Monday, August 29, 2016

Fall 2016 XC schedule

Now that preseason is over and classes have begun, it's time to set our sights on the 2016 cross country season. Here is our schedule, with as much information as I could cobble together about our meets. We will be splitting the squad on Saturday, October 15, thus the two meets on the same date. Hope to see some of you out there this late summer and fall.

Saturday, September 3: Home meet at Vassar Farm, vs. Iona, Fairfield and LIU Post.
Men’s 6km at 9 a.m.; women’s 5km at 9:45 a.m.

Friday, September 16: Rider Invitational at Rosedale Park, Pennington, NJ.
Women’s 6k at 5 p.m. Men’s 8k at 5:45 p.m.

Saturday, September 24: CCSU Ted Owen Invitational at Stanley Quarter Park, New Britain, CT.
Women’s 5k at 11 a.m.; Men’s 8k (actually 5.2 miles) at 11:45 a.m.

Saturday, October 1: Paul Short Run at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA
Men’s open 8k at 9:30 a.m.
Women’s open 6k at 10:15 a.m.
Men’s gold 8k at 11 a.m.
Women’s gold 6k at 11:45 a.m.
Men’s brown 8k at 12:15 p.m.
Women’s brown 6k at 1 p.m.
(To be determined which races our varsity teams will be racing. Last year, the men raced brown and the women raced gold)

Saturday, October 15: Princeton Invitational, West Windsor Fields
Women’s 6k, 9 a.m.
Men’s 8k, 9:45 a.m.

Saturday, October 15: UAlbany Invitational
Open race (men’s and women’s), 12 noon
Women’s 5k, 12:45 p.m.
Men’s 8k, 1:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 29: MAAC Championships at Disney Wide World of Sports, Lake Buena Vista, FL
Men’s 8k at 8 a.m.
Women’s 6k at 9 a.m.

Friday, November 11: NCAA Northeast Regional, Van Cortlandt Park
Race times TBA

Saturday, November 19: IC4A/ECAC Championships, Van Cortlandt Park
Race times TBA


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Team photos for sale

For parents and friends of the program out there: Carlisle Stockton of Stockton Photo asked me to share this link to the team and individual photos that she took during Picture Day on the first week for anyone interested in purchasing copies. Carlisle does a great job with all Marist athletic teams and I encourage you to support her and her business. OK!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Preseason 2016: Air hockey

It was a match made in heaven. A wife who wanted to unclutter the garage. A maturity challenged men's XC team with an off-campus house in dire need of harmless recreational activities. The plan was hatched. The air hockey table, a monstrosity of a thing that cluttered up our already cluttered garage, would find a new home to more than willing new owners. We inherited this thing from our neighbors, so we negotiated a very fair price for this transaction. Easy enough. Now, how would it be TRANSPORTED. Immediately, I targeted Hickey's ancient (1999) Volvo station wagon. Yes. It's a station wagon. Not an SUV or sport utility wagon or anything like that. It's an old fashioned wagon. And it's old. So if wedging this bad boy into the back of the wagon meant a few dents and dings to moldings, who cares? Luckily, Gregg ("Bryan Buttigieg") was in town to assist with this process. It worked. It was stuffed inside the Volvo, secured by Gregg, and made its way down Route 9G without damaging the car or becoming a very identifiable flying object. Hickey reported that table re-assembly will be put off till Sunday. The guys are tired. They capped off preseason had a long, hard run this morning, followed by lift and core. Tomorrow is a very light recovery day -- a great opportunity to put together the air hockey table that hopefully will provide hours of entertainment to the overgrown children in the off-campus house. Nicely done!

Preseason 2016: Shoes fit


After once again skirting the "fire hazard" territory, my office has not been purged of old sneakers, which we continue to collect throughout the year. For once, I used my brain and brought the sneakers over to the park and ride north of New Paltz, where we park for Wallkill Valley Rail Trail workouts (see photo on the left). Our sneaker recipient, Kim Adams, lives in nearby Rosendale, so we were able to stuff her SUV right there near her house. Kim donates the proceeds of the recycled sneakers to her Down syndrome foundation. Thanks to all for your donations throughout the year. My office is temporarily neat and clean (Cuesta would disagree) but feel free to clutter it up again with old sneakers (note to Marty McGowan, yes those are your boxes there in the trunk!). As far as the rail trail workout went ... well, it was very warm and humid, but the men got their work in.

Preseason 2016: Women's team goofiness

Our women's XC team had a fun, team-oriented workout with each group having a different "theme" as you can see. This was on Friday morning at Vassar Farm, where the sun was blazing. Good stuff.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Preseason 2016: Glorious Gunks


Group shots of some of the men's team from Thursday morning's run at Minnewaska.

Preseason 2016: Welcoming Erica Maker to the family

Check out this link on GoredFoxes.com about our recent addition of Erica Maker to our coaching staff. We are thrilled and grateful to have someone of her caliber and expertise joining the track/XC family. Welcome aboard!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Preseason 2016: Forever Foxes return!

