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!