Monthly Archives: July 2018

1968 OLYMPIC TRIALS MARATHON REUNION

It fills me with great joy and a certain pride to present  the following.  Just a little longer blog today but please do read in full.

I moved to Joliet, Il in 1990 and took some classes at Joliet Jr. College.  The Director of the Wellness Center was a lean fella named John Peterson.  This is the tale of  our intersection.

John was coaching a precocious young lady from Plainfield HS (Jenny Lisy)  and asked if I  would join in some of her workouts.  My very first introduction to coaching.  Culminating in her becoming Plainfield’s first female all state runner by finishing 7th (11:19.79, school record) at the 1991 Illinois 2 Mile State Champs.  Jenny came from a background that offered no opportunities.  Her accomplishment that season earned her a scholarship to the University of Iowa.

John Peterson revealed to me the satisfaction of helping others achieve their potential.  My coaching career has undergone many mentors since 1991 but John lit the fire that has kept me going for the last 27 years.

I knew back then that John was a stud 5000 runner in the mid to late 1960s.  I also knew that he earned his Doctorate from the University of  New Mexico.  And that his mentor and colleague was Joe Vigil.  They established a life long friendship that holds true today.

John sent me an email earlier this year, asking for me to give him a call.  I hadn’t heard from him in 20 years so was very happy to oblige.  We spoke of old times, our family’s, our lives.  He told me that he was attending a reunion this summer, something very special to his career and to our sport.  I  reached out again yesterday seeking his blessing for this story and John was gracious enough to offer the following:

“The 2 day event was a gathering of world record holders, American record holders, Olympians, Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medalists, as well as international mountain runners. Other than the Olympics, I believe, this gathering had more veteran distance runners that set the pace for the American running revolution. Deena Kastor and her husband gave one of the best running presentation for 300+ running enthusiasts that I have ever heard. Adams State University put on a once in a lifetime celebration commemorating the first American Olympic Marathon trials 50 years ago (1968). All participants in the trial 50 years ago were invited. I was one of those who ran in the trials. We were treated as pioneers in the running movement. By the way, Adams State University leads the NCAA division I and II with 54 national men’s/women’s cross country/track and field championships.

Front row, left to right:
Frank Shorter, Kenny Moore, George Young, Billy Mills, Joe Vigil, Steve Gachupin

Back row:
Bob Deines, Dave Costill, Bill Clark, Amby Burfoot, Bill Clark’s wife, who was a marathon princess, Hal Higdon, John Peterson, Tom Heinonen, and I think Jan Frisby.

At the banquet there were many other runners. The picture was taken at a video taping session where each person talked a few minutes. Amby Burfoot took the video for historical purposes!”

I still have John’s hand written training philosophy and ten week outline for Jenny.  And a friendship that has lasted almost 30 years.

CORE VALUES

The mileage is consistent this summer.  Consistently low.  Every attempt being made to get out at least twice a week.  Four and a quarter yesterday morning felt fine.  I want to run more and will be able to soon enough.  August knocking on the Bar None’s door.

I pulled 4000 pounds of tomatoes last year.  I might pull 400 this year.  Sold thousands of peppers last, maybe a couple hundred this.  The difference?  I usually take things to the extreme if I’m going to do something.  To fully immerse ourselves in the  prairie/peasant lifestyle the garden was set into the natural field this year.  No tiller.  Pulling weeds over sixteen thousand square feet.  Every day.  Some days ten to twelve hours bent.  So I can say we are different and probably better.

Overwhelming work.  What to do?  The  Zen of the Core.  Converting Labor into opportunities to stretch and reach and balance and exert and do Good Work.  Both Linda and my upper bodies solid.  Check out your local farmer’s market.  You won’t see very many overweight farmers.

Brian and Rose Bergt might be the strongest pound  for  pound people I know.

I graduated high school in 1975.  The day after my birthday that year I shared a ritual that was common among my peers.  Returned from work to find my worldly possessions neatly and lovingly stacked in the driveway.  It really used to be that way.  Instilling a Core Value  that has lasted a lifetime.

 

GOOFBALLS

Thanks to USATF Certified Athlete Agent Christopher Mengel for the cue.

The pursuit of potential realized has inspired me to keep at this sport for over 40 years.   Excellence as Real Runners.  My own and yours too.  One avenue is to expose the community to the very best examples of our discipline.

For the last 10 years I have brought as much national level talent as I possibly can to Nebraska.  To clarify the difference.  To highlight the similarities.  To hopefully inspire.  I’ll continue as long as my zip starts with a 6.

