10 albums I liked in 2011 (part 2)

White Noise Sound "Blood" from White Noise Sound (Alive/Total Energy). Welsh noise merchants with a love for all things Stooges and Spacemen 3.

The Lost Rivers "See Me Alive" from My Beatific Vision (Northern Star). German noise merchants with a similar vision to the above.

Kids On A Crime Spree "Sweet Tooth" from Love You So Bad (Slumberland). 60s Who meets Psychocandy. Perfect pop.

Singapore Sling "Never Forever" from Never Forever (Outlier). Icelandic golden gods.

Ringo Deathstarr "Two Girls" from Colour Trip (Sonic Unyon). Probably my favorite album of the year. Youngsters who totally get it. The kids are alright.


2012 Running Goals

I have three main goals for 2012: get under 17:00 in the 5K, 36:00 in the 10K, and have a really strong race at Club Nationals Cross Country (I've never cracked the top 100 there so that would be nice). I think those are manageable as long as I continue to train smart and stay injury-free. I feel like I turned a corner this fall and have come to peace with what I can and can't handle as a masters runner now closer to 50 than 40. The heart rate monitor I recently purchased is really helping keep me in check too.

I've started to map out a few races that I'd like to do. Some of them I've done in the past like the Meteor 10K in Michigan (fast certified course) and I'll no doubt run the Bay Days 5 miler on July 4. This year I would like to do the USATF masters 8K in Williamsburg, Virigina in May and Bella and I are planning to visit New Orleans in late February/early March so maybe I'll take advantage of the weather and jump in a race there. Trainingwise I'm approaching this winter a bit differently. I'm not following a strict schedule until March. Right now I want to run 5 days a week with at least 3 of them in the 8-12 range and do an occasional tempo when the weather is decent.


10 albums I liked in 2011 (part 1)

I'm too old and tired to bother with detailed best-of lists anymore but below are videos from ten records/downloads I enjoyed this year. Not ranked, just posted off the top of my head. Enjoy. I'll post 5 videos today and 5 more tomorrow.

The Spectrals "Get A Grip" from Bad Penny (Slumberland Records). Nice indie pop reminiscent of Prefab Sprout in their heyday.

Wooden Shjips "Lazy Bones" from West (Thrill Jockey). Killer stoner rock grooves from SF psych rock veterans.

Moon Duo "Seer" from Mazes (Sacred Bones). Speaking of Wooden Shjiips, I like this side project record even more than West. VERY Spacemen 3, Stooges etc.

Beady Eye "The Roller" from Different Gear, Still Speeding (Dangerbird). Liam's post-Oasis venture. The best songs on here are epics like the below, which hold their own with his old band's classics.

Comet Gain "Clang of the Concrete Swans" from Howl of the Lonely Crowd ( What's Your Rupture?). That said, the best band from Britain bar none these days is Comet Gain.


Double Tens

It's been awhile since I've posted a training update but nothing too eventful is going on. Just getting in some base mileage and enjoying the new heart rate monitor. Had a really good weekend of running, doing the same hilly out and back ten miler yesterday and today. Both runs were comfortably in the lower end of my 60-70 aerobic zone, averaging around 7:20 pace for each effort. Good sign that I can run a good steady Lydiard-like 'best aerobic' effort for longer runs keeping my average comfortably under 130bpm. I've noticed that I recover very fast on a diet of steady mileage -- haven't done anything fast since club nationals other than those hill repeats to figure out my heart rate max. My plan this winter is to keep up the longish runs with the occasional tempo or winter race as my 'speed work'. Speaking of, I signed up for a New Year's race in Stow, Ohio (not quite eve as it begins at 4pm), which will be a nice ending for 2011/beginning for 2012. Looking forward to a better 2012 as far as racing goes.


Crocodiles & Dum Dum Girls - Merry Christmas Baby Please Don't Die

As far as Christmas songs go, this rules!


Working The Heart

So this weekend I bought my first heart rate monitor, the Timex Zone Trainer. Amazing how cheap these are now! The model I got is pretty basic, just like I wanted. I don't have the desire to download extensive charts onto my computer, I just want to know that I'm training in the right zone for the right day. With this model, all you need to do is plug in your maximum heart rate and the watch will set up 5 training zones for you, based on percentage of maximum heart rate. The ones that I am most concerned about are Zone 2 which is 60-70% of max (this is where you should do the bulk of your mileage) and Zone 4 (80-90% for tempo runs -- closer to 90% for the standard 20:00 tempo). The watch also comes with a stopwatch that can get up to 27 splits, more than enough for the workouts I do.

Today I did a session of hill repeats in order to pinpoint my max HR. There are a couple of standard formulas (220 - your age and 208 - .7 x age). According to those my maximum heart rate would either be 173 or 175. During my hill repeats today my max was 173, which is a little unusual to be so close to formulas. Some people can be off by as much as 10bpm. Obviously I'll adjust if in a future workout or race I top 173 but right now I have a very good idea of what to aim for in my workouts.

As this is my first update since my Seattle report, I had a godo week of training post race. Just over 40 easy miles in 5 workouts. This week I'm off to a good start with an easy 5 on Sunday to test the monitor and a tough hill workout to establish my current max.


Seattle Report

Got back from Seattle on Monday night. I had a great trip, weather was perfect and I raced about as well as I could have, so mission accomplished. I arrived last Thursday and my host, Coulter, who I've known from music circles since the '90s picked me up. Like me, he's a rock 'n' roll runner (in his case a musician and DJ). You can check out his website @ coulterclub.com. He hadn't run yet and my legs were pretty stiff from two flights, so we drove out to the Arboretum near Washington University for an easy 5 mile trail run. Really nice and scenic there and definitely a lot more hills than a typical west side of Cleveland run. Here you have to drive out of your way to find them, while in Seattle they're everywhere.

After the run we went to a Mexican restaurant called Mama's Mexican Kitchen. It had an Elvis theme going on, which was very cool. The food was amazing too. I had a huge veggie burrito and a couple of Negra Modelos to wash it down. Next up was band practice with the Little Penguins, an outfit that Coulter plays guitar for when he's not doing his solo work. The band has a post-punk sound that brings to mind Joy Division bass lines combined with The Church-like atmospherics. Definitely up my alley. They rehearse in a somewhat legendary building where almost all of the famous Seattle musicians from the grunge-era and otherwise have hung out and practiced. Built to Spill actually had borrowed the Little Penguins spot for a few days when they were in town.

With rehearsal completed, Coulter and I set off to hit a few pubs and do some responsible carbo loading, nothing too much to mess up our races. We hit The Bus Stop, where Coulter does a bi-monthly Britpop DJ night called The Council. Very awesome low key joint with cool music. I remember hearing the Black Angels and 13th Floor Elevators while we were there. Post Bus Stop we hit a restaurant/bar that had a psychedelic night going on. The microbrews we got were good but the mood was a little subdued with lots of background type music and Lancelot Link visuals on the screen.

The next place we went to, whose name also escapes me, was livelier with a DJ playing a random, sometimes ironic set, and lots of youthful hipsters in the crowd. I had a bourbon and coke there served in a small mason jar! There were psychedelic visuals on the screen and 3D glasses were available. I took this picture of myself there and emailed it to my wife who was probably pretty bewildered. After having enough of the younger crowd, we walked back to Coulter's place and crashed. One of the biggest observations from my first night in Seattle was that it's so easy to walk around there. Reminds me of Cambridge/Boston in that aspect. I'm so used to driving everywhere now, this was a nice change of pace. When Bella and I leave Cleveland in the nearish future, I'd definitely like to live somewhere more walking friendly.

Friday was much more low key. We slept in and then went over to Jefferson Park for a light run on the Club Nationals course, including a few striders in spikes. The course was a 2K loop that was to be repeated 5 times. Pretty flat on low cut gold course grass with a few dirt segments here and there. The footing was pretty good on Friday but a bit worse on Saturday for our race (more on that later). As a side note, we stopped by an excellent local running store before our run called Fleet Feet Sports, which sponsors Coulter's team Club Northwest. After running we hooked up with my old friend Erik from high school who now lives with his family in Seattle. It was really awesome catching up at a nice coffee shop (no shortage of coffee houses and brew pubs in Seattle). Speaking of after having a big gluten-free pasta dinner at Coulter's house and watching Fire on The Track, we had two quick pints at a local brewery called Elysium. I opted for their stout, which was first rate.

Saturday morning was race day, which meant lots of coffee while watching the live webcasts of the girls and boys footlocker races (both featured exciting finishes) before heading over to Jefferson. The weather was overcast but not too cold -- only about 40F. The course was a little soggy and worn from two community races and the womens masters race before us, but not too bad at all. I figured that a 38:00 give or take on this course would be worth a high 36 on the roads, which is the shape I'm in based on my recent 5Ks. Like last year I would have preferred to be in sub 17/36 shape like I was in 2009, but running is a sport where you can only do as well as where you're at. Our race had a very packed start with 400 runners jostling for position on a long straightaway. Much less of a bottleneck than last year though and I was able to work my way into a good lane to pass people who started out too fast. The course had clocks at all the kilometer marks, which was helpful in letting you adjust pace if you went out too fast. I tried to keep my effort smooth and controlled for as long as possible because cross country races catch up to you way faster than road races due to the terrain. I hit the 1K mark in 3:45 (37:30) pace which was dead on perfect. In cross country you typically positive split but after this I knew I would run pretty even. The first 3K was pretty uneventful. Felt smooth and was continuing to pass people as I hit 3K in 11:20 and 5K in 19:00 on the nose. Very even running still but I did notice that even though my effort was good the legs were feeling it more than they would in a road 5K. The last few miles were agony. One guy running with me dropped out, another guy yelled an expletive at the 6K mark when an announcer said we had two more 2K laps to go! I was hurting like hell on the last two laps but I gutted my way to 8K in 30:28 and 38:10 at the finish, feeling as if I ran as hard as I could. As a cool side note, I pretty much raced the whole way with Portland University's XC coach Rob Conner, who is my age. In addition to being one of the best distance coaches in America, he also has one of the largest collection of Slayer and Metallica memorabilia in the world! I wish I could have caught up to him after the race. Oh well.

