Friday, January 30, 2015

Weekend Preview

Koons to Race Two Mile at Armory Track Invitational

On the heels of her stellar showing at the Great Edinburgh Cross Country Run, Frances will contest the Two Mile Run at the Armory Track Invitational in New York this Saturday.  She'll be up against a high quality field, and will be aiming to qualify for the USATF Indoor Track and Field Championships by hitting the 10:07.00 qualifying standard.  Her race is at 4:48pm and will be televised live on NBC Sports Network, so tune in and support her from afar if you can.  Here's the word from Coach Jerry: 

"When I told Frances that there was a meet at the Armory on January 30 that I thought she could run, she was under the impression that it was an all-comers meet where she could make a low key return to indoors.  The field is a tad better than an all-comers meet, but our miscommunication will work to her advantage, as she's fit and ready to take a shot at a qualifying time for nationals."

Good luck Frances!  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Wednesday workout, January 28


Congratulations to Beth for her second place finish in the Miami half marathon in 1:22:28. Beth had Olympic Trials qualification written all over her when she ran 1:17 in Houston last January, but her ascent to greatness was interrupted by a serious injury in the spring. Beth is now fully healthy and she is rapidly making up for lost time, and if I were a betting man, I would go all in on her joining Teal on the starting line at the Trials next February.


Being the eternal optimist, I am holding out hope that we will be able to get on the track on Wednesday. If we can't safely use the track, we can make our joyful return to the tunnel. I have something in mind for that scenario, which I will make known in the event we have to avail ourselves of that less than ideal but viable option.

Either way, we'll roll at 7:15, so meet for the warmup at 6:30. I'll do a recon on Wednesday morning, and if it's clear at that point one way or the other, I'll let you know. If it's a close call, we can make a game time decision.

I'll send the women's workout separately.

See you Wednesday.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Young Earns Spot on Podium in Miami

Breuters Wire Services --

Elizabeth Young took her talents to South Beach this weekend and finished second in the Miami Half Marathon with a time of 1:22:28. Although conditions were a touch on the humid side, she enjoyed the course and the race.
(photo credit Rishi Bagel)

Young had good things to say about the race and the generosity of its organizers, who provided accommodations at a local hotel. Although Beth had trouble communicating with her Ethiopian roommate, it it did not take fluency in Amharic to understand the import of the words "2:32" and "marathon." Said Coach Jerry Alexander, "Beth was in great shape last year before an injury to her plantar and she's more motivated than ever to take the next step in her progression to a true national class marathoner. Today was the first step on her journey and I am confident that journey will take her to the Olympic Trials."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The State of the GRC 2015

As we look into 2015, we are in the fortunate position of starting even higher up the climb to the pantheon of greatness than we were last year at this time. We've developed our athletes, brought in promising recruits ... and had a lot of fun along the way!!!!!

We had six men's team-record-setting performances, wins for both teams at Cherry Blossom, a women's title at the Army Ten-Miler and 10th and 13th place finishes at Clubs for the women and men, respectively.

We gained and lost some comrades in legs: Sean Barrett, Erik Anderson, Breanna Deutsch, Heather Jelen, Dave Burnham, Mike Cotterell, Hiliary may Brian Faherty, Scott Koonce, Dave Roche all departed for other running opportunities. Or, in Burnham's case, a thrilling life as a father of two in Connecticut. We gained Kyle Cooke, Kristin Johnson, Patrick Kuhlmann, Sean O'Leary, Matt Rand, Stewart Reich, Frances Koons, Tina Morrison, Phil Royer and Sara Patterson.

The state of the GRC is strong to quite strong. You might even say we're top dogs. No? You don't want to say that?


Beth ran 1:17:18 at the U.S Half Marathon Championships in Houston for 42nd place.

Heather Jelen received a proposal following an indoor track race. Her fiance, Dean, demonstrated that girls dig guys who work at running stores.


Fridge overcame all challengers at the Have a Heart for Boston-Hoffman Elementary School 5k. (photo not from that race)

The Blond Whale leds the men to the RRCA Club Challenge under 40 championship. They lost the men's overall title to Falls Road by one point. Matt Rand made his GRC debut... or did he?


Greta O'Hara is born, delighting everyone, including her two brothers, Prince and Fergie.

In New York, Frank Michaelson broke the team record for 3k with a 8:17.01, smoking Ryan Hanson's 8:23. Not to be upstaged, Witty assaulted Wiggy's mile record, running 4:12.4, shaving off .3 the same way he shaved his legs for aerodynamic purposes. Or so he tells himself. It got him really fired up.

