Friday, January 09, 2015

Alaska Senior Games Records

First off, I'll caveat that the Senior Games are more about camaraderie and just being out there than competitiveness. That said, compete is what I do and indeed there is room for both. They keep a records list, however, so since 2009 at my first Games those records have been something to aim for. Prior to this year I'd run four races and four distances in the 50-54 age group (youngsters) and set a record in each, 1500 m, 3000 m (track) and the 5K and 10K road races. This time, especially following the knee setback in July I decided to go for it at three distances in one Games: the 1500, 5K, and 10K.

Sunday 1500 - Lathrop track. The morning day was bright and warm, perfect for a track meet. My plan for the 1500 was to run a solid time, but not burn out my legs for the rest of the week. I figured 80 sec laps would be about right, but I had done no speed work since June and just hoped 80 seconds didn't feel like a sprint! The race went like clockwork, I hit 300 in 59, and 400 in 80 sec, and just kept rolling at that. The only hitch was the butterflies that stayed with me through 500 m! Track will do that to you. Kept the pace, but had to push the last 80 meters or so to keep it under 5:00, 4:59.0. All in a good day!

Monday 5K - Chena Lakes Recreation Area. My goal was 17:40 or under on the new course. It just follows the bike path from the beach area to Laurence Road and then north to near the end of the pavement at the flood control diversion dam. No splits on the road and I didn't have my GPS, so I just estimated the pace. One more thing. It was hot! For here at least. 80 at the start. I went back to the summer archives and there were no other afternoon-evenings in June, July, August that reached 80. The last Senior Games 5K (2011) that I did was about 82. So holding a 5:40 pace proved difficult. I hit the turn around at 8:57, and that long straight stretch back (0.6 miles) was grueling! Had to push at the end and got in just under 18, at 17:59. Phew. That was the toughest of the week.

Wednesday 10K - Chena Lakes Recreation Area. The first 0.9 mile was the same as the 5K but we turned south on a path that followed the slough. This was tree lined and had a few gentle turns, so it was not boring. Temperatures were more amenable to running at 73. Originally I was hoping for a season's best and 36:30 or better, but that would require being fresh for the week, maybe 10 degrees cooler, and probably with pacers or other racers running similar paces. This was a solo effort, and I was doubtful that even a sub 37 would be possible. But that was my new goal as we lined up. The plan was to go out a little easier than I normally do for a 10K and see what I had at the middle and late stages. So at 6:00 for the first mile I actually didn't 

Returned and Gone Again

Had a great return to Fairbanks over the Holidays, but arrived almost in the status of protective custody--away from a difficult situation in Colorado. My mom passed away in December after a long battle with Alzheimers (she led a long and fascinating life), but sibs spent all the money, and now there's nothing to keep the household afloat until the issues of the Will, probate, and personal representative are settled. It's a train wreck, not my fault, but I'm in the middle trying to prevent collateral spillage and toxic waste.

Back in Alaska I skied something like 14 of 17 days, but kept a fairly low profile and didn't even do a real workout. Just skied. I tried some threshold reps at UAF toward the end of my stay but that got interrupted by a cow and calf moose on Big Whizzy, near where the Equinox Trail comes off of Sheep Creek Road. I zipped around the corner and there they were, the cow started stepping toward me and I had no time to even turn around, so I double-poled straight along a footpath until I was out of harms way. Maybe got 18 minutes of L3 effort in about 25 or 26 minutes on that workout.

Meanwhile, bounced to a number of potlucks and holiday gatherings. Barely just enough time to say hello and goodbye again to many many friends. Had at least one acquaintance ask, "Haven't you left yet?" No need to mention what ski club they belong to.

Other than seeing my family/friends and having some time to recuperate from the events of the previous months the best thing was the weather. Only one or two days where it got down to -20?! That's average. Enjoyed it, and the time outdoors.

The months and years ahead here in Colorado may well prove to be very challenging. I did find peace in Alaska, even though I may have stirred things up a bit, and enjoyed shaking up the standard order. For example, I will miss thrashing the likes of Bad Bob Baker week after week month after month for 10 years.

I'll miss it there, but also I'm at a time in life where I must face different and uncertain path.

Along the way though we will certainly find some nice trails.

So Happy New Year! And guess what?

