Monday, June 30, 2008

Erin Donohue

Erin Dohohue, Photo by Gabriel Bouys/Getty Images
Donohue hopes to run down her Olympic dreams

By Sam Donnellon Philadelphia Daily News Sports Columnist

IF YOU LIVE in Haddonfield, N.J., or its neighboring towns, you have likely seen Olympic hopeful Erin Donohue run. What you might not have seen - and you are far from alone - is the Olympic part of it, unless you were running alongside her.
At 5-7, 145 pounds, the 25-year-old Donohue looks more like the soccer striker or point guard that she was in her youth than the elite 1,500-meter runner she is now. She attacks the road more than glides above it.
"Kind of sloppy," is the way she describes it.
"Not that I have horrible form that's inefficient," she was saying in between morning and evening workouts yesterday. "But you go to track meets and see these runners who have beautiful form and they're just a beautiful thing to watch. But me - my shoulders kind of roll and my hands aren't always together and they kind of flop around and sometimes my head falls to the side . . . "
She says this with a smile. In high school, when she was winning state titles, her unconventional size and form were part of her allure. Both became less funny when she struggled through her first few years at the University of North Carolina, and became downright annoying when she finished up a strong senior season with a fourth in the 2005 NCAA championships - and found no agent interested in handling her, no shoe company seeking to sponsor her.
With a time of 4 minutes, 14.57 seconds in that meet, the much-held perception was that she had peaked. "I felt I had more, though," she said. "Much more. I felt I hadn't come close to maxing my potential."
It's the added weapon that often elevates athletes into the elite level, that self-belief. Donohue had been a fine runner in college, an ACC champion and four-time All-America. But there was little evidence to support her feeling of great, untapped potential.
Even to her. "Sometimes I did feel in college, when I was getting beat pretty badly sophomore and junior year, that I might be delusional," she said.
"But I think that's one thing that has helped me to train for as long as I have. Making that transition from high school to college and then the pro level, it's hard to keep that confidence all the way through. When people start getting beat, a lot just kind of give up on themselves. Even when I was getting beat by people in college, I still always thought I was good, and that it was just a temporary thing that I was getting my [butt] kicked."
A business major in Chapel Hill, Donohue got a paid internship in Nike's marketing department after graduation and moved to its offices in Eugene, Ore. With her Olympic dream now reduced to a secret, she continued to run before and after work.
In the fall of 2005, she ran into distance runner Franklyn Sanchez in the company's weight room. A high-school friend of Donohue's Carolina teammate Shalane Flanagan, Sanchez put her in touch with longtime distance coach John Cook. Retired after a 19-year stint as George Mason's men's coach, Cook, 66, was already building a reputation for developing talented but unfulfilled female distance runners.
"Sanchez kept telling me, 'You have to talk to this girl, she's so tenacious,' " Cook said in the June edition of Running Times Magazine. "She'd be out at night running workouts alone with one of those mining lamps on her head, because the Nike track is pro-environmental, you know, and there are no lights. So I started going out to the track with a light on my head, so I could see her. The weather could be so horrendous, sometimes I'd hope she wouldn't show up. But she always did."
In 3 years since, Donohue's elaborate training program has enhanced the strengths of her sturdy frame - specifically her stamina and late explosiveness. Always capable of handling the grind, she has shaved off seconds from her times in both the 800 and her specialty, the 1,500. In her final tuneup last Sunday at the Prefontaine Classic in Oregon, Donohue finished fourth with a time of 4:07.65, the second American across the finish line.
With less than a month to go before the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, she is one of only four U.S. women to have qualified for the Olympic A standard with a time of under 4:07. Only those who have run under 4:07 are qualified to go, so she is likely to take one of the three spots on the U.S. team headed to Beijing in August.
Which is a pretty neat trick for a runner everyone forgot about 3 years ago, a runner who couldn't get an agent to return a call, couldn't get a sponsor, couldn't get anyone to look past the frame and the funky form and see an athlete who just wouldn't quit on herself.
"To be honest," she said. "I still think I have something to prove." *

Shannon McGowan in England

And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England’s pleasant pastures
And did the
Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?
Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold:
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England’s green & pleasant Land.

From William Blake's Milton- A Poem, best known today as the hymn "Jerusalem" from which the film Chariots of Fire got its name.

Recent Gloucester Catholic graduate Shannon McGowan, a four year First Team All Conference Cross Country Runner at Gloucester Catholic, recently took her training shoes with her on a vacation to England. Shannon reports back from England:
"Getting ready for my trip to England, I double checked my suitcase making sure I had all of my running essentials packed. Excited to do things in a different country that I normally do here in the USA, I eagerly got off of the plane and couldn’t wait to arrive to the place where we were staying—the Isle of Wight. Little did I know that the island was nothing but hills! In the back of my mind I know that hills are one of the best training tools that you can use while training for an upcoming season. (Shannon will run cross country for Kings College in Wilkes Barre, PA in the fall). Everyday that I ran over there was a run of constant up hills and down hills, which wasn’t as hard as you would think. The down hills surely helped me get back up the hills. Some hills Isle of Wightwere steeper than others but the runs seemed no different as they all had hills. With having a sea breeze 24-7, it doesn’t seem as hot as it does here in New Jersey when going out for a run at 8am.
I actually enjoyed running in England a great deal more than running here in New Jersey. I think it was the hills that made me enjoy it more and it was a big change of scenery. The food was amazing-- I loved it. The milk wasn't pasteurized like in the US, so the cheese tastes better and the milk is creamier. I was also surprised at the amount of runners I saw in England. We stayed at the Isle of Wight, just south of England. You can see from the picture just how hilly the Isle of Wight is.
Hilly Tennyson Down
Below that is a picture of a really steep hill on Tennyson Down where Lord Tennyson used to go to get inspiration for his writings.
The bottom picture is from the top of Carisbrooke Castle. It shows just how hilly the island was."
View from the top of Carisbrooke Castle

