Thursday, December 23, 2010

Running Challenge

This challenge is issued to all the blog members, but for Eric, it is mandatory. Although I understand the difficulties of running and training while doing worldwide travel, I don't think his lack of running is simply due to that. He himself admitted that it just wasn't "fun." Since when does running have to be "fun"? Is this a new, softer, gentler approach to running than when we were younger?

My challenge is for the blog members (and especially Eric) to establish a training program, pick an actual race (preferably a 5K) to enter, train for that race, enter it, run in it, and report the results with a good blog article and if possible, photos.

Charlottesville certainly must have some good 5k races in the Spring, so that might be a good time to shoot for.


Update on Biking Injuries

For those who don't remember, or never knew, I took a nasty, head-first, fall off of my road bike in April. My left hand is now almost pain-free. There is still a spot inside my mouth that is somewhat damaged (flesh, not teeth) and my dentist said it might never completely heal. But at least the mouth damage isn't painful--it is a just a reminder of the fall.

The more important injury was to the ulnar nerve on my left arm. That injury is probably the result of riding done many years ago and riding done more recently. It was a minor annoyance until I did a 100 mile ride this past spring. About 8 hours on the bike in 1 day was enough to really cause some serious discomfort. Some testing revealed that I was dangerously close to permanent damage. The solution was to get off the road bike and give the nerve time to recover. Having done that, it looks like I might be able to avoid surgery. One sure way to avoid surgery is to not get back on the road bike. But I don't want to give it up. So I'm going to continue to stay off the road bike until the spring and then make some changes to the bike that might help take the pressure off of the nerve.

If the changes to the bike don't work well enough, surgery is an option.

Getting off the road bike didn't mean not biking. I did a fair amount of riding of my hybrid bike this summer. Riding the hybrid seemed to be okay on the ulnar. It caused some different nerve-related discomort, but that nerve discomfort, according to my doctor, is not a sign of potential really nasty, permanent ulnar nerve damage. That discomfort is a result of minor spine injuries that might have been caused when someone rear-ended me in a car accident many years ago.

Winter Training

I haven't run outside for 3 or 4 weeks. I haven't run inside either. There is a treadmill in my garage that was given to me because its previous owner had stopped using it, but it is in pieces and I haven't yet attempted to put it together. I really don't like running on a treadmill.

I stopped running outside when it got too cold for it to be fun. When I stopped running I did increase the intensity of my exercise bike riding, but not the amount of time I ride. I'm still riding for 45 minutes--enough to feel like I'm getting a workout, but not so long that I can't wait to get off the bike. Riding an exercise bike is a really poor substitute for riding a real bike. Riding a real bike is fun.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Biking Heart Rate Question???

Chris will probably have to answer this one, although Eric bikes also and may be able to chime in. With the onset of winter, I have started doing some workouts on a fairly cheap exercise bike in my basement. It has 8 magnetic resistance settings, although 7 is a bit too easy and 8 is too hard. Anyway, the question is how do I get my heart rate up comparable to running? My heart rate seems to hover around 98 to 100 beats per minute, when I think it is usually well over 130 even on easy runs. Last night, I pedaled really fast for the last minute in a 30-minute workout, and that got it up to 120, but I don't think I could sustain that pedaling rate. Is this just a question of building up my biking muscles until I can pedal faster for a longer period, or until I can stand to use the highest resistance setting?


Friday, December 10, 2010

Cross Country Season Finale!

Season Finale!! My fifth and final cross country race of the "season" is over! I think it was successful, but as usual, with cross country races, time does not tell you much, and sometimes place doesn't either. Regardless, I finished 8th overall out of about 140, 1st out of 15 in the 50 to 54 age group, and a time of 27:49 for an unofficial 6K. Now 6K is about 3.75 miles; however, two of us with GPS watches clocked the course at between 4.03 and 4.11 miles. GPS typically underestimates hilly courses, so this was a minimum distance. Using 4.03 miles, I averaged 6:55 per mile, but my guess was the distance was closer to 4.2, and thus my pace closer to 6:50.

I did do a little online research after the race, and the guy that finished just 4 seconds ahead of me ran in the 17s for 5K and 4:57 for the mile earlier in the year. Not sure what that means, but overall, I felt like I ran and competed well.

I must say, though, that the Montgomery County Road Runners Club puts on a great buffet after the race, and the entry fee was only $10. The homemade chili was the highlight for me!

I think the real test of my endurance was that I was able to get in the car and drive 8 hours back to Buffalo after the race, and not feel too bad!

Next up, a possible go at at an indoor mile on December 30, 2010. Unfortunately I can't train on the track, due to snow and cold. In fact, today, I cross country skiid for 45 minutes in the snow instead of running!


See results below or click on the post title to see full results.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

John Aldridge (the quarter-miler)

John Aldridge was the name of my landlord in college when I shared a house with four other people (including Chris Lennon) at 14 1/2 Roosevelt Avenue on the north side of Binghamton. John Aldridge is also the name my accountant here in Charlottesville. It turns out that John Aldridge the accountant is also John Aldridge the quarter-miler, and man, what a quarter-miler he was.

In 1965 he set the Wheaton (IL) College indoor record at 48.9. I don't know what kind of track he ran that on, but back then there were not many good indoor tracks, so that was a very nice time. In the 1965 outdoor season John ran 47.7, a Wheaton record, and that was on a cinder track. With today's equipment, track surfaces, and training, who know how fast John would have been. The Gold Medal time in the 1964 Olympics for the 400 meters was 45.1.

John was an accomplished Master runner and is contemplating another comeback. Now I have yet another person to look up to, which should take some of the pressure off of Mark.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What happened to my cold tolerance?

I don't know what it is but as the cold weather has swept into the northeast (and it hasn't even been THAT cold) I'm really feeling it. I can't ever recall feeling so uncomfortable in temperatures in the low 30's. As recently as last year I was finding 32 degrees to be my favorite bike commute temperature. Mostly it's my hands. Usually they don't hurt until it's down in the teens. This year they hurt at about freezing.

This cold intolerance has put me off cycling in the late fall. I was on track to be easily over 3000 miles this year. Now I'm going to have to scrape together 57 more miles in December to make that!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Update from Maryland

Howdy, everyone. I'm down here in beautiful Potomac, Maryland for the week. Yesterday I ran 5.5 miles, including a tempo run of 2.6 miles on very hilly, rugged trails. The 2.6 miles was done at about a 7:40 pace. This seems slow, but a normal run on these trails is usually well over 9 minutes per mile, so I think this was about right for a tempo run. I was doing this as preparation for a hilly 6K cross country race down here on Saturday. Previous winning times have been just under 7 minutes per mile, so I know it is very hilly and very slow. I'm hoping for about a top 10 finish amongst an expected 100 to 130 runners, but we shall see. Today I hope to run about 6 miles on trails, if I don't get rained out.


Friday, November 26, 2010


Jusr ran 220s for the first time in months. 42, 42, 43, 42. Slow as they were, it was faster than I was expecting. My dream of breaking 5 minutes for the mile lives on. All I need to do is drop about 5 seconds per 220 and run 8 in a row without stopping.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spring Weather

It was a glorious day in Charlottesville on Monday with a temperature of around 67 degrees, sunshine, and a light wind when I made my return to the Charlottesville High School track. I'm hoping that within a week or two (if the weather holds up) I will be feeling good enough to try and get in a mile under seven minutes.

After my run I road the exercise bike for 30 minutes and expect to be up to 45 minutes tomorrow.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Eric is getting around!

Eric is now (or was) in Kyoto. Wasn't this a place where there was some sort of political agreement? I think I remember something called the Kyoto accord, but i have no clue what it was about.

Anyway, Eric is now cycling, albeit at an easy pace. He explained in a comment on the blog that there were several reasons for the easy pace. Anyway, here he is again, cycling, but not on the bike in the photo. Note: he is the one without the dark hair! The other guy must be a competitor.

I wonder where Eric will turn up next??? He really gets around!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mile Repeats!

I did three one mile repeats in Bassett Park today, on grass/trails/hills. Also a 1.25 mile warmup, then a 1 mile warmdown (total 5.25 miles). I rested 6 minutes between each mile repeat. Times: 6:34, 6:38, 6:31. After the 1st two repeats, I took off my sweat bottoms, and one layer off the top, so the final repeat was with shorts and just one long-sleeve shirt on top. The lesser weight seemed to help, as I thought my final mile was going to be the slowest. This was a little slower than my target 6:30 pace, but then I was thinking of wearing racing spikes, and probably thought about shorts. So if you add the weight of the sweats and training shoes, I was probably close to target pace.

But the main point is, didn't we use to do one mile repeats under Coach Truce on the cross country course? It hurt then and it hurt now.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Third Generation Strider in Training

I took my 3-year-old grandson, a 3rd generation Dr. K Strider, to the track a few days ago, and without telling him anything, he started doing 50 meter intervals. He kept stopping after each interval, though, to play in the long jump sand box! I tried to keep the rest between intervals about equal to the time spent running the interval, in keeping with Coach Truce's instructions.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Eric in Tokyo - is he running?

