T is for Track Tuesday!

Anyone who’s lived in the Pacific Northwest for any decent stretch of time grows accustomed to running in different iterations of “wintery mix.” But this past February dealt the Seattle-area and surrounding suburbs a particularly nasty blow of snow accumulation and frigid temperatures. Some runners succumbed to the treadmill.  Others plundered through the snow-plowed streets, while others skipped town altogether in search of warmer temps and surer footing. Despite the occasional dusting and typical PNW drizzle, we appear to be on the cusp of spring. An increase in daylight and mild weather coaxes even the most reticent runner out of their winter hibernation to join the throngs of people who take to the pedestrian paths along Green Lake and the Burke Gilman. Further motivating folks looking to jumpstart their spring running, Spencer Walsh, Club Northwest athlete, coach, and the feature of this article, offers year-round Tuesday evening workouts open to the community, at Seattle’s Roosevelt High School track.

Q: What is your background as a runner and coach?

Spencer thumbs up.jpg

Coach Spencer: I started running in 7th grade at Kellogg Middle School. I ran Cross-Country and Track in 7th and 8th grade at Kellogg MS. In the fall of 1997, I entered my 9th grade year at Shorecrest High School. I ran both XC and Track all four years at Shorecrest HS, earning a varsity letter every sports season. I served as an XC captain my JR and SR years. I also served as a Track and Field captain my SR year. The highlight from my running days at Shorecrest was without a doubt when our Boys XC team won our District my SR year. We qualified for the 4A State XC meet in Pasco, finishing 7th out of 16 teams. Not bad.

I moved on to Western Oregon University in the fall of 2001. I also ran both XC and Track all four years at WOU, beginning fall of 2001 until Spring of 2005. I graduated from WOU in June 2006 with a Bachelor of Science in Education. I majored in Physical Education and minored in Health. I joined Club Northwest in the summer of 2010. I completed seven marathons from 2009 to 2012. My best year of running was 2012 without question. I set my Half Marathon and Marathon PR's within 5 weeks of each other. I ran 1:10:03 at the Mercer Island Half in March 2012. I ran 2:25:02 at the Eugene Marathon in April 2012. Those were the days...

I began coaching in 2012. I volunteer coached with the Club Northwest Youth Track and Field Team in the summer of 2012 and 2013. I coached at The Northwest School from Sept 2012 until Nov 2016. My main role was Assistant Middle School and High School XC Coach. I also served as Co Head Coach for the HS Track and Field team from 2013 to 2014. I served as Assistant HS Track and Field Coach from 2015 to 2016. I mostly coached the Distance runners during Track and Field season. I left The Northwest School in November 2016 after the HS XC season ended. I really enjoyed coaching with Joe Bisignano, Allen Wood, Kevin Jackson, Calvin Shaw, Catherine Bisignano, Lauren Hammerle, Annie Tempest, and Robert Wakeley. Britt Atack is an awesome Athletic Director as well!

I moved on to Seattle University, where I served as a Track and Field Volunteer Assistant Coach from Nov. 2016 to May 2017. My main role was assisting and coaching the Distance runners. The SU distance group were led by Head Coach Trisha Steidl and her husband Uli Steidl. I really enjoyed my time volunteer coaching at Seattle U.

Spencer Group Pic.jpg

I currently serve as a Volunteer Assistant Coach at Bishop Blanchet High School for both HS Cross-Country and Track and Field. I started coaching at Blanchet in fall of 2017. John O' Leary is the Head Boys XC Coach and the Boys Distance Coach for Track and Field, serving as one of the main Assistant Coaches for Track and Field also... I am really enjoying my time coaching at Blanchet. The Blanchet Boys XC team qualified for State in the Fall of 2018, finishing 6th out of 16 teams. The 2019 High School Track and Field Season is underway...

Q: How did Tuesdays get started?

Coach Spencer: We started the Tuesday Night workouts last year in March 2018. CNW had talked about possibly starting another group besides the Wednesday night runners group led by Head Coach Tom Cotner and Assistant Coach Mark Bloudek. A head coach was needed and I stepped up to help get the new CNW group off and running... Literally. Haha. Oh yeah, the CNW Board approved the creation of the CNW Tuesday Night group as well. I am a CNW Board Member and I wanted to help out.

Q: How do you plan and organize the workouts? Please describe a typical night at the track/workout?

Coach Spencer: I coach alongside Ashley Nichols. I want to thank Ashley and give her a big shout out. Ashley has been very helpful. Ashley and I briefly chat about the upcoming workouts and usually decide on the workout  for the next week up to a week in advance. Ashley posts the upcoming workout information either Monday night or Tuesday morning so folks know what the workout will be prior to Tuesday night. I usually arrive at Roosevelt HS Track around 6pm. Folks typically arrive between 6:00 and 6:20 and warm up around the track or surrounding area. At 6:30, Ashley and I round up the group in a circle. We quickly do a group intro with each persons name and a topic related to running, such as favorite post-run food, weather, or an upcoming race, etc. After the brief group circle exercise, the group runs a stride then jogs back on the track before running a warm up 400 followed by an easy lap of jogging. Then we start the workout as advertised. We also explain the workout before the warm-up, usually before the group circle exercise.

Q: Is there a steady group of folks who attend? How did you cultivate this community?

 Coach Spencer: Definitely, usually about 16 to 20 folks regularly attend. A steady group of regular and consistent folks mainly. However, new folks show up nearly every week or so. Ashley, the Tuesday Night group, and I strive to make everyone in the group feel welcome. I think we do a great job of that in my opinion. I believe we have created the Tuesday night community as a result of hard work, consistency, and folks enjoying the overall experience, to name a few.

Spencer XC.jpg

Q:What are your short and long term goals for Tuesday nights?

Coach Spencer: Short-term, I think it would be great to gradually build the group to maybe 24 to 32 folks regularly attending each week. We really want to make the Tuesday night workout experience fun, worthwhile, and challenging for everyone who attends. Long-term, at least keep the group going strong through the end of 2019. As long as people regularly attend CNW Tuesday Night workouts, I am more than happy to keep my Tuesday evenings free for at least the remainder of 2019. Beyond that I am not sure. I am strictly a Volunteer Coach. I coach because I enjoy it and have a passion for it, just like running.

Whether new to running or looking to supplement a current training, runners of all abilities are encouraged to join Coach Spencer at 6:15pm, at Roosevelt High School, for an upcoming Tuesday Night Track Workout. A big thank you to Coach Spencer for his countless hours spent giving back to the running community.

Go, Orange!

Julia Reade