Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Yet another video about our team!

Here is the link to yet another video about our program. This one was done by a student (Stephen Bowering) in a Sports Reporting journalism class at Marist. He dubs the video "Track Days." This video is staged like a news story or report, and it focuses on the amount of travel our athletes have to endure due to a lack of facilities. It is extremely well-done and succinct; it gets to the point, and does not try to "crusade" for us to have a facility. Check it out here, I think you will enjoy it.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Fast Feet": A documentary on Justin Harris

This is the third link to a video in the past few days, sorry about that. I share them because I believe them all to be worthwhile. This one is definitely worth 10 minutes of your time. It is an excellent documentary on Marist Running Alum Justin Harris, now assistant track coach across town at Vassar College. This documentary details his training philosophies and what drives him as a coach. He is early in his coaching career, but clearly Jut has had a strong and positive impact on a wide variety of athletes that he has coached, using an analytical and passionate approach to the craft. Very proud of him. Check it out, you'll be glad you did.

Prinz runs strong in Mass.

Marist Running Alum Sean Prinz strides toward the finish line in his MART singlet at Sunday's Somerville (MA) Jingle Bell Run 5K. Prinz placed seventh overall in 17:11 (5:32 pace). Check out the race results here.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Club nationals: Group shot and results

Here is a wonderful (but incomplete) shot of the Marist Running Family at USATF Club Nationals at Lehigh on Saturday. From left: Pat Deedy, Tommy Lipari, Ryan Fitzsimons, Billy Hild, Adam Vess, Conor Shelley, Nick Webster, Matt Walsh, Laura Furlong. Missing: Katie Messina, Will Griffin. Here are the results from today's races.

Men's 10km
79. Adam Vess (Team Run Flagstaff) 30:57.05
158. Conor Shelley (New York AC) 31:51.98
190. Will Griffin (Garden State Track Club) 32:13.86
326. Nick Webster (Albany Running Exchange) 33:43.89
339. Ryan Fitzsimons (Central Park Track Club) 33:53.05
525. Matt Walsh (Sneaker Factory) 38:07.41
572 finishers, 72 scoring teams
Women's 6km
114. Katie Messina (New Balance Boston) 22:05.39
343 finishers, 43 scoring teams

For complete results and a list of the team standings, go to the USATF page here.

Club nationals: Action shots

Thanks to Deedy and Hild for providing me some action shots from today's USATF Club Nationals at Lehigh. Here is a sampling of what they sent: Katie Messina, running well in the 6km for New Balance Boston; Ryan Fitzsimons, tearing it up for Central Park Track Club; Will Griffin, racing hard and strong for Garden State Track Club.

December practices, in video form

Here is another video link for you to check out, this one far shorter and for pure entertainment value. You remember our "Decemberists on the hills" post from earlier in the week? The product of some of those still shots, along with other work at the next afternoon's women's practice, formed the material for this video posted by sophomore Janelle Solviletti for a class project of her own. Her friend and teammate Mark Valentino helped her with some of the footage from the men's practice. It is a fun video!

The Track Question, video project

In the previous post about the Track Question at Marist, I mentioned about how there was an unusual amount of interest on campus in our lack of facilities. If you have a spare 15 or so minutes, check out this video dubbed "Marist College Track Campaign," which was the capping project for a group of students who worked on this for the balance of the semester. We appreciate the effort and concern they put into this project and into this video. We hope the interest garnered by this and other classroom projects -- notably, all done by non-team members! -- will continue past this semester. There are many positive aspects to the video, but it is clearly flawed in the following ways:

1. Only one current Marist track athlete was interviewed. Katie Mac did a good job representing her point of view and highlighting the plight of our team in an honest and accurate manner. But she is just one person. Other voices were sorely needed. I mean, they interviewed our MASCOT before another track athlete. Really?
2. The opinion of some of our loyal alums would have greatly enhanced the effort of this video; they lived and breathed the no-track life for 4-5 years, and we are proud of them all.
3. The "person on the street" interviews, asking general Marist students of their awareness of a lack of a track, seemed contrived at best and unnecessary at worst.
4. A vital member of our track family -- assistant coach Terry Horton -- was dubbed "Terry Gordon" in the video. An honest error, but an error nonetheless. Sounds more like a NASCAR driver than a track coach!

