Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mid-week Ski Report from Buffalo

First, best wishes to Dave Caplin, who I've heard is home from the hospital, and recently was able to go watch his son compete in an indoor track meet! Now on to the more mundane.........

After running 4 miles Sunday earlier this week, I took two days off, then went out cross country skiing this evening, as we accumulated about 4 inches of snow yesterday. Unfortunately, the temperature this evening was 15 degrees, with a "real feel" considering wind chill of about zero. Nonetheless, I skiid for 36 minutes straight (possibly 3 miles), at a brisk pace. Although Eric has made one joke about skiing vs. track, I somehow did not feel this was an easy cross training day, with the wind blowing in my face, creating the illusion of sub-zero temperatures.

I'm hoping that this kind of "dead of winter" workout will also be a pyschological toughening that will prove critical come Spring track season.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Thoughts on the Millrose Reunion

Greetings Fellow SUNY B Runners and Blog Members!

For those of us who were able to get to New York to see the Millrose Games, it was a memorable event. I believe that 10 of us in addition to Coach Truce were able to come for dinner and see the meet. While my comments are a bit late, more on that in a minute, I think we all had a great time and definitely see the potential to do this again. I know for me, the evening brought back a ton of great memories of school days, running and good friends. I hope we can continue to get together.

I won’t make a big deal out of this but I went to the meet on Feb. 1 knowing I was going to the hospital for surgery on Feb. 5. I had my third abdominal tumor removed successfully. After a nine day hospital stay, I’m now home and resting comfortably and awaiting radiation therapy around mid March. Needless to say, I was not able to post a blog until now so please excuse my tardiness. I also want to reassure all of you that while I’m now a 3-time cancer survivor, I want to emphasize “survivor” in this situation. Fortunately I have benefited from early detection and in my case the “cure is worse than the disease.” In any event, it adds a dimension to running, keeping in shape and relating all of that to our stage of life. If anything, I have found that staying in shape is one of the best assets to have when recovering from something from like abdominal surgery. I won’t kid anybody, the surgery is invasive and recovery is uncomfortable and debilitating. But I’d rather do it knowing I’m in good shape and rallying from that than the alternatives. And they do give you amazing drugs!

However, the real point of my entry is to relate how it feels to watch your son follow the same path as the father (at least in terms of running track). My son Greg ran an indoor development meet this past Sunday at Kent State University and I was able to get out and watch. He did his father proud by posting a personal best time 400 meter time of 53.7. As a 16 year old sophomore, Greg is far from the leaders. The winners were from Cleveland and ran in the mid 48’s. Considering it’s still early in the year and that Ohio does not have a formal winter track season like New York, I’ll take the 53.7 as a major step forward. His previous best outdoor time was 54.8. Greg quit football this past fall to run his first cross country season (another positive move from my perspective) and without any real speed work, took over a second off his previous best.

If you ask Greg, his real goal is to eclipse his father’s times relative to the same age and year of high school. My best as a sophomore was 52.2 for 440 yards so without considering the conversion, I think he’s definitely within striking distance. Frankly, if he gets into the 51’s this year, I’ll be delighted and I think he has a serious chance to pull it off. Of course, then I’ll have to suffer the taunts and put-downs that only a 16 year old can level at his old man. Given everything else in my life at this time, my only response is: “Bring it on!” I have to confess, I definitely felt a father’s pride watching him run this weekend. I usually tease him about how he loses form toward the end of the race, a common fault among 400 meter runners. Greg also does not like running indoors. He thinks the turns are too tight and the air stale. This would give him a built in excuse for not putting out a better time. But this race was different. He looked faster at the start and stronger in the mid portion of the race. His form in the last 75 meters did not break down as badly and I had the sense that maybe he would be faster than in the past. As he crossed the line, I hit the stop watch and was within .05 of his coach’s time so I know it was accurate.

