Sunday, January 27, 2019

DeLea keeps on getting better


Laura  DeLea of Sparta finished the season in second place in the highly competitive W50 division of the New Balance Grand Prix in 2018.  

DeLea has quite a range, from the Midland Mile where she finished in 5:59.5, for third masters woman and age graded at 86.34% PLP (performance level percentage) to the other end of the distance spectrum where she finished the Franklin Lakes half marathon in 1:34.26 for a PLP of 81.43%.  Somewhere in between DeLea may have had her most rewarding performance when she as the first woman overall in the Devil's Run 6.66 mile race in October

Running has been a life long endeavor for DeLea beginning when she was ten and ran with her parents, who took their youngster with them to do laps at the Sparta High track  She said that she instantly fell in love with running and went on to run track, and cross country in high school.

  "I wasn't very good at it," said DeLea.  "I didn't really understand how to race properly so I didn't enjoy it.  After high school I continued to run, but not race."

When DeLea decided to get back into racing, she reached out to Bill Bosmann, then also of Sparta, for advice on how to run a race.  His advice must have helped, because DeLea finished as the second woman in her first race. 

"Although my race times were competitive," she said.  "It honestly was not until the last five years or so that I figured out how to truly enjoy racing."
 DeLea keeps her mileage to between 30 to 45 miles per week, running six days a week.  She includes one long run, one progression run and one track workout.  DeLea's very fit body attests to the workouts in the gym where she lifts weights and does core workouts three to four days a week.

The remaining days are maintenance," said DeLea, "but I live in Sparta where you can't avoid hills.  That's where I believe I get a lot of my strength from.

DeLea loves a good half marathon, but switched focus to the mile this past year.

Halfway through last season she asked her friend Mike Mooney to coach her for  the mile events she had on her schedule.  

"He’s one of the best milers I know so it seemed the obvious choice," she said.  "I was able to tie my PR in the mile as well as smash my 5K time by 15 seconds at age 53 by following his workouts."

"As the season progressed my times did too," said DeLea.  "I was able to up my game and started to train with people I used to feel were out of my league, and that helped me to push myself and continue to improve".

 DeLea place third in her age division at the Masters National’s Road mile in Flint MI this past August in 5:59.  She hit 5:54 at the 5th Avenue Mile mile (87%) in September in New York 

"It added some fuel in the fire to realizing I have more in me and can to do better in this event," she said.

DeLea is enjoying the winter season.  She says she is a cold weather runner and likes nothing better than a run in new fallen snow.

"No cars.  It’s quite and peaceful,"she said.  "And there’s all sorts of friendly people out shoveling their driveways cheering me on or calling me crazy... it’s just fun."
Her favorite running route is  an eight mile loop around Lake Mohawk that she describes as very challenging but beautiful.  

DeLea's favorite race is the Horace  Ashenfelter 8k in Glen Ridge on Thanksgiving morning.

"It’s the final big championship race of the season, great course and very well organized," she said.  
"The best part is that you get to spend Thanksgiving morning with your chosen family and I’d be remise not to mention the delicious donuts. Like many turkey trots there’s just happiness in the air."

DeLea may not have been seeking to run PR's at age 53 but they came to her thanks to cutting back on her mileage and focusing on quality.

This overall strategy and new training regime seems to have worked because she ran her first sub 20 in a 5K, clocking a 19:50.  The 5:54 Fifth Avenue Mile tied with her previous mile PR and she finished  the USATF national masters championship 8K in Virginia Beach in 33:19 in March for another PR.

DeLea is far from a solo runner.  She cherishes the members of her Clifton Road Runners team that dominates in the W50 division of the Garmin Team Grand Prix, where they've finished first for the past three years.

"I have amazing teammates who I call my running sisters," said DeLea.  "We go to battle for each other, win or lose, we do it together."

"We ran sick, hurt, in mud, heat and cold but we did it and laughed our way through the season.  At the USATF Nationals 8K in March we brought home the Silver Medal for 50’s Women’s team category."

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Leskow hits the top in the grand prix

Running Column published by the Daily Record
Sunday, January 20, 2019


Aaron Leskow only needed a year or two before he figured out how to go to the top in the USATF NJ New Balance Grand Prix.  Leskow moved to Morristown in December of 2015 for his career and soon found a running club and the high level of competition in the state. 

"It was a very good career move," said Leskow, "and a great move for my continued success in running, with so many great places to run and so many many other running enthusiasts to accompany me along the way. 

 But "getting" the grand prix was something of a mystery. 

"You need a calculus to fully understand the methodology."

Members of the Garden State club helped him understand the scoring this year.  Of course understanding the system only gets you to the top if you have the speed needed to gather more points than any other runner.  Speed is what Leskow has in abundance.

Leskow started running in fun runs as a kid and then in middle school, and at Tom's River North high school.  Then on to St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia where he competed in cross country and track where he notched some impressive times:  Outdoor 800, 1:55.60, Outdoor 1,500 meters, 3:43.36, Outdoor 5,000 meters, 14:09.44, Indoor mile 4:07.07, and Indoor 3,000 meters 8:07.07.