Dave Roche defies my, and doctors', predictions following a torn labrum and races the Four Courts Four Miler.  Then he skipped town.

Kerry finished second at the Rock 'n' Roll USA half marathon in a 1:19:46, one minute PR. Matt Rand made his official debut, finishing third.

Dickson was honored with a hat bearing his likeness.

Sam Luff made his return to running, winning the Race to End Poverty in like 17 something. (photo not from that race)


Luke finished at the US 10 mile championships at Cherry Blossom in 48:45, a team record. Both the men's and women's team won the metropolitan elite competitions. 

The club's media relations team worked overtime in advance of the Boston Marathon. Kerry was featured in Roll Call and Dickson had an entire page of the American University magazine.

Matt Rand led the men's team, and Julie led the women, at Boston. Meanwhile Patrick Reaves ran 2:29:48. He might have run faster if he had looked where he was going.

Frank Michaelson and the Blond Whale went 1-2 at the Penn Relays 10k. Michaelson set a team record. (photo not from that race)


Susan got married to NATHAN, following a close wedding party DMR. They would soon welcome a puppy, Delta, into their home.

LDO finished in the top 10 at the Broad Street Run and Evan PRed.

Johnny Running came back into the fold to win the Germantown 5 Miler (photo not from that race)

David Wertz ran 15:11 at Swarthmore. Chew on that for a while. His peers will, with their dentures.

Teal earned her doctorate in neuroscience. She's available for all of your neuroscience needs, weddings, birthdays and bar mitzvahs.

Hilary moved to Southern California with her fiancee Graham. Who knows if she'll fit in there.


Witty won his third consecutive Fathers Day 8k title, and Kristin "Snakes" Johnson debuted with a win, too. She went on to win women's newcomer of the year.

Evan ran 2:27 at Grandma's Marathon. Jesus... (photo not from that race) Also he's a burglar.

Cecilia ran 2:02.14 for 800 meters to qualify for the USATF 800 meter final.


Breezy married Liz.


August mostly belonged to Kieran, who won the Leesburg 20k and then got married to Zyra.

JR married Emily Norton Number Two, who is now promoted to being the primary Emily Norton


Outlaw finished second at the Navy 5 Miler, Sara made her GRC debut, I think.

Tom Kelly continued his development into a long distance runner, and won the Run for the Schools 5k.

Patrick Kuhlman ran pretty well at the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. (photo not from that race)


Chilly Balmer ran 2:35 at his first serious shot at a marathon in Portland.(photo not from that race)

Charlie won his third straight Great Allegany Run 15k title, strengthening his grip, one weekend a year, on the Western Maryland racing scene.

Chris Bain got the impression he might soon have additional time commitments, so he ran the Hartford (2:39:50) and Baltimore (2:39:58) marathons seven days apart. It was enough to give you the impression he's done that before.

Big City proposed to Kate.

Witty repeated as the Glory Days XC champion, and Emily Young won the women's race, but the real story was Dave "Roger" O'Hara running just a few seconds slower on a muddy, messy course than he did on the perfectly fast Crystal City Twilighter course.

Blur, the men's newcomer of the year, had a solid distance debut at the Army Ten-Miler, where the women defended their team title. Blur's addition to the team meant that redheads became the preponderance of regular bloggers on the team.

Justin Snair married Megan shortly after a bee consummated a relationship with his hand.

Dutch Paul won the Dutch marathon championship. In other news, Disco Stu likes disco music.


Witty won one of the most rigorous cross country races in team history -- the Happy Runner 5k -- before Murph and John's wedding. Then he did the worm and didn't break his feet. It's safe to say Witty had a good November.

Bain's premonition turns out to be correct, because he and Shannon had a second son, Lazlo.

Susan won the Across the Bay 10k.

Stew ran pretty solidly at the Veterans Day 10k, and, realizing his stock would never be as high, hatched a plan to propose to his girlfriend, Stephanie.

Do you run anything besides 5ks??????? Why yes, Witty runs the 8k too, and quite well at the Rothman 8k, but where he really shined was the Fifth Third bank Turkey Day 5k in Evansville, when he broke the team record in 14:38.

Johnny Running ran a hard last four miles to win the Alexandria Turkey Trot.


Wiggy made his return to racing at the Jingle all the Way 5k.