As Greg came off the track he actually looked dejected. He started to tell me how slow he felt, how bad the air was, etc. So I just showed him my watch and waited for the reaction. When Greg realized he did a personal best, a smile started to break out. Even though I’ll hear about it later in the season when he should beat my old time, I can say “I told you so” before he can throw the usual taunts at me. I’d like nothing better than to see him beat me. Being around to see it is a pretty good trade off for 9 days in the hospital.


Former Runner

Note from Eric: Due to a bug in the blogging software I am being credit for this post my by Dave.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Buffalo Winter Training Update

I made it through yet another week of winter in Buffalo, this time a bit better than last week. I ran three times (5 miles, 4 miles, and 5.5 miles) with one episode of cross country skiing (30 minutes) in between. Although the skiing was around the high school fields and trails on 2 inches of snow, it was a good workout, and of course, no pounding on the legs.

Today I started off the week with a relatively comfortable 4 miles. The weather has mellowed somewhat, changing from teens during the week (that was a cold run) to over 30 by this weekend, and even sunny!

Another highlight of this week was the lunar eclipse, which occurred on a cold Buffalo night. This photo was captured by my daughter, Kaila, at nearly the point of the full eclipse. My photography is so notoriously poor that she nabbed the camera from me and took the photo herself.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

First Time Blogging

Well, I seem to have figured this out, thanks to Eric. I just want to thank everyone who organized the whole thing (I guess that would be Eric and Dave) and Mark for deciding to drive down in the snow rather than disappoint us. It was a lot of fun and very interesting how no one seems to have changed much. I disagree a little about the quality of the meet, since we probably saw the greatest mile relay in history - how often do you see all 4 teams drop the baton?

You would have been amused at Emily trying to guess which one in the picture was Coach Truce - she thought we were all older than him.

My apologies for not being a very good alumnus - the sum total of my effort was walking a few blocks in the rain and spending a lot of time trying to find the restaurant. I promise notto let another 25 years go by before seeing you all again.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Training Update: Winter Maintenance Mode

Well, folks, winter has really settled in here in the Buffalo area, so I have adjusted my running program accordingly. I have been training very steadily (at least 20 miles per week) since September or so, with improvements in race times throughout the autumn and early winter. Even in January and part of February, I've managed to run 5 or 6 days per week, getting close to or greater than 25 miles per week at times. I've also done some tempo runs and fartleks, although no track work at all.

(Photo of Mark as an impressive looking surfer dude at the beach, August 2007)

With the cold, snow and ice, I have decided to enter a "winter maintenance mode" for the next 2 to 3 weeks, until the weather breaks a bit. This will entail only 4 workouts per week (5 maximum), in which the workout will consist of about 3o minutes of either running or cross skiing, depending on snow conditions. This week I rested Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, which was a very nice break for the legs, then ran twice (4 miles each) and cross country skiid twice (30 minutes each). Skiing is a great cross training, little to no pounding, and a good overall aerobic and strength workout, including the arms and upper body. I will try to do weights on my days off of running.

Although I don't expect continued improvement during this maintenance period, I do not expect to lose any conditioning, and should be primed to increase the mileage and intensity in early to mid-March. In addition, I think the relative rest from pounding the pavement will be good for me. In the spring and summer, I tend to do more of my workouts on grass and trails, thus avoiding the battering of the old joints.

Since Eric stated his early spring goals, I'll go out on a limb, and say that I want to run a mile in the latter half of March faster than my last mile of 2007, which was 5:43 in December. If I can make that my first mile of 2007, that will encourage me to continue on the sub-5-minute mile quest. We'll see.................43 seconds is a long time.............


Why I Like 220s

I agree with Mark--quarters are an important element of mile training.  I think 220s serve a different purpose.  Quarters build strength.  But, that comes at a price, they can be hard to do--especially when the legs are feeling tired.
220s are useful for "speed".  220s abuse the legs a lot less and it is possible to run a workout of 220s even when the legs are feeling tired.
As I get closer to running my mile time trial, I'll be adding quarters to my workouts.  In fact, I like to throw in some halves too.
But, even when I'm doing quarters (and halves) I think I'll still do some 220s.  They are more fun, they build confidence, they hurt less.

