After taking the week after Club Nationals XC off, I managed to log in 57 miles last week, all of it at a pretty easy effort. I didn't feel like I lost anything from the time off and even managed a 13.5 mile long run on Saturday. This week will be more or less the same before I start incorporating some harder workouts into the mix in January. It definitely feels like winter here now, which always makes running more interesting with snowy bike paths and lots of ice to look out for. As far as goals for 2010 go, the big ones will be the USATF Masters 10K Championship in Ann Arbor, MI on June 6 and the Brian Diemer 5K in Grand Rapids, MI six days after that -- the Michigan Double! Fall as always will culminate with Club Nationals XC, which will be held in Charlotte, NC. Some other races I'd like to do are the Masters 5K championships in Syracuse on Oct. 3 and the Youngstown Peace Race 10K in late October. I've never done that one, but it's USATF-certified and people always seem to run real fast there due to a lot of competition up front. I can't wait to get racing again and may even do a February 5K as a rustbuster before the St. Malchi 5 miler in March.
The photo above is of the Second Sole Rocky River masters team before we destroyed ourselves over a hilly 10K course in Lexington, KY as we finished 12th in the USATF Club Nationals Cross Country Championship. All of us ran solid races and we're already pumped up for next year's race in Charlotte, NC.
It definitely feels like the end of the season and I haven't run a step since the race! My plan is to take this week off completely (though I have started on the 100 Pushups Program) before running some real easy workouts next week. Once the New Year hits I'll be back on my regular 60 miles a week routine and try to rough it out in January and February, the least fun training months around here. I'll be doing the usual off season conditioning stuff: long runs, hill repeats, progression runs etc. and if I'm restless I may do the Chili Bowl 5K race in mid-February before definitely opening the season with the St. Malachi 5 mile race in mid-March.
One week from tomorrow, I'll be lining up with about 300 other masters guys for the national club cross country championships in Lexington, KY. Our team, Second Sole Rocky River, will be competing against clubs from all over the country, including running hotspots like Southern California and Boulder, Colorado. What I like about cross country is that racing 10K (6.2 miles) over hill and dale is a perfect middle ground for 5K specialists moving up and the half-marathon/marathon types moving down in distance. Kentucky in December isn't all that pleasant either so cold, windy weather and/or snow/rain definitely adds to the mix. A true hardcore runner's championship race.
I'm feeling really good heading into the race. The 5K race on Thanksgiving was a nice sharpener, which I definitely didn't taper for (71 miles the week before the race) and now that I've backed down a little I feel really good. On Monday, I did my favorite workout, which is a ladder of mile - 1200 - mile - 800 - mile - 400 with 400 jogs between each rep. The miles are done at 10K race effort, while the 1200 is at 5K effort, the 800 at 3K and the 400 at mile race effort. The workout teaches patience because if you hit the miles too hard, you're toast for the faster segments and a 400 meter jog isn't a hell of a lot of recovery. On Thursday I did some short hill repeats for a last shot of power.
I stumbled upon this quote by the legendary Amby Burfoot (Boston Marathon winner back in 1968, who later became a well-known writer for Runner's World) on a LetsRun message board thread of all places. Amby is 63 now, but still competes all the time:
The Why Race? question is interesting. It's not required after all. I can be a runner without being a racer. My wife is always advising me to be "more moderate in all things." And she's smart, this is good advice.
But you know what? A person can get too much of this moderate stuff. Who wants to live a life that's always safe, controlled, aiming for the middle path?
Every once in a while I still want to feel the burn. To push to the limit. To be near collapse when I cross the finish line. Sure, I already know the result: It will be shown that I'm older and slower than I was yesterday and the day before that. I don't need a race to tell me these things.
But a race says I'm not ready to surrender. It says I'm going to keep struggling to squeeze all I can out of this life. It says I'm not checking out of here until I've given it my all. Yes, I know I'm gonna die some day.
But I have a good feeling about tomorrow's race.
Training has been going well as I get ready to wrap up my season with a 5K on Thanksgiving and the Club Nationals Cross Country race in Lexington, KY on Dec. 12. I'm excited to be on a team for nationals (Second Sole Rocky River) as it was a lot of fun running for Team Good River in Cincy two years ago. I managed to get in 71 miles this week with mainly easy running, plus a session of hill repeats on Thursday and a really nice 14 miler in the metro park yesterday. In other news though, my coach Pete Magill is no longer doing online coaching after December, so I'll be back on my own after Club Nationals. I've definitely gained a lot from working with Pete and over the course of 6 months I've gotten to the point that 65-70 a week is "normal" for me, whereas last year it was more like 45-50. I'll take some down time after club nationals and then build a good winter base before racing again in March. Being that it's Ohio in the winter, I'll focus on easy mileage and some old school basics like hills and progression runs.
It feels weird to say this, but I ran my first race as a 45-year-old and finished 4th overall and 1st in the 45-49 age group at the Twinsburg Turkey Trot. My time was 29:34 on the hilly 5-mile road/trail course, which was designed by my Second Sole Rocky River masters teammate Jim Chaney, who timed the event. Check out his new events management site: www.chaneyevents.com . I was really happy with the race and especially pleased that I could keep a good rhythm going after repeatedly trashing my legs on the climbs and descents. An excellent cross country simulation, though I think the Kentucky course in December will be pretty flat, but most likely muddy from rain/snow. Training has gone well. This week I'm bumping the volume up to around 70 with a few longer runs and some hill repeats on Thursday. The plan now is to do a 5K road race on Thanksgiving as my final tune up before Nationals on Dec. 12. Ok, off to the metro park for a 12 miler before work.
I've been pretty busy at work lately and definitely not blogging as much as I had been, but things have been going pretty well. I brought out the spikes a few weeks ago for a cross country race in Ann Arbor (photo above) and did ok in less than ideal conditions (cold, very windy, half inch of rain the night before). I finished 4th overall and thought I ran as well as I could for the day (don't even ask me what my time was!), but man does XC hurt. Normally, I don't get the dry heaving feeling until about a half-mile to go, but in that race it was more like a mile to go! But then, cross country is the most challenging when it's run on a tough course. The race was a good reminder that cross country really is a different sport than track or road racing. Sure, you need to do pretty similar training to be good at both, but you definitely need to get in the practice racing off road before your peak race. Club Nationals is on December 12 so I have a few more tune ups before that. This Saturday, I will be running in the Twinsburg Turkey Trot, which is half on roads and half on metro park gravel trails. On Nov. 21 the guys on my team, Second Sole Rocky River, will be doing a 4 mile cross country time trial. Trainingwise, my workouts have been faster over the last few weeks than any time of the year, so I'm a little bummed that I don't have a flat, fast road 5K coming up, but I'm happy to be in really good shape for cross country nationals.
