Mark Sivieri, the 1990 MOC 1600 winner, was a 5-time All-America at Georgetown University. He represented the United States at the 1997 World University Games. His PR's are: 800m: 1:48.08, 1000m: 2:22.8i, 1500: 3:40.09, Mile: 3:59.85i.
1. What are you doing (with your life) now?
I am a Family Practice doctor running a small but busy clinic in Maryland.
2. Do you still run?
I am embarrassed to say….but I do not run much. I would run more if I had more time. I did run more when I was doing my residency in Tucson, AZ. The trail running there was fantastic
3. What do you remember most about NJ high school running?
It is hard to forget Holmdel Park. Holmdel was such a difficult course and such an incredible yet daunting way to end a cross country season. When I was at Georgetown my teammates and I used to argue which cross country course was the toughest in the United States. I tried to explain to my
teammates how difficult Holmdel was….they just told me that I was a wimp!!
4. What was your most memorable high school race, and why?
There is no doubt that my best and most memorable high school race was the Meet of Champions 1600m in my junior year. I was so nervous before the race because it was the state championships and because I felt so horrible during my warm-up. If you asked me before the race, I would have been
thrilled with a top ten finish. I hung in the middle of the pack for most of the race and something just came over me at the bell. I closed in 59 for the last 400m and won the race at the tape (4:15ish). It turned out to be a very important race for me because I ended up being injured most of my
senior year. So if it was not for that race I most likely would not have received a scholarship to run at Georgetown.
5.Your High School career was sandwiched by some of the NJ HS greats - Jason DiJoseph, Coyle, Mykytok, Bryan Spoonire - yet you arguably had the most successful post-HS career. Why?
That is an easy one…. Frank "Gags" Gagliano and Georgetown University. I decided to go to Georgetown because I wanted to go to a college that I would be challenged academically and athletically. When I was a senior in high school and was being recruited, Georgetown was on the front cover of Track&Field News (Penn Relays edition). I thought that was very cool and I knew that they were going to be returning a bunch of fast runners. I wanted to be part of that team and I wanted to be part of that great tradition. I knew that if I went there I could train with some fast runners that could help push me to the next level. When I was at freshman at Georgetown, I got a chance to run and train with Steve Holman and Rich Kenah (and others). I got to see their work ethic and what mindset it took
to be consistent and fast. In the next few years I got to train with and hang out with all the guys (and girls) on the Reebok Enclave. Even though I ran 3:41 as a sophomore, at that time, I was only the 4th or 5th best miler on the Georgetown track. It is hard to rest on your laurels when you are not even the top three on your OWN track, let alone the country. On top of being pushed by the Enclave runners, it was great to train and be pushed by some great friends and teammates (Andy Downin, Eric O'Brien—and others). When I was a senior in college I came in 70th (or so) in the NCAA Cross Country meet but I was only the fourth best in my own apartment!
And last but not least… Gags… it is hard to not run fast with a coach like him. Sometimes it felt like he cared more about my running than I did!!!! If I ran poorly I felt like I was letting him down more than I was letting myself down. It is hard to "give up" in a race when you know you had to face him.
6. You are one of the few NJ natives to run under 4 minutes for the mile. Tell us about the experience, your training leading up, what you were thinking going into the race, how you felt during the race, what you experienced afterwards?
I broke 4 minutes my junior year at Georgetown at an indoor meet in Boston. The amazing thing about that race was that it was almost completely off of strength training from cross. At that point in the season I had not broken 60 seconds for 400m in practice. I ran 4:03 the week before, so I knew that I could hang with the leaders, but I never gave breaking 4 a thought until I saw the clock with 50 meters to go. On top of that, I did not even win the race (3:55 Andy Keith). I was in 4th or 5th place with 2 laps to go and Gags yelled at me to "move up". Before I knew it I was chasing down my teammate (Seth Wetzel) and I passed him near the tape (he just missed breaking 4). My splits were 60, 60, 60, 59high. The other
amazing thing about the race was that I had to fly back to school the next
day to run a 1000m race because Gags wanted me to get a qualifying time in
the 1000m for the IC4A meet.
7. You ran post collegiately before medical school took over. You were able to make USATF finals and compete in the World University Games. Any regrets about your decision to stop when you did? Any unfinished races you would\'ve liked to run?
Not really. The reason why is because I ran undergrad for five years and ran for Reebok for five years. I had my shot. Most people did not know that I competed in 2000…mostly because I ran pretty poorly. I took an entire year off of medical school to train for the Olympic Trials in 2000 and it just did not go as well as I would have hoped. I feel I overtrained with all that free time on my hands.
The only thing that I regret is that I would have liked to break 3:40 and 1:48. My PR's are 3:40.09 and 1:48.06. I was so close to breaking those two "barriers" and I wished I could have done that….but I am not complaining. Track was very good to me.
8. What was your favorite workout? Your toughest?
My favorite workout was fast 800 meter repeats. We used to do a tune-up workout near the end of the track season where we would run 3 x 800m near 2 minutes (with decent rest) and then do a few 400m repeats (55ish). It was fun to run that fast but to have to run controlled. If you ran too fast you could not finish the workout...but you had to run fast enough to hit the times. To do the workout well, you needed strength, speed and control.
My least favorite workout had anything to do with cross country, but if I had to pick it would be tempo runs (especially the longer
9. What sort of advice would you give to up and coming HS runners?
My advice is that the way to become a successful runner is to first realize that running is not about how many miles you run a week nor how fast you run in practice. I think that running is about consistency,
patience, belief and most important- BALANCE. You have to train hard but not too hard to get "burned out" or injured. You have to have faith in your training (and even more belief in yourself) to go out with the leaders in a race but not to go out too hard to bonk at the end.
I have seen many runners train like maniacs in the summer and have studly cross country seasons but wind up having horrible indoor and outdoor seasons. There were many runners that could kick my butt in practice but ended up injured by the mid-point in the season. It takes BALANCE to run well all three seasons and to do that year after year.
10. Finally, what\'s your Holmdel Park PR?
To be honest I am not sure if I know my PR at Holmdel. I think that it was near 16:30. I would have loved to have another shot at that course when I was a senior (like I said I was injured for most of my senior year).
George Kochman, III ran track at Christian Brothers Academy and Georgetown University. After a brief career with the U.S. Forest Service, he is now a medical student at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.