What a pleasant surprise to see Adam Waterbury this afternoon at the McCann Recreation Center. We'll forgive him the Roll Tide T-shirt (hey, we haven't given him Marist Track swag in a while). Adam graduated 12 years ago, after a stellar career on the offensive line for the football team and as a record-setting thrower on the track team. You could make the argument that no one in school history was able to balance both sports as well as Adam did. This was his first time back on campus since 2009, so it was his first time seeing the school record board -- he's still on there, three times, for throwing records. When he greeted me with his customary bear hug -- it felt like my ribs were gonna snap in half! -- it reminded me of when he bear-hugged me at the Armory after the final heave of his shot-put career landed with a school record. I refused to watch him throw it, because he was using the "spin" technique. Being a risk averse sort of guy, I always preferred the "glide" but he wanted to try it in a last-chance meet... and it worked. After the record, he practically lifted me off the ground and punctured my lungs in excitement. As a Forever Fox, Adam made the incredible transition to long distance runner, completing the hilly Adirondack Marathon last year. Amazing!

We walked around campus with his 2.5-year-old daughter, and it made me realize how quickly time goes. Back during one winter season, when he was heaving the 35-pound weight, we traveled to Manhattan's Draddy Gymnasium for the Met Championships weight throw event. He was our only competitor on this day. We went in my old 1996 Honda Civic, with a young, 2.5-year-old boy in the back seat -- my son, Joey. Adam's got the toddler now, and I reminded him of that trip, and of the fact that in a few days that erstwhile toddler Joey turns 17, he is driving, and he will be off to college in a year's time.

Adam wasn't the only alum in our orbit today. Posch and Kenny showed up for the morning men's XC workout at Farm Lane, Kirk and Liza arrived with Adam, and Brianna Freestone stopped in briefly on her drive back to graduate school in Delaware. The loyalty and support from our Forever Foxes continues to buoy our spirits, and hopefully shows are current Foxes that there is a strong connection through the generations.

Preseason 2016: View from the farm

Thanks to my pal Sean McMann for capturing this image from Monday morning's practice at Vassar Farm, from a video on goredfoxes.com.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Preseason 2016: God's AC

The forecast low for tonight is 53 degrees. With a slight breeze and low humidity. Wow. After this seemingly endless flow of Florida-like heat and humidity, the cool northwest breezes today felt great. Like walking outside into natural air conditioning. We rescheduled our practice tomorrow to early morning -- that early alarm will not be welcome, but the cool air will be a nice wake-me-up.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Preseason 2016: Tracking the Olympics

Upon returning from Saturday's birthday dinner, I went to the basement of the student center where the majority of the XC team was gathered around the TV to watch some exciting Olympic races. I was a few minutes late for the scintillating victory by Matt Centrowitz in the men's 1,500, but I was able to see the men's 5,000, women's 800 and both 4x400 relays. This has been a marvelous Olympics for Team USA -- in all sports, but definitely in track. And then, this morning, while I was out in Millbrook with the men's XC team for their long run on the dirt roads, we were tracking the men's marathon splits on my phone and watching a live stream on Saad's phone (not to mention getting numerous text updates from loyal alums), witnessing an excellent and competitive marathon and a strong bronze medal from Galen Rupp. Go USA.

Preseason 2016: Birthday dinner in New Paltz

I was able to sneak away from preseason activities and duties for a few hours to meet up with my oldest brother, his family and my family for a group birthday dinner in New Paltz on Saturday night. He and his family drove up from New Jersey to spend the day in the quaint Ulster County village that we know so well for its world-class running venues on which we train frequently. My older brother is OLD, having just turned 60. August is a big birthday month in our family, with my nephew (my brother's son) celebrating his 27th earlier this month, and with my oldest son Joey turning 17 (17!) later this week, and then bringing up the rear is this old coach, turning 52 on the final day of the month. Afterwards, we took this rather questionable selfie -- my wife was miffed at Joey (!) spoiling the shot with his less-than-thrilled look. OK!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Preseason 2016: Sun's out ...


The men met Coach Suma in the weight room today for their first team lift and orientation/introduction for our newcomers to the weight room. Nice to see them sporting team gear all the way. There are many ways and many venues in our effort to “be better” and the weight room is one of them. 

Preseason 2016: Minnewaska

Friday was our first journey to Minnewaska State Park, west of New Paltz, and the weather was lovely: Low humidity, relatively cool and shady in the awesome carriage trails. Only one minor casualty, a young man who was a bit overzealous and took a nasty spill but still finish his 11-miler. We won’t embarrass our young, up-and-coming star, but he’s a sophomore from Connecticut named Palmer.

Preseason 2016: Easy commute

Well, what do you know? I found one perk of staying in the sweaty dorms: An easy commute. I’ll explain: On Friday mornings, my Dawn Patrol running/jogging buddies and I meet up at Marist for a 6-mile loop that goes up and over College Hill and dips down to the Hudson River before an uphill finish back to the Sheahan Parking lot. The run starts at 5:30 a.m. Instead of having to wake up extra early to catch a ride with Tony or drive myself, I just had to roll out of bed and walk down the stairs to the Sheahan lot. Not bad. And away we went, an unusually large group this morning – Tony (the Czar), Ken (the politician), Davey O, Pastor Pete, de la Hoya (Neil) and the old coach (me). I should have gotten a group shot, as six of us is a large gathering for a humid, early-morning jaunt. Neat.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Preseason 2016: Air supply

Did I mention it's hot in the dorms? Oh yeah. THAT. Well. Leave it to senior captains Spencer Johnson and Stefan Morton to rig up this ingenious contraption in their room. Spencer texted me this photo along with this description: "Stefan and I made an air conditioner for our room and it only cost $8.60. We just got a styrofoam cooler, an PVC elbow pipe and a fan and filled it with ice and it works great." Neat!