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Jack Pyrah Remembered

Jack Pyrah at finish line of Camden Y run in 1956When former Villanova Coach Jack Pyrah passed away last July he left behind running friends across the country and across the world. From South Africa to Dublin Ireland, to Kenya to Gainesville Florida to Chicago to California to Gloucester City, New Jersey-- Jack left behind hundreds of runners and coaches he'd touched and influenced with his gentle personality and wit. In Jack's hometown of Gloucester New Jersey he left behind family (wife Jean) and many runners he'd encouraged through the years with his positive personality or with more tangible support like a pair of running shoes or spikes for a new runner.

Jack's legacy is still found in those he coached and in all those he befriended.
Jack with thevictorious VILLANOVA 4 X ONE MILE RELAY TEAM wearing black ribbons at the 1981 PENN RELAYS.From left: KEN LUCKS, MARCUS O’SULLIVAN (CURRENT VILLANOVA COACH), JACK PYRAH, JOHN HUNTER, AND SYDNEY MAREE.Alberto Salazar said his father liked Jack best of all the coaches who recruited him for college and he strongly considered attending Villanova because of Jack. (One can only imagine adding Salazar to the great Villanova teams of the time....)

We're sure Jack would like to be remembered most by deeds. It could be by giving a little encouragement for those just starting out as runners. It could also be by encouraging established runners or coaches to keep going. Just as Jack kept going to the Penn Relays for over 70 years. Those who knew Jack Pyrah can honor him best by giving something back to the running community he loved.

For more information on Jack Pyrah:
and for tributes to Jack:

Jack honored in front of 19,000 fans at a Villanova Syracuse basketball game for his National Coaches Hall of Fame inductionCoaches Jack Pyrah and Jack Heath score a Gloucester Catholic Cross Country Meet

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The New Gloucester Catholic?

Proposed site of new Catholic High School in Harrison Future Gloucester Catholic students at proposed site of new school

Note: For the latest on plans for new Gloucester Catholic fields:

The Diocese of Camden has plans to build a new 1,200 to 1,500 hundred student high school in Harrison, NJ. The school which could possibly replace the current Gloucester Catholic in Gloucester, NJ would have an athletic complex and a 500-600 space parking lot. The proposed new school would serve the rapidly growing population of Gloucester and Cumberland Counties and would still be only minutes away from Camden County students. There hasn't been a Diocesan high school built in over 40 years ( Paul VI was built in 1965). The Diocese is currently studying the feasibility of the new school and will have a final recommendation early this summer. As part of the study the Diocese has recently met with the State Department of Environmental Protection to discuss sewer capacity for the proposed school after receiving Harrison Township's approval.
The school would be located on Route 77 (pictured above). The proposed school site was formerly the Eachus farm. Ironically, another member of the Eachus family, Brian Eachus was one of the top runners on the Gloucester Catholic Cross Country team a few years ago.
If, as expected the school remains Gloucester Catholic High School, every attempt will be made to keep the things that have made Gloucester Catholic so beloved to its students for over 75 Gloucester Catholic High School, Photo by David Swanson, Inquireryears-- a great tradition, a caring family atmosphere, and loyal alumni, with all the advantages of a new state of the art high school. It is exciting to contemplate the possibility of carrying the spirit and tradition of Gloucester Catholic to a new facility with fields and a home cross country course on the school grounds.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ask the Coach

Boston Marathon's famous Kelleys (no relation) John the younger and John the elder

Ask the Coach- the Boston Marathon and other topics

I have a couple of questions about Boston Marathon traditions: First, do they still give out beef stew after the race? And second, do doctors still get a bye in qualifying for the race?
Signed “Old Timer”.
Coach: Great questions. Unfortunately, there is no more beef stew. The BAA isn't sure when the beef stew stopped but they think it was around the time that the finish was moved from the Prudential to Copley Square in 1986. It may also have coincided with a year when a number of people got sick from ingesting a bad batch of the stew. It might also have to do with the logistics of feeding a field that large.* There are still automatic entries -- roughly 200 -- for doctors who belong to a medical/athletic association that provides services to the race, but it's not a blanket exemption for physicians.

* (John Powers of the Boston Globe suggested to me with a smile that they start a new tradition Famous Legal Seafood chowderand provide vats of Legal Seafood’s Clam Chowder after the race).

