Thursday, November 26, 2009

Shots From Nationals

(Here we go)

(Corey, on this way to becoming an All-American)

(The most mentally tough runner, Galen, Shoeless)

(Awaiting the Results)

(The Seniors and Eric)

SSU Bears. . . 2009 NAIA National Championships

I said I would give a race recap of Nationals. So, here it is........

Saturday morning was just like any other race day. I think everyone had adjusted to the time change fairly well and were getting a full nights rest. Still it was weird to think that it was 10 AM in Ohio while we were waking up at 7 AM. Our race started at 10:30, so we were up early to get a little grub and have time to relax before it was time to get ready. I had my usual toasted bagel with drizzled honey and waited till 9:30 to warm up. Since our hotel was less than 4 minutes from the course, we warmed up from the hotel and someone drove our clothe and spikes to the start line.

The course was a mess. It had rained the night before and a lot of people had been tramping around the course the previous 4 days. This type of condition always plays to our advantage since we are a bunch of "blue collar" runners who aren't afraid to get nasty. To give a little detail on the course, it is very viewer friendly, and in my opinion not very runner friendly. It was a 4 loop of 2k's each, crossing a road 8 times total, with a lot of 90 degree turns. That coupled with mud was going to bring slow times. Plus, the course was very narrow and funneled into a 10 foot path within the first 800 meters. At that 800 meters, there was a 100 degree turn, this made the race a literal fight from the start.

So, that is how the race started. There were a lot of people that fell and many pushing, grabbing, and tripping. I was out pretty fast but was not ready to get pounded around the turn. I got pushed out to the far side and even was brushing against the ropes. I was passed by most of the field and my entire team. To add on that, my legs did not feel good but I was battling physically and mentally to stay in the race.

I had no idea how my teammates were doing and no idea where anybody was in the field. I actually thought I was our 5th man, but by the time I finished, I learned I was our 7th man! "Great" I thought, we did not do as bad as I thought! I learned that Corey ran incredible and finished 24th! All-American! Next that came in was Galen Dills. Galen was the only person that I remember ahead of me at the beginning. Around the same turn I got shoved around, he lost one of his spikes. He decided to keep going and ran the last 4.5 without a shoe. He came in 49th, with a mangled foot, with gashes and a bruised heel. A gutsy performance under the most pressure. Our 3rd man was sophomore Shane Meyer! He also ran incredible! He finished 61st and had the best race of his short career. Josh Linkous and Tyler Hickey came in 4th and 5th, finishing 69th and 82nd respectively. Tyler picked up the slack where I normally would be, and helped our team finish with a strong top 5. Chuck Wentz and I were 131st and 156th. I never got rolling........

So, Shawnee State put out some nice performances Saturday and we anxiously waited on the team results. This was another big complaint everyone had. The results never came while we were at the course. We didn't hear the official results until they announced the top ten nearly 3 hours later at the awards ceremony. As they started naming off the top ten, we listened in silence for Shawnee State to be called. The top 4 teams would be called on the stage for pictures and awards. A big sigh and jubilant celebration happened when we heard "7th, Aquinas, 6th, Simon Fraser, 5th Embry-Riddle....." And the celebration started. We heard next, "In fourth place with 229 points, Shawnee State University!" Even though I did not have a good race and finished farther back than I could of even imagined, all emotion turned into excitement and pure joy. We all ran to the stage, hugging and laughing as we posed for our pictures. This ranks up there with some memorable moments in my life.

(Our 4th place plaque!)

My........ OUR Shawnee State Bears are 4th in the NAIA!


Malone won their third straight team title, Cornerstone was second, and Southern Oregon finished 3rd. Total for the entire year, we were only beat by 5 teams, Ohio State, Malone, Aquinas, Southern Oregon, and Cornerstone! What an incredible year. I am truly happy that I have teammates. I had a very bad race, but Galen, Shane, and Hickey all stepped it up to more than make up for the difference.

We are the Shawnee State Bears, Running Free!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Beginnings of Washington

Remember November

That phrase has been hanging on my wall and repeated in my head since May 6th, over half a year ago. November finally got here; Saturday was Nationals! And wow, was it a great day! Not only was Saturday a great day, the entire 5 day trip to the Vancouver/Portland area was awesome.

