Thursday, July 28, 2011

Run for the Valkyries Age Grade Rankings

Here are top masters age group scores from the Run of the Valkyries, the fifth race in the Flint Hill Series this year, on July 16. Wet, a bit drab, at about 50 or a little less with 8 or 10 mph wind from the west (return trip).

In case anybody is wondering, I usually have an age grade of 70% for the listing. So for women, and open time of about 34:20 would be about 70%, and for open men the time for 70% would be 30:20.


1 Melissa Lewis (40)...........32:12.3.....76.44
2 Dorli McWayne (59).........33:37.8......91.73
5 Jennifer Mahlen (40)........34:35.1.....71.18
8 Erika Van Flein (51).........36:34.8......75.43
10 Karen Nanseth (48).........37:25.7......70.92
14 Heather Johnson (51)......38:10.7......71.34


3 Chad Carroll (40)...........28:07.2......78.20
5 Roger Sayre(53)............29:28.9......82.59
9 Greg Finstad (57)..........32:48.4......76.75
10 Robert Weeden (49)......32:53.0.....71.68
11 Geoff Ames (49)..........33:05.9.....71.22

Monday, July 18, 2011

Valkyries Redeemed

Hey, although I didn't stick around for the awards this time the Valkyries 8K race went off without a hitch. So kudos to them and to John Estle for measuring the course.

Last year's race was short by 0.37 mile, and I'd never been happy with race management of this event after the Jr. Nordics Comp Group gave it up some four or five years ago. Race fees jumped up from $15 to $25, they seemed to be into just for the money, and the organization was just kind of a mess. Non-runners putting on an event for the hard core Flint Hills series participants.

Others seemed to have noticed too: in 2004 there were 250 runners, and that dropped to 150 2010. However, it seems they're getting it now. A couple years ago they offered reduced entry fees for kids 17 and under and have scaled back the fee for adults to $20, and last week after a phone call from a concerned runner, they got right on it and by Friday afternoon had a new/accurate out and back course. It was also pretty easy to follow (well for most of us).

This year there were 177 finishers.

So yeah, so good job Opera Fairbanks!

My race went fairly well, but as usual you always think you can do more. I was hoping for low 29s (about what I did in 2007, when I was in similar shape). Had only 23 minutes to warm up and stretch--getting your sleepy 13 year old out the door on a rainy Saturday morning is not an easy thing to do.

It was unseasonably cool (48?!) at the start with a light drizzle and steady wind from the southwest. The three leaders, Devin McDowell, Steve Chiu, and Chad Carrol broke away within 200 meters from the start and I settled into a pack of four. We held pretty tight until just about 3K, when I decided to see what they were made of. By the turn around (4.1K) I had what seemed 8 or 10 sec on them and thought 4th was in the bag. Focused on keeping steady/strong. But by the community theatre, with about 2K to go, I heard footsteps and there's this lanky guy in a cotton shirt and shorts, and sandals of all things. I thought no way am I getting taken out by a guy in sandals. But he was strong, and I hung on for maybe 500 meters before succumbing to oxygen debt (the limit for that keeps getting lower an lower) and falling back.

He had at least 7 or 8 sec with 1K to go but kept turning the wrong way, so I'd yell Right! Left! Right! and reeled him in a little on those three final turns. So the 3+ seconds that separated us was kind of deceiving.

The sandaled runner was Sam Viavant, whom I remember a few years back when he was a stellar skier/runner for West Valley High School. I'm the same age as his dad, who's also a fine age group competitor :-)

29:28.9, 5th. Meh, not particularly happy with the time, but then again grateful to even be out there running and racing and actually feeling pretty good most of the way. I think this will be a year when I don't turn any great fitness corner, just plugging along but holding my own for a geezer.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My last PR, Utica Boilermaker, July 15, 1991

Twenty years ago today I was nearing peak (for that year) fitness in preparation for the Utica Boilermaker 15K. The year before Tamara had run an astounding 54 minutes to place in the top 5 overall. I was on the sidelines with an injury, but enjoyed the event and decided I wanted to do the race in 1991.