Had a really good week of mostly easy running with two key workouts: a 10 miler with 2 x 15:00 @ Tempo effort on Monday and a hilly 12 miler today, which included five upper and lower loops of Edgewater Park where I hit the uphills hard (alternating between high knees, bounding and just plain hard running) and hitting the downhills at race effort. A good Lydiard-type effort. I'm getting excited about my final racing phase of 2009, which I just updated on my entry below. I'll be doing a 5K cross country race in Ann Arbor next Saturday, followed by a 5 mile road/trail race on Nov. 14, our masters and open team 4 mile cross country time trial on Nov. 21 and then Club Nationals XC on December 12. Really excited that I'm on a masters team for this. Right now we have 6 guys lined up (all of us are ex-Team Good River runners) for the masters race and I believe we have enough for two teams in the open race.
I've mapped out my final races of 2009 as I prepare for the USATF Club Nationals cross country meet in Lexington, KY on December 12.
October 31 - Ann Arbor Track Club Invitational 5K cross country: Really looking forward to this as the last time I ran on this course was in the fall of 1980!
November 14 - Twinsburg Turkey Trot 5 miles: My buddy Jim Chaney who is managing this race describes it as a mix of road, paved bike paths and gravel trails. This should be a good XC simulation. This will be my first race as a 45-year-old.
November 21: Cross country team time trial - 4 miles. The masters guys will be running a time trial with our two open teams as we get ready for club nationals in Lexington.
December 12: Club Nationals 10K cross country: I need to research the course, but typically nationals are on flat courses but Kentucky in December will likely be rainy/snowy, so I'm preparing for a messy course.
It's been a few weeks since I've done an update, but things are going pretty well with my running. Two weeks ago I raced in the USATF Masters 5K National Championships in Syracuse where, in one of my last races as a 44 year old, I was 26th in the 40-44 division with a time of 17:08, which is an age-graded score of 82.11 (anything above 80.0 is considered National Class). The photo sequence above is from the finish of that race. Pretty ideal conditions, other than the roads being pretty wet from a lot of rain the day before, on a beautiful course with a couple of small hills. I was really impressed with the way this event was organized. Each kilometer was marked on the scenic out and back course and the organizers did a great job of keeping traffic away!
Today I got my first taste of cold weather racing for the fall season when I ran in the Race for The Rainbow in Lakewood this morning. About 40 degrees and felt much colder with the winds, and the roads were even slicker than in Syracuse. While my time of 17:39 was slower than I normally run I felt like the race was very "on". I got into a really good rhythm and finished very strong though the wind was really rough throughout (never seemed to get a tailwind!). I was third overall and the top master and even managed to score $15 in prize money! The first two guys finished in 16:02 and 16:04 and both of them have been under 15:10 this year, so that gives an idea of the racing conditions today. While I love the feeling of running a really good race, I'm frustrated that I haven't caught the right weather to take a shot at my masters PR of 16:54. My workouts indicate that I'm in shape to run about 16:45 on the right day so we'll see. Next up is a 5K cross country race in Ann Arbor, Michigan on October 31. Looking forward to bringing out the spikes for that!
Everything's going well as I get ready for the USATF Masters 5K Nationals in Syracuse this coming Sunday. Ran 62 miles last week with a few key workouts, including 8 x 200 @ 34 w/200 jogs on Tuesday and a 10 miler with 2 x 10 minutes tempo w/2:00 rest on Friday. Yesterday I did 6 x 3:00 @ 5K effort in my racing flats and that felt really good, so I'm optimistic that I should have a good race on Sunday. The level of competition is going to be about as tough as any race I've ever run, so I need to watch myself early on and not get pulled into a pace that I can't handle. If all goes well, this should be one of those races where I pick off a lot of people who go out too fast early on. Fall is definitely here! Getting ready to head out the door for an easy run and it's cold, windy and rainy.
Originally released in 1985, Love was one of the best rock 'n' roll albums of the '80s and still sounds great today. The Cult began their career as The Southern Death Cult, but by the time of their 1984 debut Dreamtime they began to shed a lot of their early goth influences and were much more in tune with the likes of Led Zeppelin, who would become an even more obvious influence on Love. Like Jim Morrison, Vocalist Ian Astbury was a tad overly fascinated with Native American lyrical themes (no mistake that he was invited to sing for the reformed Doors a few years ago!), but The Cult rock much harder than the Doors ever did. Love (and Dreamtime) remain The Cult's finest moment. The singles "She Sells Sanctuary" and "Rain" sound as thunderous today as when I first heard them as a youngster and the re-mastering here gives them even more punch. Other highlights are the Stooges-like "Phoenix" and, of course, the anthemic opener "Nirvana." The expanded addition is well worth it for a bonus disc that includes all of the original 12" mixes of the singles, plus the B-sides, while the accompanying booklet has quite extensive liner notes and interviews.
Had another really good training week, which culminated with my second overall win in a road race this year at the Lorain Aids Task Force 10K. The race ended up being a good amount longer than 10K -- a quick survey of three people who wore GPS devices had it at more like 6.54 miles. This made much more sense as my finish time was 37:50, which would have been my 'tempo' pace for an actual 10K. At 6.5 and change my pace was 5:47 per mile, which converts to a 35:48 10K according to the always handy Team Oregon Pace Wizard. Despite the long course, I was very happy with my effort. I ran the same overall pace as I did for 5 miles two weeks ago on Labor Day Weekend, so the strength is definitely building. Also, as I won the race by about 4 minutes, I didn't have anyone pushing me in the crucial middle miles. Other workouts this past week included a tough session of 8 x 1000 meters on the track with 400m jogs for recovery and 8 x 150 on Wednesday for a little turnover. Next race will be the USATF Masters 5K championships in Syracuse on October 4. Really looking forward to that one. I'll be doing a couple of 5K specific workouts before that race to sharpen up.
Had a very good post-race week, hitting 68 miles without any issues. Mainly just easy stuff, other than hill repeats on Thursday and a 14 mile trail run today. Next week I'll be racing a 10K in Lorain on Saturday. Originally I was going to do the Cleveland Heroes 5 miler on Sunday, but Bella and I will be in Pittsburgh for the opening reception of a solo gallery show she is having there, so it will be a pretty late night. I'm looking forward to doing a 10K anyway as it's a bit of a rare race these days and I'd like to lower my masters personal best of 36:06, which I ran back in April. I don't know anything about the course next Saturday, but assuming it's reasonably flat and the weather is decent I think a sub-36 is in the cards. I won't really be tapering this week as I'll be doing 8 x 1000 meters with 400 jogs on Monday and some 150s for leg turnover on Wednesday, but Thursday and Friday will be short and easy so I should have some spring in my step on race day. The focus continues to be the masters 5K National Championships in Syracuse on October 4 and then the plan is to do some higher mileage for a month or so before coming back down and getting reading for the masters cross country National Championships in Louisville in December.
