Chasing The Ambulance

No, that's not a drug reference, just a play on the name of the 5K race I'll be running on Sunday, the Lakewood Ambulance Chase. I was originally going to do a 5K cross country race in Oberlin that day, but I just found out that that race is on May 9, so I decided to jump into a road race this weekend as I was mentally prepared to race. I've done the Ambulance Chase three times and each time I ran a personal best. In 2005, my first year running after a long layoff, I ran 18:32, which was the first time I raced sub 6:00 pace for 5K. The next year I ran 17:41, lowering my PR from 17:52 the previous fall. In 2008 I ran 17:18, which was a 4-second PR. Six weeks later I broke 17:00 for the first time at the Brian Diemer 5K, running 16:57.6. This year I'm thinking I can hit something in the 17:10-17:20 range for sure. I ran 17:24 a month ago and feel like I've made some strides since then. We'll see. If I'm in that range, I think I have a good shot at getting back under 17:00 again at Diemer. Rainy forecast, but as long as it's on the warm side, I'm cool with that.


Bunch of updates

I've been pretty lazy on this blog lately, but I promise that some more music reviews will be forthcoming. I definitely plan on picking up the deluxe edition reissue of The Stooges Raw Power that is coming out this week and I still need to get the reissue of Catherine Wheel's Ferment, which includes as bonus tracks their rare covers of Mission of Burma, Scott Walker and Husker Du. On the live front, Bella and I saw Detroit's The Sights play at the Beachland on Saturday night. They had been on hiatus for about four or five years, so it was really nice to see them again. The main singer and lead guitarist Eddie Baranek is as amazing as ever. A true showman with his James Brown moves. The band is definitely moving along from their mod and power pop roots into a more rock 'n' roll direction, not unlike how the Small Faces morphed into the Faces.

As for my running,everything is going well. I had a few days last week where my stomach was feeling kind of off, so I didn't run as much as normal, but I'm feeling really good today as I write this. Looks like that Oberlin XC race is going to be on May 9, so I think I'll jump into a 5K road race this weekend and look for some improvement on that 17:24 I ran at the end of March.

I'll sign off with a Sights video from their last full-length album The Sights, which came out in 2004. Time for a new album!


Training Update

Had a really good week of running post-Meteor 10K. Took three super easy days after the race and then on Wednesday did a mid-week long run, going two hours on the trails in Mastick Woods. Yesterday I ran a 6 mile progressive tempo and really nailed it, running 37:55 with splits of 6:54, 6:42, 6:28, 6:15, 5:59, 5:34. This is always a fun workout to do because the goal is to run each mile 10-15 seconds faster than the one before and then trying to hit the final mile at 5K effort. It teaches you to hold back early on and discipline yourself before the final drive to the finish. I call it the Kenyan run because workouts like this are a staple for many of that country's elites. Of course, they probably finish their runs at like 4:20-4:30 pace! I've been feeling really good over the past month and I think it's largely due to a slight tweak I made in my training program. I'm not doing anything different in my workouts but I have been spacing out my hard workouts so that I get two, sometimes three easy distance days in between. In the past I've been guilty of trying to cram everything into the traditional 7-day schedule, but now I've been working on a 10-day pattern where I try to do a long run, tempo workout and interval/hill workout or race, with all the filler days being easy aerobic runs. So far, so good ... I think!

Next up is a 5K cross country race in May. That will be a nice change of pace and Oberlin's XC course is really nice. I've decided that my Spring/early Summer goal is going to be to PR at the Diemer 5K in Grand Rapids on June 12, so I'm 99 percent certain that I won't be doing the USATF 10K six days before that. It's just too hard to focus on two races so close together.


Meteor 10K

Despite a much less than ideal warm up due to some unforeseen construction delays on the way to the race, I managed to run a really good 10K this weekend. My buddy Stephen, who I was staying with in Ann Arbor, was kind enough to drive me to the race and cheer me on and played superhero duty by dropping me off just in time so I could pick up my number and get in a few minutes of easy jogging before meeting him to hand off my sweats just before the race started. Knowing that I wasn't as warmed up as usual my plan was to be very conservative early on until I felt properly warmed up. I cruised the first mile in 6:00 doing the usual weave around all the people who went out to hard (it didn't help that the 5K and 10K started together). I picked it up slightly after that and rolled into the 2 mile mark at 11:54. Ideally I would have wanted to be more like 11:40 (as my pre-race goal was 36:00) but I didn't panic. I pushed it a little more the next 2 miles while holding back enough to blast the last 2 miles. That plan worked well as I hit the 4 mile mark in 23:38 before doing the last miles in 11:20. While I didn't quite hit 36:00, I ended up with 36:14, which I was extremely happy with.