I'm not quite done.

I have a few more posts here, and soon I think I'll start a Rocky Mountain blog.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Not quite finished

But off I go anyway.

In many, if not most, ways I'm not quite ready to leave Fairbanks. However, I made a decision based on a number of factors that added up to a move. The things I look forward to are a new job that will be more dynamic. I did not want to be waiting another 10 years for the idea of something better or retirement. Career-wise this is a good change. I also think that there will be better career opportunities for Tamara, and better health care. Those were the main reasons for the move.

For running and skiing it's a bit more mixed. After 10 years of hitting it pretty hard for both, I have felt the need for changes over the past year.  Doing the same races every year--even favorites--gets a little old. Throughout this year, way before I started putting in for jobs elsewhere, I kind of had a feeling that either I'd take a break from XC skiing in the state and that I'd be aiming for new races, mostly on the "Outside." Going to Bend last December for USATF Club Nationals had a big effect on that. In particular, I'll miss the Tour of Anchorage, Midnight Sun Run, Santa Claus Half, Musk Ox Trail Run, and putting on the Interior Alaska Cross Country Series. And yes, the Equinox (but not every year).

However, in a big way I look forward to race opportunities and challenges in Colorado. I'm most interested in XC, trail races, and hill climbs. My calendar for next year is already shaping up, with USATF Winter XC Nationals in Boulder in February, some Sky Running races in the summer (vertical kilometer, and a focus on the Pikes Peak ascent to see if I can go for an age record there). then a fall marathon, likely in Bellingham, WA where my son goes to college, or something like Vancouver.

The hardest thing about leaving is saying goodbye to friends and the community. We have roots in Colorado for sure, but we really enjoyed Fairbanks and getting to know people here.  I probably forget to mention everyone, but it's been great to be around people like Bruce and Dee, the Pitney's, Gillis family, the Mark and Maggie Lindberg, Max Kaufman, the Noons, Jacksons, Hoeflers, Kelly Egger, Endestads, Ken and Jane, the Lanfords, Tracey and her family, Dan Callahan, Hannibal Grubis, Sue Faukner and the Rorabaughs, the Lathrop gang of Kevin Brinegar, Ben Nelson, and Chad Carroll, Mike Kramer, Dave Arvey, the Berkelands, the Mayo clan, Kuba and the Grzeda's.  And many more. Let's keep in touch.

This is not an end, Alaska will be here, but a new beginning. We'll be back! 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Equinox Age Grade and Other Numbers

Here are some masters age grade results. It was a rough day out there for sure.  A lot of runners were off pace. It was one of those days that the longer you were out there the tougher it got. So that made for tough going many of the masters runners.

Matias Saari (44) 2:55:01 - 75.62%
Roger Sayre (56) 3:15:51 – 75.25%
Jane Lanford (59) 4:15:42 – 71.19%
Erika VanFlein (54) 4:24:24 – 64.15%
Martha Brettell (61) 4:35:44 – 68.01%

Not only was Saari the oldest winner of all time at 44 on Saturday, he has the highest men’s age grade for the Equinox Marathon with a 75.91 in 2012. He almost matched that, and had there been better weather probably would have gone faster. With the 75.25% I jumped from 3rd all time runner to 2nd , ahead of Frank Bonzanich’s storied 2:58 in 1984.  I was hoping to take the all-time lead, but that would have required a sub 3:14:10. That was definitely not in the cards considering the poor weather on Saturday. And with a top weather advantage, Saari could have broken his 2012 age grade. So I’ll happily take the 2nd spot for men.

Jane Lanford scored an excellent 71.19% to lead the women. Maybe not the time record she was hoping for, but a very good age grade result. Marth Brettell of Cody Wyoming scored 68.0% with her age group win in the 60-64 category and Erika VanFlein was at 64.15%.

SPLITS 2013 vs 2014
I won’t post up all the splits but some definitely did it different than 2013. Last year I went in with a goal of sub 3:15 but felt ready maybe for under 3:14, so I paced myself for that. My goal this year was just to beat last year’s time and maybe run in the 3:15s. So I held back for the first 9 miles.

