Monday, June 30, 2008

San Ramon Valley Nike Cross Country Clinic Notes

Just some bullet points from the clinic I attended about a week ago at SRVHS:

Pat Tyson
•When starting a program, have to get the numbers first.
•Have to make running fun.
•Have to have benchmarks-Sub 5 for 1600, Sub 18 for 5K, etc.
•Develop a culture. "It's all about the team".
•Get parents to help you. They can help you with some of the dirty work.
•Traveling as a team by bus is a cool thing.
•Victory lap after every meet. It's the little things that add up.
•In cross country you cheer for your teammates when you are done racing.
•Failure is a good thing.
•Don't let a bad day define who you are or what you have done. Get over it.

Danny Green
•You (the coach) are the difference in having a great program.
•When you have a fitness program, that is just above mediocre.
•Bad races are like a bowel movement. Flush it and move on.
•Year round program (all cross country runners run track)
•Volume center (mileage baby mileage)
•Follow hard/easy
•Vigil System
•It's all about the team
Coaching 101
•Be passionate
•Time cannot be a factor
•Be willing to make some sacrifices you ask your kids
•Don't be afraid to change
•We all make mistakes
•Love your kids
•Coach the way you want your children to be coached
•Finally, you are the most important part of the equation of success

Walt Lange
•We need to recruit for our sport (cross country)
•Tools of Communication
a) Team Website
b) Workout schedule on calendar online
c) Google document sharing
•Record their time for each run
•Summer Program
June 16-July 256:30am-7:45am Monday through Friday
• resource for results
•Maps for California on Jesuit website:
•Training course maps
•GPS Visualizer
•Race analysis after each race
•Flip Video (Great way to videotape your races and get them online)

Will post Danny Green's yearly workout schedule next.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Northern California Newspaper Coverage

Santa Rosa Press Democrat All Empire Track and Field Teams

Stockton Record Cross Country Runners of the Year
Cross Country: Matt Airola (Bret Harte runner)
Cross Country: Lauren Petersen (Galt runner)

San Jose Mercury News Year in Sports
2007-08 The Year in Sports (Fall, Cross Country mention)

Riverbank standout Fernandez is Gatorade national track athlete of the year (Modesto Bee)

Athletes, Businesses Heartbroken by Cancellation of Endurance Race (Western States 100)

Zerzan's family crucial to athlete of the year recognition (Sarah Zerzan Div. III athlete of the year)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Olympic trials: Olympic hopeful Rowbury is Sunset native and Sacred Heart Cathedral graduate

Great article in today's SF Chronicle about former Sacred Heart Cathedral runner Shannon Rowbury (pictures above courtesy of the SF Chronicle) by one of the best track writer's in the Bay Area, John Crumpacker. Rowbury is attempting to make her first Olympic team in the 1500m. this coming trials and based on her past accomplishments in high school, college and beyond, she seems like a safe bet to make the team.

Olympic trials: Olympic hopeful Rowbury is Sunset native and Sacred Heart Cathedral graduate

Scotty Bauhs Workout

Former San Ramon Valley HS and current Chico State runner Scotty Bauhs is featured below on workout Wednesday courtesy of I am curious as to who was the last NCS distance runner to make the Olympic team? Anybody know?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

State meet qualifiers and divisional breakdowns for '08 XC

As I start to put together the pre-season rankings for the Northern California sections, here is what I have in terms of qualifying teams (for the entire state) and divisions for the following sections. If you have any updates to any of these links, please post them in the comment section below.

The teams from each division that qualify from each section will be as follows for 2008:


CCS,%20bsb,%20soc.pdf (Division cut-offs not posted yet)

Not posted yet.


Oakland Section Schools are all considered Division I

San Francisco Section Schools
"Since, at least 1994, the San Francisco Section qualifiers (top team and top 5 individual as long as they finish in the top 8) to the state cross country meet do run in their school's division. We do not get any addition teams or individuals but it does allows our athletes to run on a more level playing field. Over the last three years or so, it just happens that are best runners are from Lowell, Lincoln and Galileo (all D1 schools, Gal only the last two years or so). When Bolota Asmeron was at McAteer, he ran in D3. Marc Christensen and I worked on this and as a result our section's basketball teams have followed our lead."
Andy Leong Lowell HS Coach

Fresno, Fresno and Fresno.

If you are a cross country and/or track and field athlete, the place you want to be for at least the next three years is FRESNO. The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) just announced an agreement with Buchanan HS to hold the CA state meet on their campus for the next 3 years. I am all for anything that keeps the city of Fresno happy so we can continue to hold the cross country state meet in Fresno. There is just way too much history now at Woodward Park to move to another venue in the future (hopefully).

Official Release from CIF

From Contra Costa Times Blog
New site for high school state track meet

I expecially like the colored exchange zones (what a great idea!)

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin's Baseball and Football

I have always been a big fan of George Carlin and was very saddened to hear about his untimely death last night. Here is one of my all time favorite bits of his were he compares Baseball and Football. Enjoy this classic!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

3rd Annual West Coast Distance Clinic

Great event once again at San Ramon Valley HS on Saturday as the coaches that attended the free coach's clinic were treated to lots of Nike gear (my prediction is Nike will develop a pair of spikes that weigh nothing and I am NOT kidding), a great lunch, 3 of the greatest HS coaches ever to hold stopwatches in the history of high school distance running and FREE shoes!