Ran my first race on Saturday after a nine-week base training hiatus and finished as the fourth master at the always competitive Northcoast Challenge in Westlake with a time of 28:50. I was really happy with the race for several reasons: (1) I was a little rusty from no racing in a while; (2) I had just kicked a pretty pesky cold; and (3) I was coming off my highest mileage block as a masters runner. Last week I ran 72 miles, which was the first time I had gone over 70 as an old guy. As for the race, the plan was to go out conservatively for the first two miles and take it from there, so after hitting 2 miles in 11:46 (5:54, 5:52), I went to work and ran 5:45, 5:45, and kicked it in with a very strong 5:34. I was really happy with the last two miles as mile four is pretty much all on a grass and dirt trail and to be able to roll off of that on to pavement and crush the last mile was a great feeling. This week it's back to my now usual 65-70 range and I plan on racing again on the weekend of Sept. 19/20 as final prep for the masters 5K national championship race in Syracuse on October 4 where I hope to lower my masters PR of 16:54.
Had a really good week of running, managing to hit 72 miles, the most I've run in a week since college. Nice mix of tough workouts, including 20 x 400 with 100 meter jogs on Tuesday, hill reps on Friday and a 14 mile long run on Saturday. I felt pretty good every day, as well, other than fighting a mild cold the past few days. I seem to actually feel better when I run, so hopefully I can get this cold fully out of my system by the time of my race on Labor Day Weekend. I've done the Northcoast Challenge 5 mile race three times over the past four years. It's a flat and fast course with lots of competition due to large amount of prize money given to the top finishers, who usually tend to be Kenyan professionals! Though I haven't raced since July 4, I feel pretty confident that I can get in a good race since my training has gone really well.
Bekele wins in 12:52 -- no surprise there -- but the real story is Dathan Ritzenhein who finishes third in 12:56 and breaks Bob Kennedy's 13-year old American Record by 2 seconds. For much of the race Ritz is in last place, but he moves up really well and has an insane kick over the last 2 laps.
I've been at this for about five years after a 20-year hiatus, so I've definitely learned what has worked and what has not worked so well as a 40+ runner.
1. Build That Base: Until this year, I have never periodized. I've pretty much trained the same every week all year round: Long run, tempo type workout, intervals or a race with easy days mixed in. This Spring I hired a coach and I am in the process of completing a 9-week summer base, which has been my most productive period of running since the summer before I started college. I haven't raced in this period, but it hasn't all been slow distance. I've done hill workouts, tempos, progression runs, technique drills, adding up to a lot of mileage. I like the idea of having 2 seasons: A Spring/Summer season from around St. Patrick's Day to July 4 and a Fall season from Labor Day to XC nationals in early December. The cold, dreary months of winer and the hot 'n humid Ohio summer days are perfect for building that foundation for cool weather PR races.
2. Less is Not Always More: I got in shape real fast on a low mileage, high intensity program and I've progressed pretty well over the past few years. This year I felt like I hit a plateau and needed something a little different so I hired a coach. I like the way my training has transformed. It feels more natural to divide my racing into seasons and I've been doing a wider variety of workouts that concentrate on more aspects of my game. I always thought I was a low mileage guy, but once I learned to do my easy days real easy everything has started to fall into place. There is a place for lower high-intensity mileage, especially if you do a lot of cross training or are injury prone, but I'm a runner who can't do anything else very well, so right now it's best for me to run as much as I can handle, which is more than I initially thought I could. Basically, if something is working for you, keep at it, but if you feel like you've hit a plateau change things up. We're all experiments of one!
3. Stay Lean: For most of my masters running 'career' I've weighed about ten pounds more than I did in college even though I'm the same height. After a pretty intense training block this summer, I'm only a few more pounds of my college weight now and much more toned. My abs have never been this strong. I'm right where I need to be now to run my best as a masters runner this fall.
Crocodiles may hail from San Diego, but Summer of Hate is no Beach Boys theramin-heavy sunshine trip. The duo, consisting of Charles Rowell and Brandon Welchez, owe much more to the dark, druggy sounds of icons such as Suicide, Spacemen 3, and the Jesus and Mary Chain. Songs like the title track, “I Wanna Kill,” and “Refuse Angels” are full of elements like spooky tremelo, brutal beats, and nasty feedback, and most importantly, they are catchy as hell. When Crocodiles slow down the tempo on the blissful “Sleeping With The Lord” and the epic closer “Young Drugs,” they are equally effective. Summer of Hate is a seriously infectious noise pop gem, one of the best debuts I’ve heard in quite some time.
Brought it up to 68 miles after last week's scheduled down week and felt great with no issues other than some crazy heat earlier in the week. I already mentioned the progression run on Monday, but the other workouts went well later in the week, including a really good 93 minute hill run today where I did loops in Edgewater Park and hit the hill hard five times alternating high knees, bounding and just plain hard running. I also hit the downhill hard five times at the effort I would hit in the race. As for racing my early season plan is to do the Northcoast Challenge 5 miler on Sept. 5, something on the weekend of the 19th/20th (coach Pete wants me to try to find an XC race if possible) and the masters 5K road race championship in Syracuse on October 4. These will be some of my last races as a 44 year old so it will be nice to rock out some good races before I move into the new age group. I think it's a good sign that 65-70 a week feels about as normal as 45-50 did last year (and this Spring before working with Pete), so I'm excited to start incorporating some faster work into my program. Next Tuesday will be 20 x 400 with 100 meter jogs, so that's a nice start!
In an interesting NY Times article entitled It's Hip To Be Round, Guy Trebay notes that there has been a rise in number of chubby hipsters hanging around in Brooklyn. Uh, you only just noticed this? Haven't you seen pictures of bands like Death Cab For Cutie or The Decemberists?! Those guys look their main tour vices are Krispy Kreme and Bob Evans. Anyway, the writer goes on to quote Details magazine scribe Dan Peres, who surmises that this new breed of chubby hipster might be envious of Barack Obama!!!! Great, men have body issues now?
Hipsters, by nature contrarian, according to Dan Peres, the editor of Details, may be reacting in opposition to a president who is not only, as the press relentlessly reminds us, So Darn Smart, but also hits the gym every morning, has a conspicuously flat belly and, when not rescuing the economy or sparring with Kim Jong-il, shoots hoops.“If we had a slob in the White House, all the hipsters would turn into some walking Chippendales calendar,” Mr. Peres said. Instead, the streets of Williamsburg are crowded with men who are, as he noted, “proudly rocking a gut.” Mr. Peres’s magazine has a term for these people: the new “poor-geoisie.” But the people lining up for $13 lobster rolls at the Brooklyn Flea last weekend hardly looked as if they were worried about making the rent.
Frankly I'm getting tired of this Barack Obama is athletic crap. Sure the guy is skinny, but he's a chain smoker and have you seen footage of him throwing out the first pitch at the All Star game and bowling on the campaign trail? About as athletic as the fat hipsters the article writes about! I voted for the guy, but definitely not for his athletic prowess. Say what you want about the last guy, but if nothing else, Dubya could reach the plate when he threw the first pitch and ran a pretty decent marathon while governor of Texas.
The article concludes:
...What once seemed young and hot, for gay and straight men alike, now seems passé. Like manscaping, spray-on tans and other metrosexual affectations, having a belly one can bounce quarters off suggests that you may have too much time on your hands.
