Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nike Cross Regionals Recap 2009

I am sitting here typing away at an outdoor pool in Phoenix. It is about 8:30 at night. I have a fresh cup of coffee and the temperature is about 70 degrees. Chloe is asleep upstairs with Beth after a very busy day, but I am sitting out here staring at a beautiful crescent moon. And people ask me why I don't take the kids to Wisconsin during Thanksgiving Week???

Today was our big race. The Nike Cross Regional Championship. Tempe, Arizona. We came here last year, had some great success, so we have been planning on coming back ever since. Wow, I am very glad we did.

Our first glimpse of the course on Friday night was an eye-opener. The entire park was under construction! With all the fences and holes and construction material lying around, it looked like a war zone, like Sarajevo in the 1990's. Most of the course was marked, but not all, so we did not have a very good idea of where we would be running the next morning. Another thing there were a lot of were negative coaches and parents. Complaining about this, bitching about that, they were everywhere. It was all we could do to keep our kids away from all that. Pretty to similar to track in a lot of ways, actually. Eventually, we figured out 95% of the course, it was totally different from last year, but we went back to the hotel confident we knew what we were up against.

The next morning, an early wake-up call. We got to the course with no problems, figured out that our predictions of six big power hills interspersed with long stretches of concrete were correct, and set about the task of warming up for the race. To say there was a big crowd was an understatement. They split the boys open race into two divisions, due to numbers, and the girls races were overwhelmingly large fields. Luckily, with the new set-up of the course, the wider start was able to accommodate all of the athletes. There was kind of a running celebrity scene, with Dyestat on site, Bernard Lagat and Bret Schoolmeester roaming around the course, and Ryan Whitenack offering his thoughts on Taoist philosophy to all of the crazy parents in the crowd.

We did not have a full team, so our two runners were in the earlier open races. Even though this was not the championship section, the girls winner ran a 19:30? and the boys winner was clocked by my watch at sub 16:10. Very competitive times, very fast racers, and all this showed the course was in fact more difficult than in the two years prior. In 2008 and 2007, the top times were much faster than this year. (It must be those six hills, one right after another, they reminded me of a Tour de France stage!) The new course did not worry me in the least, however, as I felt if our racers followed the plan of not stressing the first 3/4 mile, racing the two laps with all the hills in them like that was the only race, then holding on and gutting out the final 3/4 mile home, we would do very, very well. We had practiced running steep hills, with Coach Neale, and we had developed the power to be able to attack them with Coach Whitenack. The last 3/4 mile, when you are dead and you need to race from the heart, Coach Dianne had fine-tuned all fall long. All our racers had to do was follow the plan, and success would follow.

Well, as I am sure you have heard, we had some amazing success today. Katelyn Wojan smashed her 5 km PR, with a 19:55, good for a fifth place finish in that open race! She ran a 20:12 on the faster course last year, and to come up with a sub 20 minute race this year is really impressive. I know for a fact Katelyn trained very hard, as her goal was go under 20 in this race, and she did it. She should be very proud of herself, she has turned herself into an excellent 5 km runner. Tyler also had the makings of an amazing race. He got out fast and had a great first mile split. However, he was running with a broken rib sustained a week before. During the race, he took an elbow right to the swollen bruised spot, and unfortunately could not finish. He did go back, after the championship races were completed, and finish the course. In his his mind he had completed it, which was the right thing to do. His training was excellent over the fall, and even though we could not celebrate it today, I know we will be celebrating it big time this spring.

I am very proud of the two athletes who ran their hearts out today; very, very, very proud. As I have said before, I wouldn't have cared if they each ran the course in an sixty minutes or in fifteen minutes. These two dedicated themselves to a brutal training program over the fall, they sacrificed more than anyone can imagine, they changed the very core of their lifestyles to become better athletes, and they showed their loyalty and commitment time and time again. I value these qualities in athletes a million times more than speed or strength or power. Thank you Katelyn, thank you Tyler, this has been a wonderful season of coaching for me.

And thank you to Coach Whitenack, who came on the trip, and proved again how important and indispensable he is to this program. Thank you to Coach Neale. His enthusiasm, his perspective, his connection with the athletes is amazing. Thank you to Coach Hawk. He is an architect of how we do things, his support and presence are vastly underrated. Thank you to both Coach Maroneys. Jimmy, you are always there for the kids, even when they don't realize it. The kids know you love them and support them, and that allows them to focus on what is important. And Dianne, it is a testament to your caring and knowledge when you see the athletes using the tools you taught them literally ten seconds before the most hectic moment of the race. They trust you, they believe in you, the depend on you, and so do I.