Leading the way was Pat Tyson (above left picture in the middle), formerly of Mead HS fame, who is the new cross country and track and field coach at Gonzaga University. Tyson has just completed a stint at one of the legendary high schools in distance running lore, South Eugene HS. Between his 22 years at Mead and his one year at South Eugen, Tyson made two quick stops at Oregon U. and Kentucky U. He is also well known in the distance running community as the roommate of Steve Prefontaine during his days in Oregon.

Following more Nike gear, the next coach to speak was Danny Green (above left picture on the left) of Woodlands HS. Mr. Green was quite a character as he stole the show cracking his fair share of one liners (think funny Vince Lombardi) but leaving no doubt about why his teams are so successful. How successful you may ask? 2 years ago, his school boasted 22 boys under 10:00 for the 3200. Last year, his team finished in 4th place at NTN without one of his best teams in his long illustrious career. He's close to retiring but don't count out Woodlands HS in the future as his son, Juris, is rearing to take over for daddy.

Lastly but definitely not least was Jesuit (of Carmichael) longtime coach, Walt Lange (pictured above on picture to the right). He is well known, especially in California, for winning state cross country titles (NINE!), his outstanding website, coaching lots of fast runners, and most recently his incredibly detailed cross country maps. You can also view lots of tools and links that Walt uses here.

Thanks to Tim Hunter (San Ramon Valley HS coach), all the Nike representatives and Jimmy McFadden of Forward Motion Sports for putting together another outstanding clinic. If you weren't able to make this clinic this year, don't miss out next year. Definitely a must for any coach that wants to pick up something new (or two) for the following cross country season.

If you attended the clinic, what did you think?

By the way, the coach pictured above that wasn't mentioned, the one and only Joe Newton. A documentary about all his accomplishments will be opening the Running Film Festival at the Olympic Trials in Oregon.

HS Track coverage...

Nice blog article about who else but German Fernandez:
A "German" Invasion Worth It's Place in History

Diego Estrada is named athlete of the year in the Californian (Salinas)
The Salinas Californian's 2008 male athlete of the year: Diego Estrada
Watkins: Estrada makes a little history

California track & running NEWS

1968 U.S. track team was best ever

Great article found in the SJ Mercury News by Ann Killion about her thoughts on the greatest Olympic Track and Field team ever, the 1968 team.

You can find the article at the following link:
Killion: 1968 U.S. track team was best ever

Also, the following article is from the Sacramento Bee with a historical perspective of what the trials mean to the state of Oregon:
Eugene's deep track history resurfaces for U.S. Trials

And for your television viewing pleasure, here is a list of Track and Field meets coming up in the next three months courtesy of USATF site:
TV Track and Field Broadcasts

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cross Country Coach of the Year becomes Athletic Director

Just named California Coaches Association girl's cross country coach of the year, Mt. Shasta's Steve Nesheim was also recently named as the school's athletic director. His girls have handily won the last three CIF state Division V XC titles. Congratulations to Steve for his award and new job title.

You can view a full article from at the following link:
Nesheim new Mount Shasta athletic director

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Back from vacation...

I will start posting once again after a week away enjoying some R and R in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Things to look forward to in the next few months:
•XC pre-season rankings for Northern California.
•More athlete and coach interviews.
•More polls.
•Motivational material.
•Newspaper and web links.
•Training and Racing advice.
•Ideas anyone? Email me at

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Track guru Bill Taylor adds author to long list of titles

Great article about Sir Francis Drake HS coach Bill Taylor in the Marin IJ:
Track guru Bill Taylor adds author to long list of titles

At the bottom of the article you can find a link where you can get a copy of his book (you can see Bill holding his book in the picture to the left courtesy of the Marin IJ).

Good Summer Reading recommendation...

I am currently reading the book listed below about former Iowa wrestling coach, Dan Gable. I am always interested in what makes champions tick no matter the sport. Gable for those of you that have never heard of him won an Olympic gold medal in the '72 Olympics in freestyle wrestling. Following his dominating victory, Gable went on to coach the Iowa Hawkeyes and set coaching standards that will be hard to duplicate. His teams won the Big 10 titles in every season that he coached. They also won 16 NCAA titles (remarkable number for one coach in any sport). Whether you are a wrestling fan or not, it's a good read and highly recommended.

Jeff Billing not returning to Palo Alto HS

Boys' Cross Country and Track and Field coach Jeff Billing will be moving back east following a successful stint at Palo Alto HS. From my brief interactions with him, Jeff was a very caring coach that took pride in the progress of all his athletes. Best of luck to him with his future challenges.

You can see a brief article about his departure in the Paly Voice:

You can see an interview with him during cross country season at the following link:

The following link has student comments about Jeff:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Catching up with Novato HS's Erik Olson...

