Geiken Reflects on 4th of July & Short Course Wins

Geiken Reflects on 4th of July & Short Course Wins

By Will Geiken

There is a running joke amongst a few of the SLO-based Aggies that started on the drive up to SF for the Stowe Lake 5k earlier this spring. After we left late for the race, the ever-optimistic Sean Davidson spent much of the ride repeatedly and loudly stating, "we're not gonna make it." Being the nervous individual that I can be, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as he did. However, repetition can make any number of things funny, and by the end of the ride I was smiling with each pessimistic utterance. Even as we stood on the starting line, Sean, the sunshine-rainbow that he is, turned to me, grinned, and whispered, "we're not gonna make it."

Since that race, the much-repeated phrase has become a theme for the season as a whole. When we entered our times for Nationals, and waited for days to find out if they were going to fill the fields, "we're not gonna make it" took on a whole new meaning. Thankfully, we were wrong in that case as well.

And because some jokes never die, when we left for the Freedom Fest 5k in Morgan Hill, we left late and showed up only to be greeted by a runner’s nightmare: horrendously long lines at the bathrooms. Sean, Mark, and Carlos resigned themselves to waiting while Kevin and I jogged off to get in something resembling a warm up before the gun went off. At the starting line, I had about two-thirds of the running and drills I’d normally get in done, whereas Sean only had about one-sixth. Knowing that he and I were likely to lead the race, I took advantage of my slightly warmer legs, as well as a desire to find some redemption for my race at Nationals, and got out hard. The strategy, which also happens to be essentially the only way I've won a PA race to date, worked out again. After about a mile, I had a gap on the field, and from there I worked on driving forward and keeping the pressure on all the way through the finish.

On the team side of things, Sean, Scott, Bryan, Mark, Carlos, and Kevin cemented another solid win for the Aggies. After some celebratory breakfast burritos, we set out to enjoy the holiday in classic Aggie style. Happy Summer everyone! 

This race also marks the end of the 2018 PA Short Course circuit, and due to high levels of participation, I ended up coming out on top. My focus for the spring was making some improvements on the track, so using the short course as a way to get in harder efforts without burning out chasing PR's ended up being doubly beneficial. I've already given a blanket thank you to my family, friends, and teammates for their support this track season, so I’ll throw in some Academy-style name dropping. 

Thanks to Bonnie Broderick and Stacy Geiken for hosting the Aggies before many of the Bay Area races this spring. Thanks to Joe Rubio for naming dozens of 1980 Olympians while we run dozens of laps around the Poly track. Thanks to Phil Reid for coming out of track retirement and showing us how to run the 5k. Thanks to Sean Davidson for coming back from injury to show me what mental fortitude really looks like. Thanks to Wes Geiken for putting me up after Mt. SAC and sharing that sushi with me. Thanks to Sara Geiken for countless Gatorades and that ever-important lacrosse ball. Thanks to HOKA for providing us with new shoes to train and race in. Thanks to Mando and Socorro for being the world's most accommodating landlords. Thanks to everyone else whose name I didn't drop as well. It's only because I think this has stopped being entertaining and is running a bit long.

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Terry 2nd at The One Mile Bang

Terry 2nd at The One Mile Bang

By Darius Terry

This spring has been full of injuries, but I was finally healthy enough to compete in my first race since the Reach for a Star 5k back in March. Unsure of my fitness, I did not really have high expectations going into the Los Gatos Bang Mile, but figured I might magically feel good on race day. 

Luckily, the race went out much slower than last year. We came through the 400m mark in 63, at which point I was sitting in a pack of eight or so. By the 800m mark I was sitting in a pack of three. I tried to give it one final surge for the win with about 300m remaining, but my body would not respond. I hung on for a 2nd place finish. 

One Mile Bang Results

Shoe: HOKA ONE ONE Carbon Rocket 

Geiken Embedded at Track & Field Nationals

Geiken Embedded at Track & Field Nationals

By Will Geiken

I went to my first track and field national championships in June of 1993. What makes that random statistic somewhat interesting is that I was born in May of 1993. Only a few weeks into life and my indoctrination by the Aggies was already well under way. Questionable parenting aside, it was also the first of many trips I've taken to watch some of the best athletes in the US compete. 

