Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Catching up with Menlo Atherton runner, Jason McGhee...

Today we chat with Menlo Atherton runner, Jason McGhee.  This past Saturday at the Serra Top 7 Invitational, Jason stamped himself as one of the contenders for the state meet in the 800m. as he recorded a personal best of 1:55.4h.  The most impressive part of the effort was that Jason ran that time by himself in the slowest heat of the 800.  He will get to test himself further this Friday as he battles some of the other contenders in the 800 at the CCS Top 8 Meet.  Jason, who is a junior, is new to the sport of Track and Field and I will let him explain how he made his way to the oval in the spring (and hill and dale in the fall).

1) What sports have you participated in before and during high school?
I played AYSO soccer from about 1st grade until 3rd grade then I began to play more competitively on a CYSA until 7th grade when I had some disagreements with coaches and ended up stopping the sport entirely. In middle school I played flag football, and continued with football freshman year. Unfortunately I didn't have the size or the hands to be a starter - and I wouldn't play a sport where I'd have to sit on the bench. Next came lacrosse, freshman year in the spring and sophomore year in the fall (box league) and spring. Although I did enjoy the new sport, Eric Wilmurt, the cross country coach, began to talk to me about joining the cross country team along with a few runners. So, this year, I decided to try it out.

2) I believe you ran cross country for the first time this past fall. How did you end up deciding to participate in the sport?
I ran "The Big Bear Run" - a 5k run and fundraiser at Menlo-Atherton freshman year and was the first Menlo-Atherton student to finish, then ran it again sophomore year, however, a freshman at the time, Jack Beckwith, beat me handily, which I did not particularly like... So I thought I'd run cross country and see if I could improve. Both my competitive nature and countless people telling me to at least try cross country, convinced me to give it a shot.

3) What were some of your highlights for you and your team as well as your personal record at the crystal springs course?
A big part of the cross country season was building a relationship with the other six guys on the varsity team and having fun, while still getting down to business and running. Mt. Sac was definitely the highlight of our season - it was a blast! (Even if I didn't run all that well) My PR during cross country season for the Crystal Springs Course was 16:53 I believe, and my mile time was 5 minutes flat. 

4) This is your first year running track as a junior following two years on the lacrosse team. What led you to making that switch in sports?
I think the biggest reason I switched to track, at the time, was my lack of talent in contrast in lacrosse. In practice, I realized, I would always have the most fun when we had to do a timed run or sprints because I would excel – running is so simple! You just have to give it all you got; there is nothing else you need to worry about (like scoring goals, passing a ball to your teammates, being ready to catch a ball, and preparing for a hit). People tell me lacrosse has been around basically forever, but don’t you think track or more specifically foot racing, has been around longer? I do. It’s what man is born to do.

5) You ran some indoor races during the winter. Where did you run and what were your times?
I indeed did get the privilege of running in an indoor meet! I went to the Simplot Games with ISC International from February 18th to the 20th for my first track meet – Pocatello, Idaho was a long way to go for a first! I ran the 4x4 preliminary with a few teammates and we barely missed the finals, and I ran the 800m. In the prelim my time was 2:03, I believe and I got second in my heat and 8th overall. In the final, being 8th I got to race in the night final, or “A” final, I ran a 1:58.15 and placed second to Alex Paul from Colorado. 

6) Tell us about your race this past weekend at the Serra Top 7 Invitational were you ran 1:55.4h and how you ended up in the slowest heat.
The reason I was in the slowest heat at Serra Top 7 was because I hadn’t and still haven’t received a FAT time besides my indoor time. The race was a much better paced than some of my others, where my first 400m was 53 (Johnny Mathis) or 54 (first dual meet) – I finally realized just because you don’t feel tired within the first 10 seconds doesn’t mean you aren’t running fast enough. It was a little weird having to cut in twice in the race though (being #16), I was afraid I was going to cut someone off; I did get out a bit too hard, but I held a similar pace the next lap and ended up with a PR. Running in the slowest heat didn’t affect my time, I don’t think, I usually don’t focus on the other runners, until near the end of race. I try to focus on keeping my pace so I can finish with the fastest time possible.
7) What is the track club your belong to and who are some of your fastest teammates and their accomplishments?
 I belong to ISC International (Integrated Speed Concepts). Everyone on the team is definitely fast, however some of the faster athletes currently on ISC are Johhny Beard (SO) - 50 low (400m) 22 low (200m), Andre Chapman (JR) – 22.05 (200m), 49.03 (400m) and Iesha Hardiman (SO) – 55 low (400m), 24 low-mid (200m). Sebastian Sam, an athlete which you previously interviewed, was on ISC as well, but is now running at Cal. 