The past Sunday, the 98th annual Dipsea race took place once again on the 2nd Sunday of June. This legendary race attracts some of the best runners in the Marin area as they attempt to either win the race, claim one of 35 black shirts or just simply survive the rugged 7.5 mile course. Novato HS sophomore Erik Olson (pictured to the left courtesy of the Novato Advance) did more than survive as he finished in 14th place and claimed the top spot by a high school runner. Olson has quickly established himself as one of the up and coming runners in the NCS this past year as he finished 5th in the NCS Division III cross country race to qualify to the state meet as an individual. He also finished 6th at the NCS MOC in the uber-competitive 3200m. recording a lifetime best time of 9:25.62.

1) How did you get interested in participating in the Dipsea race?

Well, last year I volunteered along with my sister and thought it looked like a fun race. So I talked my coach about it and we decided that it would be a fun thing to do at the end of the track season. Unfortunately, my sister wanted to run it but was not able to on account of going to college at UCSD.

2) What did you do in preparation to run on the Dipsea course? Have you run on the trails before?
The week before, I ran the practice Dipsea along with my fellow teammate Courtney Madson, who was also running it this year. After running that I realized that the Dipsea would not be an easy jog in the park. So, two days after the practice Dipsea, my coach, Mr. Bousquette, took me and a couple of teammates along to rerun the course and figure out all the well-known shortcuts. I then just ran long runs around Novato with as many hills as possible just to get my muscles use to the strain of hill running.

3) What was the most difficult part of the race? Favorite part of the race such as a part of the course, fellow runners, the crowd, a tradition etc?
The most difficult for me would have to be going up Cardiac Hill. It is not that the hill itself is hard, it is just that you feel every other hill prior to Cardiac when your running up the hill. My favorite part would have to be the top of Cardiac because there were people there cheering for you and the rest of the race was relatively downhill. I would also like to thank all the race supporters and the crowd because they truly made this experience wonderful.

4) Can you describe the course for any runners that have never done it before?
The Dipsea is basically uphill till 4.1 miles and then downhill the last 3.4 miles. If you planing on running it, be prepared for the stairs both up and down. While the hills are hard, you can train for those by just running hill repeats, but the stairs were a killer for me. Going up the stairs is tough because you feel the burn in your calves, but going down the stairs in Steep Ravine is the hardest. Oh, and if you haven't run it before, you must learn the shortcuts! Also, do not worry if you feel insanely sore after running the Dipsea, and if you don't feel sore at all, you are a beastly runner.

5) Before the race, were you aware of all the history that goes along with this event?
Yes, but I was not aware of all the great runners that ran the Dipsea.I also never realized how hard it is to win it until I ran it; so I now have the utmost respect to all the men and women who have won the Dipsea. Now I feel apart of the Dipsea crowd and hopefully I will be able to run it next year.

6) How many runners do you think you passed throughout the race?
I am not sure. Possibly 100. I had a three minute head start so i figure there were at least 100 people ahead of me. It may be more or less. I'm really not sure.

7) Looking back at your track and field season, what do you consider your best race? Proudest achievement? Best track and field meet?
Best personal race would have to be NCS MOC were I p.r.ed in the 3200. Best race overall would have to be the Skyline Distance Fiesta because the whole distance team went and it just felt like a giant party. My proudest achievement would be wining the distance triple at MCALs which helped prepare me mentally and physicall going into the NCS races.

8) How did you get your start in distance running? Who were the runners that you looked up to as you were getting started as well as now?
Well my sister, mom, and dad got me into running. Going into 8th grade, my sister started doing double days over the summer and in the morning runs I decided to run along and thats where it all started. In the beginning I could barely stay with my sister, but by the end of the summer we were both improving. I didn't start race competitively until freshman year, but my family has always been active and my family and i did fun runs. When I first started running, I looked up to Pre, but then I realized that personality wise he wasn't a great role model. I then started hearing about this Californian runner Ryan Hall and I've looked up to him ever since. I personally look up to him more for his religious method towards running and try to look at running in the same light.

9) Who is going to be your toughest competition in the MCAL and NCS next year?
A lot of people. Umm... to name a few MCAL runners Corey Rand (a great miler and 800 runner he never gives in an will stay on you the whole race), Steven Iglehart (a fierce 3200 runner), Peter Kissin (another tough 3200 runner with great genes), and Brian Hernandez (a great miler). For NCS, obviously Sterling and his brother Devin. Both of whom are fantastic XC runners and track runners and will be in our division this year. Wyatt Landrum of course. Umm...Alex Summers of Granada who had an awesome sophomore year this year and Mark Blattler who must of had the fastest sprint I have ever seen in XC.

10) If you had to choose your favorite race on the track , what would that distance be and why?
3200, because if you make a mistake, you can still be in the race, and since I am a distance runner I feel that the more laps I run the more I can relax and get in to my running "groove."

11) What are your plans for the summer in preparation for your junior season in cross country?
Lots of mileage with my teammates and cross training. I'll be training with Novato's top seven, to hopefully build a strong team for next year and my senior year. The team and I may do a running camp in the mountains but we're not sure yet. Our teams looking great and we're all young so I'm hoping we will continue to improve from my freshman year.

12) What have been the most important workouts for you that have been a big part of your success in both xc and track?
400's they not only help me, but when we run them, everyone seems to have a great race the next week. Also, any run that includes the team seems to get me pumped up for races. For example, when we do a five mile team run at a relatively fast pace and everyone stays together, that gets me excited for the races to come.

