of the other; it is about our lifestyle and who we are.” – Joan Benoit Samuelson

Video –


Well-Done Wednesday (8/1/2012)

Happy Wednesday to you all! Here’s this Wednesday’s picks, be sure to read the subtitles on the Kilian Jornet video!

1.Greatness is NOT Just in London, England – Greatness is wherever somebody is trying to find it.


2. Running Inspiration in Tough Times – from Genki Kitty’s Blog

from Genki Kitty’s Blog

3. The Big Question Mark of Your Day– Think you have a good excuse not to run today? Not a chance. – from Running Myles

4. Summits of My Life – Kilian Jornet fascinates me.  from Chris’ Ultra Blog


5. A Life That Leads – “You are living a life that leads, dear runner. And you will serve society well by stepping confidently into this role…” – from

Overheard – An inspiring story of courage from Ronald McDonald House Charities – from Team RMHC

Happy Wednesday All:) Tune back in for next week’s picks and feel free to send me any you may have found to!

Always in Stride,


The Play After the Play

Me at a young age on the pitcher’s mound.

I was born an Iowa child not far from the Field of Dreams. Being an Iowa child, baseball is a way of life and stitched into the fabric of who you are at birth. I played the beautiful game for 14 wonderful years. To this day it is the only sport I have competed in longer than running, though running will be passing it by next year. I learned many of life’s early lessons from baseball, many of which I still carry with me today. Baseball holds my fondest memories of growing up, most of them thanks to the greatest Little League coach one could fathom, Coach Winklevoss.

Had he been my coach all through my baseball years, I have no doubt I would still be playing the game today. He inspired in me a love for the game. He also knew exactly how to handle the young, impressionable minds he was charged with helping raise. He instilled values in us and taught us life lessons that I will forever carry with me. There is one lesson that sticks with me more than any other, I call it the play after the play.

Little Leaguers are very prone to making mistakes and errors as they learn the complex game of baseball. It can be easy for one to quickly get down on himself after an error. However, Coach Winklevoss never once allowed this to happen. After any error, he would always call out his simple phrase “Hey now! Play after the Play!”. The meaning behind this phrase is nothing new or groundbreaking, but the magic was that it was worded in such a way that an 8-year-old was capable of understanding and applying it.

It was the simple adage that what matters is not the situation you are in or how you got there, but how you act afterwards, for that is the only thing you have control over. If we made an error, it didn’t matter, the play that followed mattered far more. With this coaching style, I can’t recall a single time where I ever really got down on myself or lacked confidence thanks to Coach Winklevoss. As it applies to baseball, it applies to both running and life. Should you start a race too fast, slow down, recover, and regroup. Any mistake you make can be dealt with rationally and intelligently. With any negative event in life, how you respond is infinitely more important than whatever you did to get there. Your next chapter always starts at this very instant in time that is “now”, how you choose to write it, is all up to you.

Thank you Coach Winklevoss for being such an amazing coach and giving us some of the greatest childhood memories we could ever imagine.

Always in Stride,

Coach Jack

Song – Smash Mouth – All Star

Quote – “You possess a unique combination of gifts, some already realized and some as yet untapped. Rewriting your life simply means reassessing your strengths and preferences, and putting them to work for you in a new and fulfilling way.” – Maud Purcell

Video – [youtube=””]

Well-Done Wednesday (7/18/2012)

Happy Wednesday to you all! Here are this week’s Well-Done Wednesday Picks! I hope you enjoy them:)

1.Doesn’t Get More Honest Than That – from Real World Jess

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from Real World Jess

2. The Underdogs, Always the Longshot – Good YouTube video with a unique, catchy song.


3. Change is That Simple  – from Life is Beachy Keen


from Life is Beachy Keen

4. Finding Legs and Body: Running the Marathon – “Because that’s why I run: you have to keep going.” – from Meg Heery

5. Consistent Training, The Secret to Success – from teamjohnnyusa

Happy Wednesday All:) Tune back in for next week’s picks and feel free to send me any you may have found to!