“It’s not cool to be seen spending so much time fussing around about your body,” Mr. Hicklin said.And so guys can happily and guiltlessly go to seed.
So hipsters don't have time to work out any more? Too busy playing with their vinyl toys and drinking PBR to shed a few pounds. Hey, I like rock 'n' roll as much as the last guy but I'll continue to shred my abs while the hipster dufuses shred some extra cheese on their oversized Chipotle burritos.
This past week was a scheduled 'down' week where I cut my volume to 47.5 miles, but I still got in some good workouts despite the 80-90 degree heat, plus humidity. Last Tuesday I had a good session of 3 x 10 minutes at tempo effort in the metro park and on Thursday I did some long hill repeats. This week will be a bump up again with me back in the 65-70 range. Today was an especially nasty day with temps pushing 90 when I ran a 7 mile progression. The goal was to start at 'normal' effort and work down 10-15 seconds per mile. On paper not that hard at all, but just being out in the heat that long today was a workout in itself. Anyway, I started at 7:24 and then went 7:08, 6:56, 6:44, 6:29, 6:20, 6:10. The pace didn't feel difficult at all, but it felt hard to really accelerate on the last 2 miles without feeling like I would pass out from the heat. On cooler days I've done similar workouts like this MUCH faster, so today was one of those days where I had to just adjust to the conditions and roll with it. Looks like my next race will be a 5 miler on Labor Day weekend.
Had my fourth straight week over 60 and am feeling really, really strong. Total for this week was 69, another all-time masters high. Mostly easy mileage but I had a really good interval workout of 5 x 4:00 on Monday and today I ended the week with a really nice 14 mile trail run. I feel like I have a lot in the tank. The legs were a little heavy on Monday because I had run over 12 miles on each of the two days beforehand, but the effort still felt really smooth and I felt completely recovered after each 3:00 rest break. Next week is a planned down week. Pete is bringing the volume down to 50, but I have a couple of quality workouts planned. 3 x 10:00 @ Tempo on Tuesday and hill reps on Thursday.
The last 4 weeks has probably been my best block of high volume training since the summer before I started college. Hit 67.5 miles this week, giving me a 4-week total of 58, 63, 66, and 67.5. This week will be about the same and then I'll take a down week of about 50 miles or so to refuel, before getting back up to 70+. I have been feeling really good pretty much every day. It's weird but I feel better on 60+ than I did in the 45-60 range. I've learned how to do my easy days really easy and make sure I'm recovered for my harder workouts. Nothing definite on the race calendar yet though I'm pretty certain that I'll be running the Northcoast Challenge 5 miler on Labor Day weekend.
Had my highest training week thus far as a masters runner, hitting 66 miles. No real issues either. Mainly just easy distance with two quality workouts. Wednesday I did hill repeats and Saturday I had a really good tempo workout of 2 x 20 minutes with a 5:00 easy jog recovery. I also ran doubles on two days last week and I've been feeling really good doing that lately. I'm definitely noticing some changes as I bump up my volume. On days that I feel good, everything feels really smooth and I feel like I have tons of gear changes. The hill repeats felt easier than ever. One down side I guess on higher mileage is that on some days you just feel lackluster (luckily usually on recovery days) so you need to just keep the pace real easy or else you'll pay for it on the days that count (hard workouts and races). The plan is to hit about 70 a week for the next two week and then I have a 'down' week scheduled, before bumping back up again.
Another good week. Hit 63 for the week with no real issues other than the usual aches and pains that go with volume increases. I've made it a point to do post-workout leg exercises and my cat seems to like them too, though he's more of a sprinter type. A few dashes down the hall and Milkshake is ready for a nap. Anyway, my training week consisted of really easy mileage though I did some technique drills again on Wednesday and today's long run consisted of 6 hard hill surges (2 x sprints, 2 x bounds, 2 x high knees) and 6 hard downhills (i.e. race effort). Definite Lydiard flavor to that workout. Next week should bring me to around 65 miles give or take, with the key workouts being hill reps on Wednesday and a 2 x 20 minutes tempo session on Saturday.
My first week of base building for the fall went great, without any hitches. Managed to hit 58 miles from last Sunday through yesterday. It was mainly easy distance work, but Coach Pete also had me do some technique drills on Wednesday (followed by an extra long cool down) and I did some hill repeats on Friday. This next week will be pretty similar with me hitting about 62 miles. The goal is to build up to 65-70 and then maintain it for awhile. I think I've finally adjusted to being comfortable at 60 miles a week because I honestly felt good every day this week. Looking forward to adding on more miles this summer!
Well, summer reading if you're a runner I should say. I've read this article by Lets Run founder Weldon Johnson before and I came across it again the other day. Titled Why I Sucked In College, the piece is an in-depth analysis of Weldon's training and how he came to realize that he was training much too hard on his easy days and thus not running the kind of times he should have been running in races. In a very short time span, Weldon went from not being able to break 30 in the 10K to running 28:06! I'm lucky that I run by myself 99% of the time so I'm not racing my easy runs with a group, but even then I have to constantly remind myself to slow down on the recovery days. I had one of those lightbulb moments on my easy run today. I wanted to run especially easy to make sure I was fully recovered from my race as I have a longer run scheduled tomorrow and a few doubles scheduled for later in the week and then it dawned on me, that my easy days should always feel this easy. Save the hard efforts for the races and hard workouts!
With the summer heat kicking in, I'm going to take a little break from racing and try to pump up the volume so to speak and get ready to rumble in the fall. The plan over the next 3 weeks is build up to 65 a week and to then try to maintain 65-70 for about a month after that, before adjusting the schedule for fall racing. I'm looking forward to a period of increasing my mileage without worrying about race performances for awhile. The past 2 months have been good and I have run more my mileage than I have had since high school/college, but this Spring I've been a little up and down with my races as I've adjusted to the workload. Saturday I was really flat in the Bay Days 5 miler, running 28:59 when I felt like I was in shape to run 5:40 pace (28:20) or a bit faster. I'm chalking it down to running a hard race the weekend before (17:00 5K at Run For The Young) and not recovering as much as I thought I had. Can't remember the last time I raced on back to back weekends. I'm looking forward to getting to a place where I can be consistent in the 70-75 a week range. I don't think I really need to go beyond that unless my racing goals change from my current 5K-8K-10K and cross country focus, but it will be nice to test my limits this summer and fall. I know I can be a pretty solid runner on 40-50 a week, but as I approach 45 in November, I really want to know that I've done all that I could to run my best as a masters competitor.
Named after the best track on Ride’s last album Tarantula, Seattle’s Black Nite Crash dazzle with their heavy melodic sound, which blends together an ‘array’ of influences ranging from 1960s psych rock to classic UK post-punk and shoegaze. The seven-minute opener “Revelator” instantly draws you in with its soulful Stooges vibe, building up to an extended Ron Asheton-like guitar wigout at the end. “Falling Down” follows with its menacing Black Rebel Motorcycle Club-like groove (think “Whatever Happened To My Rock ‘n’ Roll?”) . “Soft Focus” is the most shoegaze influenced track on the album bringing to mind Ride’s infectious Going Blank Again gem “Twisteralla.” Also great is “I Want You,” which sounds a lot like The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Just Like Honey” before building to a wild Spacemen 3-like finale. Perhaps the best song of all though is the lush closer “Perfect Blue,” which recalls the majesty of The Church with its trance-inducing layered guitar sounds and Jim Biggs’ seductive vocals. Array is actually only available on vinyl, but if you do not have a turntable, don’t fret (each copy also includes a free CD!).
