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!


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