Running, Biking, Triathlons, Swimming, Snowshoeing; what's next? Sal's does it all.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Medved Lilac 5k and 10k

Almost 2,000 runners participated in the Lilac 5k and 10k races on Sunday, May 17. A co-worker just told me only in Rochester is lilac pronounced lielock. Most of the country says lielack. The rest of the country has it wrong, and we should know as Rochester is the Queen of lilacs.

It was a beautiful morning. The 10k race went off without a hitch. Jan and I both decided to run since it would give us one more mark towards completing the Rochester Runner of the Year series. I learned ten facts during the race;

1. When you are sweating while walking to the race you may have an issue while running.
2. Everyone is different. I heard runners around me saying how nice and cool it was while we were running the first mile. I was sweating profusely. I wasn't cool and already knew the last couple of miles could be troublesome.
3. My feet do come off the ground when I run, kind of anyhow. This photograph is near three miles. Am I race walking or running? I am the anti-good-form role model of running. Maybe I'm just super-efficient?

4.  At three miles I still felt pretty good. I could have run much faster which is a good sign for a RROY 5k race coming up on June 21.
5. At four miles, after already stopping for water twice which I never do in a short race, I think I mentally decided to finish as strong as possible that day but not put myself into one of those deep, dark holes of pain that can take days to recover from. There will be other races I will feel better in. This was a mature step for me. 
6. At five miles the race turns and begins the long 1.2 mile incline/hill to the finish. I was struggling and my form shows this;
Nice heel strike. At times I wonder how I run at all. I'm also leaning forward more and swinging my arms to try and keep moving ahead. 
7. I don't like running a 50:58 for a 10k. Even after 30+ years I'm a better runner than that. There is much work to be done. Ten kilometers used to be my favorite race distance. Jan felt the same about her race and we are both committed to making significant improvements over the next 6 months. 
8.  Running only two days while traveling 3,000 miles in our pick-up truck a few days before Lilac probably didn't help Jan or I. 
9. During my long run back to the finish I decided that I need to do a one mile track race coming up on June 12, which is also a RROY race. Amazingly Jan thought the same thing during her race. It's not easy to hide on a track if you are having a bad day or are pathetically slower than the other people in your heat. I think those are the main reasons a lot of people don't race the mile, at least those are excuses I've used in the past. Jan and I are planning on running it. If we don't push ourselves we won't ever be competitive again. The mile hurts but is over quick.
10. The Lilock 10k is a nice race, most of the course is beautiful and though Jan and I haven't run all 37 years of this race we have done a large number of them. I remember one year running to the local Wegman's before the race because we forgot diapers for our infant daughter. Now that daughter has a daughter.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Unplugged Not Unhappy

Last week Jan and I took the long journey from upstate NY to the middle of Alabama. Our quest was to deliver a 21hp riding lawn mower to our daughter Andrea. Never having hauled something so large in our "new to us" pickup truck, we were a bit apprehensive how things would go. Knowing we couldn't stop overnight and split up the sixteen hour drive, we left at 4:40am, hoping to arrive around 8:00pm (the time change in southern Kentucky gave us an extra hour).

We learned several things during this adventure;
1. The typical driver that tries to cause an accident while texting is a mid-twenties female. You can tell they are texting by the weaving between or over the road lines, especially on three lane highways. Usually they had no hands on their steering wheel when we nervously passed them. As soon as the texting was done they took off, weaving between cars and using all lanes going at least 20mph over the speed limit. Our non-scientific findings determined the ratio to be 7:1 in favor of females age 20+.

2. Coming up on a drunk, slobbering, weaving, dangerous drunk driver at 6:00am on a lonely dark Interstate I90 is not fun. This happened to us a bit south of Buffalo. It was unbelievable how this driver (male, probably 40ish?) went from the right shoulder, to left shoulder, back to middle of lanes, and repeated. My truck horn did nothing. Jan called 911 and reported him. I finally got around and within a mile looked into the rear view mirror as he headed off the road into the median, up a slight hill and narrowly missed some trees. Thankfully he didn't hit another car!

3. The roads in Nashville have been under construction for at least 12 years. I don't think it will ever end. I hate driving through that city, but it's the most direct route to Birmingham.