Wednesday morning we flew out of Cincinnati at 12:15 and headed to Salt Lake City, Utah for our connecting flight to Portland. This was the farthest I had been west and I was excited to see some mountains. They were cool to see from the sky, it was different seeing snow on the ground. We boarded the plane to Portland and had a short trip there. As we were flying in, we could see a big mountain poking way above the clouds. I am guessing that was Mt. Rainier, it is the highest point in Washington. We landed safely and ahead of schedule and we were now breathing fresh Oregon air (the air really didn't feel any different but it was fun giving Wysocki a hard time about not being with us). This night we did not do much. We drove to our hotel in Vancouver, Comfort Inn, ran 8 miles, and ate at a local place called Burgerville USA. I had a Cranberry Turkey sandwich with Jalapeno salsa on it (amazing place!). The rest of the night we just chilled and got some sleep.

(Thats not a cloud, it is Mt. Rainier)

Thursday was our free day, we all decided we should go to Eugene to check out Hayward field. It was a 2 hour ride down to Eugene but it was worth it. We were able to walk around the track and step in the same prints as some hollowed names in running history. We also ran the course on Thursday. The course is set up as 4 loops, 2k for each one. The footing was a little wet and I knew the course would be sloppy by the time the race came, which is good for us Bears!

(Hayward field and the legendary stands)

On Friday, we just chilled in Vancouver for the morning. After running a little, we all went to an Italian restaurant. It was very good. Later that night we drove to Nike Headquarters to hear Alberto Salazar speak. There was also a pasta dinner. Nike Headquarters is an amazing place, there were so many pieces of memorabilia, plaques, displays, and so forth of famous athletes. Each building was named after an athlete, such as the Lance Armstrong Center, or Steve Prefontaine Hall, and the list goes on. We also had a chance to see some non released shoes that will be coming out next fall and a look into the insides of shoes. Pretty neat stuff. Salazar was not as bad as I thought he was going to be. Ever since learning about him and Dick Beardsley, I have always been a Beardsley man before a Salazar fan. I think Beardsley resembles a Shawnee State Bear better than any other runner. He was not famous, cocky, or glamorous, but worked hard and beat people that were more famous than him.

Friday night we went to bed awaiting the day to come. Nationals was less than 12 hours away and it was time to be a Bear.

Note: I will write the race recap on another day......

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Hay is in the Barn

That's right. Today we did the last workout of our season! For the seniors, it will be their last cross country workout as a Bear for the rest of their lives. Next year I will be able to feel that bitter sweet, daunting emotion. From now until Saturday, one of the biggest days in my short life, Nationals, we will be running nice easy miles. I say "The Hay is in the Barn" because, there is not much I can do to get any better from now till Saturday. I could only make it worse (by eating a bunch of junk and nasty food or hurting myself in some way). So, it is time to relax and have a great time in Washington and Oregon.

We fly out of Cincinnati tomorrow at 12:15 and will be arriving in Portland, Oregon at around 4 PM (7 PM in Ohio time). That will be a new experience for me. The time is 3 hours back on the West coast. It will be weird to think the Ohio State vs. Michigan game will be starting at 9 AM! I'll be getting ready to warm up at that time. But, I expect to have a great time out there. Our hotel is only a mile from the course, so we get to see it early. On Thursday I think we are driving to Eugene to check out Hayward Field and some other monumental places in Oregon. Friday, Alberto Salazar is talking to us at Nike Headquarters. I think we will all have a blast!

Saturday, race day, I look to be standing on the stage as an All-American and the Bears to finish somewhere really high! That would just put a picture perfect ending to an already amazing year for US. Saturday night we will again be staying in Vancouver and Sunday evening we will be flying back into Cincinnati.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Living in Peace

This week has been awesome. My legs are feeling fresh and ready now that I am peaking and dropping my miles. Tuesday the entire team had a great workout out at the course. We did 3 x 2k's with someone surging in the middle of it. This gave us some response practice in the middle of already running fast. When people go by me at Nationals I need to go with them!

Yesterday was also a good day. Reece, Shane, Corey, and myself drove out to the Forest and ran on some trails that were new to us. Since it was Veterans day, there was no school and Reece for the first time all year, was able to celebrate Wednesday trail tradition with us! We drove out Carey's Run and went to State Forest road #1 and parked by on of the trail heads. I forget the name of the trail but it has black blazes. This trail started out rocky but once we were a mile into it, we climbed a big hill and the footing became smooth and comfortable. After two miles we crossed road #1 and it became the Pigeon Roost Bridle Trail. This trail is marked with "Easter egg" purple, as Shane described it. The Pigeon Roost trail was sweet, wide enough for two people and the footing was great. It was also fairly flat. When we got back, I added on a little on the Connector Trail which is marked with "Easter egg" blue. I liked this trail, that part that I ran, because it was more single track and seemed to be in very good shape.