Fast-forwarding a bit, the first national championships that I remember attending were the 2008 Olympic trials. Many thanks to my dad and the entire Aggie crew for welcoming me and showing me how enjoyable watching track can be. As those who were there can attest, it was a fantastic meet that had more than enough drama to enthrall a young track fan. By the end of the ten day spectacle, and I don't think I'm romanticizing the memory when I say this, I knew that I wanted to take part in the action on the other side of the railing at some point in my life. I also knew that, even if I ran a lot, it might never be a reality. 

In the years since, I've had the privilege of attending several more national championships, and each one has increased my desire to qualify. Of course, the meets are also incredibly fun to be at, and I have many great memories with my dad and others that center around those trips. 

Then, last year, my running took a dramatic step forward. Suddenly, and unexpectedly, I was a part of the conversation for those last few spots at Nationals. While I didn't end up qualifying, what had been a distant dream was now a tangible possibility.

Starting this track season, I knew that I might be able to get in with my 10k time from the previous season, but I also knew that there were no guarantees. I still had to race well, and my early season times were far from confidence inspiring. By the time I got to June, I wasn't sure if I was ready to run anything close to my PR, let alone fast enough to feel like I would belong at Nationals. I went into my race at Portland knowing only that it was going to hurt. In my mind, if I ran anything close to my PR, it would be a good day. Some days though, we have it, and at Portland my lack of expectations led to my best track race of the spring. Not only did the race go well from a mental standpoint, I even eked out a one second PR. Now, 25 laps is a long way to go for a one second PR, but, as a friend said when I told him that I had PR'd but by just a second, "we take those!" 

After that weekend there were four Aggies with times that put us in the conversation for Nationals. There was also one with an auto-qualifying time which, as we learned, is the way to go as far as minimizing anxiety. As an aside, props to Derek for a fantastic spring. Meanwhile though, Phil, Sean, Raj, and I entered our times with the USATF and waited to see who else wanted to run in Iowa. And we kept waiting. For almost a week after the entry deadline we watched as our times, despite being in the top 24, registered as "not qualified" and "not accepted." I won't speak for Phil, Sean, or Raj, but I haven't been that anxious since Christmas Eve 1998. Finally, the Monday just three days before the meet began, we were all notified that our entries had been accepted. 25 years after my first trip to the meet, I was going to run on the other side of the railing. A little poetic, right?

In this case though, my excitement probably worked against me. The race itself played out as anticipated with a moderate first half followed by surges and some aggressive racing at the front. I tried to be ready for it, but when the time came to latch on, I ended up falling behind. I think it's fair to say that I was too happy to be there, and, during the last eight laps of the race, I didn't have the necessary masochistic mindset to compete for every last spot. It hurts a little to say it, but, if I'm honest, I don't think I took full advantage of the privilege of getting to race at Nationals. I left the stadium that night with what I've learned to call "10k tummy" and some mixed feelings to match. Of course, it's hard to spend too much time mulling things over when you're at a track meet with Aggies, and we managed to have a pretty good time for the rest of the trip. Shout out to Joe, Sean, Phil, Derek, and Raj for making the weekend a lifelong memory. As special as it was for me to get to compete at Nationals, it was made even more so by getting to go with teammates and our coach. I certainly learned a lot from the experience, and I intend to be back in Des Moines next summer for a little redemption.

I'm starting to sound like a broken record at this point, but I can't thank my family, friends, teammates, and coach enough for all the support they've given me this season. It's a special thing to feel so much love, and I'm incredibly grateful for it.

https://results.usatf.org/2018Outdoors/

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PANNU QUALIFIES FOR U.S. CHAMPIONSHIPS

PANNU QUALIFIES FOR U.S. CHAMPIONSHIPS

Former Saint Mary’s cross country and track athlete Rajpaul Pannu will represent the Gaels at this week’s USA Track and Field Championships at Drake University, qualifying in the 10,000 meters as the first-ever Gael, current or former, to qualify for the meet.