Post-race Coulter and I went to a nice pub and loaded up on a ridiculous amount of carbs and a few pints before heading over to the hotel for the post-race party. Well, actually we hit the hotel bar first for a few more. The Renaissance is a really nice hotel -- Morrissey stayed there when he played Seattle. The after party ended up being a little lame. Too many people wearing their club warm up jackets. Come on people this isn't high school where you need to wear a letter jacket to impress people. And really was anyone impressed with cross country and track letter jackets in high school? I doubt anyone was with mine.  A highlight of the evening after leaving the party was hitting a bar that had a group of people all wearing wolf t-shirts as part of a theme party. They were a fun bunch so we stayed there until we staggered home.

Sunday was a nice recovery day in all aspects. After a ton of coffee we hit a few record stores -- Easy Street Records is amazing -- before digging into some amazing Chinese food. Post-food coma we did an easy 5 miler in the Arboretum, which went pretty well considering how sore I was from the race. In the evening it was microbrews, pizza and a selection of videos including a New York Dolls documentary and the Ian Curtis/Joy Division biopic Control. And that pretty sums up a very fun and unforgettable Seattle venture!


Seattle Bound

Heading out to Seattle tomorrow morning for Club Nationals. Don't know if I'll update this blog while I'm out there but results from the races will be posted on Saturday. My race is at 11:00am PT.

I've realized that I haven't posted much music stuff lately so here's an ace tune from Seattle's Black Nite Crash!


Easy 8

Ran a nice and relaxed 8 miles or so in the metro park yesterday on an out and back, starting at the small parking lot at Mastick (start area of the 5K XC race they have there) and going in the direction towards Berea. Normally I run the horse trails at Mastick but it was pretty muddy from recent rain and the last thing I wanted to do was twist and ankle or something this week. Overdressed a bit because of the light rain but I wasn't too uncomfortable. As I type this I feel pretty recovered from the weekend race and will probably run about an hour tomorrow and then when I get to Seattle do some light jogging, strides etc. on the course.


Reindeer Run 5K

Had a really solid 5K race this morning in my last tune up before Club Nationals in Seattle, running 17:38 (5:41 pace). I was especially happy given the conditions -- 35F and windy. I was definitely feeling it in my lungs near the end! One weird thing about the race was my chip time was EXACTLY the same as my gun time even though I wasn't at the very front. A friend I started next too had a 1.5 second differential. Not sure if it was a chip malfunction or something but no worries (just curious about the technical aspects).

I've been doing the 4 days a week with 1 stress workout (or race) program for 6 or 7 weeks now and even on half the mileage I was doing at my peak masters training a few years ago (back then I was doing 2-3 stress workouts a week too), I am running close to my best if you factor in age grading. Right now I feel like I'm getting better and better, so I have high hopes for 2012. One thing I am noticing from the longer easy days is my improved strength. Combining twice a week long runs with a stress workout and one easy day seems to be the ticket. That said, I was a bit tired this week from running two 11-milers but I wanted to train through this week and then back down for Seattle. Next week I won't run anything longer than one hour. Excited for the trip. I'll be staying with my pal Coulter, who runs for Club Northwest. We knew each other from going to concerts (like Gene and Suede) back when we were in the Boston area. Weirdly, we didn't know that either of us was 'once' a runner and would later become reborn as masters runners!


Double Elevens

This week has kind of flown by but just to update the training, I've had a couple of solid long runs in the metro park this week, 11 on Monday and another 11 today. Weather is definitely starting to get cold and windy, but it shouldn't be too bad for the 5K on Saturday. Probably around 40F at guntime. The race will be my last hard effort before club nationals so it feels a little weird to see a season wind down when I feel like it only just started with all my ups and downs this year. Right now I'm thinking I'll train for a few weeks post-nationals and race on New Year's before taking down time in January. My usual pattern had been to take a break in December post-XC and then get a bit too overzealous in January and February when the weather was at it's worst.


Elephant Stone Update

It's been over five years since we've released something on Elephant Stone, but we have a reissue planned for early next year. The Lucid Dream -- not to be confused with the current UK band of the same name -- were a psych/rock band from Gloucester, England who garnered a buzz touring with Echo and The Bunnymen (their 12" "Dippy" EP was recorded by Bunnymen guitar legend Will Sergeant and keyboard player Jake Brockman and released on their Euphoric Records imprint). Sadly, like many buzzed about bands, fame wasn't in the cards for The Lucid Dream. As a new blog devoted to the band points out, "by 1992 it had all gone to pot after a series of set-backs and not long after the bands last gig in London at The Robey they decided to call it a day in June 1992. Luckily the band recorded a whole host of eight track demos (including some released on cassette only label Acid Tapes) and these along with the 'Dippy' EP make up the new release 'Object Of Reality'. The Lucid Dream were Dave Battersby (vocals), Ant Walker (Guitar), Craig 'Spadge' Sparey (Keyboards) Andrew 'Smurf' Mirfin (Drums) and Andrew Watkins (Bass). Later on in the bands career John Page played live on rhythm guitar."

Battersby and Walker would go on to play in the fantastic Reverb, whose entire studio out put was compiled on the Elephant Stone release Swirl and later the two would form the highly-acclaimed instrumental group The Land of Nod (Elephant Stone released a U.S. compilation entitled Reality Channel).

I'll keep you posted here, and on the recently tweaked Elephant Stone website. Fans of groups such as Echo and The Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes and early Inspiral Carpets will not want to miss this! Object of Reality will be pressed in a limited edition of 200 CDs with an 8-page booklet featured many photos and extensive liner notes.


Mile cutdowns

It's been a few days since I've updated but things are going well. Had a really strong workout on Saturday at Lakewood Park doing 5 x mile cutdowns. This is an old school workout that Oregon used to do a lot back in the days of Alberto Salazar (see image on left) and even recently by the likes of Oklahoma State. You start out at a really comfortable pace (slightly slower than tempo works for me) and you try to drop 10 seconds per mile give or take. For recoveries I jog a 1/4 mile (so just a tad more than 2:00). After an easy two mile warm up I ran my miles in 6:22, 6:15, 6:06, 5:56, and 5:45. Everything felt really controlled, which is a good sign coming into club nationals. This is a good workout to do if you are prone to going out too fast in races. It really teaches patience, which is what I'll need in a 10K cross country race in two weeks. Next up is a low key 5K on Saturday and then it's time to ease back for Seattle.


More miles in the park

11 miles at the metro park before work. Good run. Enjoying this weather. Hope it stays decent at least until I fly to Seattle for Club Nationals on December 8. Looking forward to a good strength workout this weekend and then it's time to make sure I'm sharp and fit for nationals. This year my prep has been a little different as I usually do a Thanksgiving race as my last race before nationals. This year I feel like a good 5K a week before will suit me better as I'm doing less intervals now so it will be a nice V02 blast at the right time.


Good start to the week

Ran 11 miles in the park before work and felt great. Maybe it was the extra coffee as I got up early for a doctor's appointment and didn't run until noon so I had time for a second cup post-doc. That's the one thing I love about working second shift, you can get so much done before going in to the office. The downside is adjusting your body clock to early morning weekend races when you're used to working out mid to late morning. Again, coffee seems to do the trick. Anyway, the weather was perfect for my workout and though the legs were still a bit beat from Saturday's tempo, the run felt pretty easy just like it was supposed to. 85-90 minute runs are feeling like second nature now and I feel like I have more in the tank in my hard workouts as a result of that.


XC Tempo

Dusted off the XC spikes and ran a 20 minute tempo on the grass perimeter alongside the Lakewood Park paved mile loop. Workout went really well with me going 6:25, 6:19 (12:44), 6:12 (18:56) enroute to the full 20 minutes. The effort felt about the same as when I ran 6:10 pace a few weeks ago for my road tempo though the legs definitely got worked more due to the uneven grass surface. Some spots where a little mushy and others rock hard. Felt good though and I feel strong. Normally my differential from track/roads to grass is more like 15-20 seconds per mile so keeping it just under 10 seconds today has me feeling good about club nationals. I've been training 5 weeks on the one hard workout a week system now and it definitely seems to be clicking with me. The longer runs in the week are getting me stronger and the days off in between are allowing me to really recover. If you're in a rut, read the Rich Stiller article I linked a while back. Next week I think I'll do my 6-5-4-3-2-1 fartlek on grass in spikes again. That workout always works really well for me but I've never done it off road.