Post collegiate, Leskow didn't expect to continue at a high level in running, but was pleasantly surprised to find New Jersey offered all the competition that he could want.  He soon joined the Garden State Track Club where he was a welcome member of the club's open men's team, and often the first scoring runner of his team in New Jersey races.  

"After college, I figured my competitive running days were behind me," he said.  "But I was able to find another running family after my high school and college teams, and that really allowed me to renew my passion for running."

That passion put Leskow in first place at the challenging 20K Indian Trails with a time of  1:09.57 last spring.  He followed that with a second place finish of 51:01  at the Clinton Country 15K.

At the Newport Liberty 10K in May, Leskow was the first New Jersey runner, finishing in 32:13.9.  At the Lager Run 5K in June he finished third in 15:27, and in November he was second at the Ashenfelter 8K  in 24:58.  

Leskow is up early to get in a run on Patriot's Path  or in Loantaka Park. His easy day pace may be around eight minutes a mile, and five on a hard day.  He runs mostly alone, and for a reason.  

"There aren't many folks willing and able to wake up at 5:30 a.m. in Morristown to meet and run, so I run most of the miles by myself," said Leskow, who usually runs between fifty to sixty miles per week.  

" I've found that this is the optimal distance for staying fit and healthy," he said.  "Managing fatigue becomes increasingly important as you try to balance running, a career, and a social life."

Although he does most of his training in the early hours of the morning, he tries to get to at least one workout a week.  The Garden State club competed at the club national cross country meet in Spokane in December where they finished a very respectable eleventh out of fifty teams.

Leskow said that he focused on the 1,500 meters while at college but has come to appreciate a classic road 5K. Yet it wasn't a 5K that he remembers most fondly in 2018, but a reverting back to his favorite distance, or nearly so.

"My most memorable performance was probably the Midland Mile, which is a great road mile run at dusk through the streets of Montclair," he said.  

Leskow finished the mile in 4:18.94 in a near tie for first with Steve Lewandowski of Mountain Lakes whose time was  4:18.50.

Leskow has an interesting take on competing, with which older runners will find themselves nodding their heads in agreement.  

"I have a saying that whenever you start running, you become forever slow, because you will never be as fast as you want to be."

Such sentiments have not discouraged him though.  Although he is not targeting any specific race his goal is stay focused, healthy, and competitive. 

"Its simple, but that's really all I've ever tried to do," he said. "Good performances tend to follow suit."


Madeline Bost

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Let's talk track

Published in the Daily Record
on Sunday, January 13, 2019


While road runners are out training in the cold, snow and ice, another band of brothers are making their way indoors and running under cover.

Mark Williams of Columbia and Peter Kashulines of Mountain Lakes headed to Manhattan this past Thursday evening to race in the New York Road Runners, Thursday Night at the races at the New York Armory.  Williams, who moved into the 45 to 49 age division last year finished ninth overall in the 600 meter race in 1:28.55.  Kashulines, who is 55, finished in 1:33.84.

In the 1,000 meter race Williams finished in 2:39.64 and Kashulines in 2:51.08.  Two more Thursday Night at the Races are on the schedule, January 24 and February 28th.  It is likely that other area runners will join the duo.

In previous years, the New Jersey association of USATF had to search for an indoor facility in which to hold it's track and field championship meet.  They've been at the Jersey City armory, and the one at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, and across the river - make that the Delaware River, at East Stroudsberg and Lehigh University.  The bubble facility at Tom's River that is used for many high school meets has been a venue as has Monmouth University.  

The association is in general the last organization in line for use of a facility and often the meet was held very early in the season.  That has changed with the completion of the Ocean Breeze Indoor Facility on Staten Island.  What a beauty it is.  

New Jersey athletes used it for the first time in 2018 when Ocean Breeze hosted a dual championship meet between New York and New Jersey.  In 2018 all other athletes were excluded, which was a mistake.  Athletes from the Long Island association and MidAtlantic would have added to the events and made for a more interesting meet.  

That has been remedied for 2019.  The meet, which will be held on Sunday, February 10th, will again be a dual meet between the two associations, but athletes from other associations will be allowed to compete.  All registrations must be done on-line and no day of the meet registrations will be taken.


Road runners can run in the Passaic County Technical Institute Winter Series in Wayne that kicks off this morning at 11:00 a.m. The series features four races with the fastest three race times  used to calculate the top people in the series.  The  other races will be on January 27th, and February 10th and 24th.   

In February, the Penguin Pace 5K on  February 2nd ,  will be staged from the  Packanack Lake Community Church in Wayne.  In 2019 the race attracted  302 finishers  with Rob Albano of Mahwah first in 15:56.  Kaitlyn Kiernan Bartolone of Hoboken  was the first woman to finish in 19:53.


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Look for a new column on Monday, January 14, 2019