The World's First Centipede

The World's First Centipede

Now, 40 years after our first UCD Aggie Centipede, I still find it hard to believe that this fun-loving group of runners I trained with, raced with and socialized with for so many years at UCD put together the idea to run in the world’ first Centipede which has now become so famous. We had no idea this would happen at the time. I don't believe that any one of us involved in that first 1978 UCD Aggie Centipede thought, when we were creating it, that this Centipede idea would be anything more than a one-time deal of doing something new and different for the upcoming 1978 Bay to Breakers race, and having some fun along the way.

Geiken Wins Stowe Lake 5k

Geiken Wins Stowe Lake 5k

By Will Geiken

In a quiet, sunlit clearing of Golden Gate park sits a set of dilapidated tennis courts and a decrepit restroom. I’m guessing that very few people have had the pleasure of enjoying the peaceful serenity of the empty courts on a Sunday morning, that even fewer have run loops around those courts, and that only a select few have enjoyed running loops around those courts while waiting for their friends to use the restroom. And yet, there I was, jogging in circles as Sean took his turn at the head. Fortunately, I had Neil and Nicholas for company, and together we avoided looking like lunatics, or at least lonely lunatics. 

With Sean’s exit, it was my turn. As I passed by him I heard him utter the words that no one wants to hear when heading into a restroom. “There’s no door on the stall,” he declared with a finality that sent my heart plummeting.

Upon entering I discovered that not only was there no door, but an individual coming into the restroom was immediately met with a view of the open stall. Fortunately for me, the stall was unoccupied, and I hurried to get things over with.

Alas, I was not quick enough. Only moments after my arrival, a few Strawberry Canyon boys darkened the restroom door. I laughingly explained that there was no door to try and ease the shock of turning a corner and being confronted with a defecating man, but my efforts were in vain. They fled immediately. “Well good,” I thought. No one likes a voyeur.

Only a few seconds after the Strawbs' departure, poor Nicholas entered the restroom. Our eyes met, and in his face I saw a flash of repulsion and, at the same time, a kindred understanding. He knew that he was to be next. I grimaced in apology, and he departed without delay. However, despite the fleeting and awkward nature of the moment, I feel that Nicholas and I have been made closer by it.

But enough of restrooms and the beauty of shared discomfort. Eventually we managed to break free of the tennis courts and made our way over to the start. After only a quick set of strides, the soothing voice of Pete Sweeney called us to the line and got the race underway.

I put in a fast first ten steps intending to settle behind whomever took the lead only to find that Max Norris, a Strava athlete, had the same intent with much better execution. Thus, only a few meters into a race I had intended to run strategically, I wound up at the front of a pace line. I took a few winding steps to see if Max really wanted to sit that badly, and he followed me like the body of a snake behind its head. “Well, that’s that,” I thought to myself.

For the first mile I kept the pace earnest while keeping my breathing relaxed. With some slight undulations we came through at a modest 4:52 before beginning our loop of Stowe lake. Now, because there were some hills around the lake, and because I have a reputation to uphold, this was where I began to try and gain some separation. My first few bursts were unsuccessful, but, at what proved to be the steepest of the little hills, I crested and found that I could no longer hear the slap of shoes right behind my own.

With some breathing room, I kept the tempo up and worked on trying to extend the gap with fast turns and tangents. This gave me a bit more to work with as we broke from the lake and entered the last mile. Running on open road, I continued to up the pace, hoping to put enough distance between Max and myself that I could enjoy the lead. But in spite of my efforts, and with all credit to Max and Nicholas on their duel over the last mile, I never got far enough from the footsteps to relax. It was a blessing in disguise though, as there’s nothing like running scared to keep your knees lifting and your arms driving through the finish.

After crossing the line, I turned and watched as Nicholas, Sean, Neil, Reesey, Reed, and Carlos clinched a commanding team win. Meanwhile the Aggie ladies put a scare in the SRA Elite and beat out the ever-impressive Impalas. Fast forward through a long and taxing cool down, and we gathered for Celebratory post-race beer and bagels from Gordon Abbott. Twas a good day, a good day indeed.