8) What are some of your toughest workouts that you do in practice that you feel have helped you get to this point in the 800m?
Toughest workout? Probably… 17 x 200m at 28 seconds each, until the last 5 which had to be faster and faster each interval.  (Recovery is jog back to start)

9) Who are the runners you are looking forward to racing this Friday at the CCS Top 8 meet?
As the top two runners in CCS have decided to run in the 3200m, I’m looking forward to racing Kyle McNulty and Chris Waschura.

10) What other big races are you looking forward to this season?
 I’m looking forward to the Meet of Champions in Sacramento, CCS Finals and State.

11) Who are your coaches and how have they helped you develop as a runner?
Chioke Robinson, the head coach of ISC International has helped me more than I could imagine. My PR for the 800m before I joined ISC was 2:06 and my PR in the mile was 5 minutes flat. I still haven’t run an official mile, but I did run a 1500m in 4:07, so when I do run the mile I will most likely PR by over thirty seconds. He’s done all the work, basically all I have to do is exactly what he says, and there’s no limit to what I can do.

12) Anything else you would like to add.
I’ve realized running is mostly mental, and once you forget what you think you can and can’t do and just put all you’ve got into racing and push when you think you can’t anymore – that’s when you start doing amazing things. If someone has a great work ethic, understands that it’s true – “No pain, no gain.” There is nothing stopping you from being the best. “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.” – Chioke Robinson

Thank you for your time Jason, AJC!


Anonymous said...

Another private coaching situation... Seems to be working. Does Menlo not have a distance coach? Seems like he was taking a dig at the coaching staff.

Evan Smith said...

Where is the dig at the coaching staff? The only negative thing I saw him write was that he had some disagreement with his junior high club soccer coach.

Running Fan said...

I didn't see a dig either - he just mentioned that he ran for ISC.

It sounds like he's doing workouts at MA when talking about 200's.
Maybe he's working with both his school and club team to improve.

It's probably nice to have support from your school and outside people when you want to train to be the best.

Anonymous said...

He never broke 5 min in the mile until he started running club.

ie. his high school coach sucks, club it the way to go.

Doesn't seem like much "working together" going on, he doesn't mention his high school team at all.

Albert Caruana said...

This is his first year running track. Where would he have broken a 5 minute mile before?

Obviously some of you are trying to make some point with school and club coaches.

Let's get back to the amazing part of this athlete. He is a junior. This is his first year running track and he ran a 1:55.4h by HIMSELF.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Albert for that. Can we keep focus on those students that are running amazing times for their high school teams. Way to go MA and way to go to all those kids out there who are trying their best and having a great time without all the press and or drama.

Anonymous said...

It should be addressed though... Private coaches or parents poaching athletes from a program is not cool. Especially when there is a good coach in place, as in the case at Mtn. View.

If they were in it for the kids they would coach at the HS where they can show their talent. I have no respect for coaches to take the best talent and then walk around with their chest puffed out.

A good coach can take great talent and make them better, and it can develop that beginner into something great as well.

And athletes and parents don't be so naive, that club coach is in it for the money, thus the fee you pay every month!

Anonymous said...

Good coach or not, there is no reason a runner can't get outside training - from a parent, trainer, or whoever they want.

I am so sick of hearing that getting additional training is "wrong". It is OK in academics, all other sports, and almost everywhere else in life. Why is running different? It isn't! If high school coaches were "all that", they wouldn't be coaching at High School! I know, I know...some are super-star coaches, blah, blah, blah. But most of them just do the best they can, and most have other jobs so they can only designate so much time to any individual runner. So what is the problem with getting some outside help, paid or not? By the way, what difference does it make if a club trainer is paid? I have never heard of a coach that works for free?!?

And what does Mt. View have to do with this at all? From what I hear they had a good coach before and have really good coaches now. Everyone seems to be happy and doing great. I'm not sure why you brought them up? Who cares if their success is due to the coach or a trainer or both? As Albert said, can't everyone just congratulate the runner for THEIR success and be done with it!

Anonymous said...

The problem with outside coaching is that their are often conflicting views. Yes in football you may have someone go and get a strength coach. But you don't see them getting outside help from an offensive coordinator telling them not to run certain plays and to do others.

Your argument about HS Coaches is not valid. A club coach would not be coaching youth or HS runners either if they were "so good."

Albert Caruana said...

Unless the high school coach and the club coach are communicating, I can't see how a runner could run for both without any conflicts.

In basketball you can have a trainer working with you on your footwork and shot and all that but in running, both coaches and athletes need to all be on the same page.

Anonymous said...

I think that the competition in our section only gets better and better because of club coaching or private training. Let the kids run with who they want to run with! They're high schoolers... old enough to start making decisions for themselves. I'm sure JJ would have not mentioned his club coach or even have agreed to this interview if there was any dispute or conflict between his HS coach and Chioke Robinson. Obviously, JJ has talent and his club coach has helped it develop so that he becomes a better runner.

And it's not only about the competition... our student athletes aren't in it just to win it. They run because they love to run, and I would hope that they try to get as much help and push forward as they can.

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