Another 11

Hit the metro park this morning and did my now-standard second 11-miler of the week. It was upper 30's when I started so I brought out a hat for the first time this fall and opted for track pants and a long sleeve. Still not cold enough for the windbreaker yet! Pretty windy so I kept it nice and easy and didn't push at all. I ended up about two minutes slower than Tuesday's run, but it felt right for the day. The current schedule I'm on is all about getting in the easy miles with a key stress workout or race on the weekend, so now easy run heroics! I'm tentatively planning on a 20 minute tempo in spikes on the grass perimeter loop at Lakewood Park Saturday. This will get me into an XC frame of mind without trashing me. I'm learning that I don't need to kill myself in workouts to stay fit. Right now I'm think of racing one more time before Club Nationals, most likely a 5K on the fast Lakewood Park neighborhood course on Dec. 4. It will be a good reference point for me too as I ran 17:32 there at the beginning of October.


A couple of good runs at the reservation

Rocky River Reservation is my favorite place to run in Cleveland and it will be one place I really miss when Bella and I decide to leave the rust belt for warmer climes. I've had a couple of good runs there this week. An easy six miler on Monday, still feeling a bit beat up from my race and a really solid 11 miler today with 6 x 20 second striders thrown in for good measure in the last mile. I'll take tomorrow off and do 10 or 11 on Thursday and a tempo workout on Saturday. Friday I have an appointment for a much needed sports massage.


Twinsburg Turkey Trot Race Report

Ran pretty well this morning on a very tough 5 mile road/trail course finishing 7th overall (2nd master) in 30:25 (6:05 pace). You can click on the image to your left to check out the course map and elevation profile. The first 2 miles are especially tough. Fortunately, I did not go out too hard and I reeled in a lot of people on the huge climb during mile two as well as a few more on the rolling miles 2-4. pretty happy with my continued progress this fall. The last 3 weeks I've started to feel like my old self and hopefully that will continue for the rest of the year. Not sure what will be my next race, but I'd like to do a shorter tune up before Seattle, preferably on a flat course! Today was a good cross country gut check. Next week I'll run short and easy on Monday, longer on Tuesday and Thursday and most likely do a tempo workout on Saturday. I have a sports massage lined up for Friday morning, so I should feel good for the tempo.


Manic Street Preachers - National Treasures: The Complete Singles

I've never been a massive fan of Manic Street Preachers but I've loved a good number of their singles and their epic mid-Nineties albums Everything Must Go and This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours. While the Welsh group is probably most famous for the disappearance, presumed suicide of guitarist Richey Edwards who was last seen on February 1, 1995, this two-CD collection vividly shows that the band deserves props for their storied career more than anything else. The early material comes across as classic punk rock meets Gun 'n' Roses, especially on the debut full length Generation Terrorists, but the two follow ups before Edwards' disappearance showed a darker, more melancholic side. The aforementioned post-Edwards material found the band at full stride on beautiful orchestrated masterpieces, such as "A Design For Life." I had lost track of the band c. Y2K, but the newer stuff holds its own, including a riveting cover of The The's "This Is The Day."


Another 11

Did my standard Wednesday 11 miler at Rocky River metro park and everything went smooth other than getting hit with more rain than I would have liked. I thought about running 47 laps on the track (11.75 miles) as a weird birthday stunt (one lap for each year!), but I wasn't planning on running as much as I did today. In retrospect, maybe I should have. There's always next year. Anyway, the park was nice and peaceful and my second shift schedule is ideal for long weekday runs, so I rolled with it. Now it's time to make sure I'm rested up for Saturday's race. I'm hoping to be able to make it to Oberlin post-race to catch the D3 College XC districts. An old high school buddy coaches Kalamazoo College's team.

I'll post a few music things soon. Listened to the new Noel Gallagher solo album before my workout and it's pretty good. Maybe a tad on the bombastic side production-wise but some of the tunes are really good. There's a new Manic Street Preachers compilation available on spotify.com too. I have been an on/off fan of the Welsh rockers over the years but their best stuff is excellent, especially a few of their mid-Nineties albums.


11 miles on the horse trails

Drove out to Mastick Woods this morning and ran 90 minutes (45:00 out, 44:40 back) on the bridle paths. I'll call it 11 -- close enough. Felt surprisingly good for two days after a hard interval session. I think the dirt trails helped. Need to get in a few more of these trail runs before club nationals. Feeling really good and enjoying the fact that my running definitely seems to be on an upswing. Weather was really nice. Right around 60F. Won't be like this for long.


Mile repeats

Mile repeats are a staple of competitive runners in races ranging from the 5K all the way up to the marathon. I've found that it's one workout where you can't fake your fitness. It's not that hard to run faster than race pace with ample recovery when you're doing 400s on the track, but when you crank the distance up to one mile with minimal recovery, you're in a whole new world. Today I drove to Lakewood Park to do 4 x mile on the marked bike path with 440 recovery jogs (I allowed myself 3:00 between reps) and I had my best workout of the fall. After an easy 3 mile warm up I ran the first one in 5:55 (trying to be pretty conservative) and it felt super easy. After that I got into a perfect groove and hit the next three in 5:46, 5:46, 5:45. The effort was @ 8K race pace give or take (I wasn't redlining like I would in a 5K race but it was definitely more aggressive than a threshold run). The last two weeks have really rejuvenated me. I wasn't 100% happy with my Youngstown race but I felt like I've turned a corner since then. My stomach issues have completely vanished -- I think it's a combination of finally finding the proper intensity/recovery ratio in my training and improved diet (gluten-free plus probiotics). Next up is the Twinsburg Turkey Trot 5 miler a week from today. Later this week I'll post the PDF of the course map, which includes an elevation chart. Basically a huge climb in the first two miles followed by some rollercoaster rolling hills the rest of the way!


The Lost Rivers - My Beatific Vision

The Lost Rivers may hail from Germany but this is no cheesy Euro techno trip. Their debut seven-song EP My Beatific Vision (Northern Star Records), is a no-holds-barred noise rock masterpiece. The ten-minute opener "Death of Eve" (see above) is a statement in itself with its mesmerizing wall of sound that touches on bands such as The Stooges, Jesus and Mary Chain, The Telescopes, and A Place To Bury Strangers. The Lost Rivers are already at work on a full-length album. Can't wait to hear more. 

The Lost Rivers – My Beatific Vision


5 miles easy in the park

Nice easy run at Lakewood Park today just to get the kinks out before tomorrow's mile repeat session. Felt really good. First 4 miles were easy recovery pace before throwing 4 x 40 seconds with 1:20 off in the last mile for a little turnover. Felt really good and the weather was perfect. Could do with a little less wind, but I guess that's what you get for running in a park just off of Lake Erie.


Excellent masters training article

Masters runner Rich Stiller recently published an excellent article on how he came back from the dead in his mid-forties and managed to run some very impressive races on half the mileage he had been previously training at. Entitled "How Jeff Galloway and a Heart Rate Monitor Saved a Runner," this piece pretty much sums up what I have been going through this year first with constant quad issues in the Winter/Spring and until recently, various stomach ailments. If your running is in a rut, I highly recommended this article!


11 miles nice 'n' easy

Had a really nice run in the metro park this morning before work. Ran on my usual out and back segment along the river and through the woods and felt a lot better than I did on Monday. I feel fully recovered from Saturday's tempo as evidenced by the quicker pace (not too much quicker though -- just north of 7:50ish -- trying hard to keep the easy days easy). My next hard workout will be on Saturday, most likely 4 x mile with 400 meter jogs for recovery. I'll do this on the marked path in Lakewood Park. Depending on how I feel, I may spike up and run them on the grass perimeter.


The Kids Are Alright!

Saw a great double bill at the Happy Dog in Cleveland last night. First up was The Modulated Tones, who I wrote about a few days ago. The Pennsylvania duo easily lived up to my expectations, knocking out a scintilating set of Spacemen 3 meets The Jesus and Mary Chain fuzz rock featuring some otherworldly effects pedal wizardry. Next up was The Vacant Lots from Burlington, Vermont (see link  above). Also a duo, the group was a bit more psych rock than The Modulated Tones, at times very Spacemen 3 meets Brian Jonestown Massacre. I like it that young bands are still flying the psych rock flag. Makes me want to get out more than I have lately.


10 miles @ 70%

Usually I only wear a watch to make sure I'm going fast enough on interval workouts or tempo runs, but I'm trying to keep my non-stress days at 70% of my current 5K fitness so I took out the watch today to make sure I wasn't going fast. 70% of 5:38 (the pace of my 5K race last month) equates to just a touch slower than 8:00 miles. Today I hit 8:05 pace give or take on my standard metro park out and back 10 miler. I was a little sore from Saturday's tempo but felt good and relaxed. Overdressed a bit by opting for tights in upper 40s temps but the compression felt good on my calves and quads so no complaints.


Tempo Time

Had a really great workout this afternoon at Lakewood Park. This was probably the most perfect day for running all fall. 50 degrees, sunny, and not too much wind coming off the lake. After an easy 3 mile warm up with some light strides I ran a 20-minute tempo on the park's marked mile loop hitting some precision clockwork splits. My 3 mile time was 18:30 (splits: 6:14, 6:10, 6:06) and I continued at the same pace for the extra 90 seconds to hit the full 20 minutes. Famed coach Jack Daniels advocates doing 20 minute tempos at 90% of current 5K fitness and I pretty much nailed that on the spot. I raced at 5:38 pace in less than ideal conditions last month, which meant my target range was right in the 6:10-6:15 range.After a lazy 2 mile cool down I headed home for some much needed coffee, possibly the world's best recovery drink.