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Thorne Wins 2018 SLO Half

Thorne Wins 2018 SLO Half

By Kara Thorne

Three weeks leading into the SLO Half Marathon were stressful for two reasons: 

First, I started having issues with my go-to workout/race shoe. The HOKA ONE ONE Tracer had recently become too narrow for my foot. My third and fourth metatarsals started going numb when I'd wear them for longer than 5 miles. I have never had an issue finding a shoe that I have full confidence in until recently. My most favorite HOKA shoe thus far has been the EVO Racer 2, which I had the amazing opportunity to wear test (thank you, HOKA ONE ONE and HOKA Aggies for the opportunity to provide feedback!). Unfortunately, I ran the guts out of my wear test pair and wasn't able to get another in time for the half. I decided to grab a fresh pair of the Hupana... I had worn the Hupana during a few long runs (15 milers) and some workouts (1k reps), so I knew it would get me across the line. What I didn't realize was that it would disappear on my feet. The best shoe for anybody is the one that you're not thinking about during a run.

Second, was how my workouts had been going. Hit and miss workouts definitely don't bring confidence. One day, during a 5 mile tempo, I stopped 4 times. No, not for traffic. Just stopped. My last stop was with 400m to go. I finished the workout by sitting on the curb wondering what the hell was going on. The last time I found myself sitting on a curb instead of running was in high school when my team and I would be sipping on slurpees from 7 Eleven. 

A 10 x 1k workout, 15 days out from the race, was Ah-Mazingly smooth and strong, even with the wind changing directions on the Cal Poly track. I felt great, but I was still concerned with my longer-effort workouts. Sure, I could crush k's, but if I couldn't figure out an effort that was sustainable over 13.1 miles, I'd be in trouble. Add in the fact that the new SLO Half course was challenging from the gun (literally! We started on an overpass!!), I felt that I could be in a whole world of pain. With all the turns during the downtown portion of the course and the hilly portion starting with a slap in your face hill on Johnson, I knew that I had to run within myself and base everything off of effort, not time. 

Several months ago, my goal was to break the event record. That didn't happen, but I did cross the line first. I realized around a mile and a half in that the race would be a solo effort and a total battle of mind over matter. My mantra was "just don't stop" and I didn't look back once. Overcoming doubt and pushing negative thoughts away are things to celebrate, no matter your finishing time. 

Overall, the event was fantastic. From the Grizzly Youth Academy and all of the other volunteers/supporters, to the entire team at RaceSLO, THANK YOU for such an amazing event. 

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Searls Wins at Stow Lake

Searls Wins at Stow Lake

By Renae Searls

I went with my parents to go watch the older Aggies race the Stow Lake Stampede 5k in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. My dad had told me the night before that they were having a kids one mile race. During the night I had a hard time sleeping thinking that I might want to race. My mom and dad did not race since they were still fighting some nagging injuries. That morning I decided I would represent the Searls family for the Aggies and signed up to run the kids one mile race. 

Before my race, I watched the Aggie men and women race the 5k and was inspired by how fast they all ran. This made me think that I was going to have to race fast too! The kids mile was age 12 and under and I was 12 so when I went up to the starting line to the race, there were a lot of younger kids racing too. The gun went off and I got out to a good start at a nice and steady pace. Unknown to me, the race would end up being a lot less than a mile. The race volunteers signaled us to turn around at 600 meters. I let the leaders of the race get too big of a lead. 

At the turn around, I was in 5th place as we headed slightly uphill to the finish line. With about 200 meters to go, I heard the familiar voice of the race announcer, Pete Sweeney. I ended up catching all but one person, finishing second overall and the first girl finisher! I knew the race was shorter than a mile because my finishing time was 5:01 and my fastest mile I've ever run was a 6:18 mile in P.E. The race was a great experience and I was proud to represent the HOKA ONE ONE Aggies!

