Friday, November 30, 2007

Pimp My Desktop 2

Or is it re-pimp my desktop? Regardless, the Josh McDougal desktop is such an obvious hit, it seems Liberty is making available a special NCAA Champion Commemorative edition, featuring Josh "doing the Jesus" - a move that is apparently, becoming quite the hit around the Liberty campus, ever since Josh broke it out when he broke the tape, on semi-national TV. Naturally, we got a sneak peak... after the jump.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Pimp My Desktop

Always cheered for that coltish young man from Peru, NY? Never been sure how to best show what a huge fan you are? Well, friend, worry no longer! Step right up and get your OFFICIAL computer desktop wallpaper of newly-minted NCAA Cross Country Champion Josh McDougal! Now you can show your affection for the hottest name in collegiate distance running for your whole office to see! And the best part? Liberty University brings you this stunning item at the low, low cost of totally FREE! Yeah!

(For those of you who refuse to upgrade to a shiny new 15" flat-screen monitor, you can also take your pick of screen resolutions - bottom of page.)

In all honesty, we think it's pretty sweet that Liberty actually takes some care to promote sports that are afterthoughts at bigger schools. I mean, I know all the girls want to hold hands with the Tom Brady of Liberty's campus, QB Brock Davis (no, we didn't make that name up) ... but, ya know... McDougal is actually good as his sport on a national level, so it's kind of deserved.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Nationals on (CS)TV: Almost Like Being There...

Thank you, NCAA -- for having the guts to say, You know what... screw it! Let's give the people what they want! Thank you, Lopez Lomong -- for ruining everyone's Letsrun picks. But most of all... Thank you, CSTV -- thanks, for building a cable channel that would struggle so mightily that you deign to pick up an event which clearly garnered advertising interest only from the sponsoring body of the event itself. (The NCAA took up, what? 85% of the ad time?) Our review, after the jump.

+1's on the Coverage:

> There was a cross country race on TV.!
> The commentators managed to not ruin it.
> Commercials didn't come at inopportune times -- ie. mile, 5k split, 8k...
> It was streamed FREE - crucial considering how few people get CSTV, and the fact that a midday broadcast might otherwise cut out a major chunk of the viewership.

I'm not going to nitpick much. Do I wish they would have shown Lomong once or twice after Rupp and McDougal shook free of him? Absolutely, as the threat of his kick was certainly on the minsd of many folks for the first kilometer or so after the Dyestat Dreamboats took off. Do I wish they would have put a camera on the Gator? That they cut back to the pack to show us the team race developing? Yeah, I do. But I mean, come on... the bottom line is that when I tuned in to watch a major running event, I started getting butterflies of anticipation as they showed the competitors at the line, because I DIDN'T KNOW THE OUTCOME WHEN THE GUN WENT OFF. There is no replacement for that feeling of excitement, one that only built through the slow opening miles.

Tuning in... great for our sport. Following up with an e-mail to let CSTV know that their audience on Monday is a loyal one and appreciates the coverage? Even better. Take just a few minutes and e-mail the CSTV programming department. Don't do it for me. Do it for the kids.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Nationals Broke the Internet

Quick results from those of you relying on Letsrun's Message Board or the NCAA site:

1. Oregon
2. Iona
3. Oklahoma State (pretty sure this is a practical joke by CSTV)
4. I forget... Alabama maybe?
5. Wisconsin (I'm pretty sure on this one)

1. McDougal
2. Rupp
3. Lomong
4. Curtis (I think)
5. etc: Vaughn was in there, and I think I saw Songkok and Kiptoo-Biwott in there, too.

(Ed. note... 4th was NAU. Bama was 6th. Full results here.)