This has been my best week in about two months as far as health issues go. I've had zero stomach issues and haven't taken any meds. Hope this continues. My next race will be the Twinsburg Turkey Trot on November 12, which is a challenging 5 mile road/trail race. Two years ago I ran 29:34 when I was in 17:00/36:00 shape so it will be a good benchmark for me to see where I'm at.


The Modulated Tones

If you're in Cleveland on Sunday night you might want to check out The Modulated Tones at Happy Dog. The young Pennsylvania duo, consisting of Kevin Berlin and Gina Kanter, take a page out of the Jesus and Mary Chain (see photo homage above!) and Spacemen 3 playbook and run with it. They're also savvy enough in their tastes to cover The Velvet Underground. Their minimalist fuzz-heavy psychedelic sound, complete with Bo Diddley style beats is a compelling enough reason to get this jaded scribe off his butt on a Sunday night, so you have no excuses! Check them out below:


11 miles in the rain

Fall is definitely here in the Forest City. Today I ran 11 miles on a hilly out and back segment at the Rocky River metro park in 45-degree temps with drizzling rain throughout. Cold October rain? In any case, I felt pretty good. I averaged 7:48 pace going 7:55s out and 7:40ish back -- right where I usually am for easy/recovery efforts. My quads and calves are still a little stiff from the race, but I should be 100% by the weekend. Didn't see any other runners or cyclists out and about today, but I quite enjoyed the loneliness of the long distance runner feeling. Not really looking forward to another winter here, but I'll enjoy the last few months of fall before it kicks in.


Lazy 5 mile recovery run

My calves finally felt okay enough to shuffle so I headed out to Lakewood Park for a very easy recovery run, my first workout since Sunday's race. It took a while to get going (my first mile was like 9:15!!), but by the end of the run I was at my usual 7:45/8:00 easy day pace and feeling good (calves were only mildly tender). Tomorrow I head to the metro park and should probably be good for 8-10 easy miles. Depending on how that goes, I'll do a tempo workout on Saturday. With my current work schedule my 4-day rotation works best going Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday. I think my health issues are on the mend -- knock on wood. I've been taking a pricey probiotic for the past few days and that seems to have helped immensely. I've also started taking Vitamin D every day, which is supposed to be good for inflamation.


Pale Saints - "Sight of You"

As far as debuts go, The Pale Saints' "Sight of You" from their 1989 EP Barging Into The Presence of God is one of the best. This song has everything a shoegaze fan could want: a slow build up leading to a sea of crashing guitars, melodic vocals, and the band was just really cool. The group was sort of a cross between the Stone Roses and Ride, but a bit weirder as evidenced by some of the B-sides, which can be found on the excellent Japanese compilation Mrs. Dolphin. The band's best release is their 1990 full-length The Comforts Of Madness, which contains "Sight of You" and ten more stone classics. The follow up from 1992, In Ribbons, is also excellent, but soon after vocalist Ian Masters left the group and the band released the sub par Slow Buildings in 1994 before calling it quits.

Pale Saints – The Comforts Of Madness



"Listen to your body" is an oft-heard phrase that is rarely heeded in running circles. We get so obsessed with our training logs and mileage targets that we're afraid to recover. So here I am two days after a hilly 10K and my calves are shot. I was limping around the office yesterday and still gimpy today so I'm just going to wait until I feel like I can run again. If you're too sore to walk much, why run? Lesson learned from ignoring my quad injury this Spring.

Pete Magill just published an excellent article about post-race recovery for masters runners in the new issue of Running Times. You can find it online here.  As Pete puts it:

Most masters runners treat training as if it were a bank account.

We believe the more distance, tempo and interval work we can deposit into our training logs, the more we can withdraw come race day.

Only one problem: Our bodies aren't S&Ls. They're complex organisms. We don't "bank" workouts; instead, we use them to stimulate physiological adaptations that lead to better running performance. And these adaptations can occur only with proper recovery.

Read the article. I feel like I quote Pete all the time on this blog but he really knows his stuff!

This brings me to a final point, however. Simply put there do not seem to be that many good resources for competitive masters runners. I love the profiles of elite masters runners in Running Times, but those guys and gals are the rare exceptions, world class performers who typically age grade in the 90-95 (or higher!) range. On the other extreme magazines like Runners World are geared to fun runners who just want to be 'fit.' Nothing wrong with that, but it would be nice to see more articles geared to the more 'mortal' competitive masters runner.


Youngstown Peace Race 10K

Yesterday I ran the Youngstown Peace Race for the first time since living in Ohio. I loved the course and really wish I was in better shape to take advantage of the perfect weather conditions. I really can't complain though. I ran 37:49 (6:05 pace) on the point-to-point course which ran through a beautiful metro park system before veering into downtown Youngstown for the last mile. Over the last few months I've had so many stomach issues that I was just happy to make it through the race feeling good (well, not good because 10Ks never feel good, but you know what I mean). I'm hoping I'm out of the woods now. I felt really good on race morning and as a precaution took an imodium an hour before the race and thankfully I had no issues. Age grade wise this performance is not as good as my recent 5K, which is not surprising since my training volume has been down from normal due to aforementioned health issues. Next up is the Twinsburg Turkey Trot 5 miler in three weeks. I did this two years ago and loved the course, which combines paved and woodchip trails. Very hilly early on but some nice quad busting downhills in the second half. A good cross country simulation. Workout wise I'll incorporate some longer long runs and some more tempo work into my program now that I'm feeling a bit better.


4 miles followed by 8 x 200

Today was an easy maintenance workout at Rocky River HS before Sunday's race. Did an easy 4 mile warm up on the track -- boring I know but the new surface feels really good -- followed by 8 x 200 with 200 jogs. I did the reps cut down style, starting at 5K effort and gradually working my way down. Splits were 43, 42, 41, 40, 40, 39, 39, 38. Felt good and the reps felt easy. My body's feeling good on every other day training at the moment and I don't feel like I'm losing any fitness. Once my stomach is back to 100% I may make some adjustments but weirdly enough with less volume and more intensity in my training right now, I'm feeling more athletic. I've also been doing push ups 3 days a week on the hundredpushups.com program. I finished Week 3 today and managed to get in 88 in 5 sets with 2:00 rest breaks between sets. Not too bad for a scrawny distance runner!


10 miles easy in the pouring rain

Did 10 miles yesterday in the metro park in total crap weather. Pouring rain, cold and the paths were kind of flooded in spots.  Pretty much what I might expect to encounter at Club Nationals in Seattle in December! The pacing was similar to the run I did on Monday -- 8:00 pace out, a bit faster coming back. My body is just not agreeing with the meds I was on so I'm stopping them. Asacol is something you can stop cold turkey unlike Prednisone which requires tapering. The only thing that seems to work for settling my stomach right now is an Imodium now and then. I'll see what the specialist says in November. Feeling really good right now after being off the meds for a day, so hopefully I'll have a solid workout tomorrow before resting up for Sunday's 10K.


The Field Mice

Though a huge cult favorite in the UK and amongst US indie kids during their late Eighties/ early Nineties existence, The Field Mice were way underrated. Because they were on Sarah Records they were dismissed as another 'twee' band by the UK press despite singles  like "Sensitive," which sizzled with shimmering feedback as well as the likes of the House of Love and some of the other shoegazer bands of the time. Tracks like the hypnotic "It Isn't Forever," explored more experimental terrain, not unlike New Order, while introspective material such as "End Of The Affair" cut straight through the heart. Pretty Much everything you'd ever want by The Field Mice can be found on their excellent 1998 retrospective Where'd You Learn To Kiss That Way? (Spotify link to the full album below)

The Field Mice – Where'd You Learn To Kiss That Way?


Suck - War Pigs (1970)

The Sixties garage rock scene has been mined to death but it seems like there are a few Seventies sludge rock nuggets to be discovered in the rubble, like these cats from South Africa who were covering the likes of Black Sabbath, Donovan ("Season of the Witch") and King Crimson, amongst others. Their complete recordings can be found on a compilation called Time To Suck! Pretty mean looking bunch too - wonder if they were Hell's Angels on the side? If an extended wigout cover of Black Sabbath's iconic "War Pigs" is up your alley, investigate immediately. Some more Suck tunes can be found on YouTube.


20 x 400

This is one of my favorite workouts. Tough but a great confidence builder. Yesterday I went to the Rocky River track and after an easy two mile warm up, I ran twenty 400s at 10K race effort with 100 meter jogs for recovery trying not to take more than 40 seconds in between each rep. I managed to hit 87/88 for almost all of the reps with one or two at 86 or 89 depending on how the wind was. One half of the track was extremely windy, more so than usual at Rocky River. Someone needs to build a dome over that track! Anyway what I like about this workout is that it mimics a race, feeling easy early on because 400s aren't that long, but after a while the short recoveries catch up to you. My old coach, Pete Magill, likens this workout to putting your hand on a stove and just as it gets hot, pulling it away. If you can hold pace all the way and not slow down on your recoveries, it's a good indicator that you can hold this pace in a 8K/10K race. The entire workout adds up to 10K on the nose (25 laps). Based on the fact that I averaged 5:50ish pace for the reps I'm thinking that I should be able to run somewhere between 36:00 and 37:00 for 10K at the Peace Race on Sunday depending on the weather.