Teal qualified for the Olympic-motherjamming-Trials at the California International Marathon. She was the hands-down women's MVP. Outlaw made his debut in 2:31.

Behind Frances' eighth place, the women's team finished 10th at the USATF Club Cross Country Championships. The men's A team finished 13th behind team MVP Mike Franklin.

Balms drank four frescas and ran 7:20 for a mile.

Murph retired from the board of directors after years of service as a team leader that was instrumental to the team's success. He earned this year's Lauren Woodall Roady award in recognition.

And a non sequitur photo of Jerry

Sunday, January 18, 2015

FLASH: another sub 2:30 for Kuhlman

Patrick Kuhlman ran 2:29:4 at the Houston Marathon. It's not a PR, but it's nothing to scoff at for a 43-year-old. Kieran ran 1:06:52 at the U.S. Half Marathon Championships

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What Teal Didn't Do Differently

"What was The Secret, they wanted to know; in a thousand different ways they wanted to know The Secret. And not one of them was prepared, truly prepared, to believe that it had not so much to do with chemicals and zippy mental tricks as with the most un-profound and sometimes heart-rendering process of removing, molecule by molecule, the very tough rubber that comprised the bottom of his training shoes."

John L. Parker, Jr.

After Teal Burrell notched an OTQ marathon by finishing the California International Marathon with a time of 2:42:16, I dropped her a line to see if she made any adjustments this cycle that made the difference. Having talked a bit with Teal about her preparation, I regret to report that there was no magic bullet adjustment that enabled her to shed ten minutes off her marathon PR. There was no game changing special sauce; rather, Teal’s hard training worked more like a marinade, the seasoning of which sunk in over the span of many cycles and many years. While Teal was unable to identify any particular adjustment that made all the difference, it appears to me that there is nonetheless much to be learned from her experience.

CIM was Teal’s 12th marathon and if, in my largely uninformed opinion, I had to point to a single factor that yielded her terrific result, it would be the large volume of marathon-specific work that she put in during the last few years. During this cycle, and the handful that came before, Teal regularly worked in 10-14 miles @MGP into long runs of 20-22 miles total. It’s been my experience that the adaptations necessary to reach one’s potential at the marathon distance develop more gradually than any other distance event. Over the course of years, Teal became very efficient at running that 6:10-6:20 per mile pace. Notably, Teal’s personal bests at the half marathon (1:19:29) and ten mile (60:19) distance, while impressive, pale in comparison to her performance at CIM. To me, this disparity underscores the fact that the half marathon is a completely different event than the full. While a half marathon may serve as a great tuneup opportunity, it requires a completely different type of fitness than the full marathon – Teal focused on MGP at the expense of the shorter events and in the process became a great marathoner.

Although Teal regularly worked 14-mile MGP segments into her long runs, she turned it up a notch this cycle with three big runs that included long marathon effort segments: 10 miles @6:21 pace for 18 total in early October; 13 miles @6:18 pace for 20 total three weeks later; and 16 miles @6:12 pace for 22 total three weeks after that. While the last of these runs was the longest effort at goal pace that she had undertaken, it would not seem that extending a tempo segment by one or two miles would make a significant physiological difference. But Teal believes that grinding out 16 at 6:12 pace – the pace she averaged at CIM – gave her a big psychological boost. She explained that extending the tempo segment by three miles on each successive long run made the 16-mile segment achievable. And she thought that if she could jump from 13 to 16, then in the next workout she could just as easily have went from 16 to 19. And if she could throw down 19 miles @MGP in a workout, then 26.2 miles at that pace on D-Day was achievable. Big Canova-style MGP runs are becoming popular with the GRC marathon corps – Evan Jurkovich, for example, got in 16 @MGP on Beach Drive shortly before his breakthrough at Twin Cities.

Aside from incremental increases in the MGP segments, one lesson to be learned from Teal’s experience is not to be wedded to an exact pace on goal pace runs. You’ll notice that during the first two runs, she was not afraid to dial the pace back to ten to twelve seconds SLOWER than goal pace, which allowed her to finish the entire segment. In my estimation, the lesson to be learned is that, if your goal pace feels a little sharp at the start of one of these goal pace runs and you are forced to choose between speed and volume, then go with volume. It’s about the volume, suka! Rather than sticking slavishly to 6:12 pace and flaming out after only a few miles, Teal dialed it back a notch and stuck it out for the entire segment and the resulting workout laid the foundation to work her way down to 6:12s. The other lesson is to accept the fact that MGP will feel difficult in a training setting and that you will not be able to notch your goal pace each and every workout. Teal’s first attempt at a goal pace run this cycle ended in disaster – she couldn’t even sustain the pace for a few miles – but she was able to get back on the horse the next week and complete her workout. MGP feels hard and you won’t be able to sustain it every week but if you can get in about three big runs, as Teal did, then you’ll be fine.