On the way home we stopped at Buckeye Dairy Bar and Reece invited us out to his house for dinner and to stay the night if we wanted. So, Shane and I accepted. This is the second time we went out there. Sunday, after our run at Hangover Shane and I also went out there for chicken, beans, and hot tea. This time we had hamburgers, brats, beans, and hot tea. I also made pumpkin pie and we enjoyed a piece with silk milk before we headed to bed. It was a very nice meal and Reece got his wood burner up and burning for the first time this year. I slept beside it on the pull out coach and slept like a rock. This morning we woke up at 6:30 to eat breakfast and do some yoga. Yoga is always a nice way to get the day started!

Being out at Reece's is a lot better than being in town. I would rather stay out there every day and night than here in town. It is quieter, cleaner, and a lot more peaceful and efficient. I like to be able to pee off the back porch! Tree's and grass is a lot better than concrete and buildings.

So, I am relaxing and getting a lot of school work done at the same time. There are only 9 days before Nationals now and my legs are feeling awesome. I can't wait for the trip to Washington, it will be amazing!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Parting Shots

2009 Halloween Pasta Dinner!

(The Mens Team)

(Johnny Appleseed and Scoobey Doo)

SSU Bears. . .AMC Conference Championship

I said I was going to come back and post some good news. My news is not the best it could be, but it is still great! We traveled to Cedarville early Saturday morning for a AMC Conference showdown. Just a quick rundown of some AMC history: Malone has won this meet 17 years in a row, and that number is more but they were not in the AMC for two years in the early 90's. They have won a total of like 47 times! Shawnee State only finished 2nd once, in 2005, and has finished 3rd the past 3 years. My freshman year we were upset by Cedarville by one point and was denied a Nationals trip. Last year we lost to Cedarville again but was granted a bid to Nationals.

So, there is a lot riding on this meet. This is also the last year we are in the AMC. Next year, Shawnee is moving to the Mid South Conference, where we could become the next Malone of that conference and win titles every year. Our Ultimate goal was to beat Malone. Some people might say it is foolish to think we could beat the last two defending Nationals Champions and the Number 1 ranked team in the nation, but, what did we have to lose? We were not being cocky about it. There was no other goal to make for this meet. We were the clear cut second best team in the race, and if our goal was to just finish second, our chances of slipping to third would have been greater. So, we aimed high and the worst we could do was finish second.

I'll jump straight to the point and say..... we did finish second and Malone did win Conference again. This is how it all went down:

Our box was right beside Malone's so right away we could get a good feel of how they were going to race us. It ended up being a relaxed start; it was just Malone, Shawnee, a few Cedarville guys, and a few other individuals up front. The first mile was slow. I could tell Malone was trying to slow it down and just make sure we were right there. They were not opening the race up early, that is for sure. I thought it was strange how all the Malone guys were saying stuff to each other and turning around looking for their teammates and tugging on each others jerseys to signal something. I don't know if they were trying to psych us out or if they always do that, but I just kept focused and stayed with the pack. The race was still packed up after 2 miles and no one tried to break open the race (except for a Houghton guy, and it didn't last long).

(Start of the Race)

(Shawnee and Malone up front: a little before the 2 mile)

(Soon after 2 miles: still a battle)

The previous two pictures indicate how the race was for the first two miles. I do have to add another note about this race. Even though the weather was perfect, 60 degrees, clear sky, dry ground, it was very windy. Look closely at our hair, it is swept to the left in the third picture. Forecast said 20 mph wind, so we were all trying to tuck in. Anyways, the race went on and it soon went from a casual pace, to a grueling pace due to one key move. The key move came at about 2.5 miles and it came from T.J. Badertscher of Cedarville. He simply decided to surge past the front group and get the race rolling, and it worked. Zeuch and Melhorn from Malone followed and Corey and I tried to hang on, as did the rest of Malone and our guys. At 3 miles, it was very strung out and Malone had 2 guys in front of me! I was in about 5th place or so, but Malone started pressing. About 3 of their guys passed me and I could not respond. Another Cedarville guy passed me; Galen also moved by me and I was trying really hard to hold on.

