Tuesday, November 28, 2006
A Firm, But Gentle Hand
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Paying The Price
Yesterday, I went with my son to the Footlocker Northeast race. This race was something of a "How good are they really?" race. State champs come and go, but if you win a Footlocker race, you're the real deal. Yesterday, the NJ boys champ managed a victory. The girls champ had looked good going into the back wooods. When I saw her again, she looked like she was struggling just to hold it together. This morning when I read press reports, I saw that she'd collapsed, gotten up and still finished tenth. Whatever happened, I'd thought she'd have won the race more reliably than the boys champ. I saw her after the race and she looked fine, though perhaps shaken by the experience. Regardless, she survived, and did so well enough to make the national race in two weeks.
I had to run from near the start to the bridge at the 1.5 mile mark, then back towards the finish several times yesterday. I'm pretty sure that the running, easy, though with a pack on my back, done with my son, who seemed to like the experience, helped my legs to recover.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Meantime, Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Monday, November 20, 2006
That's How You Win Championships
This SUV was painted for the meet.
Here, Craig Forys powers toward the finish, you'll note that his dominating performance meant nobody was in sight.
Danielle Tauro leads Ashley Higginson to the finish line.
Jim Schlentz, who coaches the top boy and #2 girl in the state, and the #1 girls cross-country team was overheard in discussion with someone tied to Jackson Memorial HS talking about a kid. The guy from Jackson said that Chris had been tripped, got up and finished sixth in the race. Without skipping a beat, Schlentz' reaction was, "That's how you win championships." Jackson had just won the state's team championship.
It's this kind of lesson that every runner should learn, and by my thinking, there's no better way to learn it than from the history of our sport. While this incident points out the lesson, a kid at NJ's state meet bears little merit to most people, but the same lesson was taught by Lasse Viren in the 10,000 meters in the Munich Olympics in 1972. Viren was tripped, went down and made chase. He finished with an Olympic Gold, one of two that year, and he became a true legend of the sport by repeating this 5000 and 10,000 meter double in Montreal four years later. The "double double" marked him as THE dominant distance runner of the era. Without getting up, he wouldn't have achieved the legendary status he attained.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
On the girls, side, the meet was expected to be a foregone conclusion, with Southern Regional's Danielle Tauro winning another big meet. She may be the most dominant runner to come out of NJ in fifteen years or so. The boys side was a bit more of a wild card, with a sophomore, Doug Smith, from Gill Saint Bernard's expected to challenge last year's winner, Craig Forys of Colts Neck.
The course at Holmdel is tough to see at multiple points, you can watch the runners at the start and the finish, or you can go up the hill and see them twice (at least the leaders), then scramble down the hill and catch the finish. It doesn't make for easy spectating, and thus far, nobody has done the work to bring video to the course. The result is that until the runners come out of the woods, most spectators have no idea what they'll see.
Past times predicted that we'd see a 15:30ish finish, and that Jason DiJoseph's 1988 record, 15:16, would be safe for another year or several. We were watching the finish, and checking the clock, and around 14:40, the judge's flag started waving. One head crested the final hill, rising briskly. Many heads cranked around, wondering if their understanding of timing was right. We all knew that yesterday was special, the singlet rising over the hill was green, Colts Neck's color, Forys was going after the record. Down the final straight he came, absolutely flying. Very quickly, the talk was of the record. Forys got the record, but due to regulations, it goes into the book as a 15:16. (If scuttlebutt was right, Forys ran a 15:15.5, and DiJoseph's mark was 15:16.2, and Forys is credited with the record, even if it shows the same time.)
As expected, Tauro won the girls race, though not crushing the field. She ran slightly ahead of Colts Neck's Ashley Higginson. Tauro was just running her third race of the season. She'd raced through the summer, finishing with the World Juniors in Beijing, China.
Interestingly enough, both of yesterday's winners are heading to the University of Michigan. The other big news of yesterday's meet was that Jackson won the team boys title, unseating Christian Brothers Academy, who'd won it for several years, the school with the longest dual-meet winning streak in history. (This result doesn't affect that streak.)
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Leaf Blowers - Arghhh!
Monday, November 13, 2006
Tied And Sick
After practice, my son collapsed on the couch. He'd been griping about not feeling too well. It turned out he has a sore throat and had a fever through yesterday. He seems to be doing well now, though he's out of school today.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Ending The Great War
Once the "War to End All Wars" ceased to be that, the World War became World War I, and Armisitice Day became Veterans' Day. So, to any veterans who read this, thank you. To the families and spouses of anyone serving or who served, thank you for the sacrifices you've made. And to the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, whether in the current or earlier wars, thank you.
One final note, I heard a radio report yesterday about the 14 remaining veterans from the First World War. Many of those remaining had lied about their age in order to enlist.
Friday, November 10, 2006
The Rutgers Ruckus
Monday, November 06, 2006
A Few Images From My Day Working At NY City Marathon
As I crossed the park, I passed these tents being used for volunteers to sign in.
I shot a photo of this temporary pedestrian bridge by 72nd St. It would prove to be important in my day.
I also shot a picture of the finish line at about 8:30 AM.
This was the group which got sent over to Queens. Here were are in the subway, en route.
We were sent to Queens in order to help with the wheelchairs, getting them to follow the correct routing onto the 59th St. Bridge.
There were more runners with prosthetics than I recall in the past. I think this is at least in part the result of the Iraq War.
The race used SmartCars, a European built micro car that gets 40+ mpg, as lead vehicles. I always smile when I see them.
It also gave us an excellent view of the women's leaders. Here are Prokopcuka and Hladka.
This is the women's chase pack. It contains, amongst others, American Deena Kastor, and Kenyans Catherine "the Great" Ndereba, and Lornah Kiplagat.
Shortly behind them came Katie MacGregor and Amy Rudolph.
The men's leaders were still a pretty massive pack, though a move was about to be made on the bridge.
When we ceased to be useful, we returned to Central Park and were reassigned to the temporary pedestrian bridge at 72nd St. They were having trouble controlling traffic there.
I spent a fair amount of the afternoon watching the parade of finishers pass by, en route to the chip clippers and baggage trucks.
Oh, and Dianna, look what I got, an orange hat!
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Looking Forward to NYC Marathon
I've gathered tear-offs from bibs in the pre-chip days. I've recorded leaders numbers in Brooklyn. I had the pleasure of sitting at the finish line with Arthur Lydiard in 2004 (after doing early duty). I appeared in Runner's World Magazine, in the background of a finish line photo. I've clipped chips from shoes several times. I had runners vomit just inches away. One year after an overnight storm, I chased down some brooms and got some other volunteers together and we swept the wet leaves off the roadway in the chutes (where the street sweepers hadn't been able to go). I once had to drag a porta-john out of the way of an ambulance. I normally know what I'll be doing several weeks ahead. This year, I'm assigned to a jump team, and I have no idea what I'll be called on to do. The jump teams can probably be best described as "bodies to throw at problems as they arise."
I do know that whatever I'm asked to do, it will be necessary. It probably won't have the glamour of giving blankets or medals to finishers (jobs which I've never had). I'll do it, and I'll be glad to do it. Why? Because it needs to be done and because someone, somewhere, did something sometime to make a race I was running better and I must repay that effort.