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

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".

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Just Some Old Guy?

Yesterday I ran on the canal path for just the second time this year. It was a great feeling, like being back with a friend I hadn't seen in quite some time. The ridiculous record snow and cold we had kept the Erie canal trail unusable for most of the winter. The Rochester area has officially had 102 inches of snow. Actually there are flurries outside coming down right now (April 5). I can still see grass though, so that is something good.

I ran nine miles yesterday, my longest run in several months. It felt pretty good and I was able to pick up my pace a bit during the last three miles (the wind at my back helped). This morning I was tired and told Jan I was just going to run three miles. Feeling a bit uncomfortable I headed towards the high school track 1.4 miles from my house, knowing two port-a-johns were there. Just this knowledge helped calm my insides down.

There was a young girl, maybe 20ish, doing 50 yard sprints on the track. I just did laps at a slow pace over and over. I was tired, my legs were tired, I wanted to get in 5 miles at an aerobic pace. It was nice to just run, even on tired legs. On my last lap I went by the girl as she was resting near the bleachers. I heard her say something, talking into her phone, but I couldn't quite make it out. I did my last quarter mile and ran out the gate as another young lady was coming in. I suddenly realized what the girl on the track said, "just some old guy". She was talking about me, someone must have asked her on the phone if anyone else was at the track. Me, "just some old guy"!

Well that certainly didn't make my day. I may be an old guy, okay I am an old guy (58). But hey, I'm probably close to her grandpa's age, I don't see HIM running on an early, cold Sunday morning around the track or village! Let's see if she can run five miles in 35 or 40 years. Yeah. Of course I didn't say that to her, I just kept on running back home, feeling a bit sad inside.

And when I got home I ate two of Jan's fresh baked cinnamon rolls and felt happy again. Sometimes to be happy in life it just takes a cinnamon roll. The heck with that young fast girl!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I Paid, Do I Really Have to Go?

Sometimes the feeling of guilt can be overwhelming. Recently I preregistered for the Fleet Feet Sports Spring Forward race. The 15k was being held at Mendon Ponds park, a hilly route just south of Rochester. I have either worked at or run in this race most years since 2005 (it began 2004).

This year Spring Forward was the second in the Rochester Runner of the Year series. Based on my training (only one "long" run of 9 miles this year) I didn't expect much. But with the series it can still be important to run in as many races as possible, unless you are uber fast. You never know who will show up to race in your age group and if you will get points or not.

Mike W and I made plans to commute to the race together. The race has grown tremendously over its' 11 year history. Organizers expected close to 1,000 people in the 15k, a separate 2.5 mile run and the kids races. Parking in the park was a concern and shuttle buses were supposed to help move people around.

My pre-race anxiety, despite the fact I knew it was more of a training run, grew as the race neared. I wanted to leave early and be able to park near the finish. I wanted to leave later and take the bus and leave a gear bag with my daughter who was working at the race. I didn't know if I really wanted to go, but I had paid my $25 race fee and talked Mike into going.

And then the weather hit us again. Snow was predicted, which came true with about 4 inches. I didn't want to slip and fall and re-injure my shoulder. But still I was going to go. I had all my race gear laid out the night before. I had a post-race bag packed and in my daughter's vehicle. I was set...physically.

Fifteen degrees. Yes. March 28 and it was going to be 15 degrees at race time, about 25-30 below normal for here. With snowy roads. This winter is never ending. I woke up every hour from 1:30am on. At 4:30am I heard the plows going back and forth near the intersection by our home. At 5:25 I got out of bed.
Start of Spring Forward 2015

I went to the bathroom and noticed our motion detector night light didn't come on. It was dark, really dark. Hmmm, the bulb must have blown. I went downstairs, all of the clocks were out. No lights. It was cold. No electric, no power. What the hell? How do I get ready for a race now? No coffee? That's just cruel. What about Jan? I couldn't go to a race and leave her, she needed to stay awake for work until 3am Saturday night. Who knows how long the power would be out? Now what?

I texted Mike saying I wouldn't be going, I had enough. I felt guilty. At 6:20am the power came back. Mike texted, want to go now? I was done, but MW did go and ran a good effort despite the cold, snow, ice and no shuttle buses showing up. I stayed home and biked inside 24 miles while watching "Oh Brother Where Out Thou?" It seemed an appropriate choice. Clooney's character lied about there really being a treasure, I lied, in a way, about going to race.

Four days later I still feel a bit guilty, though the Scotch Saturday night took care of some of that feeling.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Finding Yourself

Everything’s on the web, just type in the correct keywords and Google, Bing or Yahoo will find it, right? 

Well, maybe not. Have you ever searched for yourself? What kind of electronic record is available on YOU, without paying for it? 

If I search on Facebook eight Mike McCullough’s come up. Search Michael and get six more. How about Mac? There are six more, including Bernice Mac, the actor. So, which one is me? 