Eric is currently in Tokyo, apparently doing some real life business or client development. But the question is, is he running? His previous post mentioned that it would not be a great week for running. Here he is, getting out of a cab, then going out to eat. So, at least we know he is taking cabs and eating.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Post-Truce Cross Country Race!

Approximately 31 years after finishing up my cross country career with Coach Truce, I ran in a comparable cross country race to our school days. The 8K championship race of a 5-race upstate ny series, hosted by the Genesee Valley Harriers, reminded me very much of a typical large invititational in the Truce days, even about the same 5- mile race distance. This race had over 160 runners, many of them fairly high caliber post-collegiate age athletes, plus many enthusiastic "age group" (i.e., codger) runners such as myself. In short, with a time of 32:28 (about 6:32/mile), I finished in 73rd out of 161, and only 11th out of 50 in the 50 to 59 year age group (sadly, called the "veterans" age group - doggonit, I'm old).

I even had to dig deep for an allout sprint down the final straight as a fellow 50 to 59er tried to come back and catch me, after I put on a good half-mile surge, with a faster surge during the last 300 meters to pass him. Embarassingly, I even leaned at the tape to get that 73rd place and coveted 11th place age group finish!

Another highlight of the race was bumping into Jim Miner afterwards. Jim, now in the supervets over 60 age group, is still running and doing crazy stunts like back to back marathons on consecutive days (some might remember his famous double Sub-3 hour marathon stunt, running sub-3 in both the Buffalo marathon, driving all night to NYC, and running sub-3 in NYC the next day). He outdid himself recently by running two marathons in ONE day, with a 6-hour drive in between events. By the way, did anyone ever figure out why Jim used to run with us, when he wasn't really in school at Binghamton? In fact, did he ever go to school there?

Results are at the link below (or click on the title), and I'll modify this post with some good race photos later, so stay tuned!


Saturday, November 13, 2010

From Bad to Worse

I'm expecting this to be a pathetic training week. I'm on my way to Tokyo and I left home at 5:00 A.M. Saturday. I won't get to my hotel until around 7:00 P.M. Sunday. So there won't be any running this weekend. During the week I'll run about 20 minutes/day, but it will be slower than normal since I won't be on a track and it will be cold. These days biking is an important part of my training and there won't be any of that.

When I get back I'm under orders from Mark to run fast so I can get a photo taken for the blog. The problen is I'm in no condition to do this--even a 220 at a decent speed will be difficult since I haven't done any kind of "speed" work for months.

I'm so glad that spring is only about five months away where I live.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Prep for 5K race

I am tentatively planning on running a 5K road race this Saturday, to gauge what I can do in a flatter, certified distance. These trail and cross country races are slow, and distances are not accurate, so other than comparing to last year's times, or finding people that I know, it is difficult to say how I am doing. For example, in the Mendon Ponds 10K trail race, this year I ran 44:57 compared to 45:02 last year, nearly identical. However, the trails were dry last year, and the temperature was perfect, around mid 50s. This year it was rain/snow and in the 30s, had to wear more gear, and the muddy trails were slower. However, I don't know whether that translates into a few seconds slower, a minute slower???

Anyway, last night (8:30 at night after dinner, on a full stomach), I ran a tempo run, consisting of 5 miles total: 2 miles at 9 minute pace, 2 miles at 7:00/mile pace, then a warmdown mile at 9:05 pace. These after dinner in the dark runs just seem to be slow. I had hoped I could be closer to 6:30 per mile for the tempo portion, but it must be a combination of the dark, full sweats, and trying to run after dinner. I felt like the effort was good.

So, we'll just see what happens on Saturday. I feel like I am in better shape than last year at this time, when I ran about 18:48 on the track by myself. However, last year, I was doing consistent speed workouts on the track, and numerous mile time trials. This year, I have been running higher mileage, but no track speed workouts, only tempo runs.

My tentative plan is to go out at about a 6 minute pace, if I can, and see if I can hold on..........


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Comeback or Retirement? (Mendon Ponds Trail Run 10k)

A dilemma has arisen in my running career. Almost accidentally, it seems, I ended up winning a 10K trail race on Saturday, my first outright win (not counting age group wins) in more than 2 decades! But the question is, should I retire now while I'm ahead, as this is not likely to happen again, or should I pursue a comeback, including the elusive sub-5-minute mile? I would appreciate some input from the faithful followers of this blog. Retirement seems appealing!

My time was slow - 44:57, or about 7:14/mile, but it was an extremely hilly race, all trails, wet and muddy conditions, and snowing fairly hard for most of the race. Of course, since I won, this begs the question....where were the decent runners?


Click on link below or on title of this post to see full results!

Racing over Age 50 - A Philosophical Observation

The funny thing about racing today is, that it "feels" almost the same as it did 30 years ago, except I'm running roughly 1 minute per mile slower, maybe a bit slower. I think if i trained enough to be in really good shape, my 5k times would be about a minute per mile slower than in my prime (5:53 per mile vs. 4:53 in my prime). My mile time would be a lesser differential....4:19 in my prime, maybe low 5s (or sub-5) now. But when racing, I can't really tell that I'm running slower than I used to..............Strange.............doggone it, I must be getting old!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Jensens 2010 - The Rest of the Story

OK, here is the complete article of the Jensen's Stables Ultimate XC Challenge Race. I also submitted this article to the race director, and he liked it, so it might appear (possibly edited) on the Jensen's website.

Jensens Stables Ultimate XC Challenge 2010
Not Just Another Race

182 runners stood anxiously awaiting the start, a mowed path through a farm field in front, woods and trees tinged with autumn colors stretched out behind them. The race director, after giving acknowledgements and thanks to the organizers and property owner, gave one simple instruction: “throw away your watches!” We all looked at our wrists, but being runners, no one heeded the instruction. We should have! This was the fourth annual running of the Jensen Stables Ultimate XC Challenge race, and by now we should have learned our lesson, though perhaps first-timers had an excuse. The word “ultimate” has been re-defined each year since the inaugural event in 2007, and this year was no exception. Following the initial exhilaration of the first flat, fast quarter-mile across the field and around the horse stables, we encountered the first hill, where runners slowed to a pedestrian pace, and no one seemed anxious to pass. This was a mere portent of things to come over the next eight miles of our lives. At the one mile mark, a swamp, where mud and mire rose to our knees, should have been a confirmation of the director’s admonition regarding the watches. But the pace on my Garmin GPS unit still showed 7 minutes per mile, so there was no need for apprehension. Not yet.

We entered the woods, and the “challenge” portion of the race name began to become readily apparent. Two to three miles of steep up and downhill single-track trails ensued, with rocks, roots, and hairpin turns. Passing was definitely “at your own risk.” The Garmin average pace slipped to over 8 minutes per mile. “Not that bad,” I thought.

The miles continued, with escalating hills, several creek crossings, and mud, mud, everywhere, mud! Just as the shoes were drying out to a crust, the orange flagging would force us through yet another slime pit, typically followed by an uphill “scramble” so steep that hands were either required for balance, or at times, needed to grasp at branches and trees trunks to prevent a downhill slide. The Garmin now showed 8:20 per mile average, but I didn’t throw the watch away, continuing to defy the race director’s instructions. There must be some flat sections or downhills to average out the slow pace of what was now becoming nothing less than a grueling struggle with nature. Finally, at 4.5 miles, the course wound gently downhill, then opened up onto a tame, gravel road. The pace quickened, and the hearts of my nearby competitors were visibly lifted. Then it came into view… 8-feet deep natural pond surrounded by wetlands, perfect for hikers, photographers, nature lovers, and triathletes, but somewhat disconcerting for runners..and what was that dock for?. Although I was initially planning on taking the 1/3-mile penalty lap around the pond, I was overcome by peer pressure (how silly of me at my age), and took the icy plunge into deep water, estimated at below 60 degrees, or at least well below comfortable swimming pool temperatures. Fifty yards later, gasping for breath, yet strangely refreshed, I heaved myself out of the water, once again stepping in mud up to my knees. My nearest competitor, also in my age group, comforted me with “that wasn’t so bad, was it?” Fortunately, after the “swim,” there was a brief respite from the topography, with a moderately gentle incline to the next swath of forest, including the only civilized and paved section of the run. This allowed for about 200 meters of drying time before the next phase.

More of the same followed for the next two miles: scenic woodlands, hills, single-track trails, navigating through brush, straining to see the next piece of pink or orange flagging, and taking a wrong turn (but correcting it before too much damage ensued). Then came the final mile, when the legs had already been beaten to a pulp. Another steep climb, mostly walking, but strangely, no runners gaining on me from behind….everyone was in the same condition at this stage of the race. Now, at about 7.3 miles, the race began! After a welcome downhill in a meadow-like setting, the trail veered sharply back into the woods, up a steep hill, and then over two military-style pole barriers, the first only about 5 feet high, and the second over our heads. After the barriers were successfully scaled, breathing a sigh of relief, a downhill provided a needed rest, but then a sharp left turn was required, taking runners off the trail and straight into a rocky creek bed. “Yes, stay in the water!” yelled the spotters, almost joyfully. I looked at the Garmin….over 8:50 per mile now. Then another spotter shouted “aha, another victim!” followed by “get down, don’t hit your head on the bridge!” I found myself crawling on my knees through the cold water of the rushing creek, under a footbridge barely 1 ½ feet high (and I did hit my head), then was promptly attacked by tough briars that wouldn’t let go of my legs and running shorts, and cost me some blood and another precious few seconds. Over 9 minutes per mile on the watch now, and still concerned about time and pace…..yet I didn’t throw it away.