Hey Coach:
I’ve declared a “fatwa” on fat and a “jihad” on jiggle as part of my New Years resolution, but I still weigh the same as I did last year, and may actually be gaining weight despite running 2 miles a day. Any advice for losing weight?
Signed “Out of Belt Notches”.
Coach: You may have to start tracking your calories and up your mileage a bit or start doing some speed work to burn off more than you consume. Nancy Clark author of ''Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook’’ says ''Many runners diet at breakfast and lunch, drag themselves through a midday workout, are famished at dinner and eat everything in sight''. ''They end up gaining weight.'' ''They say, 'I ran umpteen miles, I deserve to eat umpteen calories.' But you can't always do that.'' NancyClark recommends taking a look at the little things in your diet. Simply by cutting out creamy salad dressings, having mustard instead of mayonnaise on sandwiches and not piling a mound of butter on a baked potato can eliminate several hundred calories a day, Clark points out. These measures will not only enable you to lose weight but also reduce blood cholesterol levels and guard against heart disease. and eliminating one high fat desert negates the effect of a 30 minute run. Running burns roughly 100 calories per mile. If you are running approximately 14 miles per week, you can try running a bit more, adding some speed work or cutting back on some of the dietary extras you won’t miss and see if that helps.

Coach: I am going to try my second marathon and I’d like this one to be easier than the first. Tell me a secret about training for a marathon that I don’t already know! Signed "Willing to Learn"
Coach: Think time not distance for your long runs. I’ve found I can run comfortably through a marathon up to the time of my longest run. In other words, if your longest run takes 3 hours to cover an 18 miler-- you can probably expect to feel pretty good through the 3 hour mark of the marathon. You have trained yourself to run for that amount of time. Because you are running faster in the race due to the adrenalin etc. this may be at the 20 mile mark of the race. The longer you train to be on your feet, the better prepared you will be. Two time Olympic Oldest known picture (1904) of the Boston Marathonmarathoner Kenny Moore put in 30 mile training runs for this reason. Most runners worry too much about the mile markers of the race and not enough about the time they have put in training. One interesting fact: some marathons in Scotland and Great Britain show descending mile markers. It may give you a psychological boost to see the mile markers decreasing instead of increasing during the race.

Coach: I read your article about finding money a few years back in Runners Gazette.I found $126.47 while running last year and wanted to know if I should report it to the IRS? I think it might put me in a new tax bracket. Signed “Penny Pincher”
Penny, I called the IRS to ask them your question. They told me I was the first person to ask the question since their founding in 1862. Then they asked me for your name and address and for the last four digits of your social security number. When I declined to provide this information they then mentioned that a lot of callers ask questions about untaxed money on behalf of “friends” and wanted to know my information.Your secret is safe with me.

Note- These are based on real questions submitted to the coach. Article originally appeared in Runners Gazette magazine

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Day of Distance at Villanova

American Distance running past present and future came together at Villanova at the annual Day of Distance Coaching Clinic on March 28. First, three time Former Mile World Record holder and present Kansas Congressman Jim Ryun and Rams Coach Jack HeathOlympian and former mile world record holder Jim Ryun, now a US Congressman from Kansas spoke to the assembled coaches about his great running career. Ryun mentioned how he overcame the disappointment of getting cut from his church baseball and junior high basketball teams and turned it into a positive-- running in the Olympics in 1964 as a high school student. 45 years ago Ryun ran a 3:55 mile for the US high school mile record. Ryun gave insights into the workouts that led to his becoming the best runner in the world-- gradual progression with no sudden spikes in training. He also mentioned the "secret to his success" his moms cherry pie. Congressman Ryun mentioned that runners must set goals that are not easily reached but are obtainable with hard work to reach their potential.

Ryun also mentioned athletes have to have fun but must also "take ownership" of their own training and their goals to be truly successful. Ryun enjoyed recounting how his coach Bob Jim Ryun, Marty Liquori 1971 Dream Mile at PennTimmons made the practices fun with things like a "bowtie" practice that involved running to the top of a stadium and back down in a bowtie pattern.

Villanova track and cross country coach Marcus O'Sullivan spoke about lessons learned from his world class running career and career as a Division I coach.Villanova Coach and 3 Time Olympian Marcus O'Sullivan

Marcus talked about how each athlete should have a long range plan and long range motivation and short term motivation. According to Marcus: "Motivation is the space between where you are and where you want to go."
Marcus talked about positive and negative energy and how some athletes run for negative reasons. Marcus mentioned that athletes run to their potential when they harness their anxiety and emotions and run for positive reasons.
Erin Donohue now runs for Nike

Erin Donohue former Haddonfield and North Carolina star currently running for Nike, spoke about her training and running career.
Erin mentioned that she is currently being coached by John Cook of George Mason and her current goal is to run the 1500 meters in the Beijing Olympics. Erin ran in the 1500 finals in the World Championships last year

A representative from Nike also mentioned that Nike is about to release the Nike Amp+ watch at the Boston Marathon The Nike Amp will enable runners to track their distance and for coaches to track theNike Amp + will be released at Boston Marathon mileage of their entire team online.