Published in the Daily Record
on Sunday, February 3, 2019
YOU HAVE TO BE IN IT TO WIN IT
In the movie On the Waterfront, Marlon Brando's boxer character says plaintively, "I couda' been a contenda'".
Justin Scheid of Succasunna could also have been a contenda' had he just run two more races in the New Balance grand prix in 2018. Scheid won the Baker's Dozen half marathon in 1:14:23, but did not run in any other Category Three races.
If he had and had won them, his score would have been 5,691, the same number of points that Morristown's Aaron Leskow came away with in his win of the series. The two men are closely matched, but as Leskow discovered; you have to be in it to win it. Sometimes a runner's career interferes with his running carrier, and that is the case for Scheid.
"With my job as a tax accountant I work a lot of hours leading up to April 15th and then again leading up to September and October 15th that races around that time are difficult for me to commit to," said Scheid.
When Scheid did get to the races he was always a factor. Scheid had three second places in important races in 2018 that included the Lager Run 5K where he finished in 15:22, and the 5 kilometer cross country championship in 15:40. He had a third in the 8 kilometer cross country and third in the Ashenfelter 8 km. Scheid traveled to Spokane in December to run in the national club cross country 10 km and finished in an impressive 31:43
Scheid said that his parents inspired him and his brother Jeremy to run, but did not pressure their sons. Growing up in Sparta Scheid remembers how their father, Larry, an outstanding age division runner, took he and Jeremy out on various courses in the neighborhood. Each run started on a downhill and ended with an uphill.
"I remember the first workout, probably at age 11 or 12," said Scheid. "Run hard from one mailbox to the next up Skyline Drive, then jog easy to the next mailbox, and repeat. I remember because that was also the day I discovered the second mailbox was practically halfway up the hill. Dad asked how the workout went and I said I thought the neighborhood could use a few more mailboxes."
Scheid's racing career began with youth cross country racing, where he was recruited to run for the Cosmic Track Club.
"This was my first cross country team," said Scheid. "We traveled to Junior Olympic championships in Portland, Lexington, and Spartanburg."
Scheid joined the Pope John high school cross county team in the fall of 2000 as a freshman. He remembers coach Brian Corcoran handing out a hard workout after the team had a disappointing performance against rival Vernon.
" I won't lie, that interval workout in the grass around the track with push-ups and sit-ups during the recovery was excruciating," said Scheid. "Nevertheless, I looked forward to workouts, especially the challenging ones because, I believed I improved with each one. I had a successful high school running career that included some great individual and team performances. I owe this success to Mr. Corcoran and my teammates who pushed and challenged me for four years. I loved competing. It didn't matter if it was an individual race or a relay."
After high school Scheid attended Georgetown University and ran both cross country and track for the school where he posted some very impressive times; Indoor 3000 meter 8:10.61, Indoor 5000 meter, 14:24.00, Outdoor 5000 meter, 14:17.89. 10,000 meter, 30:12.47. cross country 8,000 meter, 24:15.40.
"I loved Georgetown," said Scheid. "Coach [Patrick] Henner and my teammates were fantastic, the weather was pleasant, and DC had remarkable places to run; i.e. towpath, polo fields, trails, bike paths, the National Mall even though I didn't have as much success as I did in high school. My times improved but some workouts were more impressive than my races."
One of Scheid's most memorable college races was the 2008 Big East cross country championships in his senior year at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.
"We had a strong team but it was expected to be a close race for the team championship," said Scheid. "This race sticks with me because it was one of those days when everyone raced well. We went 1, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 and won the team title 35-64 over Notre Dame."
After graduating Georgetown in 2009 Scheid began working for an accounting firm in Florham Park, where Elliott Frieder of Bloomfield also worked. Frieder and his brother Jonathan, then of Randolph, recruited Scheid to run on their Fleet Feet team, along with Carlos Martins and Jorge Lopes. The team was picked up by the shoe company Pearl Izumi, but dropped all teams when they stopped making running shoes.
Scheid was free to join any one of the local clubs, but he chose the Shore Athletic Club.
"It honestly felt strange joining Shore AC while living in NJ's northernmost county," said Scheid who was still living at the time in Sparta. "People may have thought it a joke to see a Shore AC singlet at a local race. I initially thought I needed to invent an excuse to run for the club, such as growing up down the shore, but my worry dissipated after meeting the large group of Shore AC runners residing in Morris and Sussex Counties."
One of those runners is Reno Stirrat of Rockaway, who has coached Scheid for over a year. He credits Stirrat for his 15:22 at the Lager Run and the top 100 finish at the 2018 USATF Club cross country championships in Spokane, thanks to Stirrat's training plan. The local Shore group, dubbed Shore AC - El Norte, get together on weekends for a long run in the Denville, Rockaway area.
Scheid says that he is looking forward to the 2019 New Jersey season. We expect he will fill out his race card in full this time around and be a contender for the grand prix title.