Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mid-fall Update on Training, Racing, and staying Inspired

At the midway point in the USATF-NJ 5k XC Open Championship at Deer Path Park in Readington, NJ. There are 6 runners pictured here, look closely, and you will see an extra foot/lower leg.. From L to R: Mike Dixon, Will Griffin, Eric Dubois(piece of his leg and head anyway), Mike Anis, Steve Mennitt, Ken Goglas

So, it's October 23rd.  The Club National 10k XC Championship is now less than 8 weeks away.  I ran the Paul Short XC Invitational on a hot day in 26:36. This is slower than what I produced on a chilly day in 2009 by 9seconds. Two huge factors here, heat and density of field. It was about 78 and rising when I started, probably 80 when I finished. This Open race had 516 runners in it, the majority of which were Collegiate guys, and they always start fast. It's only natural at a huge race of this sort that people start out hard. Well, I didn't exactly. My opening mile was 5:18, probably slowed by taking the turns wide to avoid getting tripped and pushed and others runners who were already redlining and settling after 1000m.  The results page has mile splits, a very cool thing to have in a race like this.  So, apparently, I was in roughly 350th position. I finished 87th. Take a look at this excerpt from the results below:  full results from Open race here
67        Peter Drews, Sr                 5:14    26:27    5:20  Williams College     
68        Matt Hassett                    4:57    26:27    5:20  Georgetown R C       
69        Elias Howard, So                5:11    26:29    5:20  Dickinson College    
70        George Oliver, So               4:54    26:29    5:20  Cornell              
71        Ryan Lee, Sr                    5:12    26:29    5:20  University of Richmon 
72        Sean Leighton, Sr               5:00    26:30    5:20  University of New Ham 
73        Pat McLaughlin                  4:59    26:30    5:20  Unattached           
74        Andreas Kellas, Jr              5:15    26:31    5:21  Army                 
75        Connor Strynkowski, So          5:06    26:31    5:21  Cornell              
76        Stephen Keith, Jr               5:01    26:32    5:21  Lehigh University    
77        Ryan Cooney, Fr                 5:02    26:32    5:21  Lehigh University    
78        Joe Beveridge, Sr               5:11    26:33    5:21  La Salle University  
79        Ryan Chiesa, Fr                 4:55    26:33    5:21  University of New Ham 
80        James Beacham                   4:55    26:33    5:21  Unattached           
81        Daniel Salas, Fr                5:01    26:33    5:21  Dartmouth College    
82        Michael Lederhouse, Fr          4:48    26:34    5:21  Georgetown University 
83        Tucker Hamilton, Fr             5:06    26:35    5:21  Brown University     
84        Kirk Webb, So                   5:06    26:35    5:21  University of Pennsyl 
85        Tyler Erhard, Sr                5:08    26:35    5:21  Bucknell             
86        Louis Saviano, Sr               5:00    26:35    5:22  University of New Ham 
87        Michael Anis                    5:18    26:36    5:22  Garden State Tc      
88        Alec Brand, Fr                  5:05    26:38    5:22  Shippensburg         
89        Jason Hartman                   5:28    26:38    5:22  Unattached           
90        Robert Biro, Fr                 4:55    26:38    5:22  University of New Ham 
91        Ed Sheridan                     5:09    26:39    5:22  Unattached           
92        Zachary Simmons, So             5:12    26:39    5:22  Dickinson College    
93        John Corona, Sr                 5:06    26:40    5:22  University of New Ham 
94        Dan Swain                       5:12    26:40    5:22  Una                  
95        Matthew Lutcza                  5:08    26:42    5:23  Unattached           
96        Victor Allen, Jr                5:12    26:42    5:23  University of Pennsyl 
97        Michael Kurvach                 5:03    26:43    5:23  Unattached           
98        Connor Clark, Fr                5:01    26:43    5:23  Dartmouth College    
99        Stephen Schelander              5:04    26:44    5:23  Sstc                 
100       Noah Williams, Fr               5:17    26:44    5:23  Williams College     
101       Tyler Scheving, Fr              5:09    26:45    5:23  University at Buffalo 
102       Mike Garrity                    5:08    26:45    5:24  Unattached           
103       Austin McGinley, So             5:06    26:46    5:24  Shippensburg 

67th was 11 seconds ahead of me, 103rd 10 seconds behind. This is the sort of competition that you dream of as a post-collegiate athlete.  Having done some more runner-nerd math, I calculated that I passed a runner on avg every three seconds from the 1mile mark to the end of the race!  Yep...I think that is cool.
More recently, was the USATF-NJ 5k XC Open Team Championship. GSTC, ran the show, we took the first 5 spots on the Men's side!  Individually, I finished 4th in 15:35! I beat some guys who whipped my ass at the Liberty HM, really it was just the sort of thing that I would never expect.  I've been traning and racing with some of these guys for years. When you keep getting beat by the same people again, and again, you might start to believe, "Well, he's just better than me." It is hard, but we have to remind ourselves that this is just a defeatist rationalization for a lack of hard work and patience.  Every dog has its day. So when you finish a race with someone in your sights that historically has left you in the dust, it gives you renewed strength!