Always in Stride,

Coach Jack

Infectious Enthusiasm

Every once in a while we are so lucky as to have someone come into our life who sparks our enthusiasm for our passion. They foster and grow the flame into a burning desire. This is the story of one of the men who inspired the passion of running in me. To this day, I can still remember his near perfect stride lapping the track as his blonde hair flew back as he hit the backstretch of our high school track. As our track team would descend the stadium steps down to the surface of the track for afternoon practice, we would see him completing his own workout before practice. We could immediately see the pure joy on his face. As soon as he stepped onto that track, the man lit up. Simply circling that track brought to his face the most genuine of smiles, he was in his element. His name was Coach Gar.

Home of the Seneca Valley Raider Track & Field Team (

Coach Gar was coming off of his Master’s from Slippery Rock University and had returned to his high school Alma Mater, Seneca Valley Senior High School to be an assistant track coach. One does not become an assistant track coach for a lavish salary or great benefits, they take the position because they have an absolute passion for the sport and love every little thing about it. When I first met him, I was a slacker and had the “goal” of running as a social activity and hoped to get a “pity letter” for my letterman’s jacket. Goofing off in the woods during long runs was far more appealing to me than logging quality miles. These were not exactly ambitious goals to say the least, however, this changed drastically upon meeting Coach Gar my Sophomore year of High School.

Coach Gar was unique because he was capable of producing something that very few people in this world can, infectious enthusiasm. Many are capable of becoming passionate about a sport, but to have the ability to inspire others takes a special person.  Everything Coach Gar did was with unbridled enthusiasm. He is one of those people that truly lives life. From an outsider’s point of view he may at times seem a bit over the top, but this is the way life should be lived and one of the many reasons his athletes loved him so much. He would sprint all over the track for us during both meets and practices, encouraging us every step of the way, screaming at the top of his lungs. His favorite phrase was “LETS GOOOOOOO!”, one he would often yell after sprinting ahead of us during workouts he would run with us. You couldn’t help but get a big smile on your face when you saw him. Through his infectious enthusiasm he molded the happiest runners and hardest workers.

Nothing makes Coach Gar happier than to see his athletes succeed.

I urge you to seek out that which inspires infectious enthusiasm in you whether it be running, cycling, gymnastics, calculus, or any other myriad of activities. There is nothing in your life that will make you happier than following that passion and enthusiasm. Once you find it, seek out the sages, those like Coach Gar, who will serve to foster and grow that enthusiasm in you. Do not waste your time on those who deter you and those who do not understand your pursuit. As a coach now myself, I can only hope to inspire in my athletes what Coach Gar inspired in me. Thank you Coach Gar for spreading your infectious enthusiasm to our team and for helping me to realize the greatest gift I have been given in my life, running. You have helped to shape my path and life more than you will ever know.

Coach Gar in all his smiling glory.

Always in Stride,

Coach Jack

Song – Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

Quote – “Enthusiasm is the electricity of life. How do you get it? You act enthusiastic until you make it a habit.” – Gordon Parks

Video – The Finish Line – The Jim Tracy Story

Well-Done Wednesday (7/11/2012)

Happy Wednesday to you all! Hope your week is off to a great start and your runs are enjoyable:) Here’s this Wednesday’s picks:

1.Stop Lying to Yourself and Rid of the Excuses – “Happiness is an inside job.  I had to fix my insides before I could accept the position, and to do that, I had to discard the excuses.” – from Fit Recovery.

2. “The Difference, Go World” – Nothing better than some Morgan Freeman narrated motivation.


3. Thinking of Skipping Your Run? Not So Fast… – Try these tips to get your butt out the door. – from Canadian Living

4. Log Off. Shut Down. Go Run. – from



5. 101 Reasons to Run a Marathon – from

Happy Wednesday All:) Tune back in for next week’s picks and feel free to send me any you may have found to!

Always in Stride,


Well-Done Wednesday (7/4/2012)

HAPPY WEDNESDAY AND HAPPY 4th of JULY to the American readers! Hope you all are having a wonderful week and Holiday:) Here are this week’s picks for Well-Done Wednesday!

1.Inspiration Monday – Nice little collection of motivational pictures to get you moving – from tahira’s.

2. This Race Looks Awesome – “A weekend away with friends, camping out in the middle of nowhere, and summiting the highest peak in the Northern Cape. Sounds like fun right?” – from Girl With a Teacup.