Thank you again for your time and I'd like to say watchout for Kiko Rodriguez, Marc Klunk, Joe Montoya, River Raras, and John Latham they're going to be the runners to look out for!!!!

Thank you very much for your time Erik!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Dipsea Black Shirt Winners

The following results are courtesy of the Marin IJ. The top 35 runners that complete the Dipsea race, receive the legendary black shirts. The list includes several NCS runners that are in bold below.


Place and name Residence Age Time Actual Time

1 Roy Rivers Mill Valley 51 47:24 53:24

2 Russ Kiernan Mill Valley 70 49:08 1:08.8

3 Hans Schmid Greenbrae 68 49:31 1:08.31

4 Mark McManus Mill Valley 34 49:34 50.34

5 Melody Anne Schultz Ross 66 50:00 1:12.00

6 Cliff Lentz Brisbane 43 50:04 53.04

7 Brian Pilcher Ross51 50:25 56.25

8 Sara Donahue Brookline, Mass. 27 50:34 58.34

9 Greg Wilson Chula Vista 56 50:51 59.51

10 Judy Rabinowitz Larkspur 50 51:02 1:04.02

11 Roy Kissin Larkspur 51 51:14 57.14

12 Alexander Varner San Rafael 22 51:31 51.31

13 Iain Mickle Sacramento47 51:36 55.36

14 Erik Olson Novato 16 51:38 1:00.38

15 Greg Nacco Sausalito 43 51:42 56.42

16 Steve Stephens San Anselmo 64 51:58 1:06.58

17 Robert Dickinson Petaluma 51 52:16 58.16

18 Steven Iglehart San Francisco 16 52:17 55.17

19 Jerry Edelbrock Corte Madera 59 52:21 1:03.21

20 Stephen Donahue Palo Alto 30 52:23 52.23

21 John Litzenberg III Glen Ellen 38 52:32 54.32

22 Stacey Schweighart San Francisco 31 52:38 1:00.38

23 Jamie Berns Mill Valley 57 52:51 1:05.51

24 Ben Chaffee San Francisco 28 52:54 52.54

25 Reed Bunnell Kentfield 16 52:57 55.57

26 Jenny Wong Oakland 32 52:59 1:00.59

27 Tomas Pastalka Belvedere 61 53:05 1:06.05

28 David Ripp San Rafael 56 53:06 1:02.06

29 Dimitrios Sklavopoulos Mill Valley 63 53:34 1:08.34

30 Bradford Bryon Penngrove 50 53:36 59.36

31 Brian Purcell Sebastopol 52 53:40 1:00.40

32 Don Stewart Sebastopol 47 53:43 57.43

33 Jacque Taylor Petaluma 16 53:51 1:02.51

34 Steven Katz Larkspur 57 54:03 1:04.03

35 Mark Dolan Novato 45 54:13 58.13

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Bigger, Stronger, Faster*

We are in a time and age when every new record that is set (in any sport) also brings steroids questions. While everybody was very impressed with Usain Bolt's new 100m. record, you can't help asking yourself if he is really clean. Watching Big Brown fail in his attempt at recording the 12th Triple Crown ever in horse racing history, people are already wondering how the lack of steroids affected the horse. Hitting over 500 homeruns used to be a rare feat but now a new player joins that not so elusive club at rate never seen before in baseball. Are there any sports out there that are not effected by steroids anymore??

Looks like one movie that doesn't pull any punches when it comes to steroid use is out in theaters now. It has also already received rave reviews.

You can check out where the movie will be playing in the bay area at the link below.

The trailer of the movie can be found at the following website:

Dipsea update and articles...

The Dipsea is now close to ending and we will have a winner soon. If you have never heard of the Dipsea, you can check out it's official website at

An update of the race including the race leader is at the following link (will be updated later):

Nice articles about former two-time winner Homer Latimer who also coached at Leigh HS:
Dipsea: Latimer fondly remembered on eve of race
Dipsea 2008: Newest Hall of Famer remembered as quite a character

So you want to enter the 2009 Dipsea and have a sob story or compelling reason? Get in line:
Dave Albee: Sob stories a highlight for Dipsea committee

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Catching up with Livermore's Diana George...

Our next interview is with Livermore's Diana George who once again scored a double victory (1600 and 3200) at this past NCS Meet of Champions following her two wins the previous season as a sophomore. George is the latest star for coach Eddie Salazar at Livermore HS (both pictured to the left courtesy of the Livermore Granada boosters website) who has had his fair share of individual and team champions during his time at the school.

1) How did you get started in distance running?
Way back in middle school, I had a friend named Rebecca who's parents forced her to run the offered extra credit laps in P.E. to keep her in shape. Since it seemed like a torturous thing to have to do alone, my other friend Amanda and I offered to run them with her. We'd get in, with P.E. included, anywhere from one to three miles a day. At the time, that seemed like a lot. Because we'd run all the time, rain or shine, before class, one of my teachers suggested that we go out for the track team. I didn't come out until 8th grade, and even then we did not run very much (no more than four miles a day, two times a week). We had three meets all season, only one of which was on a track. I tended to high jump and run the mile the most, but a few times I ran the 400 and the 100. The only time that I actually remember was a 64 in the 400m at Amador. I got second to a super buff girl with fancy spikes--shoes I hadn't even heard of at the time. That was the beginning. I decided to run cross country to keep in shape for soccer and track the next year. It just took off from there.