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Park Looks Deer Population in Eye, Says Hell Naw

So this story's connection to running is thin, but who cares? We used to meet for summer practices in the park in question during high school, and UC's Queen City Invitational used to be held there as well. Good enough for me. Besides: how could we not bring to light the fact that police are shooting down the rampaging deer population in Mt. Airy Forest and donating the meat to the homeless? Neighborhood leadership weighs in on the situation:
"I can literally drive down my street and bump them with my car to get them to move," said Cindee Walsh, vice president of the Mount Airy Town Council, who said residents have been asking the city for help for six years. "Nobody wants to be a Bambi killer. I understand that. But this is not natural in any way, shape or form."
Incorrect, Mrs. Walsh. Many people, in fact, want to be a Bambi killer. Roughly 1,000 pounds of venison have been "generated" thus far. Of course, many people would be outraged over killing the poor, defenseless deer, but many people also don't realize how delicious venison is. And, really, do you want this to keep happening? Two and a half dozen instances of people-mounting should be enough for folks to say, Enough's enough. Honestly.

Oh, and, yes, this is the same park that was so notorious for being a gay hook-up spot that someone once painted over the "Mt." with an "F" on the main sign. And did such a bang-up job that it went unnoticed for weeks. Either that, or park officials just decided it was a more appropriate name.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

NCAA Cross Country Season Not Canceled

Apparently, the NCAA cross country season is still going on, and is not canceled, as I had believed, after it suffocated/was crushed under an E. Honda-caliber swan dive by the hype and coverage surrounding the Olympic Team Trials - Men's Marathon, presented by the USATF.

Let's face it - no one in the NCAA can run a 2:09 marathon on a course that downright UNDULATING while turning cartwheels and doing the arms-in-an-X-over-the-crotch "suck it" sign, like Ryan Hall did last weekend. So why should we care about cross country?

WRONG! Regionals were Saturday and they showed that there are plenty of reasons to still care. At least four. Read them after the jump-type-thing.

#1. Josh McDougal CAN run 2:09 over a course that undulating. In fact, he did it last week during his tempo run.

#2. Lopez Lomong. A good runner, AND a Sudanese Lost Boy. It makes for human-interest story unmatched by any that the Trials can boast.

#3. Running. It is very good.

#4. OK, so I ran out of reasons after #2. Honestly, regionals usually serves as something of an anti-climax because, frankly, the system is set up so well -- South Central Region notwithstanding.

One, MAYBE two teams have a right to bitch each year. And this time around, as much as I kind of almost have an inexplicable desire to see Syracuse's cross team succeed, putting Indiana into The Dance and leaving only two entrants from the Northeast means that order has been maintained in the universe. At no point did Syracuse show that they could run with the biggest of the boys (when they beat Providence, Smith was sitting, yes? Villanova is, IMO, a marginal qualifier, and then there was the disaster at Pre-Nats) so it's hard to justify that the Orangemen deserve a spot MORE than the Hoosiers.

One thing that surprised me from the weekend results? Seeing Providence run as well as they did. I think Haji could even be a little further up, too. One thing that did not surprise me in the least?
Colorado not being the 3rd best team in the Mountain Region. Yeah: 5 in the top 14. And that was with NAU and UTEP still running pretty daggone well.

I would take ye Buffaloes as slight favorites over Oregon. It will be interesting to see whose top 2 fare better: Rupp/Kiptoo-Biwott or Vaughn/Pifer. The Buffs guys are not the sexy pick -- I mean, did they EVER place as high at Foot Lockers? -- but Vaughn has shown he has top 5 talent at the college level, and Pifer could be a top 10 guy, easy. Oh yeah, Kiptoo was 98th at Nationals last year. Hitch your wagon to that horse.

As for Michigan... schizophrenic much? 5th at Big 10s... 1st in the Great Lakes? I'm baffled. Gras and Lex Williams ran back in the field as a tandem tight enough to make you wonder if they were told to tempo Big 10s... but do you really throw your conference meet? Unless your "bigger fish to fry" is a National Title, I don't see how you, as a coach, can get away with FIFTH place at conferences when you're sitting down with your AD. And, no, Michigan will not be frying a fish that big in Terre Haute, ripe though the fishing is in Western Indiana. Let's remember: Wisconsin sat Eagon. Actually, the consensus around the Less Than Our Best offices is that there is a 60-40 chance Schumacher will be resting Eagon at Nationals, too.


