Sunday, April 26, 2009

Marathons & Penn Relays

This was a huge week for running. Two major events and a couple of personally major events.

The big news around town this past week was the success of all the local runners in the Boston Marathon pictured to the right. Moorestown Running Company's own Ralph Harris led the contingent with an awesome 2:59. His first Boston, his first sub-3, his first time in the medical tent where they had trouble finding his pulse, and his first time with blue lips!

The Penn Relays come to Philadelphia this time every year and, like Boston, reminds everyone what a great sport this is. Thursday is Distance Night - much lower key than the exciting Friday and Saturday races, but for real distance runners it is the ultimate. This year was made special by a number of things:
  • My roommate from college, Lee Edmonds, came down to see his son, Josh run in the 5,000 meter race. I had not seen Ed for several years - so it was worth it just for that. His son Josh runs exactly like him - the same shuffle, same out slow and finish tough. One of his other sons, Caleb, also joined him. There is definitely something about DNA. Josh ran a solid 14:33 - his goal is to his 14:12 this season to make Regionals. He should be able to since he was running on dead legs (a 10K the week before and hard workout on Monday).
  • Danielle Tauro, the multiple NJ State Meet Champion now running at Michigan pulled an impressive finishing kick out to win the 3,000 Meter race.
  • Jon Anderson, the former Cinnaminson runner now at West Point ran a fantastic race in the Championship 5,000 meter race. He sat comfortably in the top 7 until the packs started breaking up in the final few laps. It looked like a couple of runners had pulled away and he would fight for third or fourth. His last lap was one of the best I have seen - coming back on the leaders and barely edging them with total guts at the end. He ran a 13:58. There is a rumor going around he needs to run 13:50 to make an elite Army team that will allow him to race instead of going to Iraq. Talk about pressure...
And the week ended with my daughter Allison running her first marathon in Marseille, France. She just called and let me know about it. She felt great the first 13 miles running what she felt was slow (8:15 pace, 1:48 at the half). Then the marathon caught up to her in the second half of the race. She finished in a very nice time of 3:51, but she said she really felt like quitting a number of times. It was a cool and rainy and windy day, so the 1 kilometer back to the hotel was a tough one with her IT killing her, where she swore she would never do this again.

By the time she had taken a shower, she was thinking about her next one - after her Wash U running career is over... She wants to join a group like those pictured above and continue to have fun. And isn't that what running is all about...

MHS Weekly Update

This Past Week
We finally got on the track in a real meet this past Tuesday at Burlington Township. Our strategy was to try to train through this meet and run it with somewhat tired legs. The idea is to learn to run fast when you are tired, and then when you feel fresher, you can still run to the same level of discomfort - but run faster!

Ryan Wolff was the star again in one of the best races I have seen at Moorestown. Wolff and Friedman took the pace the first 3 laps in the 1600, and then with 200 meters to go Eric Morris, the BT star 400 and 800 meter speedster, took the lead. Morris is much faster, but Wolff refused to give up. As they strained neck and neck down the final straighway I thought about the countless miles that Wolff has put in over the past four years - the many 60 mile weeks and long runs. I thought I could see Morris tying up just a bit, and Wolff continuing to press forward in strong, meaningful strides. I could not tell who had won when they crossed the finish line, but the officialss called it for Wolff. It was great to see the guys congratulate each other - both had set PR's, both had pushed each other to a new level. It was great!

There were a number of outstanding performances. PR's were set by Weintraub, Horten, Balch, Inglis, Nece, Samocki, Ems, Bennett, Josephson, Jenai, Sheehan, Shah, and Spiergal. Several in that list really impressed. Weintraub has rounded into Cross Country form and beyond now. He just looks very strong. Horten continues to impress with a natural stride and competitive fire. I was happy to see Jenai and Spiergal come back and volunteer to run the 800 after setting PR's in the 1600. They are both new to the Freshman crew we had last XC season, and plan to run this fall - so the Class fo 2012 just got deeper and better!

