Coaches Corner May - 2018

With the warmer weather finally? upon us, it’s time to think forward towards the summer and fall racing season.  Stripping down from running pants, long sleeves and hat and gloves is something I’m looking forward to more than I can ever remember.  This was a tough winter for me. Bunged up and trying to build back some consistency is a hurdle in itself, but being constantly frozen while sweating to death really grated on my nerves.  I mean, just last week during our first track meet we had some rain, three different kinds of snow and a touch of sunshine.

And talking about racing, the only goal I have been focusing on is the Pinelands trail 25K.  I’m looking forward towards a Memorial Day weekend and some camping, and lots of trails and field running that is the Pinelands Trail festival.  With 5Ks and 10K events on Saturday, and 25K, 50K and 50 miles of awesomeness on Sunday, the event makes for a great weekend of running and for me, the kick off of summer.We’ve been doing the race for 6 or 7 years now, camping in Freeport and enjoying the best of what Maine has to offer.  I don’t actually get to land until Sunday due to other commitments, but we make the most of our overnight and the girls go up on Friday with friends. The whole thing has a laid back, relaxed vibe to it right down to the beer garden, BBQ and hay bales and John Deere awards for prizes.

I haven’t really looked ahead from there as track and other summer commitments start to stack up and I’d like to avoid any major conflicts.  There’s also a trip to Alaska where I’ll spend 5 days in the home town of Allie Ostrander, 2017 NCAA champion in the steeplechase. She started what’s called the Salmon Run series in Soldatna to benefit river conservation in the area.  While I’ll miss the series by a day I hope to run the course and just see what the race is all about. I’m hoping to run the spit in Homer as well, as it juts almost 5 miles out into Kachemak Bay, about as far west as you can go in the continental US.

I also hope to get to a bunch of the MAGPie (Monadnock Area Grand Prix) series races but I haven’t committed to them due to scheduling.  I definitely want to get to Run for the Honey as I missed it last year, and of course the Viking 5K. I’ll be timing the HoFall 5K and I’ll run the course beforehand.  While I don’t have the others on the schedule I’ll be making some game day decisions add a few more to the list.

And of course we have our Jack Murphy 5K fun runs for ten weeks in the summer.  Starting on June 21st and running for the next ten weeks, the Jack Murphy runs allow runners of all ages to show up, run a relatively straight forward and easy course, and the best part is it is all free!  The start and finish is at the South Meadow School in Peterborough with the run to begin at 6pm.

Also available to runners of the area is a run in New Ipswich we call the Grinder.  The just under 4 mile course climbs an infamous 1.3 mile hill used by the Mascenic cross country teams in their training and provides a staple hill workout for them throughout the summer.  Anyone is invited to join in, running the hill as hard, or easy as they like. The run goes off on Monday nights at 6pm, starting on June 11th. The kids made a video of the workout which can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gUaQTkuF5U

Other things on my horizon is the Caddyshack Classic 5K on June 16th at the Shattuck golf course in Jaffrey.  Run on the back nine with views over to Monadnock, the Caddyshack has to be one of the area’s most scenic runs.  Run on the cart paths with no pavement whats so ever, the unique race has a cross country feel and a breakfast brunch to follow.  Sign up at: https://www.active.com/jaffrey-nh/running/trail-run/caddyshack-classic-5k-trail-race-2018

The one other run I’m getting excited about is this year’s Baby Barkley.  As the snow melts, the trails clear up and the vegetation starts to fill in, I’m gearing up to get the 2018 version of the course configured and set up.  I’ve taken three of the checkpoint GPS coordinates with twelve to go, we’ve got a look out for the appropriate book titles and the pre and post preparations are underway.  We didn’t set out to make the course harder, just less easy. My right hand man Reckless Rob and assistant course setter Mayhem Meli have scrutinized the details and are eagerly awaiting race weekend on August 3rd through 5th.  A video on last year’s race can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1zWqapGvn8&t=18s

For more information and an invite, email me at msmith@mascenic.org

If you haven’t pinned down your summer racing season I encourage you to look into the MAGPie series or any of the outings mentioned here.  Maybe it’s time to change things up, try something outside your comfort zone if this never-ending winter’s weather wasn’t outside of everyone’s comfort zone.