As far as actual cross country running, well, we did start that today. The men were at Mills Mansion in Staatsburg for the annual season-opening hill workout (same workout generations of men have done through the years), while the women continued their newer tradition with 1km repeats at Bowdoin Park. It was hot, for sure. But I know of at least two guys who cooled off nicely afterwards.

And with that, we are off and running with XC 2016. OK!

Preseason 2016: Greetings from Champagnat 506

For the first time in as long as I can remember, this old coach is staying in the dormitory with the team. As I type this, two big box fans are blowing in my face. Yeah, it's warm in here, but in talking to the other preseason teams -- football, men's and women's soccer, volleyball, coaches, athletic trainers, other support staff -- who have been in the dorms for more than a week, Champagnat Hall was blazing hot with the humidity and high temperatures, even moreso than it is now. At least the humidity broke briefly yesterday. So, it's back to the future for me. It was 34 years ago in August that I moved into Champagnat Hall for my first preseason as a punky, scared freshman from New Jersey -- all 5 foot 9, 115 pounds of me. Now I'm back in Champagnat -- a little taller, a bit heavier and a lot older. I long for that window unit AC in my bedroom at home, but I should be able to rough it for a few nights -- me, and my two biggest fans.

Preseason 2016: Those that are here (and those that are not)

As another preseason begins, we start anew with returning team members and incoming freshmen. Each team forges its own identity, and this year's team has begun to form that identity. One of the oddities of the beginning of preseason is the void left by those who have graduated and who are not returning for preseason for the first time after four or five years. It is a void for them, and it is a void for us. Each one leaves a part of themselves in the current team, but as we hand out keys and unpack bags, we miss those who came before while eagerly await what comes ahead for us.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

No suSPENCE in this half marathon!


For his last long run of the summer training cycle, before preseason begins tomorrow, team captain Spencer Johnson won his hometown half marathon in Bristol, CT – by almost 10 minutes. As you can see by his email race report and splits, the beginning of the race was fast, but the soupy humidity and the killer hill toward the end of the race turned this into quite a final summer workout before preseason. Nicely done, Spencer!

Here’s his race report and splits:
I did the Bristol Half Marathon yesterday, and I got first place in 1:17:50 out of 189 runners.  Second place got 1:27:31.  It was extremely hot but I had a good time, here are my splits from my Garmin watch so they might not be 100% accurate since it's a watch but it's a good ballpark!  As you can tell by the splits, miles 7-11 were much slower and that's because they were all uphill which was brutal.  I read one article saying this is one of the hardest courses in CT because of this huge hill, so #KillTheHill was a popular hashtag on social media.  
Mile 1: 5:11
Mile 2: 5:22 
Mile 3: 5:45 
Mile 4: 5:44 
Mile 5: 5:35 
Mile 6: 5:42 
Mile 7: 5:55 
Mile 8: 6:22 
Mile 9: 6:38 
Mile 10: 6:59 
Mile 11: 6:16 
Mile 12: 5:44 
Mile 13: 5:30 
.1= 67 (not sure if the .1 is correct)

Magic from Lane 8

It’s kind of a running joke (no pun intended … no, really!) at track meets with me and with Coach Terry Horton, especially at indoor track meets. When it comes time to see what lanes our sprinters are placed in for their races, almost inevitably they get the worst draw – lane 6 or lane 1 indoors, lane 8 or lane 1 outdoors. These are the least preferred lanes. When seeding sections, if these lanes can remain vacant, they are usually arranged as such. Our athletes have run some great races from these not-so-great lane draws, but it would be nice for them to get more preferred lanes more often. But alas, at many of the big meets, it’s literally luck of the draw.

And then there was the Olympic 400-meter final on Sunday night. Lane 8 was occupied by Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa. Not exactly a household name, but still a really strong sprinter – he won gold at the World Championships in 2015. So the fact that he won the gold medal at the Olympics isn’t exactly a miracle on the order of which it is being reported. What IS a miracle is that he not only won but also broke Michael Johnson’s world record … and he did it from LANE 8! He took it out hard, like he had nothing to lose. And he never relinquished the lead. 43.03 seconds. World record. Olympic gold. From lane 8. Truly remarkable.

As a coaching acquaintance posted on Facebook after the race: “Fellow sprint coaches - never complain about lane 8 again.” Amen to that. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Made his Mark

Tino was in town yesterday, which is always a welcome site. Hard to believe that he will not be at preseason this year, for the first time in 5 years. They all grow up eventually, and our boy is preparing for his first job, which starts in a few weeks. But before he left the McCann Center, of course we had to put him to work. Tino helped me open and unpack some of our many gear boxes. The first box on the pile was the updated outdoor school records for the record board. Boom! There HE is, from his epic final race in the IC4A steeplechase. That's right: He made his Mark. In many ways. We will miss him, but we know he will be a frequent visitor to the program. Nicely done!

