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December 08, 2009

J.R. Roberts

Written by Dena Evans
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Originally from Spokane, Washington, JR Roberts crossed the Cascades to attend the University of Washington after graduation from University High. With a focus on zoology and chemistry while at UW, he initially worked in a vet clinic, and credits his science background with allowing him to communicate effectively with clients in his current position at a medical device company that provides treatment ports for cancer patients. JR has been married for five years and has two older sisters. He also has a pug, whom he describes as more of a “400 meter specialist.”

JR is preparing for his next challenge after earning a personal best of 2:45:09 at the 2009 ING New York City Marathon. didn’t run for nearly 10 years.

FNF: How did you start running?

JR: Everybody in Spokane does Bloomsday [ ]. Even people who can hardly walk. In third grade, I told my dad that I wanted to run it, and he dragged me around the course. I didn’t really run until high school, but Bloomsday was the thing that first got me started. After high school, I didn’t run for about 10 years. When I turned 27, I started running again and moved to Houston, where I learned I don’t acclimate well to humidity or flatness. Have been here [San Francisco Bay Area] since not long after that.

FNF: Who is your running role model?

JR: I would say my dad, who is an ex-smoker. He is 67 years old and still gets marathons done – four a year. He did his first marathon with me and I don’t know if he beat me or not, but we were pretty close [Honolulu Marathon at age 15 in 1992]. Running was what got him to quit smoking. He also had a pretty bad equipment accident a few years back, and now running marathons and traveling is his motivator.

FNF: What has been your most memorable running / racing experience?

JR: The most memorable racing experiences were probably all my races throughout high school, and when I did some of the local road races with my friend Kyle. We are evenly paced, but I’m stronger on the hills, and he does better on the flats. One year we did the Over the Dam race, which is a race over the Grand Cooley Dam in eastern Washington. First, you run the flats down low, then up the hill for a mile to the top of the dam, then flat across the dam before the last mile, which is back downhill again. We were running in second and third place, and working to our strengths, pulled even with the leader on the top of the dam, powered by him, then ran like we stole something down the last mile. It was amazing – working together, knowing our strengths - where I could pull him up the hill and he could take over on the flats. Sometimes during races now I still can put myself mentally back to that spot where I can still relive it, and, boom, I’m ready to go.

FNF: What have you enjoyed about working with Focus-N-Fly?

JR: Working with FNF has been the attention to detail, whether it be an injury, or when I travel and I don’t necessarily feel like running after a long day or 8 hours on my feet. Tom will see I am responding to something, and he’ll note that. I appreciate the feedback on what is going well and what hasn’t. Tom is an optimistic person, so because every day can’t be great, he is always there to say, hey, we’ll get through it, we can get you where you need to be. The coaching staff is very approachable.

FNF: What is one part of your racing routine you can’t do without (sleep, pre race meal, tie shoes certain way, other ritual)?

JR: I only tie my shoes once. Never retie them. Bad luck. I crinkle my number up into a small ball and then unfold it before I pin it on. I hate flat, straight numbers

FNF: What is your favorite place to go for a run?

JR: The park at Crissy Field [just south of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco]. You run across the bridge, take the pedestrian underpass, then the Alta trail. You can see the city, the ocean, and there are nothing but trails in front of you. You’re so close to a metropolitan area, but you don’t see a soul and feel like you’re miles away from everybody.

FNF: In the next year, what goals do you hope to accomplish?

LS: I’m actually focusing a bit on cycling with the intention of doing the Ironman Coeur D’Alene in Idaho this June. I will also do some other cycling events, and may do the Marine Corps marathon next fall.

Last modified on October 10, 2010
Dena Evans

Dena Evans

Dena Evans joined runcoach in July, 2008 and has a wide range of experience working with athletes of all stripes- from youth to veteran division competitors, novice to international caliber athletes.

From 1999-2005, she served on the Stanford Track & Field/ Cross Country staff. Dena earned NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 2003 as Stanford won the NCAA Division I Championship. She was named Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003-04, and West Regional Coach of the Year in 2004.

From 2006-08, she worked with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, helping to expand the after school fitness programs for elementary school aged girls to Mountain View, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City. She has also served both the Stanford Center on Ethics and the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession as a program coordinator.

Dena graduated from Stanford in 1996.

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