Training Update

I was in Las Vegas most of the week where the weather was nice, the land was flat, and the running environment was lousy because of too much traffic (even at 7:00 A.M.).  I ran about 4 miles/day most of the days I was there.
Today, Saturday, I was back on the track at Charlottesville High School for another 1.5 run.  Results were acceptable.  10:49 (3:34, 3:37, 3:38), which was 6 seconds faster than last time.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Training Update; Early Spring Goals

It was a glorious week weather-wise in Charlottesville, VA--considering that it is February.  Midweek, temperatures made it into the 70s.  Taking advantage of this nice warm weather, I made it to the track twice, and other days did my usual 4.2 mile run.
Wednesday I ran 10:55 for 1.5 miles (3:32, 3:36, 3:47).  I was surprised how easy it was to run a 7:08 mile and being quite pleased with that, it was okay to accept whatever time showed up for the last half-mile.  Saturday, it was back to the track for 220s (with a 220 walk to recover between runs).  My times for 8 were 40, 39, 39, 39, 38, 38, 38, and 39.  This was fine with me, given how lousy my legs felt.
My goals for early spring are to get back to where I was when fall ended.  So, by 21 March, I hope that I can run 6:40 for a mile and 3:03 for a half-mile.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Moinbo on Spoon

On Saturday, 2 February 2008 Mark, Eric, and Moinbo ran the first annual Spoon Memorial Run. The run was once around the main six-mile loop in New York City's Central Park. It was very fitting that Moinbo, who was a close friend and teammate of Spoon at SUNY-B was a participant in this event. After graduation, Moinbo and Spoon remained good friends and in close contact.

As the three of us ran around the Park, Moinbo provided details on Spoon's post graduation life. I wish that Moinbo's words had been captured for all of you who have ever wondered what became of Spoon and how it was that he happened to be where he was when he was killed.

In that spririt, I'm pleased to be able to share with you the unedited text of an email I received from Moinbo shortly after the Spoon.

"Hi Eric. Read the Spoon eulogy. Quite excellent, in capturing the Spoon persona. Dave S., the author, is a superior writer however he hadn’t seen Spoon in a long time. Things did change, along with the persona. There were rough patches in later years, pressures, and somehow I think destiny took Spoon and his sweet wife on this long path that ultimately led him to the Farmer’s Market where the incident happened. Some people believe it was just terrible terrible bad luck, in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I can’t get it out of my head that something else was at work. I’ll post some thoughts about the Millrose/Spoon Memorial reunion, and the Polar Bear swim maybe this week when I have some time.Truly good to see you and the boys. Moinbo."

Photo by Mark: Moinbo (white) and Eric during the Spoon.

Coach Truce Speaks About The New York City Reunion

"I just want to say how much I enjoyed the weekend we all spent together in NY City. It was really fun seeing each of the guys again. I enjoyed every bit of the weekend. ... I’m so glad we are still in touch with each other after all these years.


Above, a photo of Mark and Coach Truce. Which one is Coach?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Millrose Reunion Photos

Finally, here are my photos from the reunion, but please pardon my photographic skills! My family constantly laughs at my photography (photos of the sky, grass, my foot, etc. when trying to shoot my daughter running cross country).
The photos are in no particular order, and cover the following: The dinner at Tir Na Nog, the track meet, and the Spoon Memorial Run. Participants in the reunion included (not in any particular order): Gary Truce, Gary Wallace, Sheldon Melnitsky, Dave Caplin, Eric Kaplan (no relation, other than running), Mark Raybuck, Dave Moin, Tom Fusco, and Frank Waltzer.

I'll be posting an article later with my reflections on the reunion itself, the track meet, and the Spoon Memorial Run. For now, enjoy the photos!

