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

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