Last but not least, thank you to Beth. Without you, none of this would be happening. Your support of my passion has been unparalleled, and I could never hope to pay you back. You take care of so many aspects of my coaching career and this running program we have built together, I don't have the cyberspace to list them here. But, I want everyone to know that I love you and I am so grateful for you and for Chloe. Your are both the biggest prize I could ever win. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now what? Well, winter track starts on Nov. 30th. We got a big winter race season in front of us, and then an even bigger spring season. Until then, relax and recover. Heal up, rest up, eat up. Pay attention to you H-N-R. You deserve it. Congratulations.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Race Change

I just got an email from the NXN Race Director. I was not aware the cut-offs for individual athletes to compete in the Championship Race is 19:45 for women, and 16:40 for men. They seem very intent on keeping any individuals out of the Championship Race, as those times would have been easily top ten in the Open Races last year. But, I am not in charge, and we have to race where they place us, which is in the Open Races.

What does this mean? Well, it means one thing to me, we have to go out and DOMINATE the open races. This turn of events could be interpreted as an obstacle, as a negative; but I choose to look at it as a positive, as a favorable opportunity. The course will be the same for everyone. the runners will be just as fast in both races, we will just have less of them in the open races. That means we need to be in the front groups from the gun. We will have less overall race traffic to deal with, we will be running earlier in the morning at a cooler time of day (girls at 8:45 , boys at 9:30), and the course might be faster, as it will be less beat-up and rutted out. This is a blessing in disguise for us, let's take advantage of it.

I firmly believe that we have great athletes, with great training, and when we get two kids from Walnut Hills Track Club on the podium, it will show everyone right where we belong!!!


*Great* Article on HNR

Click on the picture above to find out what you should do on your recovery days.

Plan for the Next 8 Days

Good morning everybody.

One week from now we will be at DIA, getting ready to board a plane to Arizona. (I bet we get an otter plane.) The week prior to this is very important. So, here is the workout plan, take heed.

Friday (11/13): Easy Recovery Run. Pay attention to your H-N-R!
Saturday (11/14): Kenyan Runs @ 7:30 @ Sep's House
Sunday (11/15): Long Aerobic Run (45-60 min). Do not neglect this, we do not want to have to make it up later in the week, make sure to get this run done!
Monday (11/16): Light weights in the early morning. 43's after school @ Sierra. Last hard workout of the fall! Be prepared with race shoes.
Tuesday (11/17): Easy Recovery Run. Make sure to focus on H-N-R! At this stage, recovery is more important than working out.
Wednesday (11/18): Light weights in the early morning. In the afternoon, same as Sunday Long Aerobic Run (45-60 min) on your own.
Thursday (11/19): Tempo Intervals after school @ Sierra. Then pack for Arizona.
Friday (11/20): Fly to AZ in morning, tour race course in afternoon
Saturday (11/21): Race fast. Race really fast.
Sunday (11/22): Fly to CO in morning, relax in afternoon.

Let's make sure to do everything perfectly this week. Eat good food. Stay super hydrated. Get lots of sleep. Stretch at every opportunity. Mentally prepare to race fast. We have been working towards this goal for months, lets have a perfect last week!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Arizona Plan of Attack

NXN SW Regional Championships

Walnut Hills Track Club Itinerary


Pack for two nights, three days.

Do not bring luggage to be checked, carry-on’s and backpacks will suffice!


USATF Card (Can be printed out on if necessary) Picture Identification

W.H.T.C. singlet

Racing Shoes

Water Bottle

Medicine you may need





Friday Early Morning:

Flight leaves at 9:00 AM, need to be at Frontier Check-In Desk at 7:00 AM

Frontier Airlines # 851

Flight lands at 10:50 AM in Phoenix Airport

Friday Late Morning/Early Afternoon:

Lunch at Subway (or something similar)

Friday Afternoon:

Check in at Residence Inn @ Phoenix Airport hang out at pool, unpack

(i.e. stay off your feet as much as possible!)

