Reagan Lynch is a senior team captain for the Quince Orchard varsity cross country and track teams. Although ocaissionally hindered by injuries, Lynch is well-known as one of the most dedicated athletes and leaders in the county. He was a key member on the competitive QO 4x800m relay team which placed 2nd, 1st, and 2nd at indoor counties, regions, and states and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd at outdoor counties, regions, and states. Now he turns to cross country season where he hopes to improve on his breakthrough 10th place finish at the 2005 county championship and lead the very strong Quince Orchard team to be the best they can be. In this interview, he gives his perspective on the sport, tells a few good stories, and explains how he hopes to lead his team to improve on their 3rd place finish at the 2005 cross country state championship.
MoCoRunning: One of my common interview questions has become "Why did you begin running?" In your case, though, this is an especially interesting question because you were a world-class tennis player in your youth and you gave it all up to run year-around for your school. Why the change?
Lynch: Despite my success at tennis, it was not for me. I grew up playing tennis every day as long as I can remember, and by the time I was at the age where I started having success, it was no longer fun. Eventually I ended up giving up on tennis, and spent some time dabbling in other sports and activities. The summer before entering high school, I decided that I would run cross country because I had always been fastest of the folks I played tennis with, and that I might be good. Following that decision I've put all my efforts into running. The one key thing I feel I got out of my tennis days was the drive to be able to train seriously, every day, for extended periods of time. The adjustment to the workload necessary to being a successful runner was easy for me, because I had already been training seriously for a sport my entire life. The same single-minded focus remained, only on a different sport.
MoCoRunning: Tell us a little bit about your summer training. What is your approach and what kind of adjustments do you make throughout the summer? What are your long term and short term goals that you have in mind when you establish your training plan?
Lynch: My basic goal this summer is first and foremost to remain injury free, while at the same time maintaining moderately high mileage to build a strong base for the upcoming cross country season. This manifested into running roughly 70 miles per week in singles, and fairly recently the addition of a weekly tempo run. In addition to this I try to do drills and striders a few times a week to keep everything sharp. To sum up: nothing too ridiculous, just consistent mileage and smart training through the summer.
MoCoRunning: I've noticed that you often appear in local race results throughout the summer. How does racing fit into your summer training schedule?
Lynch: Well to be honest, I only participated in two races, the Midsummer Night Mile, and the Twilight 8k. I would have liked to run the two mile at Whitman, but, unfortunately, was unable to make it. To me the races are just a fun diversion from the training during the summer. They are not a significant focus for me. If I run well, great. If not, then it's no big deal. Clearly I was very pleased with the mile, as it was my first pr in the mile all year. The Twilight 8k did not go as well as I would have liked, but as I said before, it's not a big deal.
MoCoRunning: You had some adventures with altitude training in Colorado this summer. What was it like training in high altitude? How much did it affect you and how much do you think it helped?
Lynch: At the end of June I visited Boulder, Colorado for a week with my neighbor and teammate Mike Migdall, and his family. Thanks to their wonderful hospitality, I was able to experience training at altitude for the first time. In truth the benefits of a week at altitude are probably minimal, but getting to visit one of the distance running Mecca's of the United States certainly made the trip more than worthwhile in my opinion. All in all I ran a bit more that week, a bit over 80 miles, seeing as I won't be getting a chance to run there again in the near future. While there was certainly a noticeable difference due to the altitude, it was not as bad as I expected, and I just had to focus on being more careful about staying under control particularly in the hilly and mountainous areas.
MoCoRunning: Do you have any good stories from your trip?
Lynch: There were most certainly some excellent stories from the trip, most notably involving the local wildlife. To start, a young black bear was tranquilized and captured on our street, just a few houses away. This brought new meaning to all the ominous signs along the trails including, "bear activity," "mountain lion home," and my personal favorite "rattlesnake activity."
Now, the rattlesnake story is just about the most amazing thing I have ever seen in person. Unfortunately nobody else witnessed this with me, but take my word for it. A quick disclaimer: this story may not be appropriate for lovers of prairie dogs or other large rodents. The tale begins about 20 minutes into a nice morning run. As I run, I hear and see a large group of prairie dogs absolutely freaking out. It turns out the cause of the commotion was the rattlesnake curled up in the rocks and sagebrush ready to strike. Now, generally upon seeing a snake, particularly of the poisonous and rattling variety, my self-preservation instinct is strong enough to get me to flee the scene rapidly, but in this instance I was intrigued. Due to the 10 yard buffer, and the rattler being preoccupied with breakfast, I stuck around. The strike itself was over in a split second, followed by loud rattling, at which point I decided it would be in my best interest to be on my way. Upon returning to the scene 30 minutes later, neither of the involved parties remained in sight. Pwn3d. This look at the darker side of nature, while far from entertaining, and more than a tad bit frightening, is the one thing I'll likely remember from this trip forever.
MoCoRunning: Some people may wonder why they never heard of you until you finished tenth at last year's county championship. If I understand correctly, you've suffered some pretty severe injuries. Explain what was going on with that and how you worked your way into contention last year.
