Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Splashy blast from the past: Midwest Conference Outdoor Meet 1980


This was my last track race as a college runner, although I did run one more season of cross country the following fall.

The story behind this photo is proof of sorts of the adage (and classic Nike poster, when Nike was still cool) that the race is not to the swift but to those who keep running.

I didn't run in high school (rather just started at the very end), but went out for track my freshman year as a complete rookie. I started out sprinting, but soon moved onto middle distance running.

It was a slow start, and conference meet freshman year I got dead last, by a long margin, in the 880 yard qualyfing heats. Maybe a mild redemption in the mile the next day with a second to last place. By the next year I was a distance runner, and after showing some promise in the indoor 2 mile (sub 10) I ran the 3 mile outdoors. The transition wasn't smooth, however, and I ended up dead last (again) in the 1978 conference meet championships at University of Chicago.

I almost quit running after that.

Took a hiatus from track in 1979, and ski bummed in Colorado, but returned to Grinnell to finish up school.

Spring of 1980 was mostly disappointing, and I picked up "field house hack" after the second indoor meet and didn't shake it until May. I worked on the steeple chase about once a week for the outdoor season, but conference was the first time I was able to actually race 3000 meters over 28 barriers, including 7 water jumps.

My teammate Charlie (to my left in the photo), who had run in the Empire State Games in New York as a high school runner, boldly stated the morning of the race that he'd set the school record in the steeple at conference.

I had no idea what to expect, and fell to the back of the pack for three laps. This picture was at the start of the third lap, and I had just started moving up, when this runner from Coe College fell right in front of me. Somehow, I avoided a collision, and passed several more runners.

With a lap to go, I was suddenly in 3rd place. I started my kick a little too early, and almost fell on this water barrier on the final lap. A U. Chicago runner zipped by, and I stumbled home to hold onto 4th but got a school record.

A checkered track career, perhaps, but it was a nice way to wrap up college running--and better things would lie ahead.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Looks like I’m going to lose this battle…

Most all of us do, eventually, and this is probably going to end my running career.

But how you fight it, that’s what defines you.

Went to the orthopedist the other day and again, based on the arthroscopy last spring, I have Stage 2 osteoarthritis in my knee. Seemed like nothing at the time, but now I'm still coming to terms with the outcome of my foreshortened summer of running.

He indicated that he had hoped that I’d be running and racing by now-- after four months of rest and three of physical therapy. Nevertheless, the good news is that things are improving incrementally and over the past week I have been running up to 30 min every other day with only minor pain, which usually hits the next day.

So, maybe that round was a draw.

Rounds 1 and 2, initial injury and NYC Marathon debacle were near knockouts last year; Round 3, surgery and comeback I win; Round 4, the latest, summer injury; with the long rehab of Round 5 a tie. So that makes it 1-3-1 during the past 12 months.

Round 6 will be over the next five months, with the goal to make it through ski season (maybe a snowshoe race or two), with things better off than now. To even up the score I have to make it through next summer with no additional injury. Look for an overhauled training system, one based primarily on injury prevention and getting to the starting line with a smile.

In the meantime I really look forward to knocking heads with local masters skiers.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Flint Hills Awards – Yes, Dorli Deserved Most Insprirational!

Kudos to Dorli McWayne, Running Club North’s most Inspirational Runner for 2010. I’ve been tracking age graded leaders for a couple of years now, and Dorli has consistently been at the top of the women’s list. However, not only does she run fast age graded times, she also places very high in the overall rankings for individual races as well as Flint Hills Series points. She finished 2nd overall this year, at age 57.

Sorry for your loss Dorli. Barry was a fixture at the races and he will be missed. Jane Lanford’s words at the awards this past weekend were moving and spot on.

Here are Dorli’s times and (age grade percent) for this year’s series races that were standard distance:

Chena River Run 5K--21.12.2 (87.82%)
Midnight Sun Run 10K-- 43:44.8 (86.15%)
Flint Hills Mile—6:21.3 (85.66)
Santa Claus Half Marathon--1:38:45 (83.05%)
Equinox Marathon--3:55:36 (75.66%*)

*obviously Equinox is a good 10% more difficult than a normal course

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Not that I'm counting or anything

A year ago, during the week of the Running Club North/Flint Hills end of year banquet, I ran about 65 miles and was still feeling healthy. The wheels started coming off on a long run the very next day, and I had to cut that last run short at about 13 or 14 miles.

Other than 2007--when I sort of made an effort to find some other summer races--I've always tried to be ready for the races in the RCN/FH series. This year my plan was to do five or six of the eight races (Gold Discovery and Equinox were off the table). In June I even entertained thoughts of running Kenai Marathon this September.