London’s The Rifles are probably the best mod band since The Jam and the three-year wait since their terrific debut No Love Lost was well worth it. While nothing here is quite as spectacular as the last album’s twin standouts “Local Boy” and “When I’m Alone,” overall, The Great Escape is a stronger record. Songs like the motivational title track, the unbelievably catchy “Fall To Sorrow,” and the absolutely crushing “Science In Violence,” are up there with anything in the Paul Weller songbook. Weller, in fact, is a huge fan of The Rifles. Like Weller and other legendary mod tunesmiths such as Pete Townshend and Ray Davies, Rifles frontman Joel Stoker does an exceptional job of capturing the emotions of the British ‘everyman’ as on the brilliant “Toerag.” Stoker also pens some pretty great personal narratives too, a prime example being the nostalgic “Out In The Past.” Throughout The Great Escape, the band is on fire. The Rifles create potent guitar pop of the highest order, each song containing amazing melodies and choruses that are impossible to get out of your head. It’s amazing that these guys still don’t have a US record deal. Hopefully that will change soon.
Haven't done one of these updates in a while, but the training has been going pretty well and I did my first race in nearly two months on Saturday, June 13, running a 17:12 (5:32 pace) at the Brian Diemer 5K in Grand Rapids, MI. Last year I ran 16:58 in that race, so initially I was a little disappointed but then I realized that this was only my fourth road race of the year, while last year this was my 10th! I feel like I'm ready to get back under 17:00 again and hopefully a decent amount under, so we'll see. Hopefully this was a good rustbuster and will lead to better things. Next up is another 5K on June 27th in Cleveland. There is good prize money for the top 3 open runners so I'm certain it will be a fast field, which will help.
Despite having released five albums and countless singles on influential labels such as Kill Rock Stars and Wiija, London’s Comet Gain has tended to remain relegated to ‘best-kept-secret’ status for those lucky enough to be in the know. That’s a shame because the group, centered around the amazingly talented David Feck (sometimes he also goes by David Christian) has put out a goldmine of amazing records, combining all of the best parts of mod, punk, lo-fi pop, and soul with lyrical themes that touch on everything from romantic heartbreak, to fallen film stars to international socialism and much more! While Broken Record Prayers is a collection of non-LP 45’s and odds and ends, including three Peel Session tracks, it flows like a perfect album. “Beautiful Despair” is a potent blast of punk energy reminiscent of Buzzcocks’ “Something’s Gone Wrong Again” – you can almost feel the tension pour out of your speakers. Nearly as lethal is a killer cover of Curtis Mayfield’s Seventies classic “Hard Times” and “Brothers Off The Block,” which appears to be a shout out to Black Panther era revolutionaries. On the more mellow side, “Books of California” has a touching nostalgic vibe, while “You Can Hide Your Love Forever” is an Anorak pop gem that would be perfect on a Sarah Records mix tape. For those who have never listened to Comet Gain, Broken Record Prayers is a perfect place to start. Before long you’ll want their whole back catalog.
An old friend of mine once said that you need to ride the ups and downs of life like the Silver Surfer and that can definitely be applied to running. Hit a little bit of a rough patch early on this week after a pretty smooth last 5 or 6 weeks. Legs were just dead tired for Monday's 3K time trial (last few laps plain sucked) and Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty so so easy runs and my motivation was definitely lower than usual, but the last two days have been great. Thursday was a nice easy 98 minute trail run and I've got to say that this is my favorite workout. Mastick Woods is a beautiful place to run and worth the drive to get there. I feel weird when I have to drive to run but getting out there in nature and not having to deal with traffic is awesome. Today I did some hill repeats and was really on, even a day after the long run. Wore my Lunar Racers in this workout and I think I'll wear those in the Diemer 5K instead of the Kantana Racers. This week I'm off work and looking forward to decompressing a bit before heading to Michigan for the Diemer race and Founders and Bells Brewery visits. Yeah, beer and running definitely go together!
No, I'm not planning on furthering my education, but as I approach the 45-49 age group I'm approaching my running like the transition from high school training to college training. In some ways my 40-44 masters 'career' was like high school. I trained solidy, raced well, but 'could' have done more. My main concern when I started running again at age 40 was to try to make this a lifetime sport and not crash and burn like I did after high school. In retrospect, I think I played it a little too safe. Now, I'm starting to feel motivated to really push my limits and see how many seconds faster I can push this body before I inevitably start to slow down a little. My training with my new coach Pete Magill is all about higher volume and higher intensity than I had been used to and I seem to be handling it really well. In college I was a dumb ass and thought I could party hard and run hard like Prefontaine or something, but truth be told most of us can't handle that kind of lifestyle. Hard training is serious work and that combined with a full-time job means that I need to rest a lot or else I'll get sick and/or injured. This past week I did 63 miles with a couple of really tough workouts that I didn't taper for at all. Today I did two sets of a 3-5-8 fartlek (3's and 5's at 5K effort, 8's at tempo w/ 3:00 between each rep) on the back of a 13 mile long run Saturday and two runs totalling 12.5 miles Sunday. Legs were sore but the effort was strong and I recovered quickly from each surge. This is exactly what I need to keep on doing to lower my 5K-8K-10K times and also to improve at cross country. Cross country is all about strength and hanging on even as your legs turn to garbage near the end of the race.
I'm feeling like I'm in the best shape I've been as a masters runner and am really looking forward to the Brian Diemer 5K on June 13. My mileage is up at around 60 miles a week and I've been running some really good quality workouts as well. Last week I did 16 x 400 all at 81 seconds with 100 meter jogs and this week I did a tough ladder consisting of mile-1200-mile-800-mile-400 with 400 jogs and hit 5:44, 4:07, 5:44, 2:41, 5:45, 76. I was especially happy with that workout as it was a typically windy day at the Rocky River track, which made it tougher to accelerate on the shorter reps. What I like about the new program I'm on is the variety. Each week I do something strength oriented, like the sessions I mentioned and I also do something a little more speed oriented like hill reps with long recoveries and last week I did some technique drills. The main thing though is keeping up the volume with lots of very easy running inbetween. It looks like the plan will be to do a 3K time trial about 2 weeks before the Diemer race. I really wish I could find an open track meet to run a 3K or 2 mile, but that should give me a good idea of where I'm at. A good rule of thumb is that what you can do in a 3K by yourself without tapering etc. is probably equal to the pace you'll race at for 5K when rested up. We'll see. After Diemer the focus will be races with really competitive masters fields like Johnnycake in mid-July and the Northcoast Challenge on Labor Day weekend (both 5 miles).