While I was satisfied with my race performance, I wasn't satisfied at all by the race organization. When a major four lane road is under construction only a few miles from the race course, reducing traffic to one lane, shouldn't that be mentioned on the race website? Michigan Avenue was a zoo. Some of the people in the marathon and half-marathon ended up starting up to 15 minutes late (thank God for chip timing). Last year the 5K and 10K were on Saturday and the half-marathon and marathon were on Sunday. This year all 4 races were on the same day. There is not enough public parking in Dearborn to accommodate that and they certainly didn't rent more Porta Potties - a lot of guys were peeing in very public places!

Equally screwed up are the results. While the times are correct, currently there are a bunch of slower 5K finishers times mistakenly listed in the 10K results so while I think I know my age group result, the overall place is wrong. As of now, nationally ranked masters champions like Sam Torres (50-59 age group) and Doug Goodhue (60-69 age group) are listed as not winning their age groups on Saturday. I checked the names of some of the people ahead of them (the race website lists what races individuals registered for) and they were all 5K runners whose times got mixed into the 10K results! They did this last year too and it took a while for the results to get sorted out. Hopefully everything gets smoothed out.

A good idea might be to start the 5K at a different time and have it finish in a different location so that the overall results don't get so jumbled. Speaking of that the finish was kind of a zoo as the faster 10K runners had to weave around slow walkers. This isn't meant to be an elitist rant. I don't have any problem with anyone doing a race, but make it easy for everyone by not having finishers of one race get mixed in with people in another race. I felt like the race organizers were being greedy by trying to cram too many runners in too many races in an area that couldn't hold that many runners. At $31 for the 10K and much more for the marathon and half-marathon, I felt the runners deserved better.

On a positive closing note, the 10K course is awesome. It's scenic, virtually flat, and USATF certified. That's why I made the trip to do it. If the race organizers plan to do the four races in one day approach next year, I'll definitely give it a pass.


The Legends - Over and Over

Four albums into their career and The Legends have somehow topped their excellent debut Up Against The Legends with Over and Over. While borrowing somewhat liberally from The Jesus and Mary Chain's patented Psychocandy-era noise pop formula, these Swedes (actually as far as the recordings go, mainly the work of one man, Johan Angergard) create sunshine pop with substance. Songs like "Seconds Away" and "Always The Same" (see video above) will stay in your head for weeks. Anyone who digs The Raveonettes should investigate immediately.


Training Update

Everything has been going really well since my 5K race last Saturday. After three easy days post-race, I did a really good tempo/faster pace combo workout that I borrowed from local speedster Tim Budic. The idea is to get in a tempo at about 30 seconds give or take slower than current 5K race fitness, then jog an easy mile before doing a hard mile. I decided to do this on the track at Rocky River High School so I could carefully monitor my pace (i.e. make sure I wasn't going too fast for the tempo portion). I did 5 miles on the track in 30:36 feeling really smooth. My splits were 6:13, 6:07, 6:07, 6:06 and 6:03. Pretty much exactly 30 seconds per mile slower than my 5K race four days prior. After taking an easy mile jog (within 2 laps I was feeling pretty good again) I threw off my t-shirt (hey it was like 60F!) and hit the mile perfect going 85, 85, 84, 83 for a 5:37. This workout has me feeling really good about the Meteor 10K in Dearborn on April 10. With the hay pretty much in the barn after that workout, I did an easy 1:45 trail run (maybe 13.5 miles?) on Saturday and Tuesday I plan on doing a tempo workout that Pete Magill had me do last year, which I really liked. 6-8 sets of 800 @ tempo, 200 jog, 200 hard, 400 jog. The tempos will be really easy and the 200s will provide some turnover without overdoing it.


Moose - XYZ reissue

Moose didn't receive quite the buzz that other Brit shoegazers of the early 90's did, but they certainly deserved to. Their early singles compiled on the US release Sonny and Sam and their debut album proper XYZ contained some of the traits of the then hip dreampop scene, but their sound was more timeless than their contemporaries, as they incorporated elements of 60's country (beating Mojave 3 to the game by about four years) and 70's AM pop. Moose's main duo of Kevin McKillop and Russell Yates were definitely schooled in the art of classic songwriting. This deluxe reissue on Cherry Red Records is a must purchase since it contains the original album as well as the seven songs from Sonny and Sam. If you've never listened to Moose before I'd recommend starting with those tracks so you can get an idea of how they progressed on XYZ. Seems like a lot of the old videos have been pulled from YouTube, but hopefully the link above stays up for awhile!


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