Jeffrey Perlis is a rising sophomore at Division III Williams College. While at Sidwell Friends High School in Washington DC, Perlis established himself as one of the best distance runners in the area. He consistently finished in the front pack during cross country and flew to indoor track PR's of 9:02 in the 3000 and 15:45 in the 5000. When he joined the outstanding DIII team at Williams, he showed immediate improvement. He earned varsity letters in cross country, indoor, and outdoor track for his contributions. During cross country he fought his way to a scoring spot on the ECAC Championship team. During track season, he set personal bests of 1:57 in the 800, 3:59 in the 1500, 8:43 in the 3000, and 15:16 in the 5000. Read what he has to say about running on a team that travels on fun trips, runs extreme workouts, and is stacked with amazing talent.
MoCoRunning: Hey Jeff. How's your summer going? Are you doing anything exciting before you head back to school?
Perlis: My summer is going well. I've been having some injury problems of late but I will hopefully be back to running sooner rather than later. My girlfriend is coming to visit in a few days and I think I'm going up to Cape Cod in August to see her again. I'm really looking forward to getting back to school in the fall.
MoCoRunning: Why did you decide to attend Williams College?
Perlis: It was a mixture of academics and athletics. To tell you the truth, I didn't expect to get into Williams, so when Coach Farwell called me in March I was overjoyed. It was the best school that I applied to academically and my parents and I thought it would be the perfect place for me to go to school. After my first year, I must say that I'm extremely pleased with my decision.
MoCoRunning: How was the food in your first year at school? What type of dining arrangement did they have?
Perlis: The food was quite good. Since there isn't much else in the way of dining options in Williamstown (there are 2 ethnic restaurants and only a handful of small sandwich places), I ate in the dining halls 3 times a day, every day. It's all you can eat and there were always enough choices.
MoCoRunning: Were you careful about what you ate or did you go to town on the all-you-can-eat buffet every night?
Perlis: I certainly didn't have problems with the Freshman 15 if that's what you mean. I guess I was careful for the most part. Lunch is the one meal that used to trip me up. I definitely got sick to my stomach during a few workouts.
MoCoRunning: I hear that Williams can get mighty cold and snowy in the winter time. How do you guys deal with the winter weather? Was there ever a time where you found yourself saying, "I probably should have stayed inside today."?
Perlis: Lots and lots of clothes… The distance team is outside every day year round. I take that back, we stayed inside on one or two occasions when it was hailing. Even when we did workouts on the indoor track, we would warm up and cool down outdoors. I guess I just got accustomed to dealing with below freezing temperatures and running through snow.
There are a few runs that stand out as being especially unpleasant. I remember one Sunday it was about 30 degrees outside and we got caught up in freezing rain for the final four or five miles of our long run.
Probably the worst experience was actually on Elias Tousley's recruiting visit. He arrived late on Sunday, so I delayed my long run so that I could run with him. I wanted to show him some of the sweet trails we have. Unfortunately, there was a foot or two of snow everywhere. We ended up slogging through about two miles of two feet of snow in there. Maybe he would be at Williams if the weather had been nicer…
MoCoRunning: You were one of the best runners in the DC area for many years before going off to college. When you got to Williams, you found yourself in the middle of the junior varsity pack. After being the high school star for so long, how have you reacted to now being on a team full of stars?
Perlis: I wouldn't say many years. I had one very good cross country season but thanks nonetheless. It was definitely humbling to get in there and not be as high up as I had thought that I would be. I found myself in a group of really solid freshmen who were all in the same boat. One of us ended up making varsity while four of us were on the "second seven".
Initially I would have to say that I was a little disappointed. Once indoor rolled around, I finally realized that I had an unbelievable group of training partners. My senior year I didn't really have anyone to run with on my team, so the idea of doing a workout with 15 other guys was a bit of a shock. I really appreciate the depth of our team because it makes everyone from the slowest guy to the fastest guy faster. My class is particularly strong and it is a lot of fun to sit around talking about all that we could accomplish if we just work hard in the years to come.
MoCoRunning: Tell me a little more about just how good your team is.
Perlis: Haha. We are very good. We had 5 kids under 1:54, 5 under 4:00, 3 sub 9:20 steeplers, and 9 guys under 15:20. We are quite deep for a D3 team. We just need to work on improving the top guys on our team if we are going to make noise at nationals.