Yeah I know the title is a weak Happy Mondays pun but over the last few months I have been working muscles which I haven't worked much since like high school. Yesterday I did a whole series of technique drills (stuff like high skipping, high knees, butt kicks) that made me realize that while I am very fit, I'm not so athletic. Definitely need to keep these drills in my training schedule. Between that and doing consistent hill repeats over the past few months, I can tell that my abs are tighter as well. I seem to be sore all the time except when I'm running! Anyway here are the Happy Mondays...
Ran 53 miles this past week. Easy recovery running for three days after my XC race until Thursday when I did hill reps. Those went better than ever. Felt some spring in my strides and fantasized I was a miler for maybe 5 minutes (I'm not!). Saturday was 96 minutes (probably about 13 or so) on the trails and Sunday was 8 miles easy. This week will be a step up in volume and intensity as I get ready to assault my masters 5K PR on June 13. Today I did 16 x 400 on the Rocky River HS track with 100 meter jogs and hit every single rep at 81. The effort felt pretty relaxed throughout the workout and I never felt like I was overextending myself. I tried to keep it at what felt like 5K effort. I was really happy that I was able to run this workout after a big weekend of mileage for me and a hard session on Thursday on top of that. The strength is definitely coming around. If you have the time/energy to try to step up your training I highly recommend Coach Magill!
Had a lot of fun running a very low key 5K cross country race in Oberlin yesterday. It was a really great course, about half grass and half woodchip trails. Only problem was that because of a lot of rain over the last week, certain parts of the course were flooded, but that's what true cross country is supposed to be about. I knew the race would be interesting when the pace golf cart gut stuck about a half-mile into the race! As I went past, the driver and another guy were pushing it out of the mud (they managed to get it going again, only to get stuck later). I ran really well and made myself hold back a little early on as I have seemed to die a little at the end of my other XC races I have done. The strategy worked well. The first half of the race felt almost too easy but as soon as I hit some more segments of the course with a lot of mud and knee deep water, I was feeling it. I ended up finishing 3rd overall and 1st master in 17:58. The guy who won the race was Oberlin College's top guy (mid 16's I think) while second place was my friend Graham Wellman (who is also Oberlin's XC coach) who ran 16:50ish. I was more than a minute ahead of fourth place so the race was a very good experience for me to get my XC pacing down. As a final note, thanks to Graham for throwing a very fun post-race BBQ at his house!
Ran 59 miles this past week, consisting of mostly easy distance running with two key workouts: hill reps on Wednesday and a 96 minute trail run on Saturday. Felt pretty good all week as the weather changed from mid-30s early on to mid-80s by the weekend. The big race focus for me is the Brian Diemer 5K in Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 13 and I went ahead and just hired Pete Magill to coach me. I have been following Pete's off-the-clock 5K program that he outlined on his website for about 5-6 weeks now, but I decided to go the extra mile and get some individualized coaching as I really like the basic stuff that he outlined on his website. I have my workouts scheduled for the next month and I'm feeling ready to roll. No races in this period, other than a low key 5K on woodchip trails in Oberlin this coming Sunday that I'll be training through. My focus now is to work on increasing my weekly mileage and to get in some good quality workouts.
Well, this was a little weird. This morning I won my first overall race (The Old Oak Run in Middleburg Heights) since high school and not by just a little, but by 50 seconds! I didn't sign up for the race looking for a cheap win or anything as I was 4th overall last year and 3rd master. I was fully expecting some good competition in my first 5K race of the Spring. On the starting line I didn't see any faces I knew, but a quick look down at some of the runners' racing flats led me to believe that there might be some fast running, at least in the low 16 range. Anyway, even with my usual somewhat conservative start I found myself in the lead after only a few minutes with no one willing to go with me. It was just yours truly, a cop on a motorcycle and the pace car. I kept it pretty controlled because to be honest, I was really nervous being in the lead! I kept wondering if someone might be moving up on me but it was just really lonely like my weekend interval sessions in the metro park so after about half way when I knew it was in the bag, I pushed harder and I kind of drifted back into time when I was winning high school cross country meets. My time was 17:25, not a PR or anything, but a pretty solid time for what was pretty much a time trial that I paid $20 to run. Last year I didn't break 17:30 until my 4th race of the Spring (in early May) and I went on to run 16:57 at the Diemer 5K (certified course) in mid-June so I feel like I'm ahead of where I was, which I'll take at age 44. Next up for me is a 5K in Oberlin on May 3, which should have a few fast guys in the field, so hopefully I can get myself around 17:00, which should prep me for hopefully taking down my PR at the Diemer race.
Ran an 18 second masters 10K PR with a 36:06 (5:49 per mile pace) at the Meteor 10K in Dearborn, Michigan on Saturday. Really happy with the result as it was 34F and very windy at race time. Can't seem to catch a break weatherwise this Spring! It seemed like the wind was getting us from all sides during the race, but I'll definitely take the performance. Ran a smart even paced race, holding back in the first mile (5:57) before running everything else in the 5:45-5:50 range. I was 6th master and 26th overall in a very competitve race. As I ran very even, I was constantly picking off people throughout the race who went out too hard. I thought I was 5th master because I outkicked a masters guy from Michigan in the final stretch, but his chip time ended up being 0.1 seconds better than mine so he placed higher than me. I've never had that happen to me in a race before, but whatever.
This review will appear in the forthcoming issue of The Big Takeover:
Scotland’s Bubblegum Lemonade is the brainchild of one man, Lawrence “Laz” McCluskey, and he seems pretty intent on kickstarting a C86 revival with this outfit, as well as his other band Strawberry Whiplash. I’m certainly not complaining! If you are a fan of early Primal Scream, Jesus and Mary Chain, The Primitives and Shop Assistants, as well as classic ‘60s tunesmiths like The Byrds, Doubleplusgood will be right up your alley with its ringing Rickenbackers, fuzz in all the right places, and, most importantly infectious melodies. This is a summery pop record with a lot of substance. Also highly recommended is the "Susan's In The Sky" EP. While the title track is one of the standouts on the album, the three non-LP B-sides, including a poppy reinterpretation of Big Star’s “Holocaust,” are equally fantastic.