3. Why Your Fears Are Ridiculous – Great post on overcoming your fears surrounding running – from Runners-in-law.

4. Love This Quote – This quote is awesome. I fully believe you should always make time for your run no matter what. – from Confessions of a Happy Mom.


5. Always Be Running – from I Will Not Waste My 20’s!

Happy Wednesday All:) Tune back in for next week’s picks and feel free to send me any you may have found to!

Always in Stride,


The Man Maker

This is going to be the first post in a 4-part series on several of the various types of coaches that come into our lives and the lessons they are charged with teaching us.

He walked into the packed classroom on the third floor of the Willard building on a crisp Autumn night. He donned a well-worn Detroit Tigers hat, a gristly beard, and a weathered crew jacket. It was easy to tell that this man had done this dance before and had seen it all. There was an aura about the man that captured the attention of all the athletes in the room in an instant. He was rugged, blunt, and to the point. He was everything an early twenty-something needed in a coach in order to become a man. I call him The Man Maker.

The Man Maker

The Man Maker is not there to give you the warm fuzzies and coddle you when things are bleak. The Man Maker is there to do just that, create men. When a boy is sent off to college he must find himself over the next 4 years in order to become a real man. He must learn to be self-sufficient, resilient, and thick-skinned. He must pave his own way and come to realize that if he wants anything in life he is going to have to go out and earn it just like everyone else. Coach Pete was my crew coach in my final semester at Penn State and taught me how to do all of this and more.

Coach Pete didn’t put up with anybody’s crap. It was very black and white with him. The workouts were what they were and you did them without any questions asked. The sport of crew is a precise endeavor which requires complete trust in the coach and in your teammates. There is nothing easy about any part of it once you get into that boat. You will feel tortuous pain throughout every workout and must learn to deal with it on your own. Coach Pete was not going to sit there and ask if you were feeling okay or anything along those lines. He was there to make sure you learned the sport and learned how to handle the pain. His instructions were simple: “sit-up more”, “stop looking at your oar”, “dig deep”, “explode with the legs”.

My favorite part about The Man Maker was that you had to earn his respect and even more so, earn a compliment from him. He doled out compliments very rarely, but when he did they carried an immense magnitude. These compliments would catch you by surprise and leave you on a high for the next couple days. They also served to further motivate you to your best so you could earn yet another compliment should you be so lucky. He also had a sledge hammer that was awarded every 2 weeks or so to the athlete who had worked the hardest. To win the sledge hammer was an immense honor and at that point you knew you had earned the Man’s respect.

I will be forever grateful to Coach Pete, The Man Maker and the rest of the team as well. Those six months did more to shape me into the man I am today than did all of the previous four years of college combined. I came to crew weak, shattered, and a shell of the man I could be. I left self-sufficient, resilient, and most importantly having learned what true hard work was. There is no way I could have ever attempted to make it through Ironman training had it not been for the daily 4am wakeup calls, 2-a-day workouts on the regular, and a phenomenal coach to teach me so much about both life and rowing. Thank you Coach Pete for being The Man Maker.

One of my most prized possessions.

Always in Stride,


Song – Plunkett- The River

Quote – “Reflect on your experiences and accomplishments. Remember the dedication, the pain, the jubilation, the camaraderie — your family. Remember the feel of the oar in your hand, the swing, the perfect catch, the pull, the drive and the run of the boat beneath you. But most importantly, never forget that the glory is not in you or any individual. Instead, remember that the glory is always in the team.” – Joe Blasko

Video – Best Sports Speech Ever from Any Given Sunday


Well-Done Wednesday (6/27/2012)

HAPPY WEDNESDAY! Hope you all are having a wonderful week! Here are this week’s Well-Done Wednesdays picks!

1.Running Tips: Creating Your Own Beginner’s Luck – from The Modern Me.

2. Lolo Jones Going in for the Kill – from Run Inspired.


3. The Voice in Your Head is a Liar – from haute + healthy.

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from haute + healthy

4. What Do You Run For?


5. Newbie Chrnoicles Musings – “It won’t be easy, particularly when you first start running, but it will be worth it.  You will feel better as a result of the actual running and to think, you could inspire someone else just by getting your bum out the door!” from TooTallFritz

That’s it for this Wednesday! Please feel free to share with the great stuff you’ve found or created and I just might feature it next week! Send me an email or leave a comment:)

Always in Stride,



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