MoCoRunning: To what do you attribute your big improvement between high school and college?
Perlis: Consistency and hard work. In high school I would usually play soccer on Sundays or take a day completely off. Now I am training with a very motivated group 7 days a week. If you work hard and are consistent you will improve. Even in college, my improvement didn't come immediately. During Cross Country I found myself hammering 5-6 days a week to try to impress Coach Farwell and to make varsity. Once I realized this wasn't going to happen I decided that I would have to come to work hard on hard days and listen to my body on the easy days. I think that this is also very important. Easy days should be done at whatever pace will allow your body to recover for the next workout or race.
MoCoRunning: What was the hardest workout that you did this year?
Perlis: No workout really stands out. I dabbled with the idea of becoming a miler at the beginning of April this year and I guess one of those workouts was pretty tough. I did this particular workout on the indoor track with Mike Davitian who ended up running 3:49 in the spring. We started with 2x1000 in 3:05 and 3:03, 4 minutes of rest, 6x400 with equal rest in (60, 64, 62, 63, 63, 60), 4 minutes of rest, and finally 4x200 @ 800 pace with 45 seconds rest (27, 28, 28, 28). Coach Farwell really likes to have us change speeds in a given workout.
MoCoRunning: What was the most fun run or workout?
Perlis: The most fun run would have to be a 12 miler I did in California during our 2 week spring break trip. It started off on these beautiful woodchip trails for about 6-7 miles before ending on 5-6 miles of beach.
MoCoRunning: Why did your team go to California for Spring Break and what did you do there?
Perlis: Our team always takes a spring break trip, usually to California for two weeks. This year we went to Santa Barbara. Each day, we would have morning practice at 9 AM followed by some good team bonding time before having an optional double in the late afternoon. The double could either be a run, a pool workout or some other form of alternate training. Coach Farwell really likes alternate training and believes it is a critical part of training. It's really a great trip for the team because we get to learn more about each other. It's a lot of fun to hang out with other event groups and to learn more about people in your own event group. We also got to see some new competition during our two races over the two weeks. The trip was my favorite two week period of the year and I'm definitely looking forward to spring break next year.
MoCoRunning: There were a couple of Montgomery County runners looking to run at Williams next year and 3200 state champion Will Palmer decided to join you on the Williams team next year. Did you play an active role in trying to recruit these athletes for your team or did you do everything in your power to keep Will off your team?
Perlis: I really liked the idea of recruiting Moco athletes to Williams. My coach was pretty happy as well (he has referred to the Jeff Perlis pipeline on several occasions). I definitely wanted Elias Tousley to come but he ultimately chose Haverford. I certainly wanted Will to come… I just hope the rest of the team doesn't kill me.
MoCoRunning: Choose your favorite cross country meet and your favorite track meet of this past year and explain why they were your favorites.
Perlis: My favorite XC meet, despite the weather, was our conference meet, the NESCAC Championships. The race was at a park right on the Long Island Sound. On this particular day, there were 60 mph wind gusts and rain. Times were almost 90 seconds slower than they had been on the usually fast course. I ended up placing 30th and the team won, placing 5 in the top 10. It was really great to be a part of that team.
My favorite track meet would have to be the first meet in Santa Barbara this spring. I went into the race not really knowing what to expect with a PR of 4:09 and a goal of 4:05. I felt comfortable going through in like 2:10 before accelerating and closing in 59, moving up from about eighth to second in the last lap to set a 10 second PR in 3:59. I had never felt so strong in the last 500 meters of a race before.
MoCoRunning: What do you hope to accomplish in this upcoming year?
Perlis: I really want to be varsity this fall. I'm going to be smart about that this year and not hammer every day. I think our team has the potential to be top 3 or 4 at nationals this year and I would really like to be a part of that. I would like to run 4:15 indoors in the mile and 8:35 in the 3k. My other goal for indoors is to qualify for nationals in the DMR. Outdoors, I would like to run 3:55 in the 1500 which is a provisional qualifier for nationals and sub 15:00 in the 5k.
Thanks a lot for interviewing me. I would really like to let Moco know that they should certainly feel free to contact me if they are at all interested in running for Williams. It's really a great place to run and go to school and I would be happy to answer any questions people might have about Williams.