2) What other sports have you played besides cross country and track and field?
When I was 6 or 7 I started playing house soccer. By age ten I had started playing AC III and indoor soccer, and when I hit middle school I played AC I on a team of which I got along with no one, not even the coach. Because of this I was eager to start a different sport in high school, even though I liked soccer itself. I liked how the workouts were challenging and the conditioning was tough--hard days felt like great accomplishments. Simultaneously I took acrobatics from Carol Jean, who is quite well-known in Livermore and has taught just about every other dance teacher around here. My parents got me into this at age 3 as something to do and to give me self-confidence. Looking back on it, I think the strength and flexibility I gained from flips and handstands helped ease me through the transition into distance running. I also swam for the local swim team, Rhonewood, for four summers from age 7-10. I was very bad at swimming and became frustrated when, after four years of hard work and early mornings, I not once made it to the championship meet when most of my friends did.

3) When did you first start realize you had talent and achieving success in distance running?
I remember one time in middle school, my soccer coach got really mad at the team for making too many mistakes during our drills. As punishment, he made us run around the soccer complex (about half a mile) and told us that all but the first three girls back would have to run it again. It was the end of a super hot summer practice, so it was a given that running it again would be torture. We all started running, and I realized quite soon that there was no one running close to me. This was really startling, since I was by far not the best player on the team. In fact, I often had to run laps by myself for missing goals or for letting balls by me during practice. I ended up being the first person around the field, with no one else close to me. I could tell even my soccer coach was surprised to see me back first. I just thought it was a fluke incident and only realized later that I had a great potential as a runner.

4) Did you have any mentors or runners that you looked up to as a 9th/10th grader (or before that)?
Starting cross country in the spring was a bit awkward at first. My friends and I never really knew that running had so much to it. There was a junior on our team, Melissa Gutierrez, who was the type of person can instantly be looked up to. She went out of her way to make sure the freshmen understood what was going on all the time. At the meets, she would lead us through warm-up and tell us all about how the meet worked and was scored. Melissa had such a bubbly personality that she put everyone around her in a good mood. She was so knowledgeable in both running and academics that stood out as a role model to all of the underclassmen. Besides Melissa, I also looked up to our guys team when I was a freshmen. They would always run in a pack. Some days there was a group of six, other days after hard workouts there would only be a group of three, but there was always a pack. They ran races together as well. At EBAL championships, 2005, they won the league title by running in a pack. Four of the top 7 were our guys. This was amazing to me. I looked up to how they worked together to get each other through the workouts. Every once in a while I pictured how great it would be to have a girls team like that, where everyone ran together. As far as famous runners go, I didn't have any "big-name" running role models. When I started running, I didn't follow the sport really well. Mainly I learned from the upperclassmen on our team.

5) Can you tell us a little about your coach and how he has helped you become the runner you are today.
I feel so lucky that I've had the opportunity to run for our coach. He's coached so many amazing runners in the past (such as Michael Jones and Steve Immel). Our team has come to realize that Ed (Salazar) has some sort of gift when it comes to coaching. He knows so much. Sometimes it feels like he even knows what we're thinking. When it comes to racing, he knows each of our strengths/weaknesses and tells us how to use them to our advantage. He's such a short person, but he somehow manages to throw his voice all over the cross country course. We can hear him from miles around and can usually look to the top of the tallest hill in the area if we need to find him at a meet. When it comes to inspiration, he can always pull up a story from the past that relates to what kind of course we are facing. He's really good at motivating us in the workouts too. One workout in particular pops into my head from freshman year. It was a rainy day in mid-track season, and the distance runners were the only ones on the team not huddled up inside the gym. Our coach had us running 400m repeats at 1600m pace. We did about ten of them, still having to hit our splits in the rain. When it came time to run the last one, he told us that if we ran a faster time than all the previous repeats, he would give us a penny. Almost everyone on the team got one; I still have that penny in my shoe today. He has this important attitude towards dedication at practice that rubs off on us. It's never too cold, too hot, too windy, too dusty, too early, or too late to have practice, and he very rarely cancels it. On many occasions, he has us run mind-challenging workouts just to show us what we are physically capable of. This is what gives us our confidence; he makes sure not to sugar-coat things or praise us until our heads get big. At practice, he doesn't tells us the entire workout, only one section at a time, so we never know what to expect. We like to guess the workouts for fun sometimes and have rarely ever been right. Ever since the beginning I have had really bad race anxiety. Ed can tell when I start to get nervous, and he knows just what to say to calm me down and help me focus on the matter at hand. He even picks out good spots at the meets where I can throw-up without being noticed. I don't think I could have ever accomplished as much as I have if it weren't for him. There's just something about him that can't be explained. He's a great coach.