Olympic viewing

Track and field starts in the Olympics today, which is neat. At our house, we have been getting into all the sports. Swimming, of course, is the marquee event of the first week of the Games. But at our house, table tennis (or TABE as the boys like to call it) rules the viewing. When it's not on the traditional coverage, we are streaming it from Heidi's iPhone onto an old computer monitor on the back porch. No announcers. Just the ping and the pong of one of the best Olympic sports there is.

Heat

Yes. The gratuitous "complain about the weather" post ... Heat advisory has been posted for today, and probably for the next few days. As always, it's not just the heat ... it's the humidity. When the dew point is 70 degrees or higher, the air has a tropical feel. I just emailed the men's XC runners about training in the heat. Doing tempo runs at 3 p.m. ... not a great idea! It is August, the dog days as they say in baseball, so we'll get through it. Fortunately? Next week, when preseason begins, it appears the temperature and the humidity will moderate somewhat.

Monday, August 8, 2016

(Almost) 100 laps of solitude

I’ve said this before: Runners talking about their races are similar to golfers talking about their golf game. The reports are passionate, full of exquisite detail … and usually of greatest interest to the author him/herself. In other words? Yawn. OK! Having posited that wordy disclaimer, please allow me (more than) a few paragraphs to discuss my one and only foray into “racing” (in quotes, yes) each year – the Sweltering Summer Ultra in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Held on a meandering dirt track that measures exactly .3553746428 of a mile at Clapp Park, the 8-hour race falls into the category of “fixed-time ultra,” something that NYC ultramarathon stalwart Phil McCarthy wrote so eloquently about. Fixed-time ultras are a bit different. There are no DNFs, per say. You go as you please, for a fixed time (in this case, from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m.) and then you stop. Whoever covers the most laps/the longest distance is the winner. You can run, walk, eat, sleep, order out some pizza, go shopping, come back, etc.

Odd, I know, but somehow it suits my admittedly quirky personality trait of reveling in boring, repetitive tasks with little or no meaning – not to mention my lack of training. Training? Ha. I remember that, vaguely. I mean. Who would dare enter a marathon (heck, a half marathon … even a 10k!) when the longest you’ve “run” (in quotes, yes) in training was about 7 miles? And that’s, maybe, twice a week. And that’s wallowing in self-pity and wondering where my race bib is when my training partners have the audacity to dip under 9 minutes a mile. Add in a few walk/jogs of about an hour, and add about 25 pounds of girth around the midsection (not proud about this, but it’s a fact), and this is surefire recipe for a marathon or half marathon DNF, or a very embarrassing 10k time. But an 8-hour ultra? All you gotta do is start, keep moving, and stop. On a boring, nondescript dirt track. Neat. Let’s go!

Those who have been around me for a long time know about my streaks. I had a few of them; most of them are retired, and with good reason. I have one remaining streak. Since 1987, I have completed at least one marathon per year (if I had not skipped 1986 while chasing shorter distance PRs, this marathon streak would stretch back to 1983 … but alas, I didn’t do a marathon in 1986). Anyway! This means that this year would make 30 years in a row of completing at least one marathon. That’s a neat, round number. Speaking of round numbers, that’s exactly 74 laps around the aforementioned dirt track in Pittsfield. So when race director and good pal Benn Griffin yelled out “ready, set, go!” a little after 7 a.m. on Saturday, that was the primary goal. Last year, after making it to 74 laps, I half-heartedly did a few more laps before packing it in at a little more than 28 miles; I left a lot of time on the table. This year, along with getting to the marathon, my other goal was to keep moving for the entire 8 hours.

Remember my lack of training and my not-lack of belly blubber? Yeah. That. Well, I tried to forget both, which leads me to my first trick of fixed-time ultras. It’s all about the laps. If you think in terms of miles … well, then, you’re screwed. It’s all about laps. I started playing games. Get to 12 laps. That’s Chase Headley (#12, New York Yankees). Get to 21 laps. That’s Lucas Duda (#21, New York Mets). 26 laps? A marathon in laps! 31 laps? A 50K in laps. Or Ichiro (#31, when he was on the Yankees). Such was my warped mind. Oh. And there was this cone covering up a piece of PVC piping on the track (that I most assuredly would have tripped on, if Benn didn’t tell us about it and then put the cone there). From that cone, to the end of that straightaway … I walked that stretch of the track, every lap. Jog. Walk. Jog. Walk. Gatorade. Jog. Walk. Water. Jog. Walk. Gel packs (eeeew … but they work). Jog. Walk. Gummy energy snacks (also eeew … but they also work). Water. Jog. Walk. On and on and on. No stopping (other than to use the port-o-potty). No sitting. Definitely no sitting.

Wow. This is getting boring just typing it! Sorry … but I will plug on, as I did on Saturday. The key, for me, is reaching a state of homeostasis – where I can balance all of these boring tasks, keep moving and make my legs not turn to stone; sitting turns my legs – I already have the flexibility of a piece of lumber – into immovable, heavy objects. My ultra tricks were working. I was feeling fine on an unbearably humid day, in which it was cloudy, breezy, pouring rain, blazing sunshine, cloudy again, etc. … hey, it’s August. Eight hours is a long time. Laps. Got to 74 in a little more than 5 hours, 20 minutes. Last year, this lap -- reached in an even slower "split" -- was cause for celebration. This year, it was just another lap, and now I was plotting a run at 100 laps. Why? I dunno. Why NOT? 