Friday, November 9, 2007

Around the Interwebs: Ryan Shay

>> "Drugs Kills Ryan Shay" -- a provocative piece from Olympian Joan Nesbit Mabe on her blog.
>> Also, a pretty comprehensive gallery from Alison over at
>> Links to much, much more on Letsrun's frontpage.
(For our non-runner readers (thanks, bjw's Nana) the initial, wrenching news report.)

Matt Taylor has another amazing piece at Chasing Kimbia, which, while taking a broader look at the weekend, also deals poignantly with Shay's passing.


Monday, November 5, 2007

The Baddest Mother You Ever Did See

I was REALLY looking forward to seeing the east Africans of West Chester Track Club go toe-to-toe with the hither-come Canadians from The Guelph of Canada, wherever that is. It was going to be like the French-Indian war, what with foreign powers duking it out in New York and all. All we would be missing would be Daniel-Day Lewis running around and chucking tomahawks in a fringed shirt, but bjw was willing to fill in if I said the word. We even got the pre-race scoop from Speed River poster-boy Reid Coolsaet: he of the 13:21 5k. So I have to admit, I was at least a little disappointed in the competitive imbalance at the 4th annual Bad Boy cross country race, hosted by Manhattan Track Club. Read more after the jump.

To be sure, the hosts seemed to be missing some of their guys, notably Trials competitor Karl Dusen. But I think the biggest disappointment from a spectator's standpoint, at least, was the lack of loose-cannon, gun-slinger types, in town to watch the Trials and willing to mosey on up to VCP for a little 8k action. Dan Wilson made an appearance last year, but this year Josh Eberly (Brooks, formerly Hansons-Brooks) was the only unattached name of any national repute, which was a bit of a surprise given how many club guys were in town to support their teammates Saturday morning.

Nevertheless, if you look at all the alumni of the event, it's rather impressive for such a fledgling event. And really, I have to say that for a young event such as the Bad Boy, each year that you successfully get in the books in your early life, really is very much a step forward. One of these days, schedules will click, and we'll have New York's version of Mayor's Cup on our hands. It's something for the New York running fan to really get excited about.

We caught up with Reid Coolsaet of Speed River Track Club to preview the race:
1.Who is Reid Coolsaet in one word or less?

Ultimate goal - Beijing? How will you get there from here?
I'd like to make Beijing in the 5 and 10 and go for a top 12 there. After that I'll get after the marathon.

3. Tell us one thing about Speed River that we don't want to know.
The Speed River actually flows pretty slowly.

4. Would you rather lose your Canadian firearm freedoms, or eat a handful of uncooked ground beef?
I've never had problems acquiring illegal firearms but I've always had problems with uncooked ground beef.

5. Why Bad Boy IV?
I love XC races and I've always wanted to race the famed Van Cortlandt course. Guelph is hosting the AGSI National XC champs on Dec. 1st so I figure it would be good to get at least one XC race beforehand.. even if I'm not ready and I just ran all over Central Park watching the Marathon trials.

Thoughts on Van Cortlandt? Have you run there before? If so, how much faster than me did you run, and do you mind if I fudge it a bit so I don't look quite so bad?
This will be my debut at VCP. I'm not counting on a good time, only a good experience.