Having said all that ... there were some compelling moments.
1. Their juxtaposition of the before/after at FDR High School in Hyde Park was fantastic and made their point about what a new facility can do very salient.
2. The interview with Dr. Brackett, Marist EVP, was refreshingly honest and informative.
3. Athletic administrators interviewed also expressed their opinions clearly and strongly.
4. The videography was very well done and clearly a lot of work was put into this.

Again, we hope that the thought process continues in all corners of our campus. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Track Question

Do we need a track at Marist? Uh. Duh! Of course we need track facilities at Marist! This question seems to be bandied about more these days on campus, and not just from our team members. There have been class assignments, capping projects and more chatter on the topic around Marist than ever before. Non-team members, working on these assignments, have struck an indignant chord: “How DARE we have a track team and no track for them to train on! What are the administrators thinking? It’s not fair. It’s just not fair!” 

Do we need a track at Marist? For emphasis, as I often do to the mild annoyance of those to whom I send text messages, I will answer this in ALL CAPS so that my stance on this subject is clear: OF COURSE WE NEED TRACK FACILITIES AT MARIST!

Now. Alert readers will note the very Clintonesque nature of this answer (“there is no improper relationship…”) with the use of "track facilities" instead of simply "a track." A track? Certainly! But, what KIND of track? A-ha! We’ll get into that in a moment … But first, back to this question of whether we NEED a track (there I go with the ALL CAPS again …). Do we NEED a track? Don’t worry. I’m not going to repeat my answer in BOLD CAPS this time. However, consider this Fun Fact: There are 11 schools in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), all of whom have cross country and/or track teams. Venture to guess how many of those 11 MAAC schools have on-campus track facilities? The answer may surprise you, and it is three (3!). So! We are in the majority in the MAAC, in terms of track facilities, or lack thereof, at 72.7 percent of the conference.

Now. Imagine you are a Fancy Administrator at Marist. You hear the clamoring for track facilities. You see the need for track facilities. However, the majority of your MAAC brethren seem to be getting by just fine without track facilities, thank you very much. There are national caliber programs and athletes in the MAAC, many of whom manage just fine and dandy without on-campus track facilities. Your very own student-athletes on the Marist cross country and track teams are doing quite well. They are excellent students, and they have achieved greatness in their sport – All-MAAC, All-East, All-Academic, All-District, school records are set regularly. You see where this is going. We have success. Our athletes are doing their jobs, quite well, indeed. And we do it without track facilities. It’s the ultimate Catch-22: Succeeding without track facilities lessens the urgency to address the need created by a lack of track facilities. If it ain’t broke …

OK. Why do I insist on writing “track facilities” instead of simply “track” here? First, again for the record, we would be thrilled with any upgrade to what we currently have, which is essentially nothing. However! Given the choice, we would much prefer – and would get far more usage out of – a new indoor track facility. You remember the post from earlier this week, when we were all uncomfortably numb out at the Vassar track? Add a stiff north breeze off the Hudson River – the likely location of a new outdoor track would be North Field, along the river – and it would be downright brutal. Again! Build us an outdoor track on North Field, and we will strike up the band and have a parade from the McCann Center down there in celebration. WE’LL TAKE IT and we’ll be thrilled with it. But given the choice, an indoor track would get far more bang for its buck in terms of usage, and even hosting of meets, than an outdoor track.

If we got a brand new outdoor track, it would be difficult to host meets on it because we do not have adequate grounds on the Marist campus for the “long throws’’ – javelin, discus, hammer. If we got a brand new indoor track, it would not be difficult to outfit it with all the indoor field facilities to host meets of all kinds (Another Fun Fact: The first-ever girls winter track New York state championships was held in the McCann Center, in the late 1970s; if McCann could host a meet, certainly a new, state-of-the-art building could host one as well). Our team – sprinters and field events in particular – would utilize an indoor facility for the better part of four months, from November through March. In addition, an indoor facility with turf or other synthetic surface on the infield could benefit almost every athletic program at Marist for that same timeframe. An outdoor track would have great benefit to the Marist community as well, don’t get me wrong. But from a strictly track season centric point of view, an indoor facility makes more sense for all of us; we can get through the relatively brief outdoor track season by utilizing off-campus track facilities – getting by with a little help from our friends, as we have done for decades.