Patrick Rizzo and Zach Hine are entered into and training up for this fall’s Chicago Marathon.  Both have already achieved the 2020 USA Olympic Marathon Trials standard of 2:19:00.  Both are athletes that have displayed their prowess here in Nebraska.  Patrick the 2016-2017 winner of our Nebraska Trail Half Marathon.  Zach turning in his 2016 Olympic Trials qualifier, 1:04:48 at the 2014 Freedom Run Half Marathon right here in Valley.

These goofballs are the same as you and me.  Only different.  photo credit Christopher Mengel

 

RUN LIKE A GIRL

A couple of American Records went down this past weekend.  Courtney Frerichs assumed the Steeple torch in Monaco with a flat out fast 9:00.85.  Former AR holder Emma Coburn finished 4th in a still fast 9:05.06.

I know that Ann Gaffigan is smiling somewhere.  Our very first American Steeple National Champion and one of the fastest Team Nebraska Brooks females I had the pleasure of advocating for.

The Huesden-Zolder Meet in Belgium featured not only an AR but a show of American strength in the 5000.  Our favorite Shelby Houlihan rocked a 14:34.45 to shave almost :04 off Shannon Rowbury’s previous best of 14:38.92.  This was a :20 personal best for Shelby.  Tokyo baby!
But here’s the rest of our American ladies and what I’m really digging:
1. Shelby Houlihan           14:34.45
2. Molly Huddle                 15;01.44
3. Karissa Schweizer         15:02.44
6. Mariella Hall                   15:08.20
7. Vanessa Fraser               15:09.62
8. Sara Pagano                    15:11.27
9. Emily Sisson                     15:13.66*

Emily spent much of her early years as a Nebraskan.

Courtney Frerichs from the US poses beside the indicating board after setting a new women’s 3000m steeplechase Area Record during the IAAF Diamond League Athletics meeting at the Louis II Stadium in Monaco, Friday, July 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

FARM TEAM FRIDAY

I held a very clear standard during my 10 years riding herd over Team Nebraska and the Nebraska USATF LDR program, and even now with Run Guru Elite.  I only deem efforts successful when shaking hands with an athlete that has been accepted into the “next level.”  As much Nebraska bluster that was generated, my deepest commitment was to developing national level athletes.

Turning farm country into a farm team.  For Keith & Kevin Hanson.  For Nike.  For Adidas.  For ZAP Fitness.  For Mammoth Lakes.

Here I go again.  Telling you gentle readers as founder and architect, that the original design and intent of USATF Nebraska, Team Nebraska, and all that might follow, was to elevate our state’s individuals to national level talent, national level opportunities.  

Mike Morgan.  David Adams.  Peter vd Westhuizen.  Angee Henry.  Aubrey Baxter.

It has been a long drought since 2012.  Tanner Fruit moved to Colorado for his  post collegiate efforts.  His name sadly not on our list.  Ashley Miller to Oklahoma after a single year at Team Nebraska.  Her name appearing only as the club’s 1 mile (4:49) and 3K (9:47) record holder.

Who then will next emerge from the corn?

The Bar None in 2013.   A metaphor for my  time in Nebraska.  When first arriving I found a bleak, undeveloped, uninspiring landscape.  Got busy with the most rudimentary of tools, busting sod by hand.  With a vision.

 

I don’t do anything half way.  The Bar None rising to the top.  Farm Team Friday.

ESTRANGE TIMES INDEED

The Nebraska running community will always be family to me.  Beginning with the 2001 USATF Nebraska Association meeting in Lincoln.  Then sitting president Frosty Anderson challenging me to develop a functional Long Distance Running component for our state.  Suggesting that I put on races to raise funding for the fledgling program.  Swamp Stomp, Monster Dash, Ni-Bthaska-Ke Trail Runs doing just that.  All proceeds benefitting my program and my club, Team Nebraska.

Then came the sponsorships.  Brooks Running the very first.  Clif Bar next.  Then the Lincoln Marathon.  Team Nebraska grew into my vision.  From 2002-2012 recognized as one of the top  USATF Clubs in America.  Like a father I was proud.

My USATF Nebraska family continues to grow.  I celebrate their successes.  I’m the grandfather now, unmet and unknown by many of my extended family.  The old guy that sometimes grumbles about the departure from the original vision.  But still proud.  There is always a new generation, new blood, new visions.  New talent.

The Bronfenbrenner Center for Transitional Research at Cornell University is conducting a study  on family estrangement.  Twenty two percent of the nationally representative sample pool report at least one family member is, for a variety  of reasons, estranged from the remaining family.  A telling mark on today’s society.

