1) How did you get your start in running? What other sports have you played besides XC and TF?
I ran a teensy little bit as a kid since I didn’t play any other sports besides basketball. Eventually, I was too short and too slow compared to all the other guys so basketball wasn’t for me. I went from something like 10 miles a week in 6th grade to slowly getting to 40 or 50 my freshman year. After freshman year, I decided to stick with running because it was the fun and easy thing to do.
2) What were some of your highlights during your freshman and sophomore seasons in XC and TF?
I still vividly remember freshman XC at CCS when I managed to run 15:35 at Crystal Springs to qualify for state. Sophomore year I think my favorite performance was when I ran 9:32 for 3200 at the CCS Top 8 meet. I know 9:32 isn’t crazy fast but back then I thought it was awesome. I had a great time that night and I guess you need to have that in running or else it’s going to end up being boring.
3) Going into your junior season in XC, what did you change (training wise) over the summer?
Nothing much, actually. I just ran the same mileage and the same type of workouts. The only thing I changed was the effort at which I ran them, which was actually less. I believe to this day I trained a little too hard my sophomore year and spent a lot of time burnt out, injured, and tired. A word of advice to some of the younger kids running XC and track is to not kill it every day in training. But at the same time work hard. Just not too hard.
4) What were your best races in XC as a junior?
My best race in XC had to be the 14:14 at Montgomery Hill. I remember going into the race planning on running a hard first half and coast the rest, but for some reason during the race I decided to run hard the whole way. At the end Coach Rudy was yelling at me to relax and not to kick so I didn’t, but I was healthy and in great shape so it felt really good and controlled.
5) What about during the track and field season?
Definitely the 3200m at the CCS Top 8 Classic. My coach and I planned a 9:12-9:16, no faster, no slower. So I just ran as hard as I could and almost passed out after 9:13. I remember switching the lead with Michael McCabe like half a dozen times the second half of the race while Yohaness disappeared ahead. Even after getting my head handed to me that last 400, I had a great time that evening.
6) Tell us a little about your coaches and how they have helped you get to your current level.
Where do I start…? Coach Rose is the head coach and he provides the team and me with entertainment (in the form of jokes that are so bad that they’re funny) and rides to meets quite frequently, making practice not too miserable. Coach Marty is the super enthusiastic coach that is a little too uptight at times but I think he means well. And lastly Coach Rudy is the coach that has provided me with some ridiculously difficult training these past 3 years. He, without fail, always has more faith in me than I deserve, so I always am confident that I will do well. They have provided me with an environment that promotes growing as an athlete and as a person.
7) What does a typical week (what do you do each day) look like for you with a Saturday Invitational?
Sunday will be close to off, maybe a short run (3-6 miles) and some cross training on the elliptical. Monday will be hills, and my team and I will do either a tempo or a tempo with longer hill repeats (up to 5) before and/or after, then I’ll have another run and do some lifting with my legs (mainly for injury prevention). Tuesday is a medium day where we do a few 800s, 1200s or repeat miles (up to 4) and some 400s or a short distance run, then another short distance run and do the same thing with my legs. Wednesday will be a slightly hilly medium distance day (7.5 miles) anywhere from 5:30-5:50 pace. Thursday is a dual meet at Montgomery hill or another workout probably like Monday; I’ll do another run and lift again. Friday is easy, just a long warm-up, a shakeout run (6) and strides. Saturday race in the morning and long run (12-15) in the PM and then hit the weights. None of this is on a track. Rinse, repeat, and hopefully become fast.
8) Favorite XC course? Favorite XC invitational? Favorite XC workout? Favorite long run? Favorite track event? Favorite track invitational? Favorite track workout? Favorite opponent(s)?
My favorite XC course has to be Crystal Springs. It is so fun to run and the history there is kind of mind boggling. Favorite invitational has to be Mt. Sac. It’s really fun to travel with the team and the runners there are so fast. Workout would be hilly tempos on Mondays. It’s the only workout that actually feels good and no one on the team gets to complain because there’s no rest in between repeats to do so. My favorite long run is the 90 minute 15 miler I do at home when there is no meet Saturday. Even though it’s kind of long I get a lot of thinking done in 90 minutes and it always feels great during and after. I love the 3200 meter run, but if there was something longer I’d love it more. My favorite track invitational is the CCS Top 8 Classic. The energy and enthusiasm of the fans and coaches are always really intense there. My favorite track workouts are breakdowns, like 2x1600, 2x1200, 2x800, and then 6x400. My favorite opponents have to be Mike McCabe, Yohaness Estifanos, and Kevin Bishop. I know them all pretty well and vice versa so I don’t have to be scared of getting an elbow to the face when racing them, but I do have to be scared of being beat by them.
9) During your high school running career, who have been the runners that you looked up to and helped you become a better runner (could be from your team or other teams)?
I’ve looked up to many runners, but I think Michael McCabe has definitely had the most significant positive influence on me. I remember in middle school he was a god, running like 4:40 for the mile. In high school, he battled injury and came out stronger because of it. It’s always inspiring to see someone overcome injury to become a better runner and inevitably a better person.
Kevin has run with me over the summers and we have spent many a hot afternoon on distance runs. But he’s helped me with summer workouts and recruiting these past few years, and hopefully I have helped him in return.
Yohaness is as nice as he is fast. His sportsmanship and friendliness should be formally commended by the CCS and CIF. He’s going to win NCAAs someday and I’m lucky since I’m able to say I’ve raced that guy a few times.
10) Looking back at your freshman through junior seasons, is there anything that you would have done differently or learned through the experience?
I would have trained smarter. Sophomore year especially, I sometimes would train so hard I would not be able to function for the rest of the day. In order to be more ready for future workouts and races, I should have saved a little for the next day, and the next, and so on.
Also, I would have been wiser about injuries. Last spring during track, I would lie to myself that I was not hurting, pop Advil like candy, and run through it. That eventually led to an Advil damaged stomach and worse injury which left me sitting out for three weeks after not qualifying for CCS Finals.
11) How much will running impact where you go to college next year? Any advice that you can share with younger runners who will eventually go through the same recruiting process?
Running has a huge impact on where I go to college next year. I am very excited to be able to compete at the collegiate level and at distances longer then 5k, which I think would suit me very well.
People getting recruited or will be recruited: BE ASSERTIVE. Recruiting is a two way street; unless you are a sub 9 3200 guy or running 15:00 at Woodward, you are lost among the crowd of thousands of athletes across this country and around the world. Don’t be afraid to email or call some of the coaches at schools you are interested in. I was just a 9:13 guy and a 15:33 at Woodward after my junior year, but since I was obnoxiously communicative with coaches around the country, I have been recruited by schools I never would have dreamed of being interested in me. You are your own recruiter; coaches who barely know you thousands of miles away aren’t always going to baby you through this process.
12) Anything else you would like to add.
Thanks for the interview Coach Caruana! It’s always a great feeling being acknowledged for my running. Keep your website going, it's pretty awesome.
Thank you very much for your time Richard! AJC