The last ¾-mile was deceiving, appearing rather open, gentle, and inviting, but what was gentle at the beginning of this odyssey was no longer after the quads and hamstrings had been hammered to a pulp by hills, creeks, hay bale climbs, water, swamps, mud, and various barriers and obstacle devised by cunning race planners. Finally, into the horse corral near the finish, the spectators were enthusiastic, although they insisted and cajoled each runner to jump the barriers (intended for horses, not humans), not just step over them. There was thunderous applause as I complied with their wishes, and from there, it was easy….through the horse barn, with large curious eyes staring from the stalls, maybe retired racers themselves……..8:56/mile on the Garmin at the end, but I no longer cared.

Maybe next year I’ll come prepared…..without the watch…………

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fourth Annual Jensen Stables XC Results!

Just a short note to post results. A complete article with race photos will follow in a separate post. I ran the 4th annual running of the Jensen Stables Ultimate XC Challenge race this past weekend, including a 40 to 50-yard swim in a very cold pond. I managed a 17th place finish overall out of 182 runners, and grabbed the third and final slot in the 50 to 59 year old age group. My time??? 1:13:27 for about 8.3 miles, just under 9 minutes per mile. Seems slow, but you'll understand when I post the full article!!

I'm on the right in black in the photo (this is near the start, across a farm field).


Results found at link below:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

First Cross Country Race of the Season

Finally, a cross country race! Not a bad start to the season, with a 19:53 for 5K, fairly flat course, 9th out of about 52 runners. This was a very, very small college race, with three small private colleges represented (D'youville, Hilbert, and U. Pitt at Bradford). The race was also open to the public. The highlight for me was beating the first woman in the last 600 meters. Pretty sad!

I may run another race this weekend, then on October 17 I am planning on a very rugged 8.5 mile trail/obstacle/cross country race.

Stay tuned!


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Another Update

I traveled home from Maryland last Wednesday, so lost a day of training, but finished the week with a respectable 25.5 miles in only 4 runs. This week may be a struggle, as I've got only 10 miles as of yesterday (Tuesday), and tonight I am scheduled for tennnis. I may be running a 5K road race or XC race Saturday.

Yesterday, I did my first "speed" workout of the "season." (my wife always says "what season??). I ran 4 non-stop miles, almost all on grass and trails. The first 1.25 miles was at about an 8:50 pace, followed by 2.1 miles at 7:06 pace (7:09, 7:04), and the last 0.8 miles at about 8:50 again.

I have several interesting cross country races planned, but my father has been ill, so my schedule is always uncertain these days.

I'll keep you posted!

Where is Eric????


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Record Training Week!

35 miles this week, in 5 runs, consisting of 6 to 8 mile hilly trail runs! If this keeps up, I might actually get in shape. This is the most I have run in a week in many years. The 35 miles was totaled from Sunday to Saturday, but if I go back to last Monday and count Monday to Sunday (7 days), I actually ran over 40 miles in a week!

Not sure what this week will entail. I'm still in Maryland for now.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cross Country Training Update

Finally, some decent cross country training. I'm down here in Potomac, Maryland this week, and just discovered a great trail system right near my brother's house. In fact, I can even run to one point of it. The last three days I have run 8, 6, and 7 miles respectively, all on fairly rugged trails. Good elevation changes, up and down a fairly steeply incised creek valley (Cabin John Creek), quite a bit of rugged, single-track trail, deer, fox, critters, nice view of the creek, sometimes running right on the edge of a small cliff. Yesterday, I came within 5 yards of a buck, and also saw a fox.

Today it rained, so I may do roads, unless it stops. Not sure how these trails would work in the rain.

Where is Eric? Actually, he emailed and he is alive and well, just nothing noteworthy recently to blog about.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Running and Tennis Update

After a good start to the week, with a 6 miler on both Sunday and Monday, I did not run Tuesday (but lifted some weights and did ab work), then nothing Wednesday (weights and abs). After dinner and putting the grandson to bed last night, I forced myself out the door in the dark and ran 5 miles on the roads. I purposely did not bring my watch, but if I had to guess, I think I averaged about 8:20 per mile. So, now I have 17 miles in this week. Tonight I will play a tennis match with a good competitor (we're about dead even 3.5 players), so that will be decent exercise. I plan on running about 6.5 miles Saturday, if possible, including some rolling hills.

Then Sunday, I'm driving to Maryland to help out with my dad. Depending on when I leave the house, I'll try to run 4 miles when I arrive, then I hope I can run at least 3 or 4 times during the week in Maryland. I found out that there is a nice trail system near my brother's house (Cabin John Creek trail), so I hope to run there a couple times. The area has rolling hills, so I should get in some good workouts.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Better Update!

Finally, some running! Starting with last Thursday night, I ran 5 days in a row, thanks in part to the long weekend. 4, 5, 5, 6, and 6 miles respectively. Some of these runs were on grass or in parks, and at least one run included rolling hills. Tennis is tentatively planned for tonight, but it may be too windy, in which case I will try to run again!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Running Update: good and bad

Last week, I ran about 22.5 miles, the most in many weeks, including some good rolling hills in Potomac, Maryland. This week is a different story. After playing a couple tough tennis matches on Sunday and Monday, I did nothing (other than a weight workout) on Tuesday and Wednesday, then finally ran 4 miles at 8:28 per mile last night. My daughter is back in nursing school after the summer off (night school), so my grandson babysitting duties in the evening have picked up. By the time I entertain him, help him eat dinner, give him a bath, read stories, and then hang around in his room while he falls asleep, it is close to 9 pm, and my motivation for running is significantly decreased. Anyway, I should be able to run tonight, and then each day on the long weekend (although I would also like to play tennis).

Cross country season is upon us!!!!


Where is Eric?

I'm a bit concerned.............where is the infamous Eric of Mark and Eric's Running and Dave's Wisdom? As the founder of this blog, he should be one of the primary contributing authors, yet he seems to have disappeared. If any of the blog members have heard from Eric (or better yet, Eric himself), please post...........


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Blue Ridge Bike Tour

Well, I finally completed my Blue Ridge Bike Tour journal. It can be found at Crazy Guy on a Bike:

The tour went very well; our training and weight loss program really paid off. It's now almost September, and I've managed to stay fairly slim. Not like the almost anorexic 145 that I was in college, but I'm keeping under 170. That's 40 pounds down from my peak in January!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

August running and tennis update


I lost another tennis match to my 4.0 level buddy, a dismal 6-1, 6-3. We played a consolation set, which I won 7-6 (7-5) in a tie-breaker, but of course, that doesn't really count for anything.

I did find out that my 4.0 buddy played another guy whom I always considered at least a 4.5, and ended up beating him 6-4 in a single set. So maybe my 4.0 buddy is on his way to a 4.5 level, and losing to him isn't so bad!

Getting back into it a little. Down here in Maryland helping out with my Dad, so I ran Friday and Saturday (4 miles each, hilly, 8:53 per mile each run). That made about 12 miles for the week plus one tough round of tennis (3 set, see above). Today I ran 5 miles in the sweltering heat and humidity of Potomac, Maryland, averaging about 8:46 per mile.

May try to run tomorrow, but not sure I'll have time.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Gary Truce 5K Gone for Good?

I looked through the 2010 reunion schedule, and despite promies from Coach Acuff that the Gary Truce 5K would return, I saw no signs of it. They still continue to have a 5K Kristen Faust memorial run, which is fine for those that knew Kristen, but apparently, the alumni association doesnt' seem to understand the impact that Gary Truce has had on the university over the years.

I think I remember from last year, that alumni may be invited to run in one of the actual home cross country races (if there are any), but then we would be way at the back of the pack, looking a little foolish finishing several minutes behind the main pack, especially if there were only a handful of us. I wish they would bring back the Gary Truce!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tennis, Running, and Snorkeling Update

As I suspected, while in Key Largo for a week (July 3 to 10), I only ran 2 times, about 3 miles each time, in fairly intense heat and humidity, although one run was cloudy and cooler than usual. However, I played tennis a number of times while there, and it seemed to be a good workout. I also snorkeled almost every day. Now, I'm not sure how snorkeling translates into a workout, but my style of snorkeling is to frequently go underwater for 10 to 20 seconds at a time. So, in a typical one or even 2-hour snorkeling outing, I am underwater holding my breath many times. Each time when I surfaced, especially on the deeper dives (upwards of 15 to 20 feet down), I would be breathing heavily and heartbeat was elevated. Could this potentially have a similar effect to a speed workout, or is it just plain tiring, and maybe even detrimental. Anyway, although I ate out every night, I didn't really gain weight, and felt tired out each night, so I think I was getting some exercise in. I also did more than the usual number of pushups and crunches while on vacation.

Upon my return, I have only run twice so far (about 4.1 miles each time 8:20 to 8:30/mile pace), played tennis twice, and lifted weights once. I should be running tonight and hopefully tomorrow.

On the tennis front, I played my 4.0 buddy again last night. Unfortunately, he won 6-3, 6-4. I was actually down 5-0 in the 2nd set, battled back to 5-4, but then caved and lost 6-4. I think my serve has picked up a little speed and consistency. I think I only had about 5 double faults (not bad for me), and my 2nd serve, although slower than the first, wasn't too bad, and he didn't hit many winners at all on my 2nd serve. I still don't have a true kick serve. This may take some work and even a lesson. My buddy took a private lesson from a pro just to start getting the hang of a kick serve. He didn't even try it in the match last night. Apparently, although seemingly routine, a good kick serve takes a lot of work.

That's it for now. No plans for time trials for now. Just enjoying summer in Buffalo (and Key Largo), playing tennis, and running as time permits.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Tennis Improving?

I don't know what's happening.....last year, I was about 0 and 8 for competitive tennis matches, primarily against 2 opponents (one who is a 4.0 player, the other guy probably about like me, 3.5 to 4). Friday night, I came up with another tight win against the "other" guy, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (4), winning in 3 sets with a final tie-breaker in the 3rd set. This puts me at 2-1 for the season overall. I don't feel like I've improved, but I'll take it. In fact I was up 5-1 in the 3rd set, and he came all the way back to force a tie-breaker. Admittedly, I relaxed some after being up 5-1, and starting playing around with my kick serve (which doesn't kick), and incurred a few double faults, before I realized how close the match was getting. Oh well, at my age, I shouldn't really be concerned about winning, right? Anyway, 2 hours of competitive singles tennis was certainly a good workout, and once again, it took me all day Saturday to recoop from the Friday night match.

On the running front, I ran 3 times last week, played tennis once (details above), and did yard work on Saturday (pretty tiring in the heat).

Yesterday I started the week with a 4.2 mile run, again under warm, humid conditions.

I'm leaving this coming Saturday for Key Largo, and don't expect to run much while I am there for a week. I think last year I may have run 3 times, about 3 to 3.5 miles each, which was about all I could take in the heat and humidity. However, I typically swim/snorkel every day, and even play some tennis at night, so i feel that I at least maintain my conditioning on these trips. I will target running at least twice, maybe 3 times if I can this year.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Three runs in a row!

I was hoping for tennis last night, but the courts were closed due to rain earlier in the day. The big disadvantage of clay court tennis is that a good rain can shut the courts down for a day or so, as it takes time for them to dry out enough to use.

Anyway, I ran 4.2 miles, with some fartleks, and averaged about 8:16/mile. It was quite warm and humid (for Buffalo), so this was a good effort.

Hoping to play tennis with my daughter tonight, probably no running or tennis tomorrow night, then singles tennis Friday night, then we'll see for the weekend.

With Wimbledon in full force, I feel the pull of tennis more than running right now. I really need to learn that kick serve!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Training Run Not so Bad

Last night I was going to play tennis but my partner (my daughter) decided not to play. Thus, I went for a run. I was feeling somewhat groggy most of the day for some reason, so had low expectations for the run. But after a quarter mile, I was already averaging 8:45 per mile, and it was quickly dropping with little effort. In the end, I ran 4.3 miles at 8:12/mile average, feeling quite good. I may run again tonight, since it is supposed to rain, and the clay tennis courts will likely be closed (the big disadvantage of clay courts). This would be 3 days in a row of running! Tennis with my daughter is planned again for Wednesday, and hopefully I can play with another partner on Friday, then probably run Saturday.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Tennis on Rise, Running Declining!

Last Friday night, against the opponent who beat me 6-1, 6-2 the previous week, I squeaked out a "victory" in 6-7, 7-5, then I won a tie-breaker 7-2 that we agreed on for the deciding set (both too tired for a 3rd full set).

However, I didn't run Friday night (although more than 2 hours of very physical hard-fought singles tennis felt like a reasonable workout), didn't run Saturday (did mulching/yard work in hot weather), then ran only 4.1 miles Sunday at 8:28 per mile.

This type of scenario may be continuing here for at least a couple months.............(I mean playing more tennis, not necessarily winning).


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tennis Fever!

I'm afraid I'm coming down with "tennis fever" and it's affecting my running. Last Friday I played 3 sets of tennis with a 4.0 level player, whom I have been close to or even beaten a couple times in the past. However, this was my first match of the season, and I lost handily, 6-1, 6-2. We even played a 3rd consolation set, which I lost 6-3. I was tired and sore the rest of the weekend. Saturday I didn't run, as I did some heavy yard work in the heat, and was then too tired. I ran Sunday, and my usual easy 4 miler that often is around 8:20/mile was 8:50 per mile! Then I ran Monday, but played tennis with my daughter Tuesday, was too busy last night, have a bible study tonight, and then have another tennis match scheduled for tomorrow night!

I think the problem is that tennis works different leg muscles, as much of the motion is side to side. This seems to hamper my running a bit, not to mention that every time I play tennis is a day or night that don't run (not enough time or energy for both in one day).

The good news is that I really enjoy tennis, get a good workout, sweat a lot, it's more fun than plain running. It sort of combines the endurance and speed of running with a real sport. Although my tennis skills are not always equal to my opponents, I can often come close to them or at least give them a hard match due to my running ability. I often get comments like "you've really got a set of wheels!"

So, what I'm trying to say is that you may see several tennis updates throughout the playing season, with running and racing possibly taking a back seat until September.

I'll try to get a couple photos of me trying to play tennis! I am improving, however, and I'm finally working on a legitmate second serve, which is intended to be a kick serve.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Good Job Jeff--Time To Give Some Respect to SUNY-B Running Teams

The amazing thing about Jeff Martinez is not that he ran an 8:57 3,200 as a high school senior and came to SUNY-B to run, its that when he arrived he wasn't the best runner on the cross country team. Don't believe me? Click on the title of this entry and read about it.

But maybe I shouldn't be surprised--didn't I read something recently about a SUNY-B runner breaking 4:00 in the mile? And this change isn't just going on with distance runners. SUNY-B broke 3:10 in the 1,600 meter this past season. That's a very respectable time and means that there are at least four good 400 meter runners on the team.

The article about Jeff mentions some of what the overall running program has accomplished recently and how much the program has improved over the last few years. So, I think the time has come to stop picking on the teams and saying that they are no better today than they were more than thirty years ago. SUNY-B appears to finally have some runners who are not only faster than Mark, but would probably also be able to beat Bob Daniels. Way to go Colonials! (Sorry, as sad as the Colonial was, it was still better than an imaginary Bearcat that looks like every other cartoonish unimaginative logo out there.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Beach Running

I'm at the beach now and most of my running is likely to be on the sand. This stretch of beach is surprisingly good for running. It is quite firm, but not too abrasive. And there are a good six or seven miles of beach available. My workouts consist of both "distance" and quasi fartlek (in quasi fartlek there is walking between the runs, not jogging).

Yesterday in my first timed distance run I did two miles in 17:01. I thought that wasn't too bad when compared to how my running has been going on the track. In addition to the two miles of running I walked five miles.

Tennis or Running? That is the question!

Things are getting tough this time of year. After a decent 5:43 mile a couple weeks ago, I had a good week where I ran 27 miles, then a poor week with only 8 miles plus playing a little tennis. Then last week, I only ran 3 times for a total of 15 miles (again, very busy with real life and work), and played tennis. While playing tennis with a couple decent players, I realized how much more enjoyable tennis can be than running. Not only is it a great workout (at least when playing singles), but it is fun. Now, I won't say running isn't fun, but, well, what can I say?

My dilemma is that now that the clay court club is open, I need to play enough times to make my membership worthwhile. And on nights where I have an opportunity to play tennis, I simply don't have enough time to run, so it cuts into running and training for the mile directly.

Any advice out there???? My wife tends to lean towards me playing tennis, as it is good exercise, relaxing (so she says, but she doesn't watch me competing), and good for my health. Tennis works a few more muscles than running.

Please help! My mile time is probably suffering already!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Accidental 7:15

This morning, Dominick was kind enough to run with me even though he had already completed his workout. The result was a 7:15 mile that was totally unplanned. It was only after running the first three quarters at a decent pace that I decided to limit the distance to a mile and go for time. I believe that had it started out as a mile for time I might have been able to go under 7:00.

As I told Dominick, that was today. There is a decent chance that tomorrow I'll struggle and might not get under 8:00. It was nice to have this pleasant surprise.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

My Perfect Mile

It is important to take pleasure in the small things, especially when there are no big things that are pleasing. Several weeks ago I was very excited because I ran a perfect mile. I don't recall the order of the splits but the important thing is that I ran a 7:54 mile that was composed of the following 4 quarters: 2:00, 1:59, 1:58, and 1:57. It wasn't planned--it just happened.

This mile was perfect not only because of the splits themselves, but because it was 6 seconds faster than 8 minutes. And 6 is truly a perfect number. And not only is 6 a perfect number but it is the smallest perfect number. For those who don't remember, a perfect number is one who factors, excluding the number itself, total to the number. So with 6, since the factors are 1, 2, 3, and 6, we add 1, 2, and 3 and get 6.

I think the only was to top this accomplishment will be to run a 3:54 mile comprised of the following 4 splits: 1:00, 59, 58, 57. To do this is going to take some very serious training so I better stop blogging and start running.


Nothing is what my current training is good for. I'm not running enough to even justify setting any goals. The same is true of cycling. My running issues are at partially the result of splitting my efforts with cycling. My cycling issues have at least three parts:

1) Going on a two-week business trip kept me off any kind of bike for two weeks.

2) My finger is still hurting from when I fell awhile ago and landed face-first, and used my hand to help break the fall.

3) I had been having some minor ulnar nerve issues on my 20+ miles rides. When I did the 100+ mile ride a few weeks ago I either did some real damage, or at least messed up the ulnar nerve enough so that recovery is very slow. I have an appointment with hand specialist for late June.

Since returning from my trip about a week ago, I've just about everyday and have also ridden the excerise bike almost everyday. Monday I didn't feel too bad running and at about the half-mile point decided to try and run a "decent" time. I did a 7:44 mile. The next day I did a 7:45 mile. This coming week I hope to do some riding on a real bicycle, but will be watching how my hand feels.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's Now or Never!

Well, our district track championships start tomorrow with prelims and finals on Friday. The top eight in each event advance to the finals. In realistic terms, Greg's high school track career could end tomorrow. Competition will be keen to advance as a good number of runners are running quality 400 times. In fact, a number of last week's league championship meets saw 400 times as low as 48.39. This was a runner who then doubled in the 800 with a 1:54 and change! It seems like this is a bumper crop year for the 400. Guys running between low 50 and 51 are all over the place. Greg ran a personal open best last week in our league meet of 52.79. This is nowhere near fast enough to get to the finals for our district. Greg remains confident he can go into the 51's tomorrow and I think he's right but he'll have to run leaving nothing behind. It will likely take this level to advance to Friday's finals.

I still believe Greg has faster times in him but at this point, I think we're dealing with the space between his ears and not the speed in his legs. While I still believe we followed a strong training program, I was expecting some lower times than where we are at this point. Looking back at the year, I'm not sure what, if anything, I would have changed in the training. It's not likely that the guys could have achieved faster 200 or 400 interval times for a sustained workout. This is not to say I'm writing off what we did. For Hudson, this was the best pre-season workup we've ever had. The reality may just be that there are a lot of fast quarter milers out there and they have more speed to play with. Having said that, I'm still confident there's an opportunity to "go low" tomorrow and am looking for the best. If nothing else, it has been a great season.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Mile Run Story: 2010

Under perfect racing conditions with light winds, temperature of about 68 degrees, and the sun setting in the west, Mark Raybuck soundly cracked the coveted Norton Barrier (5:48, search through the blog for details regarding the Norton Barrier) in the mile run yesterday, in his first attempt of 2010. With a solid time of 5:43.8, Raybuck was pleased with the result, particularly since this was his first mile of 2010, and to date, no speed workouts have been conducted this year.

Although behind last year's mile time at this time of year (5:33), Raybuck is encouraged by the result. Statistically, this is his fastest opening mile time of the "season" since 2002, when he last made a serious run at a sub-5 mile. Last year's first mile attempt, by comparison, was 5:52, and it was not until the second attempt that he reached 5:43. This year, Raybuck is placing a greater emphasis on mileage early in the season, and thus does not expect to see the faster times until later in the "season" and after serious speed workouts have been initiated.

Although feeling a bit silly, Raybuck started the solo time trial yesterday at the Casey Middle School track with a formal warmup, including 100-meter strides, changing into ultra-lite racing flast, lining up a few meters behind the start line, stating "Runners Set!" then scuttling quickly up to the start line and shouting "Boom!" After an initial quarter at 84 seconds, Raybuck realized the Norton Barrier was within reach. The 1/2-mile was reached at 2:54, exactly on Norton Barrier Pace, then 4:21 at the 3/4, followed by a final quarter of 82.8 seconds to break the Norton Barrier by nearly 4 seconds. After completing the time trial, Raybuck's initial thought was "I'm retiring,", but seconds later, he felt much better and started planning for his next attempt.

Monday, May 10, 2010

No Time Trials Yet

Although the "numerous" followers of this blog are probably anxiously awaiting the results of my first 2010 mile time trial, I will have to disappoint them once again. I thought about a time trial this weekend, starting on last Friday, but I still feel that my "lesson learned" from last year is that I am trying to attain a very lofty goal (sub 5 mile) on a shoe-string budget of miles (typically less than 20 miles per week average). This year, I would like to try for at least a few 30+ mile weeks, with longer long runs (maybe 8 to 10 miles), and see if that gives me a boost. Thus, I am still in the "building" stage, with 24 miles last week and a long run of 6 miles.

Yesterday, I only ran 4 miles, at a pace of about 8:50/mile, and was quite fatigued. This was a combination of running 6 miles on Friday evening, then about 4 miles Saturday in a windstorm, then digging and landscaping in my yard yesterday afternoon before my run.

Today, I hope to run either 4.5 miles or conduct a mile time trial, then take tomorrow off, run Wednesday (or do my time trial then), take Thursday off, then run Friday, Saturday to round off the week. Due to time constraints with work during the week, I may postpone my first mile time trial until next weekend, but I will do it soon. The initial goal will be sub-6, but in the back of my mind, I would like to hit sub-5:48, which is the "Norton Barrier." (search blog for Norton Barrier for an explanation).


Sunday, May 9, 2010

100+ Mile Bike Ride

Spring is in the air and what do former X-C runners do who are too old to run marathons? We ride 100 miles on a bike in a day. My logic for doing this was that the across-the-country bike rides that I've been looking at typically have days and days and days of long riding with the occassional 100-mile day so I should be able to do at least one 100 mile day.

My primary goal was to finish. I did that. Total time on the bike was about seven hours. My secondary goal was to maintain a decent pace for the first 50 miles. I did that. Time on the bike for the first 50 was 2:58.

This was not a race, but was an organized event (click on the title of the post) that started at 7:30 A.M. and they wanted people to be done riding by 3:30 with a drop-dead time of 4:00 when all support for riders stopped. The requirement of averaging 12.5 miles/hour including rest stops was somewhat inspirational.

The riding went well for the first 52 miles. Then, just about a half-mile from the "halfway" rest stop, I got leg cramps. The next 50 miles were tough because I was fighting leg cramps and the wind was really nasty. The cramps were probably the result of dehydration and just plain old being tired. Prior to this ride my longest ride had been 33 miles.

The worst part of the ride was at the very end when my little group couldn't find the finish. Mentally, I was prepared to go 100 miles. The fact that the course was probably 103 miles and that not finding the shortest path to the finish added another mile or two was really frustrating. Driving 75 miles home after the ride just added to the fun. Once I got home I took a shower and then spent the rest of the day crawled up in a little ball in bed moaning in pain.

In addition to not drinking enough I made at least two other rookie mistakes. I put too much sunblock on my forehead and when it melted away and ran into my it was very difficult to see and it made my eyes hurt. I didn't where any glasses. I thought about wearing them and decided that they would probably annoy me. That was a mistake because I didn't factor in the glare reflecting off the road on an all-day ride. Most of my riding has been in late afternoon and early evening when the sun hasn't been strong.

It will probably be two weeks before I'm back on the bike because on Tuesday morning I leave for Silicon Valley and Japan. So running will have to do until I return.

Friday, May 7, 2010

BuRP Training Continues

I've got about 900 miles in for the season. That's not too bad. I had hoped to have 1000 in before the BuRP ride, and it will be more like 1200. Longest day so far is 68 miles.

Next week there is an organized century ride (100 miles) nearby. If the weather is good I'll ride that, and it will be a kind of graduation. A century this early in the year is a good sign.

Weight loss is going well. I'm down 25 pounds from where I was in February. You'd think that I would be dramatically faster in the hills, but that isn't the case.

Eric must have jinxed me because I crashed again last week. I was riding home from work on the commuter bike and a stick got caught between the fender and tire. It jammed up, brought the wheel to a stop and I did an endo. No faceplant, and just a few bruises. I got off easy. Now I know why modern fenders have breakaway tabs.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Never Mind!

Well the 800 debate was quickly extinguished yesterday when at the last minute, our head coach decided not to run Greg in the 800 and stay in the 400. The feeling was that this late in the season there is no real benefit to changing events and perhaps disrupting the training rhythm already established. Although Greg was disappointed, he did not protest the decision but was lackluster in last night's race running a 53.1. The meet was actually called due to thunder and lightning midway through the 3200 so overall, last night was not the highlight of the season.

I found it interesting that Greg was not concerned about last night's race. He still feels that he has not gone as low as he feels capable and expects to turn in faster times in the post season. His point is that he's running comparatively faster than last year. This is true but I was expecting more steady incremental improvement based on the intensified training for this year and to see a steady progression as the season went on. This will play out one way or the other over the next two weeks. I think I'm on safe ground in believing most coaches would be looking for progression during the course of the season with the peak coming in the post season races. I'm not sure I agree with Greg that "saving it to the end" is a workable strategy. However, as his father, I can tell you that Greg has a very wide stubborn streak and it's next to impossible to dissuade him from something he feels strongly about. We have another large invitational Saturday and then the league championships next Wednesday. It's now time to put it on the line!


Fastest Training Run of Year in Lightning Storm

Although not really related to the thunderstorm that I ran in last night, this was my fastest training run of the year to date. I didn't really even plan to run faster. First, I had to mow the lawn fast before it rained, but by the time I finished and got ready to run, the rain had started, then thunder and lightning by the first mile, and heavy rain by the latter part of the run.

After a first mile at about 8:30 pace, I decided to do a few longer fartleks, so I did about 4 of those throughout the run, about 2 to 3 minutes each. I'm guessing these were at 7 min/mile or faster pace, since my average pace at the end of a 4-mile run (on roads) was exactly 8:00 per mile.

Anyway, it was encouraging to see faster times, although I did take the day before off. I plan to take tonight off, then run Friday and Saturday.

Then it is back to Maryland Sunday, for another few days of "hill" training.


Monday, May 3, 2010

800 Tactics and Today's Speed Workout

Some excellent advice on 800 pacing. It's interesting to note that our head coach and I were actually thinking the opposite; go out in 58 and hang on till the end to see what he can do. The reason for this approach is to test his level of conditioning. Remember, Greg ran a full cross country season and then did long intervals and ladder workouts during the winter and early spring to build endurance. Our coach wants to see if this level of endurance training has paid off and wants to compare it to the current crop of middle and distance runners who mostly trained in distance runs during that time. There is also no pressure on this race. It has been discussed that unless Greg does something spectacular i.e. go under 2:00, we're not going to move him out of the 400 and into the 4x800 relay or open 800. This is because we have a crop of guys running 2:04 to 2:06 and putting Greg into that mix does little to change the dynamic. We also don't want to deprive him of whatever his potential is for the remainder of the season in the 400. So we're treating this as a bit of a mix in the training routine.

As for speed workouts, today was one of the best we have ever run. We started with an all out 350m with a full 15 minute recovery. This was followed by 4 200m intervals with a target time of 27 with 5 minutes between each one. Greg split 46 for the 350 and then ran 26, 27, 26.5 and 25.7. Based on Clyde Hart's 400 training program, these times should translate into a much faster 400 than Greg has yet run. Our District championship meet is May 21 and this is what we are striving to peak for. Greg's history has always been to hit his best time in this meet. Between now the 21st we will continue to run the high quality speed workouts and keep inching the target times down. I really believe this will give Greg his best shot at peaking at the right time and going as low as he can in the 400. Even though we'll see what he can do in the 800, as I said we're treating it as a diversion unless there is really something that develops to change the dynamic.

This is really getting fun and exciting! By the way, on another note, a former Hudson girl (distance runner and in the top 10 in cross country in the state as a freshman) is now a freshman at Bucknell. Her family moved to PA two years ago. I saw some Facebook chatter (yes, I'm one of Greg's "friends") and she is astonished that he is not going to run track at American. I don't think her opinion has any real influence but at least I'm not the only one trying to plant the college bug in his ear. And for real underhanded moves, Marcy suggested that she and I casually pass by the athletics department during Greg's 3-day orientation trip in June and meet Coach Centrowitz. "Hey, our son is not planning on coming out for the team but......?????" You never know!

More after our Wednesday meet and the 800.


"Hill" Training

Last week I was in Potomac, Maryland again, helping out with my dad. I managed to run 4 times for a total of 19 miles. The good thing about running there is that there are "hills." Now hills is a relative term, but I live in an area of Buffalo that was a former swamp before being developed, and I am lucky if there is 5 or 10 feet of elevation change in any given run. In Potomac, there are rolling hills, enough to work different muscles, and show a measurable difference in speed (slower) relative to a comparable run in Buffalo. Anyway, I noticed this time that my times for the same courses were faster, and I was feeling better. I took Saturday off when I arrived home, then ran 5.7 miles on grass trails yesterday in very warm weather (for here), averaging 8:38/mile.

Still no time trials or speed work, but I am sticking to my plan of trying to run more distance this year, if possible. I may try a tempo run this week, just to get used to running a bit faster.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Wednesday and the 800

It's a done deal that Greg will run his first 800 on Wednesday and I'm cool with it. The head coach and I had a long talk about it and agree if nothing else, one meet breaks up the training routine and let's see what we get. Fine and I'm cool with it. Ran a meet yesterday in terrible weather. Rain and strong wind that was breaking umbrellas. Greg took a 4th in this invitational with a 53.1 but came back with 51.6 on the anchor of the 4x400. This was also a 4th place finish but he took out a runner on the back turn and made an exciting race of it challenging for 3rd. We'll see that happens Wednesday. I agree with Eric that it is late in the game to learn how to run an 800. As for college, not much has changed. But one never knows, do one!


Friday, April 30, 2010

The 800?

Good Morning All!

Well Coach Dave took the liberty of consulting with legendary track icon Coach Truce about the current training regime. The Lion of Binghamton gave his approval and believes the month of May will be exciting with Greg's potential even going below 51. He also provided some exciting highlights about our beloved Bearcat team this year. The Binghamton 4x400 ran a sparkling 3:11 at the recently concluded Penn Relays with a 46 and 47 quarter leg. We also boast a sub 4:00 miler (3:59.8) who is currently red shirted for the spring season. Coach Truce is also sitting on a faculty senate panel examining the costs of competing in Division I and whether it makes sense for Binghamton to stay there.

As for local news, our head coach has now decided to test Greg in the 800 to see if he could bolster our 4x800 relay. The thought is that if he could run a 58-60 second first lap and then hang on for the second, he could come in the low 2:00 or better. I have to admit the idea makes sense but at this stage of the season, I really don't like the idea as I believe it will take away from Greg's 400 potential and any potential shift in events in the post season could take him out of the 400 altogether. This is by no means a done deal and is more speculation than anything else. Question for the group: am I letting my own bias get in the way here? My wife says absolutely "yes" and that I should go out for a long walk! She may be right.

By popular demand, I have attached a photo of Greg running the anchor on our recent 4x400 plus an additional bonus of the proud parents (Yours truly and my lovely wife Marcy along with Greg at Senior Presentation Day.) A splendid time was had by all!



Thursday, April 29, 2010

Not Great, Not Bad

We had reasonably good weather last night for our dual meet. A bit windy on the back turn but otherwise OK. Greg ran 52.8 for a second place against our opponent who won in 52.5. I was expecting something faster but the good news is that Greg continues to run pain free so I'm more confident that we have put the hamstring injury behind us. I could see that Greg did not go out as fast in the first 200 and this cost him the race. His opponent closed the stagger on the back straight away and while Greg closed in the home stretch, it was not enough. We talked about the race afterwards and Greg agrees he needs to go out faster in the opening 200 and begin his kick a bit earlier. I am still encouraged by his strength at the end. He seems to be able to hold on and not lose ground as in past years.

I continue to refine the training program to build toward our upcoming district championship meet in 3 weeks. Today is a quality speed workout that will consist of 6 200's at 27 with 3 minutes rest followed by 4x40 strides at a fast pace. As I have mentioned in previous posts, our goal now is to increase speed and lower our times as we get close to the end of the season. This Saturday is a major invitational meet so we'll see if today's workout helps our performance. Also on a positive note, it seems I have a new crop of sophomore and junior runners who are coming along and looking forward to "Coach Caplin's " pre-season training program. It's nice to be loved!


P.S. I have added a picture of Greg and will try and get some decent meet shots between now and the end of the season.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Working Toward A Peak

We had a strong speed workout today after Saturday's meet. Taking a page from the Clyde Hart playbook, we are now tapering workouts to build toward our fastest peak which will be in just over 3 weeks for our district and regional championships.

Today's workout consisted of:
4x300m at a 42 second pace with 5 minutes rest between intervals
2x200m at a 28 second pace with 30 seconds rest between intervals
2x40m at a "fast" sprint (not times) with 30 seconds rest between intervals
Plus the usual warm-up and cool down.

Greg led the way and hit every time. He seemed to run very smoothly and fortunately without any pain. The other runners in his group all ran 1 to 2 seconds behind but for them, this was still an excellent workout. Tomorrow is a light "pre-meet" workout and we have a dual meet Wednesday. Greg will be running the 4x200 relay, open 200m, open 400m and 4x400. A busy day for sure!

Thursday we're back to speed and plan to run 10x200m intervals in 27 seconds with a 2 minute break. Friday is back to pre-meet and we have another invitational Saturday. Assuming we continue to avoid further injuries, I'm looking for a steady improvement in 400m times. The competition will be stiff from now to the end of the season. Good weather, strong competition and a fast track can yield some exciting results. And to think that in another month, most of this will be over. I'm trying my best to savor every moment of it but I can't help looking at the calendar.

A note to Mark on relay splits. According to our head coach, you time the split based on when the baton crosses the line, not the actual exchange. So yes, one runner could get a little added on to his time and another a little off based on when the baton crosses the 400 finish line and whether the exchange happened before or after that point. In any event, we look for the trend and it's certainly getting faster. I do want to get a good time in the open 400 which removes any uncertainty on the official time.

Will report back after Wednesday.



Full Speed Ahead!

I'm cautiously optimistic about Greg's hamstring. We ran an invitational meet Saturday and it was the first test of Greg's leg. I'm happy to report that he passed with flying colors! Greg split a season best 51.6 on an exciting 4x400 anchor leg. After receiving the baton in second place Greg paced the leader going down the back stretch. At the head of the turn, the third place runner passed Greg and the leader with Greg keeping pace. Midway through the turn Greg took out the kid from behind and demonstrated a strong kick to the finish line for a 5 meter winning margin. It was the kind of 4x400 you like to see. Each of our first three runners kept us in the hunt with no one running worst than third place. They kept the baton close enough to the lead for a strong anchor to keep us in it. I'm particularly encouraged because Greg reported afterwards that he had no pain of any kind. Even more gratifying was the ability to put on a strong kick to win. I take this as a validation of the training program since last year, I don't think he would have been able to pull this off. We are now 3 weeks to the post season and we are tapering the workout schedule now in order to peak at the right time. If Greg's past history of getting fast in the latter half of the season holds, this could be an exciting finish to his high school career.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wednesday: same run, slower

I ran the same run last night as I did on Tuesday: 4.5 miles, almost all grass trails/fields. This time, I averaged 8:37/mile compared to 8:15 per mile on Tuesday. I think the effort was similar, although I only did one fartlek during this run. It could be that the Tuesday run followed a day off on Monday, so the legs were fresher.

Anyway, I'm up to about 13.5 miles in 3 runs so far this week, with two more runs planned.

Next week, I'm out of town all week again at my brother's house (working from there), but I hope to get in at least 4 runs next week.

More later........


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Good Tuesday Workout

You may notice that so far this spring, all my posts are relatively dull training updates, with no time trials or race results. By this time last year, I had done at least a couple mile time trials. This year, I am going to try for a semblance of a "distance" base before really working on time trials. Last week, I ran 22.5 miles, with a long run of 5.2 miles. This week, i would like to hit 23 miles, if possible, with a long run of 5.5 or 6 miles.

Last night I ran a fairly brisk 4.5 miles on trails at 8:15/mile, and felt pretty good (included three fartleks of about 200 meters each).

Yes, I will do a mile time trial soon, just to make sure I'm in relatively decent condition. As usual, my goal for the first mile of the year is just to break 6 minutes, then the next goal is 5:48 (the Norton Barrier, search previous posts for the significance of this). And of course, ultimately, I would like to make a stab at a sub-5-minute mile this year. That will remain to be seen.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Running vs. Biking

The big advantage to running is that it is much simpler. In the summer, when I run on the beach, all I need is a bathing suit. Off the beach, it isn't much more than that (add shoes, socks, and a shirt).

Biking is fun. It's great that you can cover more distance, but there is so much equipment/clothing, logistics, etc. Here in Charlottesville, most people that do a lot of biking have to drive to a place where it is "safe" to bike. And I quote safe because the safety of biking on country roads is debatabl

Yesterday I road 33 miles on fairly hilly roads. My chain fell off three times as a result of things being slightly out of whack from my recent incident. This was a bit frustrating since I had brought the bike into the shop after the incident. After the ride yesterday I headed directly back to the shop.

Saturday I was on the track and working towards my half-mile time trial.

I am looking forward to the time when a 33 mile ride in the hills doesn't leave my quads sore.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A good string of workouts!

This past week, I managed to run 5 times, for a total of about 22.5 miles, much of it on grass or trails. I had a string of 3 good workouts in a row over the weekend: Friday was 5.2 miles at 8:15/mile on flat grass trails, Saturday was 4.2 miles on a very hilly course through the woods of Houghton, NY, averaging only 9:06 per mile, and then today I was a bit fatigued, and ran another flat trail run of 4.7 miles, averaging about 8:54 per mile. My plan is to try to keep slowly building the mileage, and not worrying about speed workouts yet. And at 52 years old, why SHOULD I worry about them?


Friday, April 16, 2010

Houston, We May Have A Problem!

My worst fear may be materializing. After a hard but successful Monday workout, Greg is noticing symptoms of a sore left hamstring. He is not running badly but feels discomfort (I refuse to term it pain) midway up from the knee. According to the trainer, this is good news. A pull or strain close to the bone is problematic and hard to heal. He is confident that careful stretching, good warm-ups and nightly ice will keep this in check. I hope he's right. We have an invitational tomorrow. Although the weather is questionable (a return to colder weather with highs only in the mid to high 40's and chances of rain mixed with sleet) it should be a good meet. Greg had flu like symptoms on Wednesday which necessitated him sitting down for a dual meet against one of our main rivals. Although we lost the meet handily, the 400 was won in only 53.02 and if healthy, Greg would have been competitive. Our competition took pity on us and did not run their best 4x400 relay so we won in a relatively slow time of 3:38. Last year with two now graduated seniors, we ran 3:27 but those times are a fantasy for us this year. Honestly, besides what the trainer is doing I'm at a loss as to what else to do. Our head coach is not very sympathetic towards injuries. I want to continue to train the guys hard (especially Greg) as I believe this is the only way he'll be ready to run faster times as we get to the end of the season and the championship meets. On the other hand, I don't want to aggravate a sore hamstring into a full fledge pull. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.

One of our other star runners (hurdler, 400 and 200) is also experiencing sore shins and a hip. He is a senior and tends to be injury prone. I'm surprised he has been relatively injury free up to this point. This guy has run a relay leg in the mid 53's. We have two other guys running mid 54's and two more in the mid 55's. These are not bad times but will not be competitive against the stronger teams and certainly not in the post season. Our strongest relay is the 4x200 which Greg is lead-off. They have run 1:35 so far this year and we are hopeful they can get closer to 1:31 (our school record) if everyone stays healthy. Right now, that's a bit of a question mark.

Now I think I have a much better appreciation for the frustrations and challenges coaches go through. It's one thing to plan a workout schedule. Another to motivate your runners to train hard, be ready for competition (mentally and physically) and be confident. Fending off injuries and dealing with them while trying to stay focused on the other objectives is more daunting than I ever realized.


Face Job

My most recent biking adventure was landing face-first on the pavement. Damage to my face was two internally bruised lips and assorted cuts and scratches on my nose, face, and outer lips. I have one swollen finger (not sure if I'll be able to ride by Sunday or not) and there was some minimal damage to the bike. A braver person might not have replaced the front wheel, but, after some discussion with the bike shop I decided that it was safer to do so.

Overall I got off really easy because I was going very slowly when it happened. I was riding on a sidewalk as a I transitioned from one part of the neighborhood to the other and my wheel got stuck in a groove between sections of the sidewalk. The bike came to a complete stop and I didn't.

The big lesson is that riding a road bike takes complete concentration. My mind was somewhere else. I am having an old hybrid bicycle reconditioned and something like that can be ridden with a lot less focus because the tire are more forgiving.

Prior to this incident on Wednesday biking had been going well. Sunday I did my longest ride in recent history: 33 miles. If my finger is working well enough to hold onto the handle bar, shift, and brake, I'll go out this Sunday for another longish ride.

Running continues. I'm now working more on speed and not so much on endurance, figuring that the biking should be giving me some conditioning. I think it would be reasonable to do a half-mile time trial sometime in the next month or so. But first I've got to run a quarter at some reasonable pace.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wednesday Run Even Better

Last night's run was very encouraging, although I do not like to give too much weight to training runs, especially this early in the "season." "Whaaaaat season" my wife would ask? She understands spring, summer, fall and winter, but doesn't quite comprehend why a 52-year-old former runner would still base his life around "seasons." Anyway, as I was saying, I ran 4.3 miles last night, about 80% on soft grass and trails (and about a 30-second stop with the Garmin still running while someone got their dog under control), and averaged a surprisingly brisk 8:16 per mile. In the last mile, I had a real runner pass me on the trail, which is a rare occurrence. (just rare that someone would happen to be running where I was, not rare that they could be running faster than me). He looked like a college cross country runner, and the interesting thing is that he didn't blow by me, and only gained on me at a relatively slow differential. I have to admit that I speeded up a little when he went by me, as a natural racing reflex, but I was too embarrassed to actually try to keep up with him. He didn't even say hi, and looked pretty serious. A year with Bruce Truce and the unserious contingent would have fixed him.

