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  • Aztec Invitational

    Posted on September 27th, 2009
    Leading the 2009 Aztec Invitational

    Leading the 2009 Aztec Invitational

    I have been looking forward to posting my race report of the Aztec Invitational all week. School was quite busy last week, with three tests on top of the usual load, and I couldn’t justify spending time updating this blog when there was other work to be done.

    Last weekend’s Aztec Invitational was the first time I led a cross country race alone since the Woodbridge Invitational in 2002, my freshman year of high school. I ended up winning and it still stands as the last cross country race I have won.

    The race started out exactly as Coach Heins wanted it to, fairly conservative with NAU packing it up in the 10-20 spots. University of San Francisco had seven or eight runners leading the charge through one mile, with Junior Eric Lynch, freshman Tim Freriks and myself following close behind. The course is rather hilly, and shortly after the mile marker, an extremely steep hill kicks up towards the heavens. Lynch swore “that hill is definitely over 45°.” As I predicted the day before as we jogged the course, several runners found it necessary to make a move up the hill. Maybe us Lumberjacks are a little conservative when it comes to hills because we are used to reaching a point of no return level of oxygen debt when making moves up hills in Flagstaff at 7,000 feet… Nevertheless, the USF runners quickly paid for their efforts.

    At the top of the hill, we meandered our way through a dog park, of all things, and a few more inclines before reaching the 2 mile mark. Around this point, NAU took over in a dominating fashion with Tim, sophomore Diego Estrada, and juniors Ahmed Osman and Jordan Chipangama taking over the lead pack. After a fast downhill half mile, the course kicked up again with a short, steep uphill with Jordan moving to the lead. I followed his move and closed the gap. Jordan seemed content to let someone else lead, and just like that, there I was in the lead.

    Pretty quickly I realized that this was the first time in a long time that I had led a cross country race. Might as well roll with it, right? So I continued on, passing a large group of spectators (where I specifically heard my Mom with a very excited voice), back through the dog park and down that very steep hill. Shortly after reaching the bottom, Jordan came by with some words of encouragement, but I was unable to keep up. Ahmed and Diego came by me within the next mile, and I ended up finishing the 8km course in 25:41 in fourth.

    I was really amazed that I was actually slower than a year ago on this course — 9 seconds slower. There was no doubt better competition last year. Add that to a very conservative first two miles and I guess that leaves me with a slower time than last year.

    Nonetheless, I still finished really excited about the race, especially since we scored an almost-perfect-16. Leading the race, even for just a short kilometer or so, re-lit a little flame inside of me. Why not stick my nose in it and go for it?

    Shout outs need to go out to the middle distance guys (“MD Crew”) for really stepping it up. Sophomore Darius Terry finished 6th overall and 5th on the team. Just a few seconds behind him were sophomore Joe Withers and junior (and roommate) Kam Holbrook. They suffer through the beatdowns in long runs and workouts all fall from the longer distance guys. I know they were happy to be putting the hurt on the other guys for a change.

    In a week NAU will be competing at the Cowboy Jamboree at Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Ok. Last year we finished 2nd to a very strong Oklahoma State team. This year they are even stronger, with rankings of 1st and 2nd from Letsrun.com and the national poll. This will be our team’s first test of the season, even though team leader David McNeill may opt to miss the meet for a couple more weeks of solid training.

    Results | Recap on NAUAthletics.com | Photos

  • George Kyte Classic

    Posted on September 9th, 2009

    2009 George KyteThe George Kyte Classic on Saturday kicked off NAU’s 2009 Cross Country season. The team has been looking very good in all of our workouts and the race was no different. Despite the heavy rain the last 1.5 miles, many people set big course PRs, including myself with a 30 second improvement over last year to finish 8th overall. Sophomore Diego Estrada won in 24:57, a 71 second improvement. Sophomore Andrew Belus also had an outstanding performance, breaking his SEA LEVEL PR with a 25:39, a 66 second improvement.

    The team won easily, despite running many runners unattached with 24 points, 32 points ahead of the University of Arizona. When I saw 24 points, it brought back memories of the 2005 California State Meet when Royal scored 24 points. Still gives me goosebumps when I think about that dominating performance.

    I am really happy to be 30 seconds ahead of where I was a year ago. All of my workouts show that I am more fit than a year ago and it is nice to back that up with a race result. The crazy thing is I am in the exact same boat as a year ago… not sure where my place on the team will be. Like several other teammates, I am hoping to solidify myself as a top 7 runner. The only way I know how to do that is continue to have good workouts, take care of my health and race well when it matters. The next opportunity is in a week and a half at the Aztec Invitational in San Diego, Ca. I had a great performance there last year, setting a new PR of 25:32. The goal this year is to be close to 25 minutes.

    Results | Article on NAUAthletics.com (with a photo of yours truly) | Photos (coming soon)

  • Summer training, Internship & Cross Country

    Posted on August 1st, 2009

    Wow, is it August already? Nearly done with another summer break. I don’t have too many of these left actually, which is kind of depressing.

    Since the triathlon, I have been increasing my mileage to prepare for what I believe will be my 16th cross country season (I took the 2000 season off to keep me feeling fresh. Great decision). Since the break I have logged 70, 80 and 90 mile weeks and should finish this week a bit over 80 with a day off. I have started to throw in a few workouts and I have been happy with all of them. The plan is to get in a couple of 100 mile weeks before I head back to Flagstaff on the 18th.

    I am really excited about this season and I have high hopes. In 2008 I had a great season and would love to continue to build on it. The team is looking great with returners David McNeill (competing in the World Championships in Berlin for his native Australia this month), Ben Ashkettle, Diego Estrada and myself. Ahmed Osman had a great track season breaking 29 minutes in the 10k and finishing the year as an All-American. We have lots of new faces coming in that should mix it up with the rest of us.

    Just like last year, it looks like I will be fighting for my spot on the team.

    The only thing standing in my way lately is work. I got a 6-week internship at ITT Aerospace Controls. It is a great opportunity especially since my resume is lacking in experience. I am learning a lot and I am being included in a lot of different aspects. With that said, it does make running a little more difficult. Many of my weekdays lately consist of waking up at ~6, commuting to work 35-45 minutes each way, working 8-9 hours, getting my run in, dinner and then off to bed by 10. I just barely fit everything in, but barely is enough. I hope.

    I can see how trying to do anything well in addition to working full time (e.g. running, triathlons, studying, parenting) would be extremely difficult. It is crazy to think that for many years, the world’s best athletes had to be amateurs and could not be paid for competing in their sport.