I kept up with this routine for a little while longer, but somewhere around 85 laps, sun blazing, self-loathing rising quickly, things started unraveling. The homeostasis wasn’t working anymore. Each lap was a struggle. I got to 88 laps (50K) and was totally gassed. I stumbled to 90 laps at around 7 hours and thought, “Man, I gotta sit down.” I sat down. NO! Bad move. Changed shirt, hat, sneakers. Got back up. I really wanted to keep moving for 8 hours. So, I walked a lap. It took about 11 minutes. This was a weaving, drunkard’s walk of a lap. Do the math. That’s painfully slow; like, almost backwards movement slow. I succumbed to the temptation and actually had some soda. And then an orange slice. Another 10-minute lap. Embarrassing. I calculated that at this snail’s pace I would get to 95 laps at the finish. Whatever. Keep moving, keep weaving. Then, in the long-held “it never always gets worse” mantra of ultras, I started to feel better. The idea of jogging was still repulsive, but I actually walked a “brisk” lap in 6 minutes. Felt good. With about 10 minutes left on the clock, I was approaching 97 laps. As absurd as it sounds, it would have taken an all-out sprint to squeeze out 3 more laps in the allotted time. Running was not an option, jogging a humorous and silly thought that I absolutely would not entertain. Two more brisk circuits, and I completed 99 laps. 99! This, of course, met with ridicule among my merciless children, upon arrival home later that afternoon: “Dad! You couldn’t do ONE MORE LAP!?” But really, this is trivial pursuit: 99 laps is 35.1820896372 miles (yes, I’m keeping score at home!); 100 laps is 35.53746428 miles (of course!). WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

I walked away feeling wrecked but satisfied. The last hour of ambling provided a nice “cool down” and the subsequent recovery has been a breeze. I feel as fine as I can feel, given the circumstances. Kept the streak going (oh, sure, some would dispute this way of extending the streak, to which I reply: My streak, my rules, na-na-na-na-na). And I renewed my love affair with these fixed-time ultras. These races have so much camaraderie – you see everybody, so many times – but really, the solitary grind is each of our own personal races. The title of this post is an offshoot of Gabriel García Márquez’s famous novel “Cien años de soledad” (One Hundred Years of Solitude); I had my (almost) 100 laps of solitude, even among friendly faces at the park. Dirt covered sneakers and socks, ugly toenails and a really cool T-shirt are the prized memories of my one (and only) day in the sun each and every year. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Academic honors for Michelle Gaye

Although she was wearing a different uniform this past spring, we continue to be so proud of Marist Running Alum Michelle Gaye for her many successes as a graduate school runner at SMU during the outdoor track season. As she did when she was running for us, Michelle earned national academic honors for her school. Pretty neat! See this link for the details. Nicely done, Michelle!

Preseason = 2 weeks from today!

It’s hard to believe that our team returns for preseason in exactly two weeks. Where did the summer go? Team members are excitedly awaiting their reuniting. And, truth be told, so am I. While I enjoy getting into “summer mode” and I will miss the freedom that entails, it will be nice to get back into the daily practice routine. The team reports on Wednesday, August 17, and our 2016-2017 journey begins. OK!

Farewell to a ‘friend’

An old roommate sent me a Facebook message the other day, informing me of the passing of Dave Schwartz, a Weather Channel personality who died of cancer at age 63. Schwartz is one of the reasons I became an unofficial “weather geek.” Back when the Weather Channel was just getting popular, they did, you know, mostly WEATHER. Now, they have actual programming – a legit morning show, and prime time shows that are marginally related to the weather – so I don’t really watch it that much. But back in the day, when all they did was weather, Dave Schwartz was the MAN. Always with a sunny disposition, he had a knack for calling everyone “friend” when he did the weather. As in …

--And, for our friends in Phoenix, phew! You are gonna have some serious heat!
--Watch for severe thunderstorms in the Northeast. That’s right, friend, if you live in the mid-Hudson Valley, you could even see a tornado!


And on and on. Loved the guy. One of my most cherished gifts from my former co-workers at the Poughkeepsie Journal was a signed promotional photo of Dave Schwartz, in which he wrote a short note to “my friend Pete.” Check out this inspiring video of his frank discussion with his battles with cancer, shortly before his death. Farewell, friend.

The Yankees as underdogs

I know most of my baseball related posts have been about the New York Mets in recent months, but I remain a dedicated and loyal Yankee fan as well. It’s been a generation or more since the Yankees have been in this odd purgatory called “rebuilding.” They are the definition of mediocrity – a .500 team – but rather than having the guise of chasing an elusive playoff spot, they have gone into full “fire sale” mode by trading off their best players in the past week. Again, this is odd, because they are not a BAD team. So they are rebuilding while trying to stay somewhat relevant. An interesting dichotomy that puts them in the rare role of “underdog” despite their still astronomical payroll. After being bored with the idea of watching their rather humdrum lineup of mostly over-the-hill types, now the Yankees are a compelling team, with great hope for the future with young stars. Fascinating. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

National academic honors

Very proud of our program, which was honored nationally for a high team GPA. Men's track had the fifth highest in the COUNTRY among eligible D1 teams. Pretty snazzy. Nicely done to our athletes, who always -- ALWAYS -- keep the "student" first in student-athlete. See this link for details. Neat!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Pre preseason at Minnewaska

Thanks to captain Bianca Luparello for sharing this group selfie from Sunday's run at Minnewaska with her teammates Bryn Gorberg and Kerri Flynn. We'll be back there with the complete team in just a few weeks, as the beginning of preseason is a little more than three weeks from now. Neat!