More info on Bubblegum Lemonade can be found on the Matineé Recordings website
I wrote this review for the forthcoming issue of Skyscraper Magazine:
Though Swervedriver hailed from Reading, England and were signed to Creation Records in the UK, then considered to be the Mecca of all things shoegaze, their early sound owes much more to influences on the American side of the pond. It’s great to finally see these long out-of-print records reissued on Hi-SpeedSoul. Their 1991 debut Raise blends the raw power of The Stooges, Hendrix, and Nuggets-era garage rock with a solid dose of Dinosaur, Jr. Lyrically, Raise conjures up images of driving fast on wide open desert roads. Virtually every song on the album mentions cars or the act of driving, highlights including the piledriving debut single “Son Of Mustang Ford” and the crashing anthem “Rave Down,” which garnered a decent amount of American radio airplay, when the band was big enough to land a spot opening up for Soundgarden on a U.S. tour. Adam Franklin’s silky smooth vocal delivery, somewhere between Hendrix and Arthur Lee of Love, perfectly matched his band’s neo-psychedelic road rock sound. The reissue tacks on four B-sides, including the stunning UK B-side “Kill The Superheroes,” which holds its own with anything on Raise. As great as Raise is, the 1993 follow up Mezcal Head is even better. Produced by Alan Moulder, the man behind the desk on other seminal albums of the era, such as My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless and The Boo Radley’s Giant Steps, Mezcal Head is somehow even louder, cleaner sounding, and more wide open than on Raise. To use a Stooges analogy, if Raise is The Stooges, Mezcal Head is definitely Fun House! Fortunately, this reissue includes the 11-minutes plus version of “Never Lose That Feeling,” a song which was on the original American version of Mezcal Head, but not available on the UK album, as it was a non-LP single there. That song perfectly captures the essence of Mezcal Head with it’s loud and hypnotic guitar sound, Franklin’s spot on melodies, and a insane almost jazz-like instrumental flurry at the end. Other high points include the punishing “Last Train To Satansville,” which combines a pulp fiction-like narrative with a punishing guitar attack, and the stunning single “Duel,” which smokes like a modern day update of The Who’s “I Can See For Miles” with a sea of fuzzed out guitars. The three bonus tracks, including the super poppy “Planes Over The Skyline,” are also great.
Note: The label just sent digital files for review, but I'm told that the reissues are quite attractive digipacks, so I may geek out and buy them at some point.
My cat loves boxes, so it was no surprise to see him jump into this one as I was packing up some pairs of old running shoes to donate to Soles 4 Souls, which by the way is a great charity.
The St. Malachi 5 mile race was the perfect tonic for dusting off the winter rust. The weather has been pretty great since then and I feel like my training has taken a turn for the better. I managed 58 miles last week and will probably hit 60ish this week. A few days after the race I did some hill reps on the Detroit Ave. hill in the Metro Park and Saturday I did a workout recommended in Pete Magill's 5K training article where I did a fartlek consisting of two sets of 3:00-5:00-8:00 with 3:00 rest breaks. The 3's and 5's were done at 5K race "effort" while the 8's were at tempo pace. I think this is just what I needed with the Meteor 10K coming up in Dearborn in a few weeks. This week I'm going to do some 5K pace reps and on the weekend I'll probably do a shorter, speedier fartlek workout for a little turnover. In between the quality workouts I've been doing a lot of easy 8 milers to maintain the aerobic engine.
I opened up my 2009 racing season with a solid effort at the St. Malachi 5 miler. I was the 2nd master and 11th overall in a field of 1500+. Conditions were not the best -- 30F and pretty windy -- but I ran a solid, even paced effort on a very hilly course. All of my miles were in between 5:45-5:52 so I seem to have a good sense of pacing, which I was afraid I might have lost as this was my first race in 4 months. They seemed to change up the course a little bit from last year and I felt like there were more uphills this time, but maybe I'm just getting senile. Anyway, while my time was 20 seconds slower than last year I felt like the 'effort' was better. I thought all the snow had melted in Cleveland, but there were still a few icy spots in some sections of the course in the Flats! Next up is the Meteor 10K in Michigan on April 4. Hopefully Spring will kick in and I can get some decent workouts in over the next few weeks. There was a race photographer present, so if any decent shots of me turn up, I'll update this entry.
early (first mile): passing people who went out too hard.
They call the neighborhood where the race took place, The Flats, but there was nothing flat about this race!
Bringing it home up that last big hill.
Finally there. I thought I was going to puke at the finish line but I just dry heaved!
I'm a fan of lightweight running shoes as everyday trainers, but ever since Nike discontinued the Elite and, subsequently, the Elite 2, I've had a hard time finding shoes that I've liked enough to buy a second time. I really like the Mizuno Elixir 2, but didn't like the Elixir 3 and just tried on the Elixir 4 and didn't like those either. Why do shoe companies upgrade so much? Hopefully, my problems have been solved. I just got the Saucony Grid Tangent 3's last weekend and really love them. They're light (9.4 ounces) and while comfortable, they're not overly cushioned. I like to feel the road when I run and these shoes feel really good. I wore them on my most recent 12 mile long run and they held up great. Right now I'm alternating these with the Asics Speedstar, another lightweight trainer that I like a lot. The Speedstars are lighter (a bit more like a marathon racing flat) so I tend to wear those on my tempo runs and non-track interval workouts. When I'm feeling really ready to roll I bring out my racing flats. Anyway, enough shoe geek stuff. Really enjoying the Sauconys.
Younger Legs For Older Runners is a new masters running website, hosted by Pete Magill, who happens to be a multiple American age group record holder at distances ranging from 3K-10K, as well as a four-time USATF cross country champion. His website is a goldmine for information on training, racing, and, perhaps most importantly for us old folks, injury prevention. While the website is only a few weeks old, Pete has already tracked down some of the best masters runners in the world for interviews, including Sean Wade, Paul Aufdemberge, Ceci Hopp St. Geme, Nolan Shaheed, and many more. The training insights are especially interesting as some of the elites featured run fairly low mileage while others really push the envelope. If there's a general theme about masters training, it seems to be that half the battle is staying healthy! The interviews with coaches like Tinman, who regularly posts on my teammate Ron Dorfeld's site The Run Zone, and Joe Rubio are equally excellent.
Hopefully Spring is around the corner. The weather lightened up at times this week and I managed to get in some decent quality workouts for a change, including a good session of mile repeats on Wednesday and a really "on" 8 mile progression run in the metro park on Saturday. Looks like it will be about 20F and windy for my 12 mile long run tomorrow morning, but overall things seem to be going well this winter and I feel like I'm in better shape than I was last year at this time. My first race of the year will be the St. Malachi 5 miler on March 14 and that should be a really good rustbuster for the first race of the year that I'm really pointing for, the Meteor 10K in Dearborn, Michigan on April 4. That race always has a loaded masters field, which in the past has included the likes of 40-44 national 10K record holder Paul Aufdemberge and some of his teammates from the Frontline Racing Team.
I know it’s 2009 and that The Sleepover Disaster are from Fresno, California, but, man, if someone told me that this record came out on Creation Records in the early Nineties, I’d believe them. Hover is a stunning work that is everything shoegaze should be—loud ringing guitars, effects pedals galore, and impossibly powerful melodies. Anyone who has ever bought records by Ride, Swervedriver, and Catherine Wheel is going to love this. Frontman, Luke Giffen, is one hell of a singer, reminding me a lot of Catherine Wheel’s Rob Dickinson. Songs like “Tremble,” “Funnel Cloud,” and “Friend” hold their own with Catherine Wheel classics like “Flower To Hide” and “Tumbledown.” The Sleepover Disaster aren’t a one trick pony though. They know how to slow down the tempo at times to give the listener breathing room in between all those high-octane stunners. The ballad “Make You Sing” is quite reminiscent of vastly underrated early Nineties Brit shoegazers Revolver, while other material like “Codebreaker” has a similar hypnotic sweep to Slowdive. For the most part, however, Hover is a bulldozing in-your-face blast of noise and melody. It’s no mistake these guys titled one of their earlier albums Loud Is The New Quiet.