Mark (Youngbuck) Raybuck

Monday, February 4, 2008

Mark's Post Millrose Games Training Update

The last two weeks were relatively light training weeks, but still more than usual for winter. I ran (or cross country skiid) 4 times each week. The final run of this past week was the Spoon Memorial, including nearly a mile warmup and warmdown. I guess our total mileage was close to 8, and I included 3 fartleks of about 1/4 mile each during the Spoon. Yesterday I did not have much time, so I just ran 4 miles at a brisk clip (probably 7:45), and included 3 good fartleks of about 400 meters each during the run. I felt quite good, and still feel that I am in much better shape than usual for the winter. I think both of us (Eric Kaplan and myself) are now in a similar position. Much better condition than normal for winter level of fitness, and poised to run some excellent mile times this Spring and Summer.

I have not stepped on a track in a couple months, and probably will not be able to do so for a while. Although we are having a thaw this week, I can usually only run on the track on weekends, and forecasts are predicting cold and snow again by the weekend. In the interim, I am trying to do one run per week that includes either fartleks or a tempo run. I also plan to continue a weekly "long" run of about 7.5 miles.

I'm still uncertain about a Sub-5 mile attempt this Spring, but I will continue to do my winter training as if I were indeed planning the Sub-5 mile.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Why Wallace Is A Legend

Inducted 1997

A native of Elbridge, NY, Gary L. Wallace competed in cross country and track at Binghamton from 1967-72. He earned his bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1973, and his master's degree in computer science from Binghamton in 1977. Wallace earned distinction as the first Binghamton athlete in any sport to qualify for an NCAA Championship when he was selected for the 1969 cross country nationals.In the spring of 1970, Wallace won 16 straight and 19 of 20 track distance races, placing fifth at the state championship. In just six meets, he garnered a team-high 85 points in three of the most grueling events in track - the mile, 880 and the two-mile races.After sitting out the 1970 cross country season with an injury, Wallace returned to lead the 1971 team to a perfect 13-0 mark. He shaved nearly one minute off his best high school mile mark and ran a 4:24 mile. In 1972, Wallace became the school's first state champion when he captured the indoor track two-mile race. He broke five school distance records during that season and was named team MVP.A two-year team captain of cross country and track, Wallace was Binghamton's "Athlete of the Year" in 1969-70. After serving as an assistant cross country coach for one year, Wallace continued to excel in distance running, competing in dozens of world-renowned marathons. In 1979 at age 30, he ran a 2:18.51 marathon to qualify for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Eulogy for Spoon (Kevin Patrick McCarthy Class of 75, 1953 - 2003)

Kevin Patrick McCarthy
1953 – 2003

David Summergrad `74 wrote the following eulogy for his classmate and friend, Kevin Patrick McCarthy `75, who died on July 16, 2003 when a reckless driver swerved into an open air market in Santa Monica, CA. McCarthy's wife, Diana Gong McCarthy, was among the ten people who died in the tragedy.

Captain Spoon Rides Again
by David Summergrad `74

Kevin and Diana on their wedding day in 1997.

The last time I saw my friend Kevin McCarthy, was at his wedding in 1997. He was always a late bloomer, (Kevin had been the last of my friends to date), and we were all delighted to see him married for the first time at 44. After years of delay and false starts, his marriage to Diana gave us all the sense that he was finally on his way.

I remember the first time I saw him, entering my second grade class, gangly even then, all arms and legs and elbows akimbo. Years later, those elbows became sharp weapons as we played basketball for hours on end. Son of an Irish-American father and a mother who was the daughter of a Peruvian diplomat, he immediately taught us to chant, "Long live the Irish-Peruvians!"

Kevin was always quick with words. His wit, as Mercutio said, was "most sharp sauce." He used words to make us laugh or to cut us down to size, and as we entered our high school years he became the powerful giver of names. The nicknames he chose for us – like Z-man, Lulu, Summ-ador, Moinbo, Zip, Pooch, and UD helped to populate our black-and-white world with colorful characters. Even his first car – a sky-blue-pink VW fastback – had a nickname: Jezebel, given in recognition of its shameless unreliability. And Kevin became the most interesting figure of us all after he invented the character of Capt. Quixtus Spoon. Captain Spoon was the central figure in a poem that Kevin wrote, and ultimately Kevin became "Spoon" to us.