Team BBQ: A few group shots



Team BBQ: The grillmaster

Organizing a team BBQ on the day we returned from family vacation was a bit challenging. Fortunately, our upperclassmen pitched in to help with the organization. In addition! I enlisted Team Dad Bob Morton (Stefan's father) to man the grill, which he did with much energy and enthusiasm. He was the "Tom Brady" of the grill ... nicely done! He received an assist from Bob Edsall (Brian's dad) midway through the BBQ. Very much appreciated. OK!

Team BBQ: Sprint team photo

Great to see this small but loyal group from our sprint/jump team. Gotta love that view!

Team BBQ: Welcoming back the Prodigal Son

Our annual summer team barbecue was Saturday afternoon down by the Hudson River. As usual, it was very hot – although there was a nice breeze along the river to keep us cooler. As usual, it was great to see everyone. We had one special guest, former Fox Nick Salamone. Nick ran for us for one year before transferring to the University of Vermont, where he has successfully continued his academic and athletic career. There were no hard feelings as Nick moved north, and we have remained in touch, and he remains a part of our Marist Track family, even though the color of his running laundry has changed.

There is always a sense of nostalgia when returning Foxes come back to the river. We felt it during the Walkway race, when the alums returned. There’s something about the Hudson that really touches our Marist students, and when they come back, they appreciate the majesty and beauty of the riverfront. Makes me think of the lyrics to a Grateful Dead song called “Brokedown Palace” … I’m sure Nick will appreciate it:

Goin home, goin home
by the waterside I will rest my bones
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
to rock my soul


We wish Nick the best of luck in his final year at UVM. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Unplugging

I probably do the same post every year around Lake George vacation time – which, this year, was a few weeks later than it has been for us in the past. Where we stayed this year, there was Wifi and cell service available. But “available” was a fuzzy term, as the only places we could find passable service or signal was near the swing set (sometimes) and way out on a dock down by the lake. After a day or two of trying to connect, we adopted a “why bother” mentality and just unplugged. The laptop on which I typing? It stayed dormant in my backpack for seven days. My cell phone, which stated “no service” on the top of its screen, stayed in the cabin for hours at a time. Hey, we all need to unplug for a while, and our Lake George week allows this to happen. The other 51 weeks of the year? We are all definitely plugged in. There were a few moments, when I drove into town with strong cell service, where my phone hopped to life – piled up voicemails and texts and emails came flooding in, reminding me that life drones on each and every day in the fully connected and plugged in world. The cord is back in the outlet. We are plugged in again. Until next summer in Lake George, where hopefully we can unplug again, for at least a few days.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pokemon. Yeah. OK. Now, get outta the street, will ya?

Yesterday, I was driving through campus, around the area of the chapel, when I happened upon a group of people in the road. I thought it was a tour, and I politely stopped. It wasn’t a tour. These people weren’t moving. And then, I saw Mark Valentino, who was in the group. What a TREAT! Tino is here for the week, along with others, to complete some graduate school work. He came up to my car. “Coach!” he said, ever excited as always. “We’re playing Pokemon. Have you heard of it?” Well. Yeah. Sorta. But, why were all you schmoes out on the ROAD?

I would find out further details later, when I loaded the minivan with my son Joey and his FDR cross country teammates for the New Paltz Summer XC Series at Minnewaska. I call this the “punk brigade,’’ because they are all high school juniors and seniors, and they are boys. Great kids, all of them; high achieving students, hard-working runners. Just like the men I coach at Marist. But, they are boys, and as a result, the conversations are usually steer toward, let’s just say, less mature topics. My usual strategy is to put on XM Channel 23, mellow out, and half tune them out. My ears still catch bits and pieces of the boyish banter. Among last night’s topics: Pokemon. Several of the boys are currently obsessed about it. As I was shuttling them home late at night, on a curvy, dark, back road in Hyde Park, I saw three individuals darting dangerously across the road. Pokemon. Really? GET INSIDE ALREADY, PEOPLE!

This morning, on NPR, I heard a full report on the latest Pokemon craze. Basically, it’s like a virtual scavenger hunt, utilizing an App on your smart phone. That’s about all I got for you, in the way of an explanation. If I continue further, I will sound like the uninformed idiot that I am on this topic. Anyway! It’s among the best-selling Apps of late. Everyone’s into it. Purportedly, it’s good! It gets lazy kids off the couch and outside. Sounds all well and good. Until you wander in front of an 18-wheeler in search of … whatever it is you are searching for. I think Joey (front seat in the punk brigade) summed it up best when he said this app was a fad in the same mold at Trivia Crack (remember THAT?). Perhaps he is correct. In the meantime? Please. Have your Pokemon fun, if you must. But stay the heck out of the road, and out of harm’s way. Thank you.

Will/Britt wedding



Alumni weddings are always special affairs, but last Friday in the 1,000 Islands Region of New York was an extra special night. Will Griffin and Brittany Burns become husband and wife, thus uniting several school records and two of the greatest runners in school history – but more importantly, two of the nicest and most wonderful people this program has ever known. It was a marvelous two days, as I roadtripped there and back with Coach Emeritus Phil Kelly, enabling us to catch up on a variety of topics. That alone was worth it. 