2013 3 mile was 20:55 compared to 22:03
2013 5 mile was 34:57 compared to 36:09
2013 9 mile was 1:02:29 compared to 1:04:53!
2013 12 mile was 1:30:20 compared to 1:31:09
2013 turn around was 1:54:50 compared to 1:55:10
2013 18 mile was 2:19:24 compared to 2:18:35
2013 22 mile was 2:46:14 compared to 2:45:23
So the upshot was that even though I was way back by 9 or 10 miles, I made it up on the out and back and final miles. The snow last year had a factor, but I also locked up a bit due to the cold, which had as much or more effect than the wet weather last Saturday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My Own Private Equinox Legacy

I revised my report. Names of the innocent have been removed.  I ran my own race out there for the entire 3:15 and did not hold back or pick it up for anyone.

The standard for an Equinox legacy is for sub 3 times, top 5 finishes. I arrived here at age 46 and got one top 5. Other than that you're SOL. 

Masters legacies are a bit more open-ended. It more has to do with and consecutive marathons (or lifetime in the double figures) and how "in" you are. 

Anyway, below is a just the facts summary of things that are not on the official record (EQ report).

I was here for 11 Equinoxes, and participated in all of them just not all were the marathon. Of five starts in the marathon, five finishes all of them top 10. Just one outright masters title (2004), but four age class wins (and one 2nd place), and three more overall masters (40+) runners-up. Also I wrap up with four age records (48, 50, 55, 56), and were it not for the 2+ minute train delay in 2004 it would be five for five. Have talked some about age grading over the years, and finish now with the 2nd highest male masters age grade. The official report doesn’t list that. It’s pretty damn obvious they don’t really like carpetbaggers here in Alaska. Also, although this category is not acknowledged, oldest top 10 finisher with a 7th at 55 and 8th at 56, and second oldest top 5 finisher with that 5th in 2004. No

I also participated in three relays, doing each leg once. I truly enjoyed those experiences and sharing the fun with other runners. Each was a win. In 2007 we won the men’s title (Paul Greci, Roy Strandberg), 2009 I was the improbable third leg with a couple of fine young runners (Werner Hoefler and David Norris) and we ran the 2nd fastest relay ever (now 3rd), and in 2011 teamed up with a couple of fellow masters (Mark Lindberg and Hannibal Grubis), and we broke the all-time masters record.

In years that I did not run (injury, or focusing on other things) I participated on race day by working on the race course. The Out and Back Aid station in 2005 when I had a stress fracture, Sheep Creek crossing in 2010, and Henderson Road turn off in 2012.

So that’s my legacy and I’m not disappointed, and leave with no regrets (well except maybe for that train and a couple ill-timed injuries).


Sunday, August 03, 2014

Lumbering through Anchorage 10K Classic

It wasn't my best day at the Anchorage 10K Classic on Saturday, which is a bit of a disappointment because I like to bring my A game to Anchorage races (and always have). But missing two weeks of training and having no workouts in more than five weeks took its toll.

Nevertheless, Skinny Raven puts on a quality event, and I'm looking forward to returning the future.

I went in feeling a little tired from a long week and the first two miles (net downhill of 150 feet) felt fast, even though the splits were equivalent to what I'd done just at Midnight Sun Run in June, 11:42. After that the course climbs back up and gets moderately tough at times--especially the finish with a 100 ft climb over the last 600 m.

It didn't help that I lost a few seconds at 5.5 miles by almost taking the wrong turn through a crowd of runners at the out and back section, and after that I just figured bring it home. Which just what you don't want to think at the end of a hard fought 10K!

So I fell back from two masters runners I was trying to catch and eaten up by another on the stretch. Ended up at 37:04 for 15th overall, 5th masters but only 3rd in my age group. Simply got out classed by runners that were more ready. But I feel upbeat and happy that the knee is fine.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Healed Slug

The knee seems mostly mended, so that's the good news. I must admit at not feeling very spry yet, two and a half weeks after starting up running again. Doing an hour or so a day all easy so far and this week I have done two workouts with substantial hills. I'll keep that pattern next week, but will race on the weekend. Distance-venue to be determined, but I think I have a plan.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sluggishly Bound

It's amazing that just a week or 10 days off from running renders you to a feeling of total slugdom. After some days off, I ran three days in a row now, and feel quite slow. Still good though, an off day from running is better than a day not doing anything. It's probably the cycling, which always makes my legs feel heavy.