On Saturday we did our Poker Interval workout. The guys pick cards to see what length of interval they are going to run - everything form 200 to 1200 meters were in the deck. The idea of this workout is to be able to change pace and react in a race setting and the handle the unexpected. It was a great workout that finished with the 1200 - the toughest one to get thru. It was good to see Joel Robinson start to reemerge after his Hawaian vacation.

This Coming Week
We are at Northern Burlington on Wednesday this week for a dual meet. We will have an easier day on Tuesday, so faster times are expected.

On Thursday, Wolff and Friedman will head down to the South Jersey Open 3200. This has a qualifying time of 10:15 to enter, so it will be a very competitive field. The race goes off around 10PM and is always fun to watch under the lights.

One Saturday, we will have the South Jersey Relays at Buena in the afternoon. Freshman races are at 1PM and others will be from 2-6PM to allow students to take the SAT and still run. Bus and race assignments will be announced this week at practice.

The BCSL Championship is only two weeks away, Counties is 3 week away and Sectionals is 4 weeks away. The Pennsauken Freshman Meet and the Haddonfield Distance Night are just over 3 weeks away, and typically the highlight for our JV runners. So it is getting to be that time of the season to get really focused and figuring out how to get as many PR's as possible!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

MHS Track Weekly Update

This Past (2) Weeks
We held the Annual Moorestown Invitational in a Monsoon last Saturday. Thank you to all of the parents who volunteered and got soggy. As you know this is our only Spring Track fundraising event – and it was very successful with a record number of teams entered.

Wolff and Matteson had solid 5,000 meter runs with 16:43 and 16:47 respectively. Ben Friedman was sick that day but ran thru it in a tough 17:00, and was in bed a half hour later. Fortunately he is feeling better now… The 4 X 800 team was led again by Stalle with a solid 2:10. He runs like a freight train – with a huge engine. His ITB is feeling better now and we are trying to adjust his running schedule better to fit in with his competitive soccer schedule. He has the potential to run even faster by the end of the season and should be fun to watch.

Weintraub won the second heat of the 1500 with a 4:33 (translates to about a 4:52 1600) with a solid performance. Horten ran the same heat to a nice 4th place finish in 4:37 (a 4:56 1600 converted).

On Friday of this week we took the Novice and Freshman runners to the Bishop Eustace meet. It was a perfect day on a nice track and everyone responded with great performances. Leading the pack was Horten with a very quick 4:48 for second place in the Novice 1600. This gives him a VDOT rating of 62 – good enough to be in this past season’s Varsity 7 in XC. Very impressive. Also running a PR as a Novice was Fowler – putting up a 5:41 a couple of days after coming alive in a very grueling 12 X 400 workout on Wednesday.

The Freshmen continue to make giant strides. Nece and Inglis are still battling each other up top – they ran 5:01 and 5:02 respectively. This moves their VDOT’s up by 2 points from the cross country season – a great improvement considering it is still early in the season. The most pleasant surprise among the freshmen was Lentz. He has worked harder than any of the others over the winter and it has paid off. He ran a 5:04 – a real jump in performance level from XC. Sheehan is also starting to get healthy again and putting in some really strong workouts. His 5:35 will likely continue to improve. Quien also had a race that shows a lot of improvement since XC season with a 6:04.

This Coming Week
After an ill-fated attempt to begin the regular season at Willingboro, we hopefully will race on Tuesday against Burlington Township at their track. We invite all parents and guys who are not running this season to come out and watch. The meet starts at 4PM.

We are not entered in this weekend’s big track meet – the Penn Relays. However, it is something worth going to see. Distance Night is Thursday – always fun to sit by the water jump pit for the Steeplechase. Saturday is typically huge – with some of the Nation’s fastest runners competing in a stadium full of track nuts. Sit in the Jamaican Section to really learn how to cheer at a track meet!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

MHS Track Weekly Update

April 5, 2009
This Past Week

Welcome to Spring Track. The real season has begun as it usually does with the Hall of Fame Relays. Previous years have brought rain or cold, and this year brought the winds of up to 50 mph! Gusts blew Evan Nece into Lane 2, and nearly blew Anthony Horten off the track and onto the infield. Full meet results here. Our results are here.