Coast "Now That You Know Me"

This mid-Nineties UK band had one great single and a lot of fluff as evidenced by their lackluster full-length Big Jet Rising. But, man, this single smokes! Someone needs to put out a Nineties Britpop version of Nuggets because like the Sixties garage rockers, so many of these English bands had a great single or two but not much else in their arsenal.


10 miles easy in the wind

Normally, I just post my workouts on running2win.com (see link above), but I'm on a mission to blog more often, so here goes. Today was an easy maintenance run of sorts just to make sure I was recovered from a hard interval workout I did on Thursday. I wanted to run on the bridle paths in Mastick Woods but due to recent rains it would have been a total mudfest, so I opted for a hilly out and back stretch at Rocky River Reservation. The winds were pretty strong this morning (according to weather.com gusts of around 30mph) so that made things interesting in the first half of the run, which was mainly into the wind with some crosswinds. I tend to run my easy days at about 2:30 per mile slower than my 5K race pace and today was typical as I averaged 8:00 pace on the nose, doing the first half super slow (like 8:15s) and the second half @ 7:45. I've been on the Asacol meds for a few days now and they seem to be settling me though sometimes I kind of feel nauseous on them a bit. Peppermint tea seems to help. In terms of ulcerative colitis flare ups, all things considered this has been pretty minor compared to how sick I got when I was in college, so I'm trying to deal with this in a somewhat positive manner. I seem to be running well on every other day training and I'm thinking that my body was breaking down a bit from overtraining, so maybe this was a sign to ease back. On every other day training I recover much faster and can handle more volume on the stress days so that's not a bad thing. If I feel like I'm losing fitness I'm going to join a gym and hit the elyptical and/or stationary bike. Monday I'll be doing a stress workout, probably 16-20 x 400 @ 10K pace with 100 recoveries and then it will be just easy running before my 10K on 10/23.



Lumped in with the post-Oasis Britpop scene, Mansun's 1996 debut single "Take It Easy Chicken" is a snotty groove filled anthem that almost beats the Gallagher brothers at their own game. Originally known as Manson (after the infamous killer) the band quickly altered the spelling of their name to become a play on The Verve's stellar B-side "A Man Called Sun." I still have the self-released 7" as Manson - not sure if it's worth anything! The group would go on to release a killer debut album Attack Of The Grey Lantern and several solid followups before calling it quits. At their best, they held their own with Oasis, Verve etc. and kind of predate Kasabian, while some of the lesser material was a bit too retro in a Duran Duran kind of way for my liking.

Mansun: Attack of The Grey Lantern


Ringo Deathstarr

These Austin, Texas youngsters have been around since 2005 or so, and though they have released a few EPs and singles, they only just got around to releasing their stunning debut album Colour Trip earlier this year on esteemed Canadian indie imprint Sonic Unyon Records. If you are a fan of mid-eighties UK noise pop, namely The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Primitives and early My Bloody Valentine (think "Strawberry Wine"), Colour Trip and the brand new early EPs and singles compilation Sparkler will be way up your alley. I've been playing these records nonstop. If you have Spotify, check out Colour Trip via the link below.

Ringo Deathstarr: Colour Trip


Changes to this blog

I'm at the point where I either need to stop this blog or update it a lot more often. The once every week or two updates aren't cutting it, so I'm going to make a real attempt to write something every day or two. Skyscraper Magazine seems to be on a hiatus so I'm itching to do more music reviews so those will be forthcoming. Thanks to spotify.com I've been discovering and re-discovering lots of awesome bands. I've been completely blown away by Austin, Texas youngsters Ringo Deathstarr who released their debut album earlier this year and just recently came out with a compilation of their old EPs and 7" singles. Both discs are available via Sonic Unyon Records and of course spotify, iTunes etc.

As for running, workouts are going okay though I've been struggling with some health issues, which will hopefully be resolved soon. To make a long story short when I was an aspiring college runner I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Basically, it's a more extreme form of IBS. It's mostly been in remission though this year I've had some flareups. Nothing extreme like I had when I was younger (i.e. internal bleeding) but I've been getting upset stomachs too often in workouts. I'm going to see a specialist in late November (god knows how long it would take if I didn't have good insurance) but for the meantime my family doctor has me on a medication for mild colitis called Asacol. This was pretty much the only thing that really worked for me in the past and I can tell after just two days on it that I'm feeling better. The gluten-free diet has been helping me a lot too. I used to get uncomfortable bloating feelings and bad indigestion but those two symptoms disappeared overnight after cutting out the gluten. Endurance sports are not easy on the system -- to be honest if I didn't run I don't think I'd notice anything. For the time being I've been running 4 days a week with bigger workouts on the days I run and full recovery (other than sets of pushups) on the non running days. I don't seem to be losing any fitness off of this based on workout times and my most recent 5K, so I'll roll with it unconventional or not.


Nature's Bin 5K Race Report

It's been a while since I've updated this blog but my running is finally heading in a good direction fast. This past weekend I ran a 17:32 at the Nature's Bin 5K, which was my best race in a long, long time. Really happy with that as I was at 18:08 just 3 weeks ago. Also, the weather wasn't all that great. Mid 40's (which I don't mind) but rainy and very windy.  I think the strength workouts I've been doing like the 8 mile tempos and the longer intervals have been working well for me. I've also been not afraid to take days off when necessary. It's harder to get out of shape than it is to get in shape so I'm finally learning to chill out and wait until I'm feeling ready to hit a hard workout instead of trying to cram them into a weekly schedule. The best advice Pete Magill ever gave me was, "It's not the workouts you can do that count, but rather the workouts you can recover from." Next up is the Youngstown Peace Race on October 23. I've never done this before but from what I hear it's a fast point to point course that is mainly run through a scenic metro park before finishing the last mile in not so scenic downtown Youngstown. This week I'll do a harder workout on Thursday most likely and a long trail run on Saturday. The week after that I'm off work so I'll try to nail a couple of tough workouts before easing up a bit before the race. After Youngstown I'll start doing more interval workouts on grass in my spikes to get ready for cross country.

Other than that, Skyscraper Magazine has been on a bit of a hiatus so I haven't written any music reviews in a while but some will spring up soon I hope. Best band I've listened to in a while is Ringo Deathstarr. Check them out!


Oktoberfest Bier Run Race Report

I'm getting there ever so slowly. On Labor Day I ran the Oktoberfest Bier Run in Berea, OH and had my highest age-graded performance of the year with an 18:08 (5:50 pace on the nose). My last better result was a 17:37 indoor 5K in January. I still have a lot of work to do but I need to be patient and it's certainly better to be moving forward than backwards. The ironic thing about running an Oktoberfest race was that I started a gluten-free diet on Sunday, August 28, so I haven't had a beer since that time!

I decided to go gluten-free because I was having way too many stomach issues lately from running. If I wasn't a runner, I probably wouldn't have noticed anything, but competitive running isn't easy on your body. When I was 19 I was actually diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, so these kind of ailments are something that have been with me for a long time, though I haven't had any major flareups since my early twenties, just minor issues like what I had been dealing with. Going gluten-free seems to be making a big difference already in just one week. I had stumbles across an article about the elite runner Amy Yoder Begley who has Celiac Disease and her symptoms were pretty much dead-on to what I had been experiencing, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

Moving ahead, I've decided that I want to run the Youngstown Peace Race 10K on October 23, so that's my next immediate focus. I'm doing a low key 5K as a tune up three weeks before that. I'm going to try to do a few slightly different things with my training leading up to that race and to Club Nationals in December. I'm going to do some Hansons type workouts like 2 x 3 miles and 3 x 2 miles as well as 8-10 mile marathon pace runs. While I don't plan on doing a marathon, I think running strength workouts like that will be good for me. In the past I've always approached cross country as a 5K runner moving up so training more like a half-marathoner may reap some benefits. I may even run the Fall Classic half marathon 3 weeks before Club Nationals!


CSU Viking cross country update

Back on August 27, 2010 I wrote an account of the amazing Cleveland State cross country teams from the late 70s/early 80s. It can be found here:


Much of the information was found on a blog called Gone But Not Forgotten, which is published by a former CSU runner Mike Sajovie. He recently got back to me:

I think you posted "When Vikings Ran Wild in the Flats" a while ago, but I wanted to say thank you for the nice comments you wrote about my post "Gone But Not Forgotten" from Mike's Cleveland Blog. My name is Mike Sajovie and I graduated from CSU in 1990. I was on the cross country and track teams from 1986-87, before switching over to road racing and training full time for the marathon my last few years of college. I have fond memories of cross country at CSU and still can't believe that men's cross country hasn't existed since 1993 at the school. My blog is very inactive but I still check back from time to time, and that's when I noticed your blog. It is very nice. It's good to see people my age still out there competing. I no longer log the serious miles but I still read up on the local running scene as I still live in the Cleveland area with my wife and daughters. Keep up the good work on your blog, and keep running.

There is a nice photo of Marc Hunter running in the 1978 NCAA XC championship. Visit:
http://runningentertainment.com/runningshots26.html. It is the 11th photo on this page. He is running between Rudy Chapa of Oregon and Henry Rono of Washington State. I think it was from Sports Illustrated. Cool stuff! 

