Thursday, June 30, 2011

You've Got To Love Track in Europe

Right after checking in to my hotel in Tromso, Norway I turned on the TV and stumbled onto what looked to be a high-quality track meet. A few minutes later I saw a 5,000 meters being run at what looked to be a very quick pace. After watching for about 400 meters early in the race I told my daughter that I thought they had a shot at breaking 13:00. Sure enough the winning time was 12:59. The last 400 was a great battle betweeen three--I think it was a 59.

This meet was held in Lausanne, Switzerland and was part of the Samsung Diamond league. The 12:59 was a meet record and not too far off the world best time of the year of 12:54. The world record is 12:37 and it is hard to understand how anybody can run that fast. In the race I watched today seven of the top eleven were from Kenya and the other four of the top eleven were from Ethiopia.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cowart Takes 6th in USATF Steeplechase

Don Cowart of Ragged Mountain Racing took 6th in the 3,000 meter steeplechase USATF 2011 USA championships in Eugene, Oregon this past weekend.  Eric met Cowart and his coach at the Charlottesville High School track a few weeks ago, while Don was doing 3 one-mile repeats at a 4:40/mile pace!  Although Don did not qualify for the world championships, his time of 8:39 and 6th place finish in the USA finals was very impressive.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Sub-5 Mile Blues Video

Without further ado, here it is!!!  Please make sure to post your comments, if you aren't laughing so hard you can't get up off the floor!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thoughts on Lukas Verzbicas

Hi Guys!
Yes, it's been a while since I've been on the blog. Just got lazy and busy.
I wanted to take a minute to raise a point about the comparison between Verzbicas' sub 4 high mile and Alan Webb. Not to take anything away from an 18 year old kid who can break 4 minutes but my son Greg pointed me to several posts on I did not know that Verzbicas was home schooled and was personally coached for years. He never actually ran for a high school team and only ran in hand picked high level championship caliber events. By contrast, Webb went to a public high school, ran on a team and also ran multiple events per meet including relays. The same cannot be said for Verzbicas. So to me this raises an interesting question; who is the better runner and whose performances can best be judged against other high school runners given the schedules, team participation and events run? Again, I don't wish to demean anything Verzbicas has accomplished but given these parameters, my money is on Webb.

Training Update

It's been a mixture of tennis and running the last couple of weeks (about 4 runs each week, and 2 to 3 sessions of tennis).  Although I run slower the day after playing any tough tennis matches, I'm hoping the cross training is beneficial.  Last week I ran 22.5 miles in 4 runs, then played tennis the other 3 days.  This week I may end up with 5 or even 6 runs because of the rain (tennis courts closed), and one day of tennis.  As of Wednesday (yesterday), I had 14.5 miles running in 3 sessions, and one session of tennis.  Sunday's run was the mile time trial, and yesterday I did a tempo run on the roads (2 miles at 8:30/mile pace, 1.5 miles at 6:38 pace, and the last 1.5 miles at 8:18 pace.  I'm traveling to Houghton later today to visit one of the other famous Dr. K Strider members (Michael Raybuck), and hope to run in the hills of Houghton tomorrow.

July 4th weekend I would like to either do another mile time trial or a 5 or 10K road race.  For a mile time trial, I really need to invite someone to run with me.  These solo runs are getting very difficult mentally.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Mile Disappointing

Fathers Day...........since it has been 2 weeks since my last race, and 3 weeks since my last mile time trial, I felt like Father's Day was the appropriate time for a fresh mile time trial.  Although I had played tennis the day before, which typically slows down the next day's run, I decided to give it a try.  The result was a disappointing 5:30.8, 3 seconds faster than my last attempt, but much slower than I had anticipated.  Based on workouts, I feel like low 5:20s should not be difficult.  In addition to the tennis, perhaps the lack of competition (ran alone) played a factor.  In fact, my best solo mile in recent years is only 5:28, whereas I ran 5:20 in 2009 with one other person, and 5:17 last December in a USATF sanctioned race (see plot below for updated trends).