It’s also notable that, in addition to the goal-pace work, Teal got to BCC almost every Wednesday over the course of the last few cycles for long repeats. The speed work that Teal did during marathon training did not make her into a sub-17 5K runner, but it wasn’t intended to. The marahoner just needs to accept that marathon-focused work will make it very difficult to run well at other distance. The ability to delay gratification is perhaps the most important attribute that a marathoner can have and Teal was able to persevere with the track work knowing that the benefits would materialize far in the future, if ever. And eventually Teal’s time on the oval gave her the strength and turnover to sustain a slower pace for a longer distance.

I’ve heard many a marathon finisher utter the following words: "Things went so well this cycle, I just don’t know what happened out there today." I myself have been such a declarant on more than one occasion. But Teal’s experience tells us that there is not a linear relationship between hard training for any particular cycle and the goal marathon at the end of that cycle. The same type of preparation that preceded Teal’s 2:42 at CIM had also yielded a 2:52 in Boston 2013 and a 2:58 in Boston 2014. The relatively disappointing results at Boston laid the groundwork. At CIM, Teal saw that she had a rare opportunity to run on a fast course on a good day and, to her credit, she went for it. But on every Patriot’s Day, the medical tent on Kenmore Square is chock full of well-prepared runners who set an aggressive yet achievable pace. So why did it all come together for Teal on that particular day? I’m not entirely sure. But I can say that without all the hard work put in over the span of the years that led up to her PR, the story would have ended differently.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Wednesday Workout, January 14


Congratulations to Frances for a truly spectacular race in Scotland! Frances was 8th overall, 3rd American, and among the world class runners she beat was the reigning European Cross Country champion. Those facts, incredibly impressive as they are, do not do justice to how hard Frances ran, and how difficult the conditions were. For some insight on that, I present Frances's race report.
Definitely the hardest race I've ever run. 50mph wind gusts, ankle deep mud, ice cold creeks and puddles, crazy hills, rolled my ankle on lap 2 and if that wasn't enough, it decided to snow/ice the last lap. I had no idea where I was in the race place wise, and just ran my hardest the whole way. I had to summon a kick the last 100m which was fun. I couldn't feel my fingers or toes for a good thirty minutes afterwards, and the feeling coming back wasn't a pleasant one! The trainer had to cut my laces to get me out of my spikes, which were duct-taped on.

Not to belabor the point, but with Frances's combination of superb talent and dogged determination, there's no telling what she can do in the next two years, and I sure am looking forward to seeing her represent GRC at the highest levels of the sport.


We will have practice on Wednesday night. The where part of the equation is still uncertain, but with any luck the track at BCC will be clear, and we can get back to our normal routine. I will do a recon tomorrow morning, and once I have a better feel for whether we're likely to be able to use the track, I'll send an update. If we have to find an alternate location, I'll let you know, so stay tuned for workout details.

One way or the other, I'll see you Wednesday.


Monday, January 12, 2015

GRC Year End Awards

At our yearly team gathering last Saturday, in a jovial atmosphere replete with chili, beer, and Divisional Playoff Games, the men and women of GRC recognized a few special members who's exploits on and off the track deserved commendation. The award winners are listed below along with a few of Coach Jerry's thoughts.

Men’s MVP—Michael Franklin 

The highlight of Mike’s outstanding track season was his victory in the 10,000 meters at Penn Relays, which was almost surely the most significant win ever by a GRC athlete.  Perhaps equally impressively, Mike’s Penn Relays exploits represented perfectly GRC’s ethos, because Mike put in a full 8 hours at the office on race day, and was back at his desk before 9:00 the next morning.  Mike set GRC club records on the track in the 1500 (3:53.35), 3000 (8:17), and 10,000 (29:32), and his GRC seasonal best of 14:23 in the 5,000 is 3rd on the all-time list.  In the fall, Mike proved that he can excel off the track, as he was GRC’s top finisher at Clubs Cross Country, placing an excellent 69th in a loaded field.