Know your USATF family’s past.  The sacrifices of those early USATF pioneers Linda Kunasek, Jordan Tucker, Matt Pohren, time away from personal lives for the benefit of USATF Nebraska.  Attending Nebraska annual meetings, attending the USATF National meetings.  Promoting Nebraska.

Our USATF Nebraska annual meeting is in September.  The national meeting is in December.  Nebraska has had no national LDR representation since Linda and I took Matt and Kelly Crawford to Daytona Beach in 2012.

With just a few exceptions (Wintheiser, Runde, Starbuck from Run Guru  Elite, Falcon from Team Nebraska) LRC Racing now holding sway over the state’s best athletes.  Doing what I did almost twenty years ago.  I  may not always  agree with what I see but I never fail to celebrate excellence.

2010.  One Big Happy.  Things have changed a lot but it is important to remember those that came before, came first.

 

 

 

 

TRIX ARE FOR KIDS

Silly Rabbit!

The Marathon.  My personal litmus test.  The first question I’ll ask you if you tell me you are a runner.  What’s your marathon pr?

There is so very much more to running these days.  Marathon personal bests probably rank pretty far down on most people’s criteria.

But there are still those that choose to pursue that purest expression of  our sport.  26.2 miles.  The upper limit of Real Racing.  With apologies to and acknowledgement of everyone else’s own definitions of what constitutes excellence.

One of the fastest men in Nebraska History.  From 5 miles to the marathon.  Tim Dooling, maybe the only name that should be mentioned in the  same breath as Mike  Morgan.  In his 50s now.  We’ve been talking spring marathons.  My opinions on marathons after age 50 are more eloquently stated in this powerful thread at let’s run.
Marathon participation and performance post 50

Run them while you’re young folks.  The marathon is for you!

 

 

BEST EFFORT

The debate rages.  In one corner USATF, in the other, those that poo poo USATF.  It isn’t that cut and dried however.  Those throwing the poo are USATF member clubs.  That choose to stick noses in the air at Certification.  To make a point.  To me.

The  race was however fully accepted as the RRCA Regional Championships without USATF Certification.  This is the difference between RRCA and USATF.  USATF has minimum standards for the conduct of their championships.  RRCA cares not about making sure the event is the advertised distance.

Why are they wrong?  Because you can’t have it both ways.  I received communications yesterday that I’m being negative by pointing out that the Lincoln Mile found no use in certifying the race.  And my wonder that such a deep talented field would  support an “ish” race.  And then my stern insistence  that those results are worth nothing outside the city of Lincoln.

The USA Masters 1 Mile National Championships will be held in Flint, MI on August 24.  I would  suggest that at 52 years old Stacy  Shaw’s 5:52 at Lincoln would be eagerly accepted into the National  Champs field.  If she tried to enter with her performance it would be rejected.

Shalaya Kipp ran a very competitive 4:52.04.  Katie Wetzstein right there in 4:52.21.  My many years as USATF’s Women’s Athlete Development Coordinator has me excited about those times.  How they would meet most all Elite Athlete Coordinators requirements for entry into the next level of  competition.  Except those times would be dismissed because the race was not USATF Certified.

Boy, they  sure showed me!

My buddy Darrell Crain said it best.  “Will, if I am giving my best effort I expect the same from race organizers. Occasionally I’ll run a small local race that I know up front doesn’t have the means to accomplish this. But I go into that race with a full understanding that I won’t recognize my result as accurate.”

So the question remains, why offer, or support, an inferior product?  Why?

I’m offering a possible explanation.  Perhaps the course was measured and submitted.  Perhaps.  Hopefully.  Still not showing up on the USATF national data base.

Caveat!  The 2000 Run For The Arts 5K was loaded with regional and national level talent.  I had designed and measured the course for Texas state records.  Submitted the paperwork but the regional certifier was out of the country resulting in a delay processing the application.  When I submitted the marks for acceptance as state records I was informed that there is no category  for “pending” certifications.  You either get it done in time or you don’t.  My race, my course, my athletes, all suffering for the lack of a more timely effort.  I learned  my lesson the hard  way.  

 

MAYBE A MILE

The Lincoln Mile was yesterday.   The  times were fast.  Checking our National Governing Body’s website did not reveal USATF Course Certification for the newly designed course.

If not certified I’m disappointed.    But even more-so, I’m curious as to how you athletes feel about your efforts not being legitimized through our national governing body’s minimum standards for acceptance.