4. Why are NY and Pennsylvania the only states with a 65mph speed limit instead of 70?

5. Why is NY the only state we have to pay tolls on?

6. Why is NY the only state without a Welcome Center? Some of these are absolutely beautiful, like Alabama and Georgia. They know how to appeal to tourists. NY, not so much.

7. It has become mandatory for us to stop in southern Kentucky for a case of Kentucky Bourbon Beer. You can't buy this beer in NY. It is the perfect drink to have while riding a 21hp lawn mower in Alabama on a hot day, I know, I tested to make sure.

8. As Jan and I age we are having a more difficult time combining our gasoline stops, food stops and bladder stops all at the same time. It is a cause for concern. Maybe we are just out of practice?

9. We (I) forgot our road atlas. Yes, a printed road atlas. We had the GPS working and Jan's phone assisting, but there is something about printed maps I have always found fascinating and extremely useful. I don't always need the technology, though it can have some advantages.

10. It was okay being without internet access for much of the trip. Sometimes being disconnected can be relaxing. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

As the Sports World Turns

Our professional sports leagues and to a lesser degree the college and amateur leagues don't know what to do anymore regarding the misbehavior, performance enhancing drug use and personal illegal drugs used for a "high" by today's athletes.

A-Rod, of the NY Yankees, is one home run from tying Willie Mays 660 total. A-Rod's contract states he will earn a $6 million dollar bonus. The Yankees don't want to pay since he is a proven PED user. His records and career are forever blemished. But they signed the contract knowing he had cheated before the most recent time so I say pay him the money.

Then we have Jon "Bones" Jones, with a slight Rochester, NY tie. He is, no was, the Ultimate Fighting Champion before running into an issue with crashing his rental car into a pregnant woman's car and breaking her arm. He also then ran off before police arrived, but not before stuffing his pockets with the cash he had left in the car. Oh, and let's not forget the marijuana pipe he left in the car. UFC took his championship title away. This is not Jones only known drug problem. In January he checked into rehab for cocaine use, but unfortunately dropped out after just one day. Maybe he should have stayed?

Then we have professional running. Russian marathoner Shobukhova, the female Chicago 2009-11 champion, among other races and the World Marathon Champion (a series of 4 marathons in a year) 2009-2011 has been banned from racing for two years. But what of the $1 million plus she earned from being the World Champion? That's in addition to prize money for winning the races, sponsor's money, and money for showing up to race. The people who finished behind her and didn't test positive lost large amounts of cash. Is that fair?

Kenyan Rita Jeptoo is the latest casualty, though she is still appealing the process. Jeptoo won Boston and Chicago, was the 2014 World Marathon Champion and walked/maybe ran away with at least $700,000. Again the people finishing behind her in races get shafted.

What's the answer? Each league has it's own fuzzy rules. Is marijuana wrong for athletes to use if it's legal in Colorado and soon other states? It should be if you cause an accident just like alcohol, but otherwise maybe not.

PED's are befuddling. Testing costs so much money, is random, and usage can be hidden for years many times, by which time it's too late to correct any wrongs. Every sport, every sport, even ones like golf and the biathlon, have had problems with athletes abusing drugs. I don't see a future where the problem ends.

Buzzing Over A Race Near You: Drones

Buzzing Over A Race Near You: Drones

Another one of my great ideas has been copied. Last year I thought having my own drone or two to cover races would be cool. Apparently other people had the same idea. Problem is there isn't currently a method to make money from it, that is illegal. Also many cities and places around airports don't allow drones for obvious security reasons.

I'm sure if enough money can be made these challenges will be overcome. Read the attached article for more on this phenomenon. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Boston Marathon Guilt

The Boston Marathon took place Monday, April 20 and I didn’t run it. There is always a feeling of guilt for me about not running Boston. Guilt may not be the best word. Disappointment, inadequacy, missing out on a special event, no bragging rights, might be better terms. 

This year non-runners at work didn’t even ask me if I was going to run the race, I can’t remember the last time that happened. When I was running around Spencerport Monday night after work I realized it has been 19 years since I ran my first and only Boston marathon. Nineteen years ago I still thought I had hair and my oldest daughter just turned 17, my youngest 12. Also strange, I’ve completed 19 marathons. I never ran a marathon without trying to qualify for Boston. Obviously my success rate was pathetic. 