Kevin was our resident "author" and all of us were confident that one day he would become a famous writer. He was also our resident activity director, (his earliest forays into directing); he organized our playtime as he became the informal leader of what he dubbed the "LSA" (the Landing Sports Association). We had touch-football leagues, softball teams, and stickball tournaments, all held on the grounds of our former elementary school: Landing School. The magnificent home runs of "Tom-Tom" Dewberry, the rifle arm of Mark "the Polish-Howitzer" Ledzian, and the defensive play of Jeff "the Gerbil" Gerbino became the stuff of our local legends.
Spoon wrote about these athletic heroes in a handwritten weekly sports journal he called "The Swami Predicts" which animated our lunchroom chatter in the high school cafeteria.

Our world, with Capt. Spoon at the helm, was like a constantly unfolding episode of the "Little Rascals." It was a world without adults and schedules, where we set up our own fields, organized our own leagues, and made our own rules. There was unrest in the streets as the nation was turning itself inside out over Vietnam and civil rights, but we took refuge in the fantasy of our world of sports and close friends, embellished by the imagination of Capt. Spoon.

When Kevin transferred to Harpur as a sophomore, I was proud to introduce him as "Capt. Spoon." We took pleasure in celebrating the absurdity of life by shouting out a dormitory window: "Life is a parade!" at nine o'clock each evening. He became a fixture on the Harpur track team and a frequent contributor to the Newing News. Spoon the runner was still Spoon the writer. He wrote avidly and soaked up what he could in the writing classes he took. On a rare occasion, Kevin came to me for advice. He was embarrassed about the topic his professor had assigned: write about the time you lost your virginity. Kevin, who was slow to enter the social scene, was mortified by this assignment. I said to him, "Just remember, you're a creative writer – so get creative." He did.

With the Vietnam War in high gear, and the anti-war movement in full swing, Kevin and I sat together one evening, watching on TV as the draft lottery numbers for our year were drawn. There were 365 numbers – each linked to a day of the year. The lower your number, the more likely you were to be drafted. This perverse use of your birthday created high drama for 19 year-olds across the country. Kevin drew a very unlucky 23, and I was an equally dismal 22. We were called up on the same day for our "pre-induction" draft physical, and we spent a very long 12 hours together in Ft. Hamilton at the foot of the Verrazano Bridge, in Brooklyn. The scene could have come straight from Arlo Guthrie's lyrics as we were herded from room to room with hundreds of other potential draftees, dressed only in our BVD's, being weighed, poked, measured, questioned, and prodded.

Kevin, whose skinny 5'-11"gangliness had often seemed a detriment, was declared to be underweight at 118 pounds, and my chronic hypertension disqualified me. We sat side by side on the bus ride home, giving thanks for our good fortune, even though both of us were due to be called back a few months later for a new physical. As luck would have it, the draft ended before our next physical occurred.

As seniors in high school, Kevin had introduced me to the girl who lived next door to him, and our romance blossomed quickly. A few years later, when she and I decided to marry, it was only natural that Kevin would be the best man. Although he loved to talk within our circle of friends, he was terribly shy about talking in front of large groups. We wondered aloud about whether he would even show up for the wedding, and if he did, whether he would be able to speak when it was time to give the toast. Would he use his fabled wit and say something funny or inappropriate? Would he be Kevin or would he appear in character as Capt. Spoon? Would
he shout out something political ("Keep Ethiopia Ethiopian!" was one of his favorites), or would he say something in Spanish: "¡No hay papel ijienico en el servicio! Por esso hay tantos insectos!" – the words he had taught me to say if I was ever accosted by strangers in the subway.

But none of these worries came to pass. A nervous and pale Kevin appeared just in time for the ceremony, sporting crutches (perhaps to hold him up if he felt too wobbly), dressed in a blue blazer and plaid pants – his own fashion statement. He stood, a bit shaky, when it was time for the toast, and said simply that he wished us happiness, prosperity, and a long life.

