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.