Reid Wins 2018 SLO Half

Reid Wins 2018 SLO Half

By Phil Reid

The morning started off as a typical half marathon pre-race routine: coffee, yogurt, and banana with my playlist buddies T.I. and Rick Ross. My former Poly teammate, groomsman, and good friend Ben Bruce (HOKA ONE ONE Northern Arizona Elite) was in town as an ambassador for the SLO Marathon, and we decided to car pool to the race. I picked Ben up from his hotel and we sipped our coffee as we chatted on our drive through the pre-dawn darkness to race HQ located at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo.

I made my way to the elite athlete tent where Ben and I met up with Kara Thorne and new Aggie, Mattie Webb. As the sun began illuminating the landscape, the four of us began our warm-up where we also spotted fellow Aggie Gordon Sturgess who joined us for the remainder of the jog.

The race started at 7am, with Gordon handling the pacing duties for the first 5 miles as the course looped a couple times around downtown SLO. Miles 5-6 included Johnson Avenue, which is a very steep hill. This is where I took the lead, which is not normal as I'm not a great hill runner, but sometimes you just roll with it. At mile 8, my wife Krista was out cheering which was a big mid-race morale boost.

I was able to maintain the lead and broke the tape in 1:07:29, breaking Ben's course record by 2 minutes. Overall, it was fun to race in the town I call home, while repping the HOKA ONE ONE Aggies and supporting the local running community. It was great to spend some time with my buddy Ben and his family and look forward to future running adventures!

Winning Shoes: Tracer 2

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Searls Family Wins Angel Island Adventure Race

Searls Family Wins Angel Island Adventure Race

By Kevin Searls and the Searls Family

Our family decided to take on something different than a road race or XC race. We competed at the Angel Island Adventure Race, in the middle of the SF Bay. Think Amazing Race and Survivor put together. 

We competed in the Family Division (2 adults and 2 kids--age 15 or younger--2 bikes allowed) last year without strategy or experience, and placed 8th or 9th overall. This year, with experience under our belts, we knew what to expect and strategized to race smarter. 

This race consists of running and biking all around the island, while covering approximately 7 miles. All racers are given a map and the hint of the challenge names on the 20 minute boat ride to Angel Island. This amount of time is all you get to plan race strategy, direction to go on the Island, and how to split up "the challenges". There are 10 mandatory stops throughout the race with various challenges at each station, such as knot tying, puzzle building, a word challenge, a maze ball, and a slingshot course. Some of these challenges can be done by one teammate, some require two, and some require all four team members to complete the challenge. Once the gun goes off, racers can go any direction they choose, which makes the strategy more fun. Upon completing each challenge, we collected a clue that allowed us to solve the last challenge. The 10th challenge is the last challenge, for which all four team members must be together. 

Our plan for the race was to have Nolin head counter-clockwise on the bike (the hilly part for the direction-poor kid!) in one direction to complete two of the solo challenges, while myself and Renae started by running the other direction to get to the first three individual challenges. Noreen would ride the bike to pass us and get to her solo challenge. We would then all meet to complete the whole team challenge, at the beach, before we started heading back towards the finish. 

Nolin and I stopped for a two person maze ball station, as Noreen and Renae moved ahead to a tricky 2 person obstacle. This strategy to not wait and cheer each other on served to our advantage. We collected all of our clues and raced to the finish line where they announced that we were the first team to arrive. We used our clues to solve the last task, and crossed the finish line in just under an hour and a half as the overall winners of the race! It was a great day on Angel Island and fun to learn that our strategy paid off!

 

Quote from Renae:
"It was a fun day racing with mom, dad, and my brother Nolin, enjoying all the views and working on the challenges together throughout the race!"

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Quote from Nolin:
"Our strategies worked, and I had fun doing all of the very creative challenges. It was a fun trip, and it made it even better to win."

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Quote from Noreen:
"Nolin did a fantastic job on the first part of the race. He peddled mostly uphill for his solo challenges, left his bike for me to jump on, and headed back to the finish... mostly downhill! Renae ended up running more than she did last year, which meant our leap-frog plan for getting to the earlier challenges got us to the family challenges and finish line quicker."

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