See you out there.

Coaches Corner April - 2018

While winter is slow to relinquish her grasp on the weather, spring is here for me as I’m now two weeks deep into spring track.  The middle school kids joined us this week with all their exuberance and lack of focus, making my already grey hair retain its translucency.   While it’s great to see their unbridled energy, corralling them into becoming athletes appears to be this season’s challenge.

The beautiful thing is for me is that I’ve got a lot of new kids coming out for track this season and so far, they’ve shown excitement and determination that can be hard to find when the temperature is 42 degrees and it’s raining.  There are no other sports at Mascenic that continue to train outdoors when the weather’s bad, just us.

This isn’t meant to be a brag about track athletes or even my athletes, it’s just an observation that we’ve got some new kids that have played other sports coming to us, a sport outside their comfort zone willing to put in some hard work in difficult conditions.  Resiliency seems a fleeting trait among young people, looking for easier ways around more difficult problems.

One of the other observations I’ve made this season relates to the other spring sports at our school.  The number of athletes in the track program grew over last year while we saw significant drops in baseball and softball.  Neither of these teams will host a JV program due to lack of interest, and one can ill afford any injuries or they may have to forfeit some games.  I can’t pinpoint the exact reason however I feel that some of it is the dependence those athletes have on the other members of their team in order to fulfill their potential.

With us it’s simple.  What you put in is what you get out.  Athletes get the opportunity to choose their level of commitment and amend it as they develop the skills necessary to compete.  Someone brand new to the sport shouldn’t have the same commitment that one of my four year State Championship cross country runners does.  The champ should be all in, knowing both how much I will give and what they are looking to get out of the season. The newbie is just getting their feet wet in the sport, not yet knowing what the sport can give them.

That’s not necessarily true with baseball or softball.  The team lives and dies by its weakest player, whether weakest is defined by skills level or interest.  And if it becomes about living up to the teams goals and not about building on an individual’s potential, there are some that might see through the smoke and decide to invest more in themselves.

My windfall has not come at the expense of the baseball or softball teams directly.  I have only one athlete that has converted over from softball as they said they never really liked it but went along with their friends.  However I definitely pulled from the pool of potential candidates for those other teams giving me the biggest numbers I’ve ever had. It’s would be nice to chalk it up to my magnetic personality but I think there are different reasons afoot.

The beauty of this sport is that you get out of it what you put into it.  Hard work and persistence always wins out in stronger performances, both on the track or trail, in the classroom, and in life in general.  No one has ever ended up worse off from working hard and our sport is full of hard work.

I’m looking forward to working with this new group of track athletes over this season, seeing what they’re capable of and what kind of athletes they turn into.  For those that continue on with cross country in the fall, I’m hoping to develop the habits that will make them successful on the course. For those playing other sports I’m hoping the hard work they do this spring prepares them for success on the field hockey field or volleyball court.  They certainly will have learned that the value is in the work and performance comes from that.

I’ll see you out there.

Wednesday Night Workouts are back!

Starting April 4th at 6pm we’ll begin “track” workouts at ConVal.  All workouts are geared off 5K goals but work well for all distance goals.  Want to improve on your marathon time? 5K speed work will do it for you.

April workouts below:

April     4th        Bread and butter 200’s

    11th        300/200 workout

    18th         Negative split run

    25th        10 lap TT

Coming up!  Valhalla RC is hosting a Citizen’s mile at Mascenic HS preceding its home meet on May 5th.  Wondered what your official mile time is?  Show up for the 9:40 race and rip four laps on Mascenic’s “classic” stone dust track and then hang around and watch the local teams compete!  Sure to be a good time.

June 16th, 8am    Caddyshack Classic 5K, held at the Shattuck golf course, Jaffrey, NH , run the beautiful back nine on the golf course with views of Mount Monadnock on likely the most scenic 5K you’ve ever run.  Sign up on active.com