Did you know I could be the Michael McCullough that is an executive vp of the NBA’s Miami Heat? Or maybe I’m a psychologist? A professional football player in Canada? A professional artist? 

Part of me is happy much of my life seems hidden, or at least is a bit difficult to find via the web. Strange though with three blogs, over a hundred published book and web site reviews in journals and online, a Facebook account, myriad publications from my professional life as a librarian, a library web site I created and used for seven years. 

It may be possible I died. Using Bing (a Microsoft search tool), several Michael’s have passed away, most within five years of my age. That’s a bit creepy. 

A Google tip I teach to students doing research is using quotation marks around words you want to make sure are together. “Mike McCullough” for example. That didn’t help. Several companies that charge for gathering information, like Intelius, when I added Spencerport to the search, said I was in my 50’s. Apparently I also lived in West Henrietta, NY and Kissimmee Florida, and Rochester. My zodiac sign is Libra and I have a relative named Amanda Davis. I have a daughter Amanda, but not Davis. My sign is Scorpio (usually I make you buy me a drink to learn that). I guess 50% correct is okay. 

If you knew I worked at MCC you could get some information. Adding Spencerport and some running race results, even from 1980’s shows up. Add snowshoe and a magazine article I’m quoted in and a couple of snowshoe e-zine articles come up. 

How about going to images, I must be there from some race, right? Here is a sample of what I found:

 Interesting samples. The half-naked guy in the bottom column kind of resembles me, at least in Jan's dreams. Hmm, forty years ago I may have peaked at a Playboy magazine, I was a tennis player in high school, but no, none of these people or images really have anything to do with me. Neither do the hundreds of other images that came up. Again, this may be a good thing.

So, who is the real Michael, Mike, Mac McCullough? I wish you luck in your online quest to find the true one.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Travel Trailer Hunting

What do runners do after their race is complete? Four of us took a couple of hours and went to the RV show at a local warehouse sponsored by Ballantyne RV.

Local radio and television legend Steve Hausmann from WBEE was there to help promote the sale. Steve is new to running, completing his first 5k last fall. He trained with his wife and one of the Rochester Fleet Feet training groups.

Steve noticed my Johnny's Running of the Green shirt, which the four of us had just completed earlier in the morning, and came over to talk. I'm sure he would have come over anyhow, he just likes to talk to people. Eileen also won four Rochester Amerk hockey tickets at the WBEE booth. Steve is 65. Why does he look younger than the two Mike's?

Jan and I did not buy an RV/Travel Trailer that day. We can't come to a decision on what type of camper we need and can afford.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Memories and Facebook

If you haven’t seen an old friend for years, and only in the past six years or so of being a member on Facebook was able to be “reunited”, are they still a friend? Personally I feel that depends on how close the two of you were in face-to-face dealings originally. I don’t have Facebook friends that I never had a real relationship with at some point in my life and usually it has to be more than, “oh yeah, I kind of remember him/her”. My Facebook “friends” number around 80, most of whom are relatives or I went to high school with. Eighty friends is a low number on Facebook. 

Today on Facebook there was a shocking message, a friend of mine died 5 days ago. Without Facebook I may not have heard about his death for a long time. Scott was a good friend in high school. He went out of state for college so our contact lessened to when Scott came home on school breaks. His death was totally unexpected to me. If he had been sick recently I didn’t know about it. The memories that flood my brain when something like this happens are incredible. 

Scott and I played high school football together. Neither of us was particularly big, definitely not by today’s standards. By our senior year we were each around 6’ and weighed maybe 160 (if I was in my shoulder pads and helmet). We usually played offensive guard and/or linebacker. We were not stars, and if I look back realistically he was a bit better player than me. In high school football if you don’t mind getting hit and giving the same, you can generally find a spot to play. That was basically us I think. 

He was a good guy, fun to be around. One time, I can’t remember how, we ended up together at Hamlin Beach State park. I had biked there and I have no idea how Scott got there. We were probably in 9th or 10th grade. We ended up needing to get back to Brockport, maybe twenty miles away. So we took turns pedaling my old 10 speed bike with the other person on the handlebars or crossbar. It was hard going, but fun. 

When we were of legal driving age he took me to his family’s cottage on Silver Lake in NY. I went water skiing for the first time in my life and had a blast. His Mom made us hamburgers and I ate three. I remember Scott being surprised I ate that much and saying, “I can’t believe it, the only person I know who can eat three of those is my Dad and look at him, he’s huge!” (his Dad was a big man). We woke up in the morning and the boat had sunk. I felt guilty, like either my water skiing or hamburger eating had caused it. 

And now he’s dead, at 58, which doesn’t seem particularly old anymore. He leaves behind a wife and two daughters, friends, a business, many other loved ones. I’m glad we reconnected on Facebook. It feels like there should have been more, at least with the memories I have, but I guess I have to take what I can.