So, to all those in the Marist community that are beating the drum loudly on our behalf for a track – THANK YOU! But please. If you happen to read this, keep beating the drum for sure, but consider switching your rhythm to an indoor track facility. We’ll take whatever we get, and we appreciate the support. But if you really think about it, an indoor track makes a lot of sense on a lot of levels. Again, we are thankful for all the chatter; if means folks care about our plight. We’ll see what happens over the coming months and years.

Consistency through the decades

Our good friend and loyal blog/program follower Bob Sweeney of Colorado had a strong marathon run on Sunday at the California International Marathon (CIM). Bob ran a slight negative-split effort of 2:42:21 – his first 13.1 miles in 1:21:14 and his second 13.1 miles in 1:21:07 – pretty impressive.

Here are some more incredible numbers, for those keeping score at home:

--This was Bob’s third 2:42 marathon, and they are spread out over three decades. He ran 2:42 at the Dutchess County Classic in 1998 and 2:42 at the 2003 Yonkers Marathon. That’s consistency over a long stretch of time.
--This was his fastest marathon in seven years, since a 2:38 clocking at Yonkers. Not bad for a 47-year-old.
--He placed 3rd out of 551 in the 45-49 division.
--He placed 9th out of 2,030 in the masters division.
--Given his even-paced race, it’s not surprising his mile splits were consistently fast. Save for a portopotty stop during Mile 15 that led to a 6:39 mile, the rest of his mile splits varied between 5:55 and 6:18. That’s certainly a nice neighborhood to be residing in when racing for 26.2 miles.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Marist Gear for sale

A few alumni, friends and even current team members asked me if we were going to be doing a "Team Store" this year. I said "probably not" because in the past, the team store needed a minimum amount of purchases and I wasn't certain we would reach that threshold. Well! That problem is solved now, because there is a new Marist Gear team store called, cleverly, On that page, you can CUSTOMIZE most items with your favorite team logo -- track and field and cross country included! So go ahead and start shopping. Order by the end of the week to guarantee delivery by the holidays (geez, I sound like a commercial, huh?). Also! Right now, there is a $15 off deal for any purchases over $75 (use coupon code SAVE15). Unlike the previous "Team Store," it is my understanding the never has an expiration date on it. Happy shopping and Merry Fitness.

Decemberists on the hills

If you live anywhere in the Northeast, you know what a truly miserable day today was. Here in the mid-Hudson Valley, we awoke to a sheet of ice. If you live in this area and tried to venture outside before, say, 9 a.m., it's a safe bet you either fell on your ass or came pretty close to doing so. Once the warmer air filtered in, it simply became a downpour.
However, for our 11 a.m. men's distance practice, there was still ice lurking on the fringes of the roads and most certainly on the sidewalks. So, I made the command decision that anyone who wanted to venture outside to run would be staying on campus so we could keep an eye on them. A few smart men opted for the treadmill. But! Most men are like their coach, and they despise the Dread Mill, so they layered up for a soaking wet run. Being a Tuesday, it was a workout day, so we ventured to North Field for some miserable Hoop Lot Hills. Tino tagged along to take some photos for a friend's class project.
The result are these goofy "GoPro" shots -- above, the men charging up the final hill with Stefan holding the GoPro. (Alert readers will note Posch in the photo; Bill was not playing hooky from work. Because of the ice, it was a snow day in the Hyde Park Schools).To the left, a Tino/Coach Pete GoPro Selfie, and Tino inexplicably standing out in the rain for yet another GoPro Selfie.

In December, as winter forces itself upon us after what was a lovely fall, we must adapt to the conditions as safely as possible.

Cuesta's blog

Those of us in the Marist Track world who are around Cuesta know that the dude is rarely lacking for words. Apparently, this goes for the Internet as well, where Cuesta has a sports opinion blog. You can link to it here. I'm all for this sort of stuff, but our assistant coach is way too Jets' centric. I mean ... who CARES? They are beyond irrelevant right now. Understand that I am not a Jets' hater. It's just difficult to garner any passion for the Green and White right now. However! Cuesta did have a pretty good post last year about the toughest events in track. Check it out. And if you are a Jets' fan, you might enjoy the rest of the blog too!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Forever Foxes set for Lehigh reunion

When they were members of the Marist XC teams, they ran at Lehigh's Paul Short Run (correction: Walsh noted that during the years he ran XC we did not attend PS). Now that they are post-collegiate runners, they will return to Lehigh's famous cross country course on Saturday for the USATF Cross Country Club Nationals. We are proud of our Marist Running Alums who will be wearing various singlets on Saturday down in Pennsylvania:

Ryan Fitzsimons: Central Park Track Club
Will Griffin: Garden State Track Club
Katie Messina: New Balance Boston
Conor Shelley: New York AC
Adam Vess: Team Flagstaff Elite
Matt Walsh: Sneaker Factory
Nick Webster: Albany Running Exchange

Perhaps there are others, which would be great, and please notify me of any such omissions. Good luck to our Forever Foxes at Club Nationals. 