Time Trends for Mile

Thoughts of retiring from competitive running swirled in my mind throughout today's time trial, but they quickly dissipated after the event.  Now, back to training!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Garmin Forerunner Problems

I will resist the urge to editorialize and just post the facts.

1) I have owned a Garmin Forerunner 205 for a few years.

2) With a year or two of purchase the device started to behave badly, randomly shutting itself off. I did everything I could think of to fix the behavior including many web searches and at lease one discussion with Garmin Support and I was never able to resolve the problem to my satisfaction. Based on the results of a Google search I just did it seems that there are now quite a few reports of this type of behavior within the Garmin Forerunner product family.

3) Last year when I was running I got caught in what I would consider a typical summer thunderstorm. It was a soaking and heavy rain, but again, nothing out of the ordinary. My Forerunner got water under the crystal. I did what I could to carefully and slowly dry the Forerunner out. In the end, even though the Forerunner didn't completely die it was damaged such that it was unable to hold any battery charge and thereby was totally useless to me.

Garmin Support offered some suggestions to try to remedy the problem but none of them worked. Garmin Support told me that the best they could do for me was to repair or replace the Forerunner (their choice) for $69. I had to pay the cost of shipping to Garmin and they would pay the shipping cost back to me.

Ragged Mountain Racing

Friday I stumbled onto a sub-four miler at Charlottesville High School. As I walked towards the track I saw Donald Cowart running very smoothly and quickly as he was running the first of three repeat miles at a sub 4:40 pace. I walked over to the person who was timing him to inquire about who the runner was since it was clear to me that this was no ordinary runner.

The track at UVa is reing rehabbed so Donnie was at CHS tuning up for the U.S. championships next week where he will compete in the steeplechase (his qualifying time is 8:31). I don't think I had ever witnessed a runner this good this close and certainly hadn't seen anybody ever do a workout like this. It was both inspirational and depressing.

Turns out that primarily through the efforts of the owners Charlottesville's well-established Ragged Mountain Running Shop there is now a program in Charlottesville for highly-talented and committed distance runners to train. Click on the title of this entry for a link to Ragged Mountain Racing.


Donnie did a good job warming up the track for me--I had my best workout in a long time. I ran 11:41 for 1.5 miles and went through the first mile in about 7:54. I wasn't trying to run that fast but I guess seeing Donnie run stirred some muscle memory.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Muscle Memory

I believe that muscle memory is a very flawed concept...

If I were to take all the miles I've run in my life, since so many of them were run when I was much more fit, which was when I was in my teens and 20s, my lifetime average per mile is probably somewhere quite a bit below 8 minutes/mile.

Therefore my muscle memory should mean that I'm heavily programmed to run somewhere below 8 minutes/mile. Yet these days when my natural tendency is to run much slower than 8 minutes/mile and running anywhere near an 8 minute/mile place is a lot of work.

Also, when I do run 9 minute miles, if muscle memory were a valid concept, this should have very little impact on future workouts because running a few 9-minute miles changes my lifetime average training pace by very little. However, what I find is that recent workouts are a much better indicator of my future workouts then workouts from my teens and 20s.

Now let's contrast muscle memory with mental memory. Typically, I can recall events from my teens and twenties with much greater clarity than events from much more recent times than, let's say, 3 to 5 years ago.

My belief is that a much better description for my muscular behavior today is LIFO (Last In First Out) and that the tendency towards the LIFO model is accelerating with age. I believe that when I was younger my muscular behavior was much more of FIFO (First In First Out) model than it is today.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Running Water 5K Race!

I ran 18:50 for a 5K road race (about 6:04/mile), placing 6th overall out of 175 (note correction from the original post) and 1st in the 50 to 59 age group. 

I was pretty happy with the time (certified 5K course), as it equaled my best post-50 year old 5k time from 2 years ago, and that was on the track. 

Click on title for results, or see link here

Now, back to working on the mile run. There is a good mile race (The Charlie McMullen Mile) this Thursday night, but it is in Rochester, about 1 1/2 hours away, so not sure I'll do that.  May just try to get another guy to run on the track with me as a time trial.