6) What do you consider the primary workouts during track that give you the most confidence before you step on the track to compete? What is your typical weekly mileage?When it comes to confidence, it always seems to disappear right before I race. I catch a glimpse of it after some of our crazy workouts, so I guess that's better than nothing. One particular workout we do up in the hills is a loop we call kilo (which is, conveniently, an oval exactly one kilo long). It's a nice loop, starting out with a 600m gradual downhill, then a sharp dip down and up, and then another gradual downhill until the steep uphill at the end. The wind comes through a lot, but it's always on your face when you're going downhill and on your back going up. Sometimes we do reps of one loop, other times we do two consecutive loops, but they're always really fast. When we do one kilo, my coach has me come through in the 3:20s. Occasionally I've been sub-3:20. For the two-lap reps, I'm supposed to be around 7:10. Sometimes he'll have us do a combination of ones and twos, but we usually end up doing about seven or eight kilos total. I really enjoy running those--the pace clicks well, so after a successful days of kilos I'm in pretty good spirits. They're much better than 2000m repeats on the track, of which I hate and even dread often.
Right next to kilo there's a hill we call tower loop (because of the electrical tower we always have to hit at the top). It's more like four hills, or a small mountain, because it's over half a mile to the top. In the summer we run these a lot, five or six at practice. They suck pretty bad. It's a major confidence booster, though, to be able to look down the hill after reaching the top and look over the entire trivalley. At the end of the workout, it's funny to reach the top because you can see everyone's sweaty handprints all over the electrical tower.

7) Tell us a little about your races at NCS. Did you have a basic strategy before each race or did you just react to what went on during the races?
Going into NCS I didn't know exactly what to expect. My times had been nowhere near last year--I hadn't broken 5mn in the 1600 or 11mn in the 3200, which had come easy as a sophomore. My main focus was simply to advance (of course I didn't mention that to my coach, since he was set on another double-victory). For the 1600m, I was planning on hanging on to Jackie for the first two and a half laps. Then I wanted to start a long, gradual kick. That didn't work at all since she didn't go out nearly as hard as I thought she would. I knew coming around at the 800m that if I didn't take off then, there was a chance that the Marilla Carillo girl would kick by me at the end. On that third lap I just went all-out, in hopes that I would gap them enough that there would be a safety cushion waiting for me if I died at the end. That ended up working good enough. As far as races go, the 1600 m is my favorite. After that one was over, I was a lot less stressed. Going into the 32, my plan was to just stay with the pack as long as possible. My coach said he didn't care if I won with 10 flat or with 14mn, he just wanted me to win. So, I stayed with the group at a pace that felt painfully slow compared to the 16. I kept elbowing people and kicking people on accident as I was getting impatient. Somewhere along lap 6, I wasn't feeling tired at all and noticed the girls around me were breathing pretty hard. I snuck a look back and saw a pack of 10-15 with only two laps to go. This scared me right away, so I took off and kicked as hard as I could for the last 800m. One of the worst feelings ever is getting passed at the end, and I was not willing to lose that way. By the time I actually realized I could win the race, I was coming down the last stretch and I could hear the announcer calling my name over the announci ng thing. That was a pretty good feeling.

8) This year's state meet had some of the fastest times ever accomplished in the distance races. What was it like to be involved in 2 of those races? What went well for you? What did you learn? Favorite races of the year? Most satisfying race(s)?Going into the 1600m in the finals at state, I was quite excited knowing that after Christine, there wasn't really anyone else way up there. Having her in the race was nice because it took stress off trying to compete for first place. I was actually really frustrated with the way the race played out and was kicking myself for about five days afterwards. The first mistake I made was positioning in the beginning. I was in last place for awhile, which I could tell because there was no breathing behind me. To get around girls I had to go way out in lane 3 around a turn, which my coach later picked at me for doing. On the last lap I was in a good position, but we had gone out harder than I was used to, so I didn't have the kick I would have liked. With 50m to go I was in 3rd, but then I got passed by four girls on the line. I'm usually good about running through the line, but I let my guard down on Saturday, which is why I was mad at myself. My coach even warned me the night before about the importance of running through the line. He was happy with the race, though, and I ran a season PR, so it wasn't horrible... just frustrating. I was satisfied with the 3200m. I just wanted to get through it alive and with a PR. For the first mile I was aiming for 5:20, and I ended up being just below it. For the second mile I was shooting for a little bit faster of a time than I ran, but overall the race ended up also being a season PR. I almost got hit by a pole vault pole around lap 3, which was pretty exciting. Other than that, it was an okay race. I wish I could have gotten to watch it, though. I would have loved to see the girl from Davis try to out-kick Hasay.

One of my favorite races of the year would have to be the 800m at EBAL Championships. I'm not a strong 800m runner, so it felt amazing to win that race at league. Going into the race, my coach told me that I had to either run the first lap hard (64) or the second one. I picked the first one, but it didn't at all play out that way. The majority of the girls were 400m runners, who tend to go out hard and then slowly die. Being a distance runner I tend to run more even splits. So, they went out hard and I got boxed in. At first I started to panic, but then I decided to waste a few steps and surge around them before the turn at the 200m. I took the lead but only came through at 67, which made me realize that I had to haul the last lap or there was no chance. The last few steps before the finish my legs locked up and I was sure I was going to get fatally passed at the line. I could hear the girl coming up, but instead of kicking it in, I slowed to a jog for the last few meters in order to stay on my feet. I was having trouble picking up my legs, so to try to kick in could have caused me to trip right before the line. I was really lucky that day that she didn't catch me. In the end I ran a PR and threw up all over the place. Then I went and ran the 3200 and the 4x400 after running the 1600 at the beginning. That day showed me that, even in extreme heat, with barely any resting time between races, and on a completely empty stomach, I could still race competitively. Our 4x400m team ended up making it to MOC, and if I had chickened out and not run it that day or the next week, chances are we would never have made it out of NCS.