Thanks so much. The image Mike mentioned is posted above. Marc is the guy in the green singlet and green and white candy stripe shorts. Only guy wearing a singlet! It was 18F that day!


Singapore Sling - Never Forever

(Previously published by Skyscraper Magazine)

Iceland’s Singapore Sling have been around since the beginning of the decade, yet despite having released four full-length albums (six if you count two seven-song mini albums) the group has remained strangely under the radar. Culling their name from an infamous Greek B-movie (not the famous gin-and-juice cocktail), the group brings to mind the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Cramps, and 1960s garage rock (the band’s 2002 debut, The Curse of Singapore Sling, contains a fascinating reconstruction of The Standells’ classic “Dirty Water”). At the least, Singapore Sling should have reached the stature of similarly-inclined outfits such as The Raveonettes, The Warlocks, Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.  Frontman and main songwriter Henrik Bjornsson is easily as talented as the leaders of the aforementioned.

This was not to be, however. Despite an appearance at South By Southwest in 2003 and the release of their first two albums on American imprint Stinky Records, the band failed to make an impact on the US market – and seemingly elsewhere, too. Subsequent efforts, such as Taste The Blood of Singapore Sling (Sheptone/12 Tonar, 2005), Perversity, Desperation and Death (8mm, 2009), as well as a best-of compilation, The Curse, The Life, The Blood (8mm, 2007), were released on obscure European imprints (my wife had to email the band to find some of these releases, as we couldn’t find them anywhere online). The brand new Never Forever appears courtesy of small UK indie Outlier Records.

This latest album is a bit more subdued and darker in places than much of the band’s previous work. Perhaps it is appropriate that the album was released on Friday the 13th! While one can hear some of the group’s usual trademark influences, the overall vibe is moody and desperate, enhanced by booming Bo Diddley-flavored beats and ghostly, hypnotic drones, not unlike classic Krautrock or pioneering NYC art rockers Suicide. Never Forever opens with “The Nothing Inside,” a fuzzy, skull splitting rocker that holds its own with the best of the Singapore Sling’s back catalog. It is quickly followed by slower and scuzzier numbers like “Freaks,” the eerie and hypnotic “Tunnel Vision,” and the masterful “Sleep,” the latter conjuring up a similar slow burning dirty blues vibe to a pair of The Stooges’ Raw Power classics “Gimme Danger” and “Penetration.” The effortless “Take” is a perfect pop single that breaks up the tension a bit, but the overriding theme on Never Forever, as exemplified so well on the stunning near instrumental title track, is one of glorious desperation.


Doing it Old School

The man on the left is Steve Moneghetti from Australia who was a 2:08 marathoner back in the day and still a 30:00 10K runner in his mid-forties. He is also the originator of what I think is the most genius bang for the buck stress workout a distance runner can do. The so called Moneghetti fartlek consists of surges of 2 x :90, 4 x :60, 4 x :30 and 4 x :15 with equal time recoveries. The key to the workout is how hard you push the 'easy' segments. I hadn't done this workout in a while, but today I laced up the racing flats and after a 3 mile easy warm up lit it up for 20 minutes. On paper it doesn't sound so hard, but if you hit the surges at 5K effort and push the recoveries, it feels almost like a race effort. Today, I covered 3.25 miles in 20 minutes on a marked mile path, hitting splits of 6:08, 6:10, 6:10. This means I was probably doing my 5K surges at 5:40-5:50 and the 'easy' portions at 6:30 give or take,  so really not so easy. As a point of reference, when I was breaking 17 for 5K a few years ago I could hit the 3-mile mark in this workout in high 17's/low 18s, so I'm getting there. A few weeks ago I did a similar stress workout of 10 x :60 on / :60 off and was 28 seconds slower at 3 miles than I was today. I recommend this workout if you want to bring on the pain.

For the week I hit 55 miles, mainly easy distance outside of today's workout and a session of 5 x mile w/ 2:00 recoveries on Tuesday where I started about 1:00 slower per mile than current 5K pace and dropped 15 seconds per rep. Next up for me race wise is a 5K on Labor Day and I'm guessing I should hit about 17:20 - 17:30 nice weather permitting.


Beady Eye - Different Gear, Still Speeding

(Previously published by Skyscraper Magazine)

Beady Eye is, of course, four-fifths of the final Oasis lineup – never mind that the missing fifth happens to be principal songwriter Noel Gallagher! While it is true that after the first few Oasis albums Noel allowed (probably somewhat reluctantly) for token songwriting contributions from his lead vocalist brother Liam, as well as guitarist Gem Archer (formerly of Heavy Stereo) and bass player Andy Bell (ex-Ride), Oasis was clearly always Noel’s gig. That said, Liam really stepped up in the songwriting department on Oasis’ final album, 2008′s Dig Out Your Soul (Big Brother/Reprise), writing two of the best songs on that record: the lush, Lennon-esque ballad “I’m Outta Time” and the explosive “Ain’t Got Nothin’,” which bordered on balls out punk rock. Perhaps Liam’s emergence as a songwriter was the final nail in the Oasis coffin?

As an album, Different Gear, Still Speeding isn’t anywhere close to being in the same league as the legendary first two Oasis albums, 1994′s Definitely Maybe (Creation/Epic) and 1995′s (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? (Creation/Epic). Nevertheless, the best material here holds its own with the rest of that group’s back catalog. The opener “Four Letter Word” is a defiant diatribe (probably directed at Noel, as the brothers Gallagher are no longer on speaking terms), highlighted by a brief yet-enticing opening interlude that sounds straight outta’ “Live And Let Die.” The song is a high octane guitar attack, similar in feel to punkier Oasis numbers like “Bring It On Down,” “Fade Away,” and “(It’s Good) To Be Free), and it sports primetime Liam vocals, in which he virtually spits out the lyric “nothing lasts forever” in disgust.  “The Roller” is an amazing epic, part The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” and part John Lennon’s “Instant Karma,” with Liam’s vocals soaring over the band’s stunning orchestrated sound – definitely one of Liam Gallagher’s career highlights. “Three Ring Circus” is nearly as great, recalling Lennon’s angrier solo records. If The Beatles references laced throughout the songs weren’t enough, one of the better tracks on Different Gear is actually called “Beatles and Stones,” though it blatantly steals the riff from The Who’s “My Generation”! As on “Four Letter Word,” Liam is full of bravado here, proclaiming he’s “going to stand the test of time like Beatles and Stones.”

While Beady Eye falls short on a few tracks, especially the bordering on-painful “Hey Jude” pastiche “Wigwam” and the corny Little Richard/Chuck Berry-like 1950s-style rocker “Bring the Light,” Different Gear, Still Speeding is, for the most part, a winner and something that any Oasis or John Lennon fan will want in their collection.


Getting there

Had my second 50 mile week in a row and the workouts are starting to kick in. Feeling good every day and starting to finally feel race fit. Had my best race of the summer on Wednesday in the Classic at Mastick cross country race in Mastick Woods. Racing mainly against high school runners (plus some college kids), I finished 35th in a field of 250 and was the second master after my teammate Damon Blackford. Time was slow but that's cross country -- it was a pretty challenging course mostly on rocky trails. The effort was really good and I felt strong and in control the whole time and was always passing people throughout the race. I have about 4 months to get in great shape for Seattle (Club Nationals Cross Country) and I need to now that the ticket has been bought. :-) Next race is going to be the Octoberfest 5K in Berea on Labor Day. I usually do the Northcoast Challenge 5 miler that weekend, but Bella and I have a wedding to go to, so it's a no go this year. The beer race sounds fun though and it will be nice to see where I'm at for 5K on the roads compared to the last time I raced the distance in June.


Gold-Bears - Are you Falling In Love?

 (Previously published by Skyscraper Magazine)

When I heard an MP3 of Gold-Bears’ infectious “Record Store” for the first time, I assumed that the group had to be from Ireland or the north of England. With their menacing buzzsaw guitars and a vocalist who sounded like a cross between The Undertones’ Feargal Sharkey, Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley, and David Gedge of The Wedding Present, these guys just couldn’t have hailed from anywhere else. But what do you know? Gold-Bears are Anglophiles from Atlanta, Georgia, who, according to their All Music Guide bio, bonded over a mutual love for The Smiths, My Bloody Valentine, and The Wedding Present.

While I can hear some of those influences on Gold-Bears’ stellar Slumberland Records debut album, Are You Falling In Love? (vocalist/guitarist Jeremy Underwood’s lyrics have a bitter yet humorous quality to them, quite reminiscent to those of Morrissey or the aforementioned Gedge), sonically the band sounds more like a cross between high octane late 1970s UK punk-pop and some elements from the classic C86 sound, namely jangly guitar and plenty of feedback. A more jaded and mischievous Pains of Being Pure At Heart, if you’re looking for a contemporary measuring stick.

Are You Falling In Love? opens with “Record Store,” which provides a joyous rush reminiscent to The Undertones’ classic “Teenage Kicks,” including classic bordering on over dramatic Morrissey-like word play to boot: “You saved my life from the backdoor of a crowded record store.” The even faster paced “All Those Years” and “So Natural” follow, and by then the listener should be in a sugar rush state, jumping around the room. The introspective title track provides some breathing room and, in addition to being a fantastic song, it’s another Underwood lyrical gem, opening with the following gem: “‘Fuck my life’ you sent in a text last night”!