As if all that weren’t enough? Officiating the wedding was Marist Running Alum Matt Janczyk (the Rev. Brother Jacob Bertrand Janczyk, actually, who is on target to be ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in the Dominican order within the next year). Matt did a wonderful job; this, of course, is a biased opinion, but it is one that was shared by many wedding attendees who did not know him. He has a great future as a priest, and we are thrilled for Will and Britt, who have a great future as a married couple. Nicely done!

Twitter handle

Sorry, I have been away from the blog for awhile and I saw several comments from my social media post of last week. The program's official Twitter handle is @MaristXCTF. Don't expect much action from there during the summer, but we'll be Tweeting away once the season begins.

Boilermaker results

Solid results from Utica’s famous Boilermaker 15km race (9.3 miles), where the weather was not too hot for a change in this event on Sunday in Central New York.

--Rising sophomore Emily Burns was third of 279 in the 15-19 division in 1:03:43 (6:51 pace). She is clearly recovered from the Junior Nationals trip and well on her way to a great summer and 2016-2017.
--Rising sophomore Dan Hillman was eighth of 331 in the 15-19 division in 54:45 (5:53 pace), with progressively faster 5km splits of 18:26, 18:20, 18:00. Love that!
--Rising senior Taylor Mueller was 54th of 654 in the 20-24 division in 1:13:17 (7:52 pace).
--Adelphi alum (and friend of the program) Nick Filippazzo was fifth American in the race, blitzing the course in 46:41 (5:01 pace).

Nicely done to one and all. OK!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Olympic Trials: Hakim in Jamaica

While the United States Olympic Trials for track and field are taking place in Oregon, the Jamaican trials were just completed, and our program was represented by multiple school record holder Hakim Cunningham. Hakim placed second in the second heat of the trials with a personal-best time of 14.49 seconds for the 110-meter hurdles. In the finals, he placed seventh with a time of 14.56 seconds. Nicely done, Hakim!

Yo! This was a great promotion

When the New York Mets' promotional schedule was released way back in the winter, our youngest son James had circled the date of Sunday, July 3 as one he would like to attend. It was Yoenis Cespedes arm sleeve day -- as you can see! A unique and interesting promotional giveaway, to be sure.

We had to hold off on purchasing tickets because James made the Hyde Park 9-10 All-Star team (he was the starting third baseman), and we weren't sure if and when their All-Star run would end. Well, it ended with a thud last Wednesday night (the final score was football-esque ... at least for the winning team, which was NOT from Hyde Park), and so we were able to get tickets to Sunday's game. We got some really good seats near the leftfield foul pole for a very reasonable price, and James is seen here in his Lucas Duda shirt and his two arm sleeves (he's wearing mine). We picked a great game -- good weather, and a blowout of the Cubs to finish a 4-game sweep.

Let's Go Mets.

Social media

During our recently completed trip out to the Fresno area for USATF Juniors, I became unusually proficient at Twitter. I was Tweeting from my laptop, from my phone, posting photos, posting videos, and otherwise "going HAM" (Marist sports info terminology) out there, to the delight of those sports info guys. Being an older guy, such things don't come easily to me. And as usual, it has led to the soul searching of whether this very blog is a bit outdated in the 140-character world of Twitter and other short-form Social Media platforms. The number of views per post has dwindled of late, especially the CA posts -- most of which were preceded and/or complemented by Tweets. I will continue to post here, but with the knowledge that we need to continue to expand our Social Media skill set in order to spread the word about our fine athletes in this program.

Bicentennial minute

Happy Fourth of July to one and all. Sorry for the lack of posts. It's that time of year. Not much going on about which to post, but I'll try to keep it going through the next 1.5 months, before things start to get busy again with the beginning of preseason XC camp. This weekend, my favorite radio station has been doing sets of 1976 music (Spirit of 76) in honor of the Independence Day holiday. It just dawned on me today that the Bicentennial Year of 1976 was 40 (FORTY!) years ago. Although I was just a kid back then, I remember that summer like it was last year. The buildup to that big July 4, 1976, was huge. I remember watching the "Bicentennial Minute" on TV during the year leading up to the big day. My brothers taped them on little cassette players. How quaint, huh? Fun fact! Some Founding Fathers thought this holiday should have been celebrated on July 2, but it wasn't to be. Besides! The Second of July just doesn't sound right. Anyway! I hope you had a great day and you were able to celebrate what was a beautiful weather day here in the Northeast.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

USATF Juniors: Farewell from Fresno

We are in the Fresno Airport now, getting ready to depart to Phoenix and then a redeye into Newark. It was a long, fun and successful trip. We were able to squeeze in one more fun outing this afternoon before packing up and starting the long journey home. It will be good to get back home, but it was a great trip just the same. Proud to have had four fine athletes out here.

