What is your age, occupation, background, hobbies, and other sports?
Age: I am 37 yrs old
Occupation: Program Support Specialist for RBERN at Questar III BOCES
Background: I originated from Puerto Rico, where I was born and raised, and my family continues to reside there. I am proud to be an alumnus of UAlbany, where I was part of the XC and Track and Field teams. Notably, I achieved the distinction of becoming UAlbany's first NCAA Division 1 All-American distance runner.
My journey as a Track and XC athlete also led me to represent Puerto Rico on multiple occasions. In addition to my athletic pursuits, I am a sociolinguist with over 12 years of teaching experience. I've spent a decade teaching at the college level and an additional two years in the high school setting. My teaching career has taken me to institutions such as UAlbany, Florida State, Mercyhurst University, and Penn State.
Hobbies? I have a passion for both running and hiking. However, during the pandemic, I discovered a new interest: renovating houses and offering them as affordable rentals. My wife and I are heavily involved in the renovation work.
Additionally, I seize every opportunity to travel and immerse myself in different cultures beyond the United States whenever they arise.
Other sports? I was a swimmer (10yrs.) prior to being a runner. I consider myself a good swimmer (but I don’t like it as a sport, just as a recreational activity).
When and why did you start running?
I officially began my running journey at the age of 15. However, even before that, I eagerly participated in various competitions whenever the opportunity arose, whether it was a turkey trot, field day, or school meets. Swimming wasn't a personal favorite, but I participated in it because my older brothers were swimmers. Once they headed off to college, I had the chance to switch sports. That's when I joined my high school's cross-country (XC) team, and despite having no formal training, I managed to become a champion at the age of 15. Shortly thereafter, I became a member of a running club called “Cupey Track,” where they nurtured and developed my running skills.
What’s your favorite type of race? Why?
I have no particular favorite; however, I do enjoy racing the 3,000m steeplechase and the 1500m (when I was younger; it is hard to move my legs that fast now)
In road or trail running, what is your favorite distance?
I do not race on trails, but I love running on them. My favorite distance is the 5k. However, I am starting to enjoy the half-marathon distance.
How did you get into steeplechase? What is that like and how did you do?
In the quest for victory at the America East Championships, I found myself facing a unique challenge. You see, I had never encountered a barrier or hurdle in my entire life. But necessity drove me to compete at RPI just a weekend prior to the championship to secure a qualifying time. The experience was nothing short of exhilarating, even though it became evident that I had a long way to go in terms of skill and technique.
Fast forward to the America East Championship weekend, and there I was, standing on the podium, clutching the 3rd place trophy. It was a remarkable achievement, considering I had received no formal training, and this was only my second attempt in this event. Astonishingly, I managed to slash a whopping 30 seconds off my previous race time from the weekend before. In that moment, I began to sense that this event might just become my specialty.
The subsequent year unfolded with a sense of determination, and I soon claimed the title of America East Champion. What followed was a remarkable journey of personal growth and improvement, as I continued to shave precious seconds off my times. This was a turning point in my athletic career, marking the beginning of a thrilling chapter filled with new records and achievements.
What is your approach to training? Do you follow a particular training plan, or do you work with a coach, and if so, who?
Throughout my life, I've been fortunate to have been coached by several mentors (Florencio Gonzales, Roberto Vives Matt Jones and Terry Long are some of the most impactful in my running career). My most recent coach, none other than the remarkable Beverly Ramos, an Olympian and multiple national record holder, has left an indelible mark on my journey. While I'm currently immersed in my training, I continue to maintain a valuable connection with her as a trusted mentor and guide.
What is your weekly mileage in peak racing/marathon training season? What is your approach to the off season?
I'm new to marathon training, having previously focused on track running where my mileage varied with the seasons. During the low season, I covered longer distances (60-75 miles) at a lower intensity, whereas in the peak season, my mileage dropped (45-60 miles) but included higher-intensity workouts, weight training, drills, and more.
Nowadays, I'm consistently running between 75-85 miles per week. During my off-season, I take it easy with leisurely jogs, enjoy hiking, travel, and take breaks as needed.
During our cold winter days, do you brave poor weather conditions or stick indoors on the treadmill?
As much as I hate the cold/winter, I embrace it and run outside as much as possible. If I have a crucial workout that would be difficult, I do it on the treadmill.
List your PRs: Race, time, year:
I do not remember the exact race, time, and year. But here are the PRs that I remember:
1:52 (800m); 3:45 (1500); 4:01(mile); 8:04 (3k); 8:36 (3k steeplechase); 13:57 (5k); 30:17 (10k); 1:06:52 (21km- half-marathon)
What is the greatest honor you have received in athletics?
Wow, this is hard. I have had so many recognitions as an athlete, and it is tough to choose from. Some of them are the following:
Your favorite shoe for training and racing
That’s hard because I go with whatever deals I can get. But some of my favorite shoes are the following:
Ever run in a costume?
No, I have not.
What are your favorite pre-race and post-race meals?
In my twenties and early thirties, I used to be extremely methodical, but with age, I've become a bit more laid-back. Nonetheless, one thing that remains constant is my aversion to fast food and chain restaurants. Typically, I opt for leftovers or whatever my wife and I prepared for dinner the previous night, which can include a variety of items like meat, rice, and vegetables. However, if I find myself craving pizza, pasta, Thai cuisine, or something similar, I don't hesitate to indulge.
On the morning of a race (if it's scheduled for the morning), my breakfast consists of peanut butter toast, almonds, and a cup of coffee. After the race or workouts, I always make sure to have a recovery drink and some snacks. Following that, I simply enjoy whatever food strikes my fancy at the moment.
What challenges / races / adventures are you planning for the coming year?
In the upcoming year, my goals revolve around advancing in my running pursuits. I'm currently focused on enhancing my performance in the 10km and 21km races. Eventually, I have my sights set on completing a marathon with the ambitious aim of finishing it in under 2 hours and 20 minutes, which I hope to achieve in the 2024-2025 season.
For the immediate future, I have specific targets in mind. I aim to set a personal record in the half marathon during the Hudson Mohawk race, as well as in the Stockade-athon 15k and the Troy Turkey Trot 10k. These are the challenges I've set for myself in the near future and to continue pushing my running abilities to new heights.
What is the greatest piece of advice you've ever received in the sport?
The most valuable pieces of advice I've received in this sport are as follows: