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.