From this point on, Are You Falling Love? does an excellent job of combining faster paced punky numbers with more reserved material. “Totally Called It” holds its own with “Record Store” for the album’s best single (so to speak), heightened with a Smiths meets shoegaze guitar frenzy near the end. Meanwhile, poignant numbers like “Xmas Song,” “Besides You,” and “Yeah, Tonight” provide ample evidence that Underwood may have a future as a novelist if he ever tires of music.  Underwood cannot be praised enough for his sharp, observant songwriting, which combines elements of nostalgia, regret, and hope without ever being even remotely clichéd. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so impressed with an album’s lyric sheet.


Weekly Training Update

I managed to survive the scorching heat this week and had a pretty good post-race training week with 41 miles in 6 workouts (one day off for a much needed sports massage). After a few short and easy days to allow myself to recover from the Shot in the Dark race I had a really good 9 mile fartlek run on Wednesday a hilly segment of the Rocky River Reservation metro park. After warming up 20 minutes, I did a session of 6-5-4-3-2-1 where you run 6 minutes hard, 3 easy; 5 minutes hard, 2:30 easy etc. working your way down till you barely have any recovery time at the end. In addition to decreased recovery, the aim for this workout is to also run each surge faster than the one before, so if you do it right it's a real ball buster. Typically I start the 6:00 surge at about the same effort I might race a 10-miler and by the end of the workout, I'm running the 2:00 and 1:00 surges a tad faster than 5K effort. On Saturday I ran 95 minutes (12 miles give or take) on the trails in Mastick Woods, which were quite muddy from recent storms. Pretty fun to get off road and navigate on the trails. My next race will be a 5K cross country event at Mastick on August 10, so for the next two weeks I'll be doing a hilly fartlek session mid-week and a trail run on the weekend.


Shot In The Dark Race Report

I managed to survive some pretty ridiculous temps last Saturday and ran a solid race at the Shot in the Dark 4 miler. The course was pretty hilly (two big bridges) and the combination of no shade and a 5pm start time made for some pretty sweaty conditions. I ended up with a 24:06 for 16th overall and first in my age group. The age grade score was about the same as what I had on July 4 but I feel like this was a better performance since the weather was worse and the course was much tougher. Next up is a cross country race on August 10. It's been in the 90s all week but I've manged to get in some decent runs and look forward to getting in a good block of training before the next race. After that I probably won't race again until mid-September as I really want to get my strength back for a solid fall campaign.


Kids On A Crime Spree - We Love You So Bad EP

(Previously published by Skyscraper Magazine)

The story goes something like this: About 10 years ago, Kids On A Crime Spree founder Mario Hernandez was in Stockholm and had his mind blown when a friend put on Phil Spector’s Back To Mono box set (ABKCO, 1991). Hernandez, a long time veteran of acclaimed indie-pop outfits, including From Bubblegum To Sky and Ciao Bella, decided that he would like to emulate the troubled genius and create his own blend of epic pop.

The stunning We Love You So Bad EP is the first result of that endeavor, culled from some 100 tracks Hernandez has recorded since his revelation. With that kind of output, one hopes more releases are planned! Consisting of Hernandez on vocals and bass, along with ex-From Bubblegum To Sky cohorts Becky Barrons (drums) and Bill Evans (guitar), the Kids have a simple yet infectious sound that brings to mind the best of Spector’s “Wall of Sound” creations, in addition to modern acts like The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (Hernandez’s sweet melodies are similar to those of Pain’s frontman Kip Berman).

The much-too-short We Love You So Bad (eight songs in 20 minutes) opens with the scintillating “I Don’t Want To Call You Baby, Baby,” which blends a spooky New Order bass line (Peter Hook would be proud) with some classic Jesus and Mary Chain reverb and fuzz. This is followed by “Trumpets of Death,” a classic surf pop meets 1960s girl group number where Barrons takes over lead vocals. “Sweet Tooth” is a hard edged mod anthem crossing The Raveonettes at their best with The Who’s “Substitute,” even nicking the latter’s guitar riff and “We Look Pretty Good Together” lyric! The explosive “To Mess With Dynamite” combines a breathtaking Hernandez melody with plenty of JAMC overdrive circa “Never Understand” or “You Trip Me Up.” The sweet sounding “Dead Ripe” captures the teenage symphony vision of Brian Wilson circa Pet Sounds (this would work well on a mix tape next to something like “God Only Knows”). “It’s In My Blood” is as dark as the name implies, the vocals and arrangement containing the same desperate longing of epic girl group productions like The Ronettes’ “Walking In The Rain” or The Shangri-La’s “Remember (Walkin’ In The Sand).”  The final two tracks are “Impasto,” which flows like an excellent update of Tommy James and The Shondells “Crimson and Clover,” and “Jean-Paul Sartre 2,” a timeless pop song that brings to mind the likes of Teenage Fanclub and Big Star.


Primal Scream - Screamadelica Live DVD

(Previously published by Skyscraper Magazine)

As a disclaimer, I’m normally not a fan of concert films or live albums, having suffered through the likes of Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains the Same (Warner Bros., 1976) as a kid when they were my favorite band, or more recently, The Stone Roses’ Blackpool Live (Windsong, 1991). The former was chock full of all the rock’n'roll clichés exposed so well in Spinal Tap, while the latter exposed what all of us kind of knew, namely, that Ian Brown just cannot sing! I am, however, intrigued by the recent spate of bands performing classic albums in a live setting (All Tomorrow’s Parties’ Don’t Look Back series, et al), so after waxing poetic over the 20th Anniversary edition of Screamadelica (one of my all-time favorite albums) recently for Skyscraper, I jumped at the chance to review Screamadelica Live.

Filmed on November 26, 2010, at London’s Olympia Theatre, Screamadelica Live finds Bobby Gillespie and company in stellar form. Complete with a super tight horn section, a phenomenal gospel choir, a spectacular light show, and looking sharp in black suits, white shirts, and black ties, this was obviously a fantastic night out for the packed audience. Directed by George Scott, the cinematography is great; lots of really good close-ups of the band and not too many clichéd audience shots, apart from the occasional guy/girl breaking the cardinal rule of not wearing the concert t-shirt at the concert!

Although billed as a performance of Screamadelica in its entirety, the set list deviates slightly from the original album. But the sequencing makes sense here, with two blocks of upbeat material sandwiching the ballads. The concert opens with the same trio of tunes that kickstarts Screamadelica. “Movin’ On Up” sounds great with Martin Duffy’s honky tonk piano, the twin Rolling Stones-fueled guitars of Andrew Innes and Barry Cadogan, and the pristine horn section and choir stealing the show. Gillespie’s vocals here and elsewhere aren’t always up to par with his band’s performance, but the lead singer’s voice is greatly aided by the choir who tend to hit most of the high notes. That said, Gillespie does stand out on some of the ballads in the middle of the set, especially the bluesy “Damaged.” “Slip Inside This House” follows, and it is highlighted by some amazing psychedelic lighting effects. “Don’t Fight It, Feel It” keeps the party going with Mary Pierce taking on the lead vocals (Denise Johnson performed on the album). After that the band takes it down a notch, as the aforementioned “Damaged,” the spacey “I’m Coming Down,” “Shine Light Stars,” and the trippy instrumental “Inner Flight” provide some breathing room before the spectacular finale.

The concluding three tracks of the set are worth the price of the DVD alone. Because Screamadelica contains two versions of “Higher Than the Sun” (the single version and The Orb’s dub rendition), it was unclea how Primal Scream would approach it on stage. They manage to combine the two and then some, as the band delivers a stellar rendition of the standard version before bassist Gary “Mani” Mounfield sets off on a captivating dub journey, spiced with some electrifying guitar work. The trio builds to a crushing finale that rivals the power of Mani’s old band, The Stone Roses, on “I Am The Resurrection” and “Fool’s Gold.” “Loaded” is even better, as a “Sympathy For The Devil”-like groove and the famous Peter Fonda samples drive the crowd into a frenzy. The concluding “Come Together” is fittingly the highlight of the set. As with “Higher Than the Sun” the group opts to combine the best elements of the Andrew Weatherall-produced sample-heavy version that is on the initial UK (and 20th Anniversary) edition with the more conventional Terry Farley mix from the US version of the album, which features extensive Gillespie vocals. Personally, I actually prefer the latter version for its uplifting lyrical message, as well as the fact that it features one of Gillespie’s finest recorded vocal moments, which he nails pretty well here too.

As a bonus, Screamadelica Live also contains a 40-minute “rock and roll” set which the band played earlier that evening. The eight songs here are all pretty amazing, especially the hard psych meets techno fury of Vanishing Point and Xtrmntr standouts “Accelerator,” “Burning Wheel,” “Swastika Eyes,” and “Shoot Speed/Kill Light.”