9) Now that the state meet is over, are you thinking about XC yet? What are your plans for the summer?
It still feels unreal that the state meet is over. Working all year towards one day takes a lot out of me mentally. I'm running Golden West on Saturday, but just the 800m. I think this is a good choice on my coach's part since I don't know if I have the mental strength left to run another 3200. XC's starting to slowly creep up on me. As far as running camps go, I don't think I'm going to go to one this summer. Two of my teammates and I went before sophomore year, and it was a major let-down, after which all three of us ended up getting injured (hip, shin, and foot). So I don't want to do that again. In the middle of July I'm going to Japan with two of my friends. My friend Erica's family owns a rice plantation out in the middle of nowhere--really scenic. My other friend Abigail is on the team (she had the shin injury), so we'll go running a bit while we're there.&nbs p; I will probably continue to run up until we leave, then take some time off while we are there, and then resume training right when we come back. Summer running is really intense on my team, so I'll have to be in pretty good shape when I start if I want to have any chance of keeping up. We do these runs ("Christensen Runs") from the middle school on the outskirts of town that just about kill my brain. Starting in the early morning due to heat, we run five or six miles down a straight road in the middle of hay fields until our coach tells us to turn around and go back. There are only about three 90-degree turns in the whole run, so we can basically see the path that we will be running ahead of us for the next hour. In a day's run, we see about five dead animals ranging from birds to squirrels and house pets. To make it that much better, he wants us running just under 7mn pace for the whole thing. As crazy as it sounds, I'm actually looking forward to those runs.

10) How are the Livermore girls looking like for next year's XC season?
Wow, I don't want to be too premature, but I'm REALLY excited for our team next year. Hopefully I won't get my hopes up so high that I'm never satisfied with our places, but I sure do have high hopes. Not one of our varsity girls is graduating this year, so we basically have a full team and then some coming back. The other two of our core three, Robin and Abigail, ran amazing this last track season. Abigail got down to the 11:20s in the 3200, and Robin got down to 2:21 in the 800/5:12 in the 1600/mid 11s in the 3200. They are looking really promising. Next in line is Megan Chamberlain, who made it to NCS this year in the 400m as only a freshman and her first year running. She almost broke 60 numerous times this season, so she's going to be really strong up the hills in XC. Hayley is right behind her running 63s and sub-2:30 800s. They were our top five last year. We also have Natalie Dimits coming to our school next year. As an eight-grader she's already run times comparable to our varsity girls. She's just at 5:20 in the 1600m, she's set records on the local swim team, and she's run amazingly in the Junior Olympics the last two years. To top it off she's even interested in the same subjects in school as us. We're really excited to start training with her this summer. Who knows if we will get any other talented freshmen. All in all, I think we have a great chance to make it to state once more this year, but again, I'm being quite premature (seeing as track isn't even over yet).

11) What advice would you give to other distance runners who are just starting out in the sport and want to get better?
Even after three years of running, there are times when I still feel like a complete beginner. To runners just starting out, I would have to tell them to keep running. Don't give up too soon, basically. Run a lot gradually, not too much at first (to prevent injury), but definitely keep running. It seems that, overall, running is a simple sport. You don't need hand-eye coordination, huge bulky muscles, or expensive equiptment. To get better, you just have to get your body used to running longer and faster. The body has to have time to grow and adjust to the workouts. After a few weeks of running, it will start to hurt less and be more enjoyable. A bit of advice would be to have patience. A new runner is not going to have success right away. It will take a weeks of practice before you can feel comfortable with yourself and can start to challenge the pa ce a little bit at a time. It is also good to not get too caught up with the future. I've found that focusing on each workout, one day at a time, makes the miles seem a lot more manageable and a lot less overwhelming. Dwelling on championships during the first days of the season is bound to eat away at your mind.
12) Anything else you would like to add.Nope, I think I've covered plenty. If there's anything else you'd like me to say or answer, just let me know. If I wake up in the middle of the night with an amazing realization to add to your interview, I won't hesitate to send it. Thanks again for making me feel important to someone.

Thank you very much for your time Diana!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Good For The First Mile (1 of 6)

Check out the 1st part of this documentary featuring Steve Cram, one of the most underrated distance runners in history, before his race at the 1st World Track and Field World Championships in Helsinki. You will have to find parts 2-6 on youtube.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Catching up with Petaluma's Bjorn Griepenburg...

Now that track is over and I have some free time, I will post interviews with Northern California track athletes who I think have an interesting story to tell.

I will start with Petaluma's Bjorn Griepenburg (pictured to the left, courtesy of Cameron Potter and who gained some notoriety on the message boards following his run at the NCS Redwood Empire meet as he placed 7th in a new PR of 9:48.55. According to NCS rules, an athlete (in this case it was Santa Rosa's Rory McLeod) may claim hardship and challenge the last qualifier in his or her race to qualify for the Meet of Champions. Bjorn ended up not having to run in that challenge race and compete at the NCS MOC. In a short span of time, Bjorn has enjoyed success on hill and dale and the track and is looking forward to continue his running in college.