Are you one of those gingers who is unaware that you don't actually have a soul?
I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier.
Speed River won and handily. Speed River's Eric Gillis, a good, Jesuit-educated boy, took down his teammates and the rest of the field, stopping the clock in 24:44 - not a shabby time by any stretch. And though he only placed 2nd overall, for Coolsaet... it was a life-changing experience. He explains:
5d. How did your NYC/Bad Boy/VCP experience rate?
Running in VCP was a blast. It would have been nice to race that course when I'm really ready to race but there's just so many things I want to do I have to pick and choose when to peak and stuff. The event itself was run smoothly and the cash our team made helped out on the trip.
OK, so maybe not life-changing per se, but one can tell he will never be the same. The conditions were nice, though a bit chilly with some occasional breezing. The AGSI Championships that Speed River are hosting serve as both the club championship and Worlds qualifier for our northern friends. I'd be impressed to see the Canadian club that could take down Speed River. Our photos from the meet can be found here. Good photos from the meet can be found here.

Thanks to Reid for the interview. He can be followed (in an entirely legal way) here, and the exploits of Speed River can be gleaned here. Manhattan Track Club maintains the following webpage. You might find this to be a useful webpage, too.


Trials Weekend Hangover

Monday morning found me nursing all the usual symptoms of a crazy weekend: dizziness, nausea, pangs of regret, and waking up in bed with someone unfamiliar and threatening.

Looking back on this most eagerly anticipated weekend in recent memory, I am struck by how pleased I am with how it went. In this crazy mixed up world, events rarely live up to expectations (see: new year's eve, class reunions, Blades of Glory) but this weekend came about as close as possible.

First off, I dare someone to complain about how the trials, as an event, was executed. That unfamiliar and threatening stranger that I climbed into bed with this weekend is the New York Road Runners and, while guilt is inevitable when starting things up with such an oft-maligned partner, they proved to me this weekend that they are willing to work hard to please me.

The trials was everything the NYRR proposed it could be and they pulled it off as gracefully and excitingly as possible. Mary Wittenberg served up her famous kool-aid and I gulped it down (mmm...lemon lime).

That said, I certainly was cursing them when I peeled myself out of bed at 6:30 in the morning. As many of you know, a 7:30am start is not conducive to a Friday night house party that degenerates into a sloppy game of flip cup and a Beastie Boys dance party (You can sing along too! Just shout the last word in every line).

While I know that many in the running community may not share my viewpoint, and it may not even be logistically possible what with the lack of daylight and all, but I would much rather have had a 7:30pm start. With which, we would be able to tailgate, generate excitement through the sharing of spirits (which would lead to us shouting all sorts of fun things as the race progressed), and go straight to the bars afterward for a night full of new regrets, failed hook-ups, and a certain conviction to get our asses training to make the next trials. But I digress.

The top three result of the trials was about as rewarding as the event execution itself. One thing a distance runner will always cherish, if not the occassional whistle heard while running from a purty girl (or guy, I'm not judging), is hope. Hope that the next run/race/season/year will bring better results. With that in mind, Hall and Ritz going one two, being 25 and 24 respectively, is about the best an American distance fan can hope for. I thought for sure Abdi would be in the top 3, but Sell going is just as well (mainly because Hanson's deserves the congratulations and the press, and 'ol handlebars deserves it because of his hard work and blah blah blah).

It is hard to picture a trials being pulled off as well as this one. While I will be at the next one as a runner (I went out to the bars afterward and made some convictions despite the early start), I hope other organizations will hold themselves to the standard that my new bedmate set this past weekend.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sunday = Funday

It was cool and sunny. Cheerful people wall to wall in Manhattan. Really, I don't know if you could ask for a better NYC Marathon. Sunday really was a great day to be a New Yorker.

I have to admit that I had toyed recently with the idea of moving back home to the Midwest where there is space between the buildings and, ya know, grass. But being in and around the city Sunday, with the gorgeous weather and the streets rife enthusiasm... it kind of makes you fall in love with New York all over again. The day benefited from that weather and a couple of great races -- despite the Trials eunuching the bi-annual AN AMERICAN HASN'T WON A MAJOR MARATHON IN 25-PLUS YEARS IS THIS THE YEAR? screeching -- most notably Paula's dual with that Ethiopian woman. They even had a one of those boats spraying water in the air at the start! How can you not feel got about that?