Bay Days 5 Mile

Another small step in the right direction. Two and a half weeks ago I ran 6:03 pace for a 5K in my first race since April 2. Today I ran 30:28 for nearly twice the distance at the Bay Days 5 mile Race (6:05 pace) on a very hot and humid day running pretty consistent splits. I felt much stronger than my last race though I don't have my usual final mile finishing gear that I have when I'm at the top of my game. Though I was a minute and a half slower than last year, I'm happy that I'm slowly getting my fitness back, and hopefully I'll end up salvaging this year with some better performances in the fall. I've decided that I'm not fit enough to be running the masters track nationals at the end of July so I've been building up my strength for cross country and longer road races. The past two weeks I've run 41 and 45 miles on 6 days a week with some solid tempo and fartlek workouts. I'm going to follow the Antonio Cabral cross country program for the rest of the summer, running a longer tempo each week and alternating hill and fartlek workouts like 1:00 on/1:00 off as my second key workout while trying to slowly build my weekly mileage. Next up for me is the Shot in the Dark 4 mile race, which is an early evening race in downtown Cleveland on July 16. Hopefully I'll make another leap like I did today from my June 15 race.


Sennen - Age of Denial

(Previously published by Skyscraper Magazine)

Released in the UK last fall on Hungry Audio, Age of Denial recently saw the light of day in the US on limited edition vinyl, courtesy of Minty Fresh, to commemorate Record Store Day. This was the Norwich, UK, outfit’s first American release, and will hopefully spark more interest in the group. While I’d never listened to Sennen before, other than hearing their stellar cover of New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle,” I had seen their name tossed around favorably on shoegaze forums and always meant to check them out. While researching this piece, I was quite surprised to learn how much of a back catalog they’ve accumulated since their debut EP Widows (Hungry Audio, 2005), including several full-lengths and a large number of singles and compilation cuts. Looks like I have a lot of catching up to do.

Though presumably named after the Ride track on the Today Forever EP (Creation, 1991), Sennen have a pretty multi-dimensional sound, going far beyond reviving the classic Creation Records sound. Consisting of Laurence Holmes (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Richard Kelleway (vocals, guitar), Tim Kelleway (bass), and James Brown (drums), the group conjures up darker sound-scapes than is typical in this nu-gaze genre, bringing to mind the likes of post-punk icons, such as early U2, Echo and The Bunnymen, The Chameleons, or even the twisted glam of Placebo.

The in-your-face title track kicks things off with pounding beats and fuzzy guitar, as it builds to an epic chorus before fading into a sweeping, U2-like atmosphere near the end, bringing to mind the moodier material on The Unforgettable Fire (Island, 1984).  This pattern of mixing softer and louder dynamics continues throughout Age of Denial to great affect, as on “With You,” which merges Joy Division-like precision beats within a summery pop song, and “Falling Down,” which starts slow and builds to a crashing finale like the best of Ride and Slowdive.  Another huge highlight is “S.O.S.,” which has a similar drive to Depeche Mode classics “Behind the Wheel” and “Never Let Me Down Again.” “Red Horizon” is a fantastic slow burner, a powerful melody carrying the song as its instrumentation builds and builds but never quite explodes. The tension sets things up for the following track, the crushing “I Can See the Light,” a stunning piece recalling Catherine Wheel on Ferment (Fontana, 1992), especially when the guitars kick into stun-gun mode.


Primal Scream - Screamadelica: 20th Anniversary Edition

(Previously published by Skyscraper Magazine)

At the time it was released, I thought 1991’s Screamadelica was the album The Stone Roses should have made as a follow-up to their hugely influential self-titled 1989 debut. While the Roses got bogged down in label hassles for years and didn’t release the disappointing and very trad-rock sounding Second Coming until late 1994, Primal Scream took the ball and ran with it, issuing one of the definitive British rock albums of the decade. In hindsight, The Stone Roses couldn’t have pulled off Screamadelica. The Manchester lads were loved by the then-exploding UK acid house scene because they made rock music that appealed to dance kids, however their records were still quite conventional next to Bobby Gillespie and company’s Screamadelica. Quite simply, Screamadelica is a joyous celebration of music, merging elements of classic rock’n'roll, psychedelia, house, dub, and even jazz into a landmark work of art which still sounds relevant and timeless two decades later.

Primal Scream did not always sound this way, though. Their early singles and first two albums, Sonic Flower Groove (Warner UK, 1987) and Primal Scream (Creation, 1989), owe more than a little to the likes of The Byrds, Love, and 1960s-era Rolling Stones, with a touch of the MC5 on the latter release.  Their press photos were equally retro, the band decked out in flowery shirts, pointed boots, and shaggy hair. At the time it seemed almost laughable that they would someday create a landmark fusion album. Perhaps because of this, there is an almost Year Zero mythology attached to the group, implying it all began with Screamadelica (for example, their 2007 best-of compilation, Dirty Hits, contains nothing from the band’s late-1980s “indie” era). Early on, Primal Scream vocalist Bobby Gillespie was actually more famous for being the first drummer in the Jesus and Mary Chain. He played a minimalist drum kit, Mo Tucker style, and like the rest of the band looked badass in black leather and shades.

It’s important that this early history gets mentioned because, if it weren’t for a soulful mid-tempo ballad on Primal Scream entitled “I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have,” Screamadelica may have never happened. Around 1988, the band had become enamored of rave culture and befriended DJ Andrew Weatherall. David Cavanagh notes in his excellent 2001 book The Creation Records Story (Virgin), it was Scream guitarist Andrew Innes who asked Weatherall to remix “I’m Losing” and “make it suitable for dancing to.” Of course, this would evolve into the February 1990 single “Loaded,” as Weatherall would keep the song’s basic instrumentation but pump it up with some “Sympathy For The Devil”-like beats and famously sample Peter Fonda from the 1966 biker flick The Wild Angels: “We wanna be free, to do what we want to do, and we want to get loaded, and we want to have a good time …”

This 20th anniversary edition of Screamadelica is available in several formats (all are UK imports). This review is highlighting the two-CD “20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition” set, which includes the post-album Dixie Narco EP on the bonus disc. However, the reissue is also available on vinyl, as well as in a “Limited Collector’s Edition” box set that features four CDs, a DVD, a gatefold double-LP, a 50-page book, a t-shirt, and other swag. Nevertheless, in all formats, the original 1991 album, remastered here by Kevin Shields, opens with “Movin’ On Up,” which can only be described as the best Rolling Stones song since say the mid-1970s. It was even produced by the legendary Jimmy Miller, who worked with the Stones from Beggars Banquet (1968) through Goat’s Head Soup (1973), and features all of that band’s signature weapons from the era; piano, scuzzy guitars, and amazing gospel backing vocals straight outta’ “Gimme Shelter.” The party continues on with a mesmerizing cover of The 13th Floor Elevators’ psychedelic wig out “Slip Inside This House,” which had previously been included on the 1990 Roky Erickson tribute album Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye. The Scream version, which includes a James Brown sample, is quite different to the freak folk vibe of the original, as the heavy beats turn the song into a dance floor anthem, even out stepping the likes of The Happy Mondays’ “Step On.”  “Don’t Fight It, Feel It” is full-on dance music with sometime Primal Scream contributor Denise Johnson taking over the lead vocals.  I remember a review back in the day describing “Don’t Fight It” as a collision between the MC5 and Italian disco, the analogy still seeming apt today.  “Higher Than the Sun” is a much-needed chill out break after the rousing opening tracks. When first released, Creation label boss Alan McGee described the song as the most important British single since The Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy In the UK.” And while McGee was always prone to hyperbole, “Higher” is one of the definitive tracks of the era, featuring a space rock atmosphere while Gillespie seems to describe an Ecstasy trip: “I drift in inner space, free of time / I find a higher state of grace in my mind / I’m beautiful, I wasn’t born to follow / I live just for today, don’t care about tomorrow.” “Inner Flight” is just that, a mellow instrumental break that sets the scene for the album’s centerpiece, “Come Together.”

“Come Together” is, simply put, a 10-minute-plus juggernaut and one of Weatherall’s greatest arrangements, featuring extensive samples from a 1972 speech by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, including this powerful snippet, which nails down the message of Screamadelica: “Today on this program you will hear gospel. And rhythm. And blues. And jazz … we know that music is music.” Johnson’s amazing vocals keep time as she repeats “Come together as one,” while the Scream stay in tune with a fantastic instrumental arrangement reminiscent of Stax Records’ best sound. The aforementioned “Loaded” follows and, by this time, listeners should be thoroughly floored.

If the first half of Screamadelica is the party, then the latter half is the come down. Once again Jimmy Miller is employed to work his magic on “Damaged,” a bluesy piano-based ballad which could easily be an outtake from Exile On Main Street, as Gillespie steals the show with one of his best performances ever. Breathtaking. Next up is the even more mellow “I’m Coming Down,” aping a minimalist jazz arrangement that all but carries Gillespie away into space. This morphs into The Orb’s total dub deconstruction of “Higher Than the Sun,” with “Shine Like Stars” closing things out. Similar to “I’m Coming Down,” the song is almost a lullaby to put the listener to sleep after a heavy night of hedonism.

The Dixie Narco EP is a clue to what would be next for Primal Scream, as the band takes on a Rolling Stones meets southern rock and soul vibe that eventually gained full strength on 1994’s Screamadelica follow-up Give Out But Don’t Give Up (Creation/Sire). Recorded at the famed Ardent Studios in Memphis, this four-song collection opens with “Movin’ On Up” and also includes a first-rate country blues number “Stone My Soul,” a heartfelt cover of Dennis Wilson’s “Carry Me Home,” and the 1970s-flavored “Screamadelica,” which again employs the talented Denise Johnson on lead vocals.


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