1) How did you get your start in distance running?

I had played baseball my entire life and had never done anything else. I was always decent at running in PE and my dad was pretty good in college. I remember hearing about our school cross country team in the morning announcements after they had won NCS and taken 13th at state. I decided that it would be fun to be apart of a program like that and decided to give things a shot. I signed up for cross country my junior year.

2) Can you tell us a little about your dad and his coaching background and success?
My dad was very athletic in high school and ran track and cross country in college for SF State, where he ran 1:54 and 4:17. He coached at SF State for a year then switched to Burlingame High School, where he had some great teams (one of which was second in the nation in XC). Surprisingly enough, he never even pushed me into running. He did sign me up for one road race during my sophomore year and gave me a two week training plan, something that got my feet wet and made me feel more comfortable about signing up for XC.

3) What other sports did you do before you made the switch to being a full time runner?
As I mentioned earlier, I played baseball.

4) What convinced you to make that switch?
After my junior cross country season, I was still thinking that I would train on my own and play baseball. I went to baseball workouts during the two weeks I had off after cross country, then when the time came I decided that track would be a necessity. I wanted to put myself in a position to help the team my senior year and decided that I had to fully commit myself to running. I don't regret the decision one bit.

5) Reflecting back to Cross Country season, what do you consider was your own highlight? Team highlight?
The team highlight, without a doubt, was making the podium at state. None of us felt like we ran to our potential that day, but then again Loyola was an untouchable team. Standing on the podium down there is something I will never forget.

My personal highlight probably came at the Mariner Invite. We came in for a big battle against Jesuit and were without one of our top guys, Brandon Felipe. I had been the fifth-sixth runner all year, so I knew things would likely come down to me. I remember hurting badly about halfway through that race and just gritting it out and holding on for dear life. I believe I was close to the top ten coming into the last mile and ended up hitting the wall and getting passed by about 15 guys. I still managed to outkick Jesuit's fourth or fifth and we won the meet. I remember feeling like I had finally arrived as a runner, not just physically, but more importantly, mentally. It was the first race ever where I felt like I couldn't have done anything more.

6) Are there any runner(s) that you look up to in terms of teammates, runners from other schools or professional runners?
I have nothing but respect for our entire varsity boys team. Everyone works hard and we are like a family. If I had to point to someone on the team who has taught me a lot through his hardships, it would be Ben Stern. He has incredible talent but gets freak injuries over and over. Last cross country season he was doing well and became anemic, then this track season got a stress fracture when he was coming back. He has taught me that running is a privilege and that it is not something I can take for granted. Everyday I am healthy is a day that I can work to get better, and I cannot throw this away.

7) What workouts do you consider were key to your success during track season?
Early on in track, we had two really tough workouts, one of which was 16x400 (1 min. rest), the other being 8x800 (2 min. rest). At the end of the season we had some solid mile pace workouts with 3x300 at 800 pace afterwards. I felt like these helped tremendously and were an excellent tune-up for the post season.

8) Tell us a little about your xc and track and field coach (Coach Lynch) and how he has helped you achieve your running success.

Jim is an amazing man and we have become great friends these past two seasons. He is very communicative and asks for nothing more than a good work ethic. The moment that stands out for me with Jim and is representative of his coaching style came immediately after the Stanford Invite seeded race, in which we ran terribly. We came together before our cool down and he told us that things needed to change and we needed to each reevaluate our goals for the season if we didn't step things up to the next level. He challenged us, tweaked some things in our training, and essentially told us that we were in control of our own destiny. Everything started clicking after that.

9) Why has Petaluma been so successful in xc and track the past few seasons?
I've heard it said many times that "Success breeds success." Quite frankly, it comes down to this. Jim inherited a program that was in shambles and was able to find some people that were willing to put in the work and become decent runners. He built an entire program around a few guys, and each year we are able to find some new talent. It is really a matter of what we all demand out of each other on a day-to-day basis. The expectations rise for everyone. We have JV guys trying to get permission to do extra mileage this summer. Once this kind of stuff begins happening, it is easy to create a winning environment.

10) What are your college plans in terms of running and any thoughts to coaching in the future?
I am going to try to walk-on for XC and track at UCSB. I believe I have some great years of running lying ahead of me because of my late start. I would definitely love to coach a high school team in the future. Seeing the positive impact that a coach can have on his athletes has really inspired me. There are lots of life lessons one can learn from a sport that he will never learn in the classroom, as Jim has said quite often.

11) What advice would you give to up and coming runners?
Last week, I spoke at the cross country meeting to the members of next year's team. Looking out at the young faces, I realized that they were coming into an experience that I had just finished. I told them that they need to decide what they want to take out of this and not leave anything to regret. Like I said earlier, running is a privilege. Every high school runner who wants to be successful must make each and every day count.

12) Anything else you would like to add.
Running is more about character than anything else. I am honored to have toed the line against so many exceptional athletes in these past two years. More importantly, I have seen the tremendous bond that runners share regardless of team, gender, skill level, etc. Best of luck to everyone in the coming seasons.

Thank you very much for your time Bjorn!

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