It was a day of learning - how to get your cards, how to pass a baton, how to warm up for a race, and how long of a day these track meets can be. My estimates turned out to be way too conservative. I've written the actual start times down for next year!

If learning was the theme yesterday, then Ryan Wolff showed he was ready for graduation with honors. He ran a very smart third leg in a Moorestown best of the day 4:45. His opening lap of 67 let him catch the leaders of the race and then sat behind them to collect his reserves and save himself from the wind. His final strong, confident lap of 65 let him hand off to Ringwood dead even with Cherokee's Applegate. Ringwood showed his maturity by almost taking a step backwards to let Applegate take the wind. The Cherokee coach then instructed Applegate to slow the pace and force Ringwood to take the lead. By the 800 meter mark they were practically walking, but Ringwood did the right thing and just hung out behind him. I told Ringwood to go ahead and take the pace - it is the first meet of the season and I would rather see them get a decent run in. Applegate ended up drafting off of Ringwood and passed him in the final 100 meters.

We demonstrated a lot of depth, with 5 runners under 5:00 for the mile and over a dozen sub-2:30 800's. The DMR teams did nice jobs. Weintraub ran a solid 4:58 on his anchor leg to secure third place medals. Our JV B team was 3rd out of 10 teams, highlighted by a strong 2:16 (66-70) by Anthony Horten and a solid 3:40 by Chris Balch. The Freshman DMR squad got 5th place in the same race with Lentz, Jenai, Nece and Inglis all having a good learning experience. I am quite sure they will all run quite a bit faster by the end of the season.

Our Varsity 4 X 800 placed second to Northern Burlington in a very nice race for newcomers Jacob Miller and John Stalle. Both have been held back by injuries and really have not had a chance to put in a decent week of practice yet, but laid down impressive first time 800 times of 2:16 (63-73) and 2:12 (62-70). Hopefully they keep feeling good and make progress in their training and racing - they should be fun to watch.

Overall the distance squad earned 16 medals for four teams - 4 X 1600 Varsity, 4 X 800 Varsity, Distance Medley Varsity and Distance Medley JV. As Ringwood would say, "Nice."

Many of the runners had the experience yesterday of, as my Coach used to say, "A gorilla climbing on your back". Will McDonnell was a great example of this. He led off the JV 4X800 and took a commanding lead by the 500 meter point in the race, and looked just awesome. In the next 100 meters it was like watching an entirely different runner - one that in addition to his own weight was carrying a gorilla on his back. I applaud Will for having the courage to go out and test what he could actually do.

There are two things to learn from this. First, is to learn your pace over the next month as we increase our race-paced practices. Second, is to learn how to carry that gorilla calmly and confidently. That same gorilla was on Ryan Wolff's back as he came down the final straightway to hand off to Ringwood. He was fighting him off to make sure he put his teammate in as good of a position as possible. Something to keep in mind when you are in the final 200 meters of a race. And even if a championship is not on the line - it is your chance to move to your own personal next level.

This Coming Week

We will continue our Monday Long Run this week. We need to continue building our strength and foundation. I'm really happy with the increased mileage we are getting in.

Wednesday - Willingboro dual meet at their track. We will need all of the distance points we can get in this meet, as Willingboro has a very strong sprint and jump team. We will also be using this meet to determine who will run in the Moorestown Invitational (a Varsity only event). There are three spots in the 5K, 3 spots in the 1500 and 4 spots in the 4 X 800 meter relay. The meet starts at 3:45.

Saturday - Moorestown Invitational. While we only have 10 spots for runners, all runners are expected to come and volunteer that day to help out. We will have sign-ups for two shifts - either 8-10:30 or 10:30-closing.