Lynch: If there's one thing I know, it is severe injuries. Not once, not twice, but three times have I broken my right arm in the same place, all due to basically freak accidents. I suppose my running injury issues started just prior to my sophomore year with you guessed it, a broken right arm in a bike accident. Following in all honesty a remarkably quick recovery from this accident, I was able to compete in the last couple races of the cross country season, albeit not at the level I would have liked going in. Finishing competitively as QO's 5th man at states that year was an accomplishment considering my lack of training going in. Following this, I became overly enthusiastic to be running again, throwing down 70 mile weeks and doubling in the mornings before school pretty much immediately following a 6 week lay off from running. This quickly yielded a few new pr's early in the indoor season, but the resulting stress fracture took me out of competition for the remainder of the year. That includes my entire sophomore outdoor track season. Seeing as I can count the number of races my sophomore year on one hand, it's understandable that I had a low profile going into cross as a junior. Recurring issues related to the stress fracture continued to plague me through cross country as a junior, limiting my training and race performances up to the county championship.
MoCoRunning: Last year, the Quince Orchard boys seemed inconsistent from meet to meet, always shuffling your order and never putting it together all at once. Some chalked it up to being a very young team, but now all those sophomores and juniors will all be juniors and seniors. Of course, you will be a senior. Is there a sense of urgency to make it happen this year? Does your team have any strategy to try to nail down some consistency this season?
Lynch: I wouldn't say we have any particular strategy, just a matter of having people running solid races. Nobody needs to go out and be a hero, just run their race. If we can do that, things will be fine. I feel that our 4x800 really clicked at the end of the outdoor season, building a very strong trust in our teammates to go out and get the job done no matter what. Obviously as a senior I want this team to live up to its potential this season, whatever that may be.
MoCoRunning: Does Quince Orchard have any guys to watch out for besides those that have been top athletes for a while? Will there be any big surprise runners that bring your team to the next level?
Lynch: There are numerous kids who will be fighting for varsity spots who could be on practically any other top 7 in the county. Mike Migdall, Greg Conte, Ryan Privolos, Kris Lasko to name a few. Mike was our 4th man at states last year, but did not compete in track, while Conte focused more on hurdles and vaulting, but still managed to run a few 2:06's in the occasional 4x800. Ryan blossomed as an 800/1600m runner running 2:05 and 4:47 yet will have to fight to be a top 7 runner on QO just like every member of the team. Kris Lasko is yet another runner in a similar situation having run 4:52 and 2:07, yet will have difficulty making the varsity lineup. I feel that this extremely competitive environment for a varsity spot makes the team as a whole better, and certainly helps athletes improve to the next level through being around so many other very good runners.
MoCoRunning: Which races are you looking forward to this season? What are some of your goals, individually and team-wise?
Lynch: The races I am looking forward to as an individual are obviously our championship meets, counties, regionals, and states, along with a few of our bigger invitationals like Paul Short and Glory Days. Course-wise, I don't really have many particular favorites as I haven't run many of them since freshman year.
First and foremost, my main individual goal is to stay healthy, something I've had great difficulty with in the past. I can't run quality races if I'm battling injuries all season. If I can manage that, I believe everything else will fall into place for me.
As a team, I would like to turn heads on more than just the state level. While that is certainly a lofty goal, I believe the talent is here and it is just a matter of putting it together. I feel we came together as a team better than ever in the 4x800 this spring, and now we get to toss our two milers, Alex and Artem, into the mix as well.
MoCoRunning: Do you see college running in your future? If so, what kind of school/team are you thinking about running for? What kind of academic major are you thinking about and why?
Lynch: Right now my top choice would be Princeton, followed closely by Cornell. I intend to make every effort to compete for whatever school I attend in cross country and track & field. Obviously both of those schools are exceedingly difficult to get accepted to, so there are certainly other schools being considered. Academically, I'm leaning towards engineering, at the moment chemical engineering though that is subject to change.
MoCoRunning: You like to follow track on the local, national, and world level. It's safe to say that you are a track and field super-fan. You've been to a lot of meets and watched a lot of track on TV. What would you say has been the most amazing thing on any level that you have ever seen in person. What about on TV or the internet?
Lynch: Track and field superfan would certainly be an apt description. I probably spend more time at www.letsrun.com and www.dyestat.com than is physically healthy. That is in addition, obviously, to my www.mocorunning.com addiction.
At the high school level the most amazing thing I have witnessed was Ken Kormier's kick in the 2 mile at the 2005 Nike Indoor Nationals. Professionally, the finish of the US vs. the World DMR at the Penn Relays this year would top the list. The most impressive video I've seen is that of Daniel Komen's 3000m world record. If you're the type of person that's really into track and field, I highly recommend watching that. It's fairly easy to find online.
MoCoRunning: How does it feel to be the only person to vomit at the MoCoRunning Burrito Mile? Do you intend on participating in anymore eating/running events in the future?
Lynch: I point the finger straight at Bret Ligon. No hard feelings, of course. Seeing as I have been here and forever more banned from competitive eating/running events, I'm sorry to say that I highly doubt I will be participating in any more events. Sorry to disappoint those more concerned with my eating abilities, or apparent lack thereof.