While I love The Libertines, I wasn’t expecting too much from Pete Doherty’s solo debut, thinking that at best, it probably wouldn’t be much better than his subpar current band Babyshambles. Boy was I wrong. The best songs on Grace/Wastelands, such as the orchestrated “A Little Death Around The Eyes,” the infectious “Last of the English Roses” and the aching “Broken Love Song,” prove that Doherty is far from done. While the overall vibe on Grace/Wastelands is a little loose at times, it’s far from being a sloppy record. The musicianship here, including contributions from Graham Coxon on most tracks, is first rate. If a cross between Tindersticks-like orchestrated pop and mellow London Calling Clash tunes like “Jimmy Jazz” strikes your fancy, Grace/Wastelands is a keeper.
I'm glad to get through this month. This was the worst January of running for me since I started back again in 2005. Near record amount of snow fall and too many sub-freezing days. Other than a cold that set me back last week, I have managed to have a really solid few months of training. It's been hard to get in as much quality as I would like, but over the last 9 weeks my Sunday long runs have all been 12 miles or more, 7 of the runs being 14 or more, so aerobically I feel stronger than ever, which should help for cross country. I'm already thinking about that! Yesterday's warm spell was great, so I'm hoping for more of that in February, but based on this week's forecast, it's wishful thinking.
As a way to get out of my writer's block I decided to try a Nick Hornby-style exercise where I would think of a song that I liked in my youth and then write something about my life from that time. The first rock 'n' roll band I really liked as a kid was Queen and I think the first time I heard them was in 4th or 5th grade when I was at my friend John's house across the street. We were probably trading baseball cards or something. Back then kids would carry cards around and trade them and not mind if they got scuffed up. Now we have all these weird adults who collect toys and cards and stuff and keep everything wrapped up like they're museum pieces. Anyway, my friend's older sister and one of her friends kept playing the "Killer Queen" 45 over and over and I really liked the song. I knew next to nothing about rock 'n' roll growing up, which might seem surprising because it has been such a huge part of my life, but it's true. My parents never played music in the house, other than classical and I didn't have an older brother or sister to show me the way. That's why I kind of relate to the Cameron Crowe character in Almost Famous. Like him I also felt a little awkward because I started school a year earlier than I was supposed to so I was always smaller than everyone else until puberty hit and I started to run after being tired of sucking at baseball, basketball and soccer.
In the back of John's house there was a huge field and some woods. That part of Ann Arbor wasn't built up then so we could run around and do dangerous boy stuff. Not to sound all Wonder Years or anything but the 70's were one of the last times that kids could be kids. In the summer we left our houses when the sun came up and came home when it got dark. Our parents didn't know what we were up to most of the time and nothing bad happened very often. In the summer before junior high me and a few guys found a huge stash of Playboys in the woods and a good chunk of the time was spent hanging out, looking at the magazines and pretending we got the jokes inside. We would also talk about kids we had heard about who smoked weed and girls who would let you go to second base. I'm kind of amazed at how clueless we were back then compared to today's tech-savvy kids. It kind of reminds me of the Morrissey line in the Smiths "Queen is Dead": "...some 9-year old tough pushes drugs/I never even knew what drugs were." In the live version on Rank, Morrissey almost spits out that last part in disgust.
I was talking to a friend my age at a party recently and he was telling me how much he has to monitor his 15-year old son and we were both laughing at what it was like for us as kids. BTW, he told me that there is now a term to describe that phenomenon of finding porn when you were a kid in the 70's. It's called getting a visit from the porn fairy!
8 minutes of Stooges footage. R.I.P. Ron Asheton.
I've been running for four years straight after pretty much not running a step since my sophomore year of college. It's been a pretty interesting ride to say the least. I woke up feeling embarrassed and really out of shape after turning 40 in November 2004. After several weeks of slacking off I decided to train for a winter 5K race in February and managed to somehow run 19:14 (6:12 pace). That inspired me to kick it up a notch and now I'm down to 16:54 (5:26 pace). I've done a decent amount of reading about running over the past few years and have tried lots of different workouts, but have recently come to the conclusion that basic old school workouts are still the best. There's nothing fancy and high tech about getting good. One of my high school coaches, Peter Hallop, who was in his late 30's at the time he coached me, was still running sub 31 10Ks. Once he hit 40, he ended up becoming one of the best masters runners in the country. I've gone back to doing the kind of workouts he would have me do. A weekly long run of 14 or 15 miles and tough strength workouts like mile repeats, hills, and progressions/tempos. Which brings me to the title of this thread. Miles of Trials comes from John L. Parker's classic novel Once A Runner (about to get reissued), i.e. getting good at running is all about miles of trials/trials of miles.
While I want to keep improving as a masters runner I have to keep everything in check. I don't have the time or desire to obsess about the sport 24/7. I get my workout in, go to work and like to hang out with my wife and friends in my spare time. Even though Elephant Stone Records is on hiatus, I still spend a lot of time listening to music. and write reviews for several magazines.
Anyway, I think I've found a decent balance in life. Right now I want to run unlike a lot of times in high school and college where I felt a lot of pressure to run because I was good. Enough philosophy. Time to crack open a beer.
Ron Asheton, the guitarist for Detroit's legendary Stooges died of a heart attack today at the age of 60. The Stooges who were fronted by Iggy Pop released three of the best albums of all-time between 1969 and 1973 and were a huge influence on the Seventies punk rock explosion as well as more modern day hard rocking psychedelic acts such as Spacemen 3 and Loop. R.I.P. Ron.
2008 was my best year as a masters runner as I set old guy PRs at 5K (16:54) and 5 miles (27:51), lowering my prior bests from 2007, which were 17:22 and 28:53. I'm happy with almost all of the races I ran, the only bummer being the masters 5K national cross country race in Greensboro, which came a week after I disclocated my shoulder. While I ran ok, I didn't run the race I knew I could run, especially in the last half mile. Two and a half months later, my shoulder is still not quite 100% but it no longer effects my workouts.
For 2009, I want to definitely race in club nationals cross country again. This year it will be in Lexington, Kentucky, so hopefully there will be a strong NE Ohio crew there in the open and masters races. I would also like to get my 5K down to the mid-16's (16:29 would be nice!) and my 5 mile/8K down to the mid 27's. or better. I also really want to bust out a good 10K. Last year my two 10K races were in 90F+ heat in Columbus and sub 30F cold and wind in Ann Arbor. Not the best racing weather.
My training is going very well now. Very old school and simple. Each week I have been doing three key workouts: a longer run of 12-15 miles, a session of 4 x mile repeats with short rest breaks, and a 4-5 mile progressive tempo. Last week I ran my mile repeats and tempo about as well as I ever have, which makes me really look forward to see what I can do in the Spring.