USATF Juniors: Katie Miale 11th in racewalk



Although it was relatively early in the morning, the intense sunlight played a role in this morning’s 10,000-meter racewalk. There’s something different about the sun out here. I know that sounds odd. But it feels like the sun is about 10 feet above your head. There is no protection, and the intensity of the direct sunlight led our other athletes here to scurry to find what little shade they could during the long race. AND THEY WEREN’T RACING. Imagine what it was like, then, for our own Katie Miale, for the 25 searing laps. It was tough. Early in the race, she was in major distress. We thought she might drop out. It seemed imminent. But, as you’ll see in the race splits below, she was able to summon herself to some faster laps, especially after the 5km mark. I tried to enlist the old ultra motto of “it never always gets worse” to keep her encouraged and going around the track. She battled and persevered and got to the finish line. Nowhere near the time that she was looking for, but as was the case with all our athletes this weekend, it was more about the effort and the experience than the time and place.

USATF Junior Championship, Day 3
Sunday, June 25, 2016
Veterans Memorial Stadium
Buchanan High School, Clovis, CA
Women’s 10,000-meter racewalk
11. Katie Miale 1:04:01.82
Official race splits
2:17.191 (2:17.191)     4:32.745 (2:15.554)     6:47.341 (2:14.596)
   9:06.116 (2:18.775)    11:35.197 (2:29.081)    14:10.943 (2:35.746)
  16:46.864 (2:35.921)    19:24.267 (2:37.403)    22:02.175 (2:37.908)
  24:42.997 (2:40.822)    27:18.403 (2:35.406)    29:51.759 (2:33.356)
  32:24.787 (2:33.028)    34:58.175 (2:33.388)    37:32.712 (2:34.537)
  40:11.767 (2:39.055)    42:48.746 (2:36.979)    45:30.304 (2:41.558)
  48:12.250 (2:41.946)    50:54.481 (2:42.231)    53:38.342 (2:43.861)
  56:20.726 (2:42.384)    59:00.430 (2:39.704)  1:01:36.632 (2:36.202)
1:04:01.819 (2:25.187)

USATF Juniors: Emily Burns 12th in 3km steeplechase

The weather was a bit more of a factor on the second night of the meet, as the air temperature stood at about 93 degrees when the gun when off for Emily Burns in the 3,000-meter steeplechase race at 8:45 p.m. Emily started out at the back of the pack and moved her way through, passing several runners despite very choppy form – especially on the water jump. While this was nowhere near her best time, her race effort was above average and she represented the school well in this meet. And, she made history by becoming the first Marist woman to qualify for and compete in this event at this championship. Well done, kid.

USATF Junior Championship, Day 2
Saturday, June 25, 2016
Veterans Memorial Stadium
Buchanan High School, Clovis, CA
Women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase
12 of 17. Emily Burns 11:29.81

83, 2:48 (85), 4:17 (89), 5:49 (92), 7:23 (94), 9:00 (97), 10:38 (98), 11:29.81 (49.81)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

USATF Juniors: Tonight's schedule update

Next up for the Running Red Foxes here in sunny Clovis: Emily Burns in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase. The updated race time is now 8:45 p.m. Pacific (11:45 p.m. in the East). Again, due to heat concerns. The forecast high today is a bit warmer than Friday -- today is supposed to get up to 103 degrees. The real heat wave here arrives next week when the temperature could approach or exceed 110 degrees. For today, though, we'll try to keep everyone hydrated and cool, and hope for conditions similar to last night -- which, all things being what they are, were about as good as we could hope for. OK!

USATF Juniors: Men's 10km results

Yes, it was warm for a 10,000-meter race, but honestly the conditions were not a major factor on a beautiful night. The humidity was low and the sun had set and it was a nice night for distance races. Our guys competed well, finishing 20th and 21st out of a field of 23 runners. I’ll be honest when I say they were not physically prepared in an adequate manner for the rigors of the fast-paced, championship-style race. That’s by design, as it is June and we are in the relatively early stages of cross country base buildup. It’s the constant dilemma of having athletes compete at this meet. But again, our guys knew what they were up against, knew what they were doing out there, and they proudly represented our school. Good for them, and good for us. They walked away satisfied with their effort on this night, and eager to really ramp up their summer training in preparation for the fall 2016 XC season.

USATF Junior Championship, Day 1
Friday, June 24, 2016
Veterans Memorial Stadium
Buchanan High School, Clovis, CA
Men’s 10,000-meter run
20. Matt Baffuto 33:07.05
77, 2:31 (74), 3:45 (74), 5:00 (75)
6:15 (75), 7:30 (75), 8:46 (76), 10:03 (77)
11:20 (77), 12:39 (79), 13:58 (79), 15:17 (79)
16:37 (80), 17:57 (80), 19:19 (82), 20:39 (80)
22:00 (81), 23:22 (82), 24:46 (84), 26:09 (83)
27:34 (85), 28:57 (83), 30:21 (84), 31:43 (82)
33:07.05 (84.05)
1600m splits: 5:00, 5:03, 5:14, 5:22, 5:30, 5:34
21. Riley Hughes 33:30.75
77, 2:31 (74), 3:45 (74), 5:01 (76)
6:17 (76), 7:35 (78), 8:54 (79), 10:14 (80)
11:35 (81), 12:56 (81), 14:17 (81), 15:39 (82)
17:00 (81), 18:22 (82), 19:44 (82), 21:07 (83)
22:30 (83), 23:53 (83), 25:15 (82), 26:39 (84)
28:03 (84), 29:25 (82), 30:46 (81), 32:10 (84)
33:30.75 (80.75)
1600m splits: 5:13, 5:25, 5:28, 5:32, 5:31