How the coverage was I couldn't say, but being there was one of the better running-related experiences of my life, even in my fourth year as a spectator -- you would think I'd be over the initial infatuation. It was enough to have me whistling jauntily with ye old iPod and feeling pretty sure that I could wait awhile longer to pull up the tent stakes. Of course, fast-forward three hours and the downtown 1 train was not running (with no reason given), forcing me to walk to Penn through Times Square and swearing the what this city needs isn't bus lanes, but "New Yorker" lanes on Midtown sidewalks. And sure, earlier that day, some guy in the crowd at the Queensboro Bridge turned to my group and asked "What marathon is this?" But nevertheless, Sunday was a great cap on a great weekend for New York, and, I believe for our sport.

bjw and I will be breaking down the Trials and the rest of the weekend shortly.


Friday, November 2, 2007

Video: Fam on the Marathon Trials

Part Two of our Monday night interview with the man they call Fam. In it, he breaks down the buzz in New York over the Trials, why he chose not to enter and what event he WILL be running at the Trials in Eugene, and what he expects to see from Saturday's race itself.

(Click above to play. Hi-res version over on our page - Part 1 here.)


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Quick Guide to Trials Traveling

If you are reading this now then you are one of three types of people:

1. You are related to me. (Hi Nana! Thanks for the support)
2. You are in NY or about to leave for NY to watch the trials. (See you there)
3. You don't have an old friend from high school that you rarely speak to anymore that lives in NY that will let you sleep on his floor. (Tough luck. Better clean off that computer screen. You want to see each of those 15 pixels as well as possible.)

For all the #2's, here are a few things to keep in mind when visiting the city that never sleeps (except on Saturday mornings unfortunately):

The City and New Yorkers in General
*New Yorkers are not as cool as they think they are. They may live in a cool city that is full of cool stuff to do, but don't be fooled, they are the same insecure posers that exist in every corner of the country.

*Just walking around the streets is fun mainly because at any given moment you might see both the hottest woman you've ever seen and the craziest person you've ever seen in the same line of vision.

The Subway
*If travelling by Subway to the Park Saturday morning, leave 45 minutes before you think you have to. Trains will not show up on Saturday morning until the last minute and you will have to sprint four blocks and hop a wall to get into Central Park to see the first loop. Somehow those trains know. Very Creepy.

*People in the subway are the most idle, apathetic set of people you will ever encounter. You could walk in wearing bun huggers and shouting "I love terrorism" and 99% of them will continue reading, sleeping, listening to their headphones, or all three at once somehow.

*Everything is going to cost about 20% more, from your McDonald's cheesburger to your pint of lager to your late night back alley yank, you're going to pay more than you would back home. The best thing is to just accept it, and forget about it until your overcome with regret the next morning (especially about the money, but especially about the yank).

*Something you must say to the rest of your group when you are looking around for a place to eat: "let's stop wandering around and just pick a damn restaurant." There are so many restaurants, they are all about the same (I'm no food buff of course), and as long as you stay away from the Broadway/Times Square area, you can get a good meal, a drink, and decent atmosphere for about 20-25 bucks, no less though.

*You might as well just run in Central Park. It's cliche'd and crowded and not at all magical, but you will get a look at the trials course. If you close your eyes, you might even be able to imagine yourself in the race, passing mile 23 with Abdi on your right and Hall on your left and you guys smile and wink at each other because you know you'll be travelling together to Beijing and you'll be the best ofYOU JUST HIT A BABY STROLLER! I wasn't lying about how crowded it is. Watch where you're going for chrissake!
*Running through the streets early in the morning is really cool actually, kind of an 'eye of the storm' peacefulness.

*Don't be a pansy, Manhatten is full of rich businessmen and silver spoon fed hipsters. They are not going to rob you. Their jeans are too tight to fit anything in the pockets.