MEMBER: Ethan RisselL
Name: Ethan Rissell
Hometown: Alexandria, VA
High School: JEB Stuart
College: Shippensburg University
Occupation: Business Intelligence Developer
Half Marathon: 1:09:24
2009 PSAC indoor 5,000 runner-up
2011 PSAC 10,000 runner-up
2009 Atlantic Region cross country 6th place
149th overall at 2015 Boston Marathon
By: Kevin Brandon (03/05/19)
Ethan, thanks for taking time to speak with us. Could you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you end up in Philadelphia and running with PRTC?
Hi Kevin, thanks for speaking with me. I grew up in northern Virginia and wasn't a very active or athletic child. The first sport I ever did was lacrosse my freshman year of high school, and indirectly through that I discovered running. I went to Shippensburg University where I majored in Management Information Systems and ran cross country and track for four years. After graduating in 2011 I moved around the central Pennsylvania area for several years before moving to the Philadelphia area in 2017. A couple months ago my girlfriend and I just bought a house in Philadelphia, and we're very happy to be able to call Philly home!
When did you first become a runner? Did a specific event compel you to take on the sport?
I started running my freshman year of high school to help get me in shape for lacrosse. Lacrosse was a spring sport and a lot of the upperclassmen on the team ran cross country in the fall. We were very bad, and we lost one particular game that really drove our coach nuts. He said we didn't run at all during that game, so the next day we had practice where all we did was different running drills. We did sprints up and down the field, stadiums, and hills. I was finding that I was coming in the top few guys in each drill we did, and was ahead of everyone else on the longer stuff like the stadiums. After that practice the guys on the team recruited me to come out for cross country in the fall, and I've been running ever since!
Once you began running, how did your career develop? Take us through day one to today.
At the beginning I didn't take running very seriously. In the spring of my sophomore year I was doing both lacrosse and track, and during one of my lacrosse games I rolled my ankle and couldn't run for a few days. That was a wakeup call that showed me that I really did enjoy running, and made me realize that I should focus on that over lacrosse. In high school I was only running about 20-30 miles a week, but I did see steady progress from my sophomore year to senior year. I started off my high school career running around 5:30 to the mile and by the time I graduated I had run 4:24, and earlier that fall I had qualified for states in cross country.
My college program had much higher mileage than I was doing in high school, so I had some growing pains my freshman year, and I spent half of the year dealing with minor injuries and aches and pains. However, throughout the year my coach helped me realize I was more of a 5k/10k runner instead of a miler (I stubbornly refused to run a 5k until April because I was convinced I was a miler). I broke 15:00 in the 5k my sophomore year, but plateaued my junior year and didn’t break that barrier again until my senior year.
After college I’ve tried to stay in relatively decent shape and keep running consistently, but I’ve mostly been training by myself. Joining PRTC has been great for that extra motivation and accountability that I’ve been missing since college.
What is a favorite running accomplishment or moment?
My favorite running moment is from the cross country regional meet my junior year of college. The whole season the entire team was focused on qualifying for the national meet. At that time they only took the top two teams from the region to nationals, and the year before we had gotten fourth place, and only 12 points out of second place. The week before we had gotten second at our conference meet, so we were feeling pretty good heading into regionals.
The regional course was pancake flat and we went out at a blistering pace. The rest was a race of attrition, with whatever team could hold out the longest would end up coming out on top. We ended up winning the meet, the first time in school history that Shippensburg had ever won a regional title. Our top five scorers were all in the top 13, and I finished 6th, which was my highest finish in the cross country post-season while at Ship. It felt incredible to set out all season with a common goal, and for us to all show up on the same day to accomplish it together.
How about a not-so-great moment?
The most down I’ve ever been after a race was probably the regional indoor track meet my senior year. I had qualified for states in cross country in the fall and I wanted to keep that momentum going with going to states in indoor. At that meet I had a good shot of qualifying in the mile because a lot of the top talent that year were either running the 1k or the two mile. To qualify for states at regionals you needed to place in the top six in the event. For most of the race I was sitting in fourth, and in the last lap I got outkicked by three guys, placing seventh and being the first person to not make it into states. That finish was crushing, but a good learning experience.
Regarding your running future, what are your near and long-term goals?
I spent most of last year dealing with some minor injuries which had a negative impact on me both physically and mentally. My short term goals are to just get healthy and to really enjoy running again.
Long term I’d like to run some more marathons. I haven’t done one in four years and I feel like I have some unfinished business with the distance. I would also like to get closer to my PR in the half marathon, which I set in my first one in 2011.
Preferred pre and post-race meals?
I almost always have pasta the night before a race. It’s kind of cheesy, but I’ve been doing it since high school and it seems to work, so why change it?
After a race I’m always craving a huge burger and fries.
Can you share with us what you're currently up to professionally?
I work in healthcare data right now. Specifically, I take data from different areas and manipulate it and standardize it so that it can be converted into a common model. My company is working on creating one of the largest healthcare datasets in the world and from that studies and analysis can be done on it.
What inspired you to pursue this field?
Growing up I had always enjoyed working with computers, but I wasn’t necessarily super technically savvy. In college I discovered the Management Information Systems major, which kind of blends IT and more business oriented subject matter, and it seemed like a good fit for me. Since graduating I have been doing different types of business intelligence, which my role in it is basically manipulating data so that analysis can be done on the data more easily.
Any non-running related hobbies, hidden skills or talents we may enjoy hearing about?
I’m really into photography of all sorts. I love taking my camera on trips and trying to capture all the different landscapes and views I’ve seen. I’m also really into sports photography and love taking pictures at track meets and different races.