(Tj opening up the race)

So, the race became a race and people started getting in their position. At mile 4, this is how it stood. Tj, 5 Malone guys, another Cedarville guy, and Galen were all ahead of me. I was running beside Nick Meeson from Malone, their 6 man. Things did not look good! That is about how the race ended up. The last mile was very fast but there was not a lot of movement in places. Melhorn ended up beating Tj by 15 seconds, Tj still got second. It was a nice showing for him at his home course and he really did make the race. After him, was 4 more Malone guys, so they put 5 in front of our 1. We need to run with them! Evan Thayer was next, followed by Galen, Linkous, Meeson, and then me. I got 11th. After me, was Malones 7th man and then it was our #4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 man, which was: Shane, Corey, Chuck, Tyler, and Hornick.

(Before mile 4, trying to hold on)

So, we had a good race but not a great race. We still finished 2nd, but Cedarville put 2 guys in front of our 1. A great positive is that we had 8 guys in the top 17 of the race. Even Malone can't say they did that! But, I give it to Malone for putting 5 guys in front of our one, and 6 in front of our 3, me. The time were a little slow, I ran 26:08, but like I said, it was windy and a slow start. After looking back, I wish I would have just responded to Tj's surge or else made the move myself. We, as a team could have made a huge surge and then the race could have turned out differently. There are a lot of could of would of's in every race. That is how it happened and no one can change it. We are going to Nationals and we need to do work there. It is not over!



Thursday, November 5, 2009

Onward We Go

We are finishing up our last few days of training before the AMC conference meet. Everyone seems to be in good health and good spirits. I am not sick anymore luckily, my throat doesn't hurt and my nose is running lightly. Tuesday we did 1 x 1 Mile, 4 x 400, and then 1 x 1000. These were the specs:

1 Mile: 4:38, 1:00 jog/2:42 rest
400: 70, 1:00 jog/1:39 rest
400: 67, 1:00 jog/1:42 rest
400: 63, 1:00 jog/1:51 rest
400: 65, 1:00 jog/2:38 rest
1000: 2:54, FINISHED

So, everything is good there. Most of the guys were all right around those times as well. Yesterday, Corey, Shane, and I drove out to the Forest and ran from Pond Lick. I do not know what I would do without a trip or two to the Forest per week. I wouldn't be able to make it if I had to run in Portsmouth everyday. A nice day for fresh air and peaceful running is needed in every persons training!

Ready for a big race. Next time I post, it should be good news.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Not Much New

The past few days it seems like I am sick, getting sick, or maybe getting over sickness. My throat has been a little sore and my nose runs a lot. Also, my muscles seem a little week and sluggish. But that could be from running hard workouts. Whatever it is, I want it to go away! Vitamins, fish oil, sleep, water, and eating healthy are all going to be at its max this week (a lot of green tea to be downed as well!). Not that I don't do all of those things, it is just more important right now. I never like getting sick and rarely do. But when I am, it is fun trying to defeat sickness. That is a great way to stay positive. Anyways, I think I will be over it pretty soon because I feel better than I did yesterday.

I finished up a good week of training today. Ran 13 miles back in Meigs County before I drove back to Portsmouth. That gave me 75 miles for the week, plus an awesome workout on Tuesday, and a decent 2 mile time trial on Friday. Ready for Saturday, our conference meet!

Lately I have been planning out some stuff I will be doing after the season is over. The Saturday after Nationals I plan on doing the Brandi Thomas 5k. It is a nice Foundation race in memory of Brandi who ran track and cross country at Meigs; she died in a car accident four or five years ago and now this race raises money for a scholarship in her name. The race is only 5 minutes from my house and it is nice to meet up with some locals. I also plan on running the John Bryan 10 mile trail race on December 5th. Reece just brought this to my attention today actually and it would be nice to go run this. I probably won't race it but use it as a nice training run. A race I have been planning for a year now is the Kent State indoor meet, on December 11th. This is the track my 5k PR is on and I think I can run another nice PR again. The race I am looking forward to the most is on January 2nd, the Tsali Frosty Foot Fest 30k Trail Race. This is down in North Carolina and Reece and Shane plan on coming along. Wysocki might come as well and anyone interested is welcome!