Anyway, I figured I was fit enough to run at least 16:05, 15:55 if I ran a smart race.  This was a huge breakthrough race for me. My previous best XC 5k race was 16:22(RVRR summer series July 21, 09'), and my best on the Deer Path course was 16:23(2012)! More runner-nerd math: 16:22-15:35=47seconds.  At age 32, after competing for 18yrs.  I know a lot of runners that have run for many yrs; none of them ever told me about the time that they ran a 47second 5k XC pr when they were 32.  I can go, faster I'm sure of it. Sidenote: Yes, I heard the course is a bit short, but I'm comparing times on this same course, so it's a solid case for analysis.

Workouts and general aerobic runs: have suddenly gone off the charts, 8k worth of intervals are often totalling somewhere around 25:00-25:20. In previous yrs, this sort of workout I would perhaps at best have totaled 26:00 and with longer recovery times between each interval.  I go out of my way a bit to run with Chris Croff, Jacob Edwards and Chris Johnson in Summit or the Watchung Reservation, a lot of days I feel like somone is pulling me along a touch faster than I'd like, but those are the days you get a little better. Also, I never felt good enough to go and run doubles the day after workouts.  This bodes well for the upcoming USATF-NJ 8k XC championship on Sunday. 

Inspiration: I love running, watching African's win marathons is cool.  But I also enjoy watching boxing.  Welterweights and Middleweights most of all (140-147lbs and 151-160lbs) currently seem to be where the best guys are to watch.  Recently, I have watched Ruslan Provodnikov fight Timothy Bradley(a fight he very narrowly lost by majority decision) and Mike Alvarado. Alvarado was in two brutal fights against Brandon Rios(who is now slated to fight Manny Pacquiao on 11/23).  Provodnikov is the type of fighter that "takes two shots to give one". I identify with this sentiment. Early on, Alvarado was throwing more punches and landing at a better rate. But as the rounds wore on Provodnikov's heavy shots took their toll on Alvarado, who went down twice in the 8th and was nearly down again the 10th. He did not come out to answer the bell for the start of round 11.  
Provodnikov beating the tar out of Alvarado. photo courtesy of

As a runner, I don't fancy myself to be too slick.  I just grind it out, like Provodnikov. I train hard, and I stay focused on hitting the target, even if it means I take a pile of punishment in the process.  I'll keep coming at you, hurt and tired, that's the only way I know.

This is what it looks like when you've won a fight against Mike Alvarado, no one said it would tickle. Photo from

Friday, October 4, 2013

Consistent Mileage Increase

 60, 68, 64, 73, 80, 62, 59, 71, 74, 85, 74, 86, and already this week 73miles(haven't run today yet and still have tomorrow).  Those numbers represent how many miles I ran in each of the last 12 weeks.  The highest totals in 5yrs. If you've been reading, you may recall the mention of a 100mile week recently. That was a Wednesday to Wednesday stretch. The Sunday to Saturday 100 is coming soon, I mean hey; this past week all it would have been is getting my ass out the door 7 minutes earlier and keeping it rolling for an extra 7mins. Had I done this, the 100 would have happened.

OK, so what happens when you run 100miles in one week? Somewhere from unseen speakers, a wicked guitar verse begins to ring out in the distance. Perhaps "Getting Strong Now" or "Going the Distance", or something embellisingly dramatic that has nothing to do with running? Nope, back to reality.
What about 120, 140, 160, etc? I mean, I have been saying I'm going to run to work(nearly 14miles away from home), and like so many other things in my life, I've procrastinated on this. But here I am writing about it, so I think this is the cry-wolf moment that I can't back down from. It looks like I'll be saving some money on gasoline very soon.

Of course, you don't want to run yourself to a breaking point. Rest/recovery and nutrition are paramount in all this.  But there is much to be said for consistently putting in time that you haven't committed to something ever before. 50miles with 3 quality efforts per week could be more effective than 100miles with 1 quality day. However, 100miles with 1 or 2 "quality" effort is subjective the idea that one should be acquiring fitness at the most accelerated rate for readiness for frequent competition. To have more patience in this would allow for a large build up of the aerobic system for greater endurance. I am comfortable with this idea, and not feeling pressured to run "hard" 3-4 days a week any longer.

There are 13 weeks left in this yr, I would like to run no less than 60miles in the last two weeks of the yr, in each week previous to that I figure on an avg of 85 from here on. I'll need to do some exploring to make this happen no doubt. Thankfully there are plenty of great trail systems in NJ that  I have yet to get into.
Convincing myself that running 40-80mins, sometimes twice per day, is a doable thing; has been a surprise. A yr ago, I would struggle to convince myself to run for 70mins at the end of a day. Getting out the door before work, was just hard. I love to run, but what can I say? I was struggling mentally, and often. Personal circumstances were just making running half a chore. Many have joked about running "being my mistress", well if it got in the way of some things. Then damn some things! I like running...I like it... a lot.

Running, yup.
 I believe much is possible. I can commit more to running. She is good to me. So I will.

the image above is property of