More updates later! (whether you want them or not)!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tuesday Run Not Bad

Last night, I ran 4.4 miles, probably about 3/4 of it on grassy trails, averaging about 8:23/mile (per the Garmin watch).

I am not doing any speed workout yet, but did do a couple fartleks of unknown pace. If I was really hard core, I could upload my Garmin to the computer and then check to see how fast (and far) the fartleks were, but that is too much work.

Hoping to run a similar run tonight, then take Thursday off, then run Friday/Saturday to get in 5 runs this week. For the Friday or Saturday run, I will increase my "long" run to about 5.5 miles, if everything works out.

As mentioned previously, I think I really need to get in more mileage, longer long runs, and a better base this year than last, if I want to make a serious attempt at at a sub-5 mile. One thing I am planning this year to help inspire my mile training is to run the 1500 meters in the Empire State Games (New York State's scaled down version of the Olympic Games). There are, of course, age groups. The Games are actually in Buffalo this year, so why not?


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Off To A Decent Start

Hudson High has now had two meets. Greg started the season with a 52.9 400 meter. Although this was his fastest starting time, it was not quite as fast as we were expecting. However, he does have a history of starting the season off slowly and then getting significantly faster as the season progresses. Since this is his fastest opening race, I'll remain optimistic about faster times. There is a concern about potential injury. We have been running fast, quality workouts. The competition phase of the training program calls for limited numbers of very fast intervals. Yesterday we did two 450's and the guys had to hit the initial 400 in 57. Greg ran 56 and 57 and finished both 450's in 65. He felt good running it but today complained of a sore left hamstring. Erring on the side of caution, I sent him in to the trainer for a good stretch and ice therapy. We have a meet tomorrow and I'm somewhat concerned about a real injury developing. We'll see how it goes.

For now, we continue to train hard and look for incremental progress in meets. The weather has been cooperative and hopefully will remain so.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Getting There

This past week was a little "weak" as I was out of town in Maryland all week. I only ran twice during the work week, and then once on Saturday when I arrived home, for a total of just 12.5 miles for the week. I think this was enough not to lose any ground, at least. Saturday's run was 4.6 miles on trails, at a pace of 8:43 per mile. Then yesterday, I ran 5 miles, mostly trails/grass, with a couple of 100 meter fartleks, at 8:33/mile. Today I will take off, but hope to get in 4 or even 5 runs this week, and increase the long run of the week to 5.5 miles.

Not sure when I'll do my first mile time trial, but I hope it will be soon.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Today I ran my 220s first, before any other biking or running. I was comfortably under 40 seconds on my first two (37 and 38).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Training Update

I must change the subject from biking to running, but I do appreciate all the biking posts. My left hip has had a very slight pain for a couple years, so at some point, I may be in the same boat (or on the same bike).

Anyway, this week I'm down in Potomac, Md, helping out with my father, who is doing ok, but undergoing some chemotherapy treatment. I have run twice so far this week, about 4 miles each. The runs were fairly slow, about 8:45 to 8:50 per mile on my Garmin, but there were rolling hills, and 3 miles of my course is on a gravel/partly paved, very windy course with fairly steep elevation changes.

I hope to run that course again tonight, then may be traveling home tomorrow. If I don't travel home tomorrow, I'll run again tomorrow night.

I would like to do a mile time trial, probably in a week or two, but this year I would REALLY like to get in a bit more distance base. I ran 5:21 last year in the mile, but on a shoe-string budget of about 20 miles per week, with a few 25 mile weeks. If possible, I would like to get in a few 30 mile weeks in a row, and see if that helps, with some longer runs of 8 to 9 miles. Last year my "long" runs were typically 6 miles, with just a handful of 7 milers.

More later!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I've started doing some 220s. Haven't broken 40 yet, but at least I'm moving around the track at better than a 6:00 mile pace.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Biking Pace

Yesterday I rode two laps around Lake Monticello. A lap is just about 10 miles and it is very hilly. I averaged between 16 and 17 miles per hour. At this point I am clueless as to how to evaluate my pace because with so much hill riding I don't understand how to relate it back to a flat course. On the few places where it was flat, I was probably riding about 20 miles per hour.

Another Charlottesville-originated Running Blog

I came across this blog ( when searching for information about the upcoming attempt at the University of Virginia to break the 4 minute mile. There was a post about last year's attempt. Thansk to my daugther the UVa student for giving me the heads up (about the race not the blog).

Friday, April 2, 2010

Training for Blue Ridge Bliss

Back in February some friends of ours signed up for a multi-day bike ride in Virginia. My wife and I were interested, but she kept harping on the idea of riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and this trip doesn't go on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I mentioned this to my office mate at work. He's also a biker and he told me that he was looking into doing the Blue Ridge Bliss ride that Adventure Cycling runs. I went home we looked it up, saw that it averaged about 50 miles a day (Which come June will be nothing.) so we signed up. Then my office mate and another guy from work signed up. I worked on Eric a bit, but he didn't go for it; worried about being in shape. But it sounds like he will be in pretty good shape by then anyway!

After signing up we looked at the small print. What we hadn't spotted before plunking down our deposit was that there was a significant amount of climbing involved in this ride. Three days of ~6000 feet. For us, a really hilly day would be about 4500 feet of climbing. We recognized that to survive the climbing we would have to do some training, and even more important, we would have to get light.

Eric can attest that I am no longer the tall skinny guy I used to be. In February I was tipping the scales at a decidedly porky 210 lbs. It was time for a diet. Fortunately the dieting has not been particularly painful. What with all the crap I'd been eating I was probably consuming about 3000 calories a day. I cut that down to under 2500 and weight started coming off.

I'm now down to 195 lbs. I have no particular end state in mind. The 2500 calorie level is fairly comfortable. I've mostly just cut out wine and snack kinds of foods.

We are in fairly good cardiovascular shape. We go the the gym four or five times a week for spinning or aerobics. Once the weather warmed up enough to bike we were able to jump right in and do 30 mile rides. On two days in March we did 50 mile rides. Not fast mind you, but I'm happy with 50 mile rides just turning the cranks. Our training goal is to be ready for the Charles River Wheelmen Spring Century in mid May.


Thursday, April 1, 2010


The last mile I ran was 7:50 and the one before that was 7:54. I think cross training of the cycling is helping. I still haven't attempted to run more than one mile at a time and there hasn't been any attempt yet at speed work.

Yesterday was a breakthrough day for cycling. The 21 mile ride up and down hills was surprisingly comfortable. I was able to go uphill in much higher gears than previously and with a lot less huffing and puffing. I think riding the exercise bike is helping a lot. On the exercise bike there is no coasting and every 5 mintues for 45 minutes I increase the difficulty of the ride. I've also determined that the road bike I have is quite fast. I can tell this because of my speed while coasting relative to the speed of others I'm riding with while they coast. I usually go faster than they do. That's the bike, not me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Let The Games Begin!

Well we're just about at the start of the outdoor season here in Ohio! The weather is finally warmer and we're getting in good workouts outside. Fortunately for the 400 group our indoor training at Kent State did the job and we did not lose the momentum we established from the fall.

Although we have yet to have a meet, I am confident that we've done just about everything possible to get the best performances we can this season. We have the strongest base this team has ever seen. The 6 months of distance running, strength training, intervals and initial speed work were well worth it. Greg was in New York City for all of last week with a class trip. This was planned a year ago and while it put a kink in his training schedule, did not seem to do any lasting damage. He did manage to get in three abbreviated days of running in NYC. Yesterday was his first track workout since returning. It was a tough one, four sets of 400/200 at pace with a 1 minute break between intervals, 7 minute break between sets. This is a strength workout designed to build a kick. I knew this would be a bit of a "shock" to Greg's system, being off for a week but he came through. Although he lost his lunch after the third set (sorry for the graphic detail), he was back on the line and completed the set at pace. I think he'll be back to form by the end of this week.

Spring break is next week and most of the guy are going away on vacations. The timing could not be worse. Although all will be encouraged to run while away, I'm not confident that many on the team will run and we will not be sharp for our first meet as a team. I include everyone in this, not just the sprinters. However, I am the lone coach who will be in town next week and will supervise workouts for those who are staying in town for the week. For the 400 group, only Greg and one other runner will be around but it will be a great opportunity to get in a hard week of training in an intimate setting! After next week is over, we transition to our competition schedule and focus on pure speed work. We're going after workouts that feature a limited number of intervals at high speed with rest as required. This should be a great indicator of where we're at.

As I've said before, I don't want to predict season end performances but I'm confident that the guys are in shape to do their best (whatever that is!). On a purely personal note, and one that reflects tremendous parental pride, Greg and two other guys from the 400 were elected tri-captains for the team this year. I take this as a measure of respect for the amount of work and the example this group has set for the team. This is a pure election by the team members and is not influenced in any way by the coaches. What else can I say? I'M PROUD OF MY BOYS!

More to come as we get into the meet schedule. My biggest concern now is to avoid injuries!!!!