Women’s MVP—Teal Burrell

To say that 2014 was a breakthrough year for Teal would be a gross understatement.  Her 2:42:13 at the California International Marathon was a truly remarkable achievement on multiple levels.  From a purely objective standpoint, Teal qualified for the Olympic Trials by a comfortable margin and ran a PR of over 10 minutes.  From a more subjective standpoint, Teal proved that if you dream big, and back up your dreams with years of hard work and singular focus, those dreams can come true.  In the build up to CIM, Teal ran major PRs of 60:19 for 10 miles and 1:19:29 for the half marathon, and the confidence she derived from those excellent performances fueled her belief that her long-sought Olympic Trials qualifier was within reach in Sacramento. 

Men’s Newcomer of the Year—Sean O’Leary

Sean is a local high school legend and 2014 University of Maryland graduate who started his post-collegiate career with a strong fall season on the roads, which was highlighted by his 25:49 at the Navy 5 miler, and his impressive ten mile debut of 53:00 at Army.  Sean’s future is likely in the longer distances on the roads, and his talent and work ethic portend great things in the months and years ahead.

Women’s Newcomer of the Year—Kristin Johnson

When Kristin joined GRC in May, her goal was to be able to hang with the women in workouts.  By July, the rest of the women were hoping to be able to hang with Kristin.  During her stellar fall season, Kristin ran huge PRs and GRC seasonal bests on the roads at 5k (17:58), 8k (29:14), 10k (36:50), 10 miles (59:40), and the half marathon (1:19:21).  While Kristin is most comfortable at longer distances, she showed her versatility by placing an excellent 91st at Clubs Cross Country. When Kristin turns her attention to the marathon in the spring, we will surely see another massive PR.

Lauren Woodall Roady Award—Patrick Murphy

No one has done more behind the scenes on behalf of GRC than Patrick, and his contribution to the team has been truly indispensable.  As a direct result of Patrick’s service on the GRC board for the last four years, which included two years as President, the team has experienced unprecedented growth and success.  Patrick’s vision for GRC as an independent entity was fulfilled when the team incorporated as a non-profit, and thanks to Patrick’s extraordinarily hard work in directing and promoting the Father’s Day 8k, the team has achieved financial stability without the need to rely on outside sponsorship.  Patrick was also instrumental in organizing Lauren’s Run, which was a memorial race in honor of our beloved teammate Lauren Woodall Roady, for whom this award is named.  In addition to his administrative duties, Patrick has continued to push himself as an athlete, and his determination to make the most of his ability and his unwavering positive outlook even in the face of difficult challenges has served as an inspiration to his teammates.  

Saturday, January 10, 2015

FLASH: Koons Places 8th in Scotland!

FLASH: GRC's Frances Koons placed 8th in the Great Edinburgh Cross Country Run this morning in Scotland. In her debut for Team USA, she was the third American finisher.

Reports suggest Koons went out aggressively, and was at the back of the lead pack for the first kilometer of the 6k race. After one lap of the 3 lap course, Koons was in 10th, and she ran a strong second lap, coming through 4k in 8th place. Koons fought off a strong challenge from two pursuers in the final stages of the race and held her position to finish 8th.

GRC Coach Jerry Alexander was extremely pleased with the result. "Frances ran a superb race. She put herself in a position to succeed right from the gun, and did not back down from the high level competition she faced. Frances knew the conditions would be challenging, and she used the mud and cold to her advantage. This was her first time running for the national team, but it surely will not be her last."



Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Koons Competes for Club and Country at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country Race this Saturday

Donning the red, white, and blue of Team USA, GRC’s own Frances Koons will compete in Edinburgh, Scotland on January 10th in the 2015 Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country race. Frances, whose running career has been marked with championship titles and stellar performances in high school, college, and post-collegiate competition, will compete for the United States for the first time, and is one of nine Americans entered in the senior women's championship race.

Jerry Alexander, coach of GRC, expects great things from his star.  "Frances demonstrated at Clubs that she is in superb shape, and she took advantage of the holiday break from school to do some challenging workouts on her home turf at Lehigh, so she is as prepared as she could possibly be.  International competition is uncharted territory for Frances, but she is extremely experienced at competing in high-pressure races, and I am certain that she will represent GRC and the USA with distinction on Saturday."

GRC wishes Frances and the other members of the national team all the best on Saturday. will webcast Bupa Great Edinburgh live on Saturday and will have video available On Demand post-race.