In the early years of my marathon “career” the qualifying times were so tough I didn’t stand much of a chance. A sub-2:50? My best ½ marathon was 1:23, how was I going to run a 2:50 marathon? Needless to say, I didn’t. When I got to my mid-30’s the times softened a bit so I “only” needed a sub 3:00, so in a race that’s what I would start my pace at. I never lasted. Finally in 1995 I ran a qualifying time (if you count the few seconds it took me to cross the starting line, my “chip” time-which Boston did for 1996). 

That was it, my only Boston marathon. In later attempts the qualifying times had softened a bit more and I naively thought they were too easy. I went out faster knowing I could always fall back to the Boston time. That didn’t work out well for me, having marathons where I missed the time by a minute, 3 minutes, or just totally falling apart. Stupid man. 

This year I streamed the race via the internet while working, the advantage to having two monitors on my desk.  It was a great race among the top ten to fifteen elite runners and I was happy to be able to watch it live. However there’s a big difference between sitting in an office 400 miles away and being in the event. Don’t worry though; I don’t have any plans to run another marathon. Nineteen seems like enough times to attempt something I’m not very good at, even if every third week of April I feel guilt, disappointment or inadequate.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Mile Time Trial

For a few weeks I've been considering running the Charlie McMullen one mile race in June. With spring finally here in western NY and the tracks free of feet of snow, last Sunday was a perfect time for me to do a time trial.

I like going to the local high school track on Sunday mornings. Usually I am alone, occasionally one or two other people might be running or walking. Many times I use Sunday morning as my "play" day with running. I typically bike the 1.4 miles to the track and then begin the run workout with a 1-1.5 mile run. The pace is often a bit quicker than I run on the roads. After 800-1200 yards I'll generally pick up my pace on the straights for 100 yards.

Then it's play time. Depending on my mood I might do 6-10x100 yard sprints, or I'll continue with fast straights and jog the curves for three more miles. I might go off and run up and down the bleachers then come back to the track for a couple of laps before repeating the bleacher run. I may do a series of 200s, or more likely a ladder with 100-200-300-400 and back down and up/down again. On Saturdays I may run 8-10 miles with friends so my legs aren't always fresh for a full track workout, but in my younger days these are the kind of back to back days that seemed to make me stronger in races.  

This past Sunday was all about business though. A good mile race or time trial can be a hard thing to set your mind on. It's going to hurt, especially by lap three, and you need to mentally be prepared to accept that pain. Alone on the track it is easy to give up, slow down a bit, wonder if it's worth it. I have done little speedwork this year other than some telephone pole pickups or a couple of times running hard for 90-120 seconds seven or eight times during a five mile run. I had no idea what to expect in my mile time trial. Well, I had a goal, but didn't know if I would be close to it.

After my first lap I was pleased to see my watch read two seconds below my goal. The second lap became a bit harder and I came through the 800 at two seconds over the goal. Still doable. Lap three the bear came jumping on my back clawing and screaming. I was suddenly really glad no one was there to hear me. It seemed to take a long time to run the third lap, but also at 1000 yards I told myself it was almost over. Whatever time I ran was what I needed to design my future workouts around and improve from. I would have a yardstick to measure progress and I desperately needed that. I came through 1200 at six seconds over the goal.

The fourth lap was hard. I consciously picked up the pace, especially the last 100, and matched my first lap time. I was four seconds over my predicted time, not horrible and an effort I could be happy with. I rested before running another 1.25 miles and biking home. Now I'm ready to work and see if I can get in shape to race the McMullen without embarrassing myself within my age group.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Vintage Race Film

I thought I would share this video of the 5,000 meter men's finals from the 1964 Olympics. Check out the "old" style track. There were no all-weather tracks back then. This race took place in miserable weather. If watching this doesn't get your heart rate up I don't know what will.

The last three laps are on this video. Bill Dellinger (Oregon track coach fame) and Bob Schul are the two Americans.

Replay the tape and think about the tactics Dellinger used in the race. He came from the back of the pack with 600 to go and strongly moved into first. Once he got passed Bill should have been done, but he had the heart to stick with the race until the last yard and grab the bronze medal. 

The is the same Olympics popularized by the Billy Mill's upset victory in the men's 10,000 meter race and later made into the movie, "Running Brave".