Uncomfortably numb

Welcome to our sprint team practice at the Vassar Track today. Layers required. The air temperature was 24. There was no sun. There was little wind. It was just COLD. Not a great day for sprinting (above). Not a great day for standing out in the cold (left). There was no lollygagging today. Warmup. Drills. Workout (there is no pain/you are receding ...). Cool down. Ahem. Cool down? There was plenty of COOL and not much down. On this day, the "cool down" was a hasty retreat to the relative warmth of the vans. Cue up the Pink Floyd, but let's alter the lyrics. "I .... have become ... (un)comfortably numb."

Light the night

Members of the team pose in front of the newly lit tree in front of the chapel after Mass on Sunday night, in the annual tree-lighting ceremony. There's no more beautiful sight than that tree being lit up during the long evenings of December.

Updated Van Cortlandt Park all-time list

As one final addendum to what was a great XC season, here is the updated Van Cortlandt Park All-Time list for men. The cutoff time is 26:30. Last year (2013), we did not have anyone go sub-26:30, but fortunately this year we did. It also should be noted that the "newer version" of the Vanny course is a bit more challenging as the distance interval between the Back Hills and the Cowpath/Cemetery Hill part of the course is much shorter than the original course. Another longtime coach surmises the difference in difficulty may be as much as 20 seconds. Those things are difficult to quantify, but it is definitely more difficult. Anyway! Here is the updated all-time list:

Van Cortlandt Park sub-26:30 list, all-time (through 2014)

Name                                Time                Month/Year
  1. Girma Segni                        25:01.4                  09/2008
  2. Will Griffin                           25:03.4                  10/2011
  3. Matt Flint                            25:04.0                  10/2011
  4. Mike Melfi                          25:11                     10/1998
  5. David Raucci                       25:13                     11/2008
  6. Arquimedes DelaCruz    25:17                     11/2011
  7. Jerry Scholder                   25:25                     11/1976
  8. Conor Shelley                    25:33.8                  09/2008
  9. Kirk Dornton                      25:38.1                  11/2002
  10. Ken Walshak                      25:47.8                  11/2010
  11. Tim Keegan                        25:49                     11/2008
  12. Don Reardon                     25:51                     10/1987
  13. Mike Nehr                          25:52.2                  11/2001
  14. Pete Pazik                           25:54                     09/1984
  15. Ben Hefferon                    25:58.6                  11/1998
  16. Jason Grady                       26:02.8                  09/2000
  17. Matt Cole                            26:02.9                  10/1978
  18. Jamal Padgett                    26:03.5                  11/2001
  19. Greg Salamone                 26:03.9                  10/1999
  20. Mike Rolek                         26:04.0                  09/2007
  21. Ron Gadziala                      26:05.2                  10/1978
  22. David Swift                         26:07                     09/1994
  23. Ryan Colabella                   26:08.2                  11/2012
  24. Justin Harris                        26:10.9                  11/2006
  25. Johnny Lee                         26:12.4                  11/2014
  26. Geoff Decker                     26:12.5                  10/2003
  27. Curtis Jensen                     26:12.6                  11/2009
  28. Bob Coufal                          26:14                     11/1977
  29. Adam Vess                         26:14.2                  10/2009
  30. Fred Kolthay                      26:15                     11/1976
  31. Glen Middleton                 26:15                     10/1984
  32. Steve Hicks                         26:18                     10/2004
  33. John Keenan                      26:18.4                  10/2006
  34. Pat Driscoll                         26:18.6                  11/2001
  35. Tom Lipari                           26:19.1                  10/2011
  36. Marty Feeney                    26:23                     10/1992
  37. Brian Townsend                26:27.5                  10/2011
  38. Tom Williams                     26:27.8                  11/2006
  39. Spencer Johnson              26:28.4                  11/2014
  40. Pat Rynkowski                   26:28.7                  11/2014