The years after college rolled by – he continued his efforts to establish himself as a writer in graduate school. His first serious relationship, with "Lulu," came and went. When I visited him in New York, I always asked about how his writing was going. He would look pained and guilty. "It's coming along." But he wasn't satisfied with what he was producing. There was some early success with a piece that was published in the New York Times Magazine, and some other small triumphs along the way.

Still, we all sensed that Kevin was going to produce the great American (or Irish-Peruvian) novel, or at least a Pulitzer prize-winning play. In the last ten years, he made the shift toward screenplays and he began directing short movies. As his relationship with Diana bloomed, he became more confident and more polished. His letters were signed Kevin, not Spoon, a kind of signal of finding inner peace as he found himself. His movie, "Ciao, Marcello!" was shot on a shoestring and well received by those who saw it. When he and Diana made the move to L.A. last fall, to continue their team efforts to write and produce their movies, you had the feeling that they were on a roll, and Kevin knew it. He completed "The Rouge Shoes" - a feature length film project that had occupied him for years. He mailed me my copy of the DVD in April, with a note that said, "Hey Summ, well here it is … seven years later!"

Life was good. At age fifty, you had the sense that Kevin, the late bloomer, was finally coming into his own, that he was about to emerge as a presence, free of the cocoon which had held him for so long. His creative urges, manic and impulsive in his youth, were still as powerful as ever, but harnessed and purposeful now. He was still high on life, and he seemed as happy as I had ever known him.

When the news came that he had been killed, along with Diana, in the hideous freak car crash in the open-air market in Santa Monica, it was too unreal to comprehend. His humor, which was often irreverent and edgy, would have found his end both tragic and bizarre, exactly the kind of mix he might have included in one of his stories or screenplays. A random moment, caused by the "conceit of old age," as one of our friends called it, left nine former people, including my friend and his wife, strewn, like so much produce, on the bloody pavement.

Kevin always had a charming child-like sweetness – his fifty years seemed more like a beginning than a middle; and he was certainly not ready to be at the end. While this final journey for Captain Spoon came too soon, Kevin and Diana were living their dream – fulfilling their quest to create stories together. Their story was brief, but a joy to all who knew them.

Life's parade goes on, but the world is a lesser place without Kevin and his love Diana.

P.S. Here's a little poem, strangely apt, which Kevin wrote for the Glen Cove High School literary magazine, "Images," in 1971:


Wriggling, happy to be out in the air,
Slithering along without a care.
Thump, thump, here comes Billy Patton.
Squish, squash, poor worm all flatten'd.

Squashed, beaten, mangled
Stepped on, squeezed and tangled
Look before you step. It's up to you
After all worms is people too!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

"Millrose" SUNY B Runners Reunion a Success!

I'm back in beautiful Buffalo, NY, and wanted to be the first to post what I am sure will be a flurry of blogs concerning this weekend's successful Millrose Games SUNY B Runners Reunion. These are just my preliminary thoughts, to be followed with additional, more detailed blogs that will contain photos and a complete commentary of the Spoon Memorial Run.

This reunion, including runners from the class of 1973 (Gary Wallace) through 1980 (Mark Raybuck), plus the infamous Coach Truce, was certainly an interesting gathering of runners who have taken various paths in life, but still maintain that common thread of running (at least in the past) and Coach Truce. Although I had not previously met some of you, I enjoyed this brief reunion, from the trip down and back with Coach Truce, to the Irish dinner at Tir Na Nog (spelling?), to the Millrose Games (including the incredible box seats), to eating out twice after the games (and staying up past my usual 11 pm bedtime), to the highlight for me, the Kevin McCarthy (aka Spoon) memorial run in Central Park, with Eric Kaplan, Moinbo, and myself. The others were there in spirit, I'm sure, if not physically present in running shoes and sweat clothes.

More about this inaugural reunion and memorial run in subsequent blogs, with photos of the event. I encourage all of you, including the professional writer among us (Moinbo) to prepare blogs with your thoughts and perspectives.

Mark (formerly known as Youngbuck) Raybuck
(class of 1980)