Only made it to two from the series (and have only run six or seven times total since the end of June), although I must admit to have been very tempted to run the Flint Hills Mile, Race for the Valkyries, and Golden Heart XC run. But decided to be conservative and to try to let this thing heal.

Next year, even if I'm only running 10 or 15 miles a week or less and cross training, I will line up for no fewer of five of the races (unless in a cast or chair bound).

Pretty cool though, Tristan was this year's winner for the 12 to 14 age group. He ran about 10-12 miles a week this summer and is looking forward to running in high school next year. Congrats to Tristan, and of course all series winners, top finishers!

Anyway, not that anyone's counting (and no need to look...just move along) to make myself feel a little better I tallied up my overall and age group placings in RCN/Flint Hills series races since moving here in 2004.

Not that I keep track of such things. Really. Nope doesn't matter to me......
(har har)


Monday, October 04, 2010

ASAA dips to new low: Timing Fiasco at Alaksa State XC Meet

What did I just say on this blog the other day, with unfortunate prescience? Let me strike a few words because I don't think this was done out of meanness. Just inept reasoning. The rest of my little diatribe should stand, and then some.

Petty, doofus, mean-spirited, vindictive, power hungery, idiot athletic administrators.

I can't believe that this has happened, and the fix is so simple. However, rather than doing the right thing, the officials at the State Meet at Bartlett let common sense (and technically, the rules) take a back seat to technology and officiousness.

First, however, what an exciting meet! Although the team races were not particularly close for any of the four divisions (big and small schools for boys and girls), there was plenty of intrigue in the races and some scintillating finishes. Here, the Anchorage Daily News does a good job of coverage.

But I want to focus on the leaders of the 4A girls race, and the timing fiasco. For the first time ever in Alaska (and for the first time that I have heard of anywhere for high school cross country competition), they used computer chips (only) for the timing, and this had huge implications for the top three finishers in girls 4A, with ripple effects in the team and individual rankings.

Jenette Northey, a sophomore from Service High School in Anchorage, had been unstoppable all year and she looked to ready blow away the field by holding a 15 second lead through most of the race. With a kilometer to go, Northey still had a 12 second lead over Molly Callahan who was a few strides ahead of Jaymi Bethea of Kodiak. Bethea overtook Callahan with about 250 or 300 m to go, and closed a large gap to catch Northey.


But did she? From my vantage point, about 2 or 3 meters in front of the finsh mat, I thought Bethea had both the lean and the momentum. Others reported that it was Northey who had her torso across first. Nevertheless, the chip timer caught Bethea first.

I don't know (my guess was Bethea) but what they should have done is gone by official USATF rules and used a finish line camera (Yes! We have the technology!) to see whose torso cross first. Not toe.

Then came Callahan, a late bloomer who has just come into her own this year. Molly came in a clear third, a good 10 or 12 seconds ahead of Megan Edic.

Third at State, and leading her team to a top three or four finish, what a way to cap off the in state season! She crossed the line at 1:49 PM and all was good.

But a full two hours later, at the awards ceremony, it was obvious that something was awry. They announced the top 10 girls and no Callahan, and then the top 5 teams and no West Valley. And that was that.

West Valley coach, and Molly's father Dan Callhan, made an appeal to the officials but rather than consider this in the light of common sense they tried to save their own face by denying the appeal. The awards were given, therefore no going back.

What's really irritating about this is that there are no official rules that said that chips were required for a finish. These are a technological tool that should help but there always should be backup systems. Unless you're an ASAA official nothing beats using your head, eyes, and the good old tag and spindle as a fail safe.

So how many ways did the officials screw up? Let's see. One, using chips for cross country (almost unprecedented at the high school level. Two, letting technology, not reality, be the decider (Callahan was 3rd, it's that simple). Three, not informing the coaches in a timely manner. Four, lacking either the brains or humility to rectify the situation in the appeals process.

The results of the girls race are tainted, which is too bad for everyone involved. Nevertheless, considering what I've seen from many of the adminstrators and officals in this state over the past several years, this is sadly not surprising.

Molly, is still a champion in my book. And she will put this behind her and far exceed anything that those who made that decision on Saturday afternoon at Bartlett.

Nevertheless, they should do the right thing and reconsider and redribute the awards so that Molly Callahan gets the third place that she deserves.

West Valley Boys Take 2nd at Alaska State XC!!!

Here are some more pictures from the AK State Meet.

Pat Nugent and Kyle Hanson of Lathrop blast out to an early lead, at about 1/2 KM.

Winner Silas Talbot of Service High takes the lead after about 1.3 km, followed by Fairbanks runners Kyle Hanson, Pat Nugent, James Leder and Kuba Grzeda.

That's my boy! (Mikko on the left, stayed between about 20th and 26th througout)


Aftermath2--still looing a little wobbly.

Runners Up!