Friday Late Afternoon:

Course Walk-Through @ 4:00 PM

Packet Pick-Up (Need Valid USATF Card!) @ 6:00 PM

Friday Evening:

Dinner at Buca de Beppo @ 6:30 PM

Lights Out 30 Min. after Arrival at Hotel

Saturday Morning:

Continental breakfast at Hotel as a Team

Drive to Race Course @ 8:30 AM (tentative)


(10:15 Tyler/11:00 Katelyn)

Lunch on way back to hotel after racing and awards

Saturday Afternoon:

Pool time, relax time in hotel room

Saturday Evening:

Dinner and walking around at Mill Avenue District (Depart Hotel @ 5:00 PM)

Castles n’ Coasters ($20) after dinner

Saturday Late Night:

Room Check at 11:00 PM

Sunday Morning:

Continental breakfast at Hotel as a Team

Leave for Airport at 8:30 AM

Flight leaves Phoenix at 10:40 AM

Frontier Airlines # 851

Flight lands in Denver at 12:25 PM

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Random Sunday Thoughts

Just some quick hits for you on a breezy Sunday afternoon.

Great racing yesterday from the WHTC yesterday up in Longmont. Check out the results here.

Let me say, that was a tough race, my legs are killing me today.

WHTC practice this week is pretty standard. Normal weights in the morning, intervals @ SMS on Monday, long run on Wednesday, intervals @ CHS on Thursday, Kenyans @ Sep's on Saturday, easy recovery runs inbetween.

Things look pretty set for Arizona, I am *super* excited for this trip.

HNR is more important than anything else we can do leading up to this race, do not neglect it!

I am already planning the Disney Track Trip in March, that will be awesome!

The Winter Track coaches meeting is coming up, that means Winter Track practice is right around the corner.

I know we are setting up a CHAPTRACK twitter account, to be able to communicate with everyone, you can just "follow" us on it.

Congrats to all XC runners, you preformed well yesterday up in Ft. Collins. Take some time off, get rested up. You deserve it.

Go Pats!


Sunday, November 1, 2009


Yesterday was one of those practices where nothing seemed to be going right. The streets were a slick mess, the park where we normally run on Saturdays was an un-plowed field of crusty snow and ice underneath, and even Otis almost took a digger in the parking lot on some black ice. It was looking like we were not going to get in a quality speed day. I was getting discouraged, and I was racking my brain to try and come up with an alternative, and quickly, before the team showed up at the park. In my mind, we had to get this workout in, it is getting too close to race day to be sacrificing workouts.

So, Otis and I jumped in the truck, and raced down to the other end of the park, and packed the athletes in as well. They seemed to be relieved that we weren't going to run in the park, but wary of what else I had planned for them. (My athletes usually are wary and suspicious when I say I have a "surprise", I wonder why?)

Driving down Arapahoe, we passed a couple of middle school tracks, but they were covered in snow. I was thinking maybe DeKoevend Park would have plowed some trails, but no luck there either. The best thing we could find, in a the short amount of time we had to find it, was a loop around the church at Goodson Rec. Center and the Highline Canal Trail. It was in a parking lot, with cars coming in and out, but it was the safest and best alternative I could come up with.

Instead of doing Kenyan Runs at 600 m, we did them at 400 m, which was the longest loop we could map out. We therefore did more of them, to make up for the shorter loop distance. Also running on part of our loop was a marathon training group, who had tried to head out on the Highline Canal Trail, but found out it was way too icy and too much post-holing to be of any benefit. We also had lots of cars pulling in and out to get to Goodson Rec., and a few corners that were in the shade and still covered with black ice. Was it an ideal training situation, hell no, but it was the best we could go given the weather and the all the other variables, so we had to make it work.

What I am most proud of is how well the athletes did make it work. They were dodging parked and moving cars, taking turns wide and straight to minimize the ice, running with their heads on a swivel to avoid the slower marathon runners, throwing in accelerations when they got slowed down by obstacles; it was a fantastic display of what I dubbed adaptability. Adaptability is being able to take a bad situation and turn it into a positive. Not getting frustrated by the problems we were facing, but being able to get around them and deal with them in an appropriate way. Changing your initial ideas to work with your surroundings. We could have just packed up and not gotten in a great workouts, but the athletes were determined to get some benefit out of the day. They fought through the cars, the ice, the horrible drivers; and they got in a very high quality speed day. That is just amazing, as most people I know would have decided to go Einstein's a couple of hours early.

Hats off to Katelyn, Tyler and Corrina, yesterday was a fantastic workout for all of you, you got some great speed work in when I bet a lot of your competitors were home watching Saturday morning cartoons. Let's hope for some more sunny weather today, to melt all this snow, so we can get back on a normal schedule for this upcoming week.