I came in with a little bit of caution, because I had been alternate for the Empire State Games 10000 meters. Just a few days before the Boilermaker, I got a cryptic postcard from the Empire Games organizning committee saying that regional winner Brian Clas of Cornell had opted out and that I was expected to run in Albany. I was excited about that, but the race was only 10 or 11 days after the Boilermaker; at 33, running only limited mileage at the time (40 to 50 miles per week) could I bounce back in time?

We stayed with friends at old farmhouse near Utica, and enjoyed pasta and a beer the night before. I don't remember a whole lot about the race. The start scene was memorable, as I was lined up next to Steve Spence, Ed Eyestone, and Bill Reifsnider, all who were on a tear that summer.

It was fairly warm and muggy, but overcast. I took it out conservative and remember Reifsnyder's girlfriend, Jill Hunter of Great Britain take off at 5:10/mile pace up the long gradual uphills. No thanks!

I ran conservative until about half way. Right ahead was top CNY (central New York) runner Tom Carter of Binghamton, and I was running in a pack with Olympic Nordic skier Joe Galanes. We flew over the gradual downhill section, and I think we were well under 16 for the final 5K. Carter pulled away fairly soon, and over the last mile Galanes was right there, but I couldn't respond well enough to get ahead, and finished 7 seconds back.

49:41, 46th overall, agains a real good field. I hoped new PRs would come, maybe even in the 10K. I figured I'd be back the next year, and hopefully Tamara as well.

Official card from the Boilermaker

Newspaper clipping of top finishers; several Olympians and Olympic marathon qualifiers in the top 100!

Bonus clipping: how the leaders, Eyestone, Reifsnider, and Spence duked it out for win place and show. Eyestone already an Olympian at 10000 meters won the race, Reifsnyder was probably at his peak that summer just missed an Olympic berth in 1992. Spence ran in two more Olympics and a month later won Bronze for the marathon at the World Championships in Japan.

Finally, how did that 10000 meters go at Empire State Games? I was pretty washed out after the Boilermaker but recovered just in time, and ran nearly even splits to take 6th in 32:11. A few weeks later I took it to New Jersey and the USA road 10K championships at Asbury Park. I felt ready to go under 32, but faded in the stretch to run 32:19 on a muggy day.

Those were good days, and I remember them fondly.

ANd with mixed feelings there was no next year, as we moved to the Outback of North Dakota, where I would pursue graduate studies in wildlife biology.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Don't Blink

But guess who's an unlikley third place holder in the Flint Hills Series rankings. Even got a mention in the byline. That hardly ever happens. I mean, I'm old and slow.

Truthfully, I'm feeling pretty feeble, and that's before the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) that I've been experiencing this week following the hill run on Sunday. I felt pretty good upon finishing and was just cruising at over threshold pace over the last two miles (again easy down the Chute), but when I got to my car before cooling down my legs were shaking like an aspen leaf.

Running easy this week, with more uphill (uphill 1 hr yesterday, well it was 80% uphill by time) and it'll hill reps today. Have hit the foam roller a few times, taken some multi-vitamins and trying to sleep well.

Off to measure the Valkyiries course later today.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Midsummer's Knee Update

A year ago I was going Uh Oh, had been sitting out for two weeks and was wondering when the knee pain would end. By then I'd made yet another appointment to an orthopedist and last July he gave me the bad news about osteoarthritis. So I had rehab and months and months of limited activity, and no running.

So far things have been good this year. Even though I'm not setting any records (personal or for age group at races) I've put the knee to the test. For example, over the past two weeks I've run 13 of 14 days with weekly totals of 52 and 44 miles; two runs were about 12 miles (hilly too, with up and coming 15/16 yr olds from Team FAST); two races with the Flint Hills Mile and yesterday's very tough hill run and huge descent; in addition to several challenging workouts. After all that, if anything, the knee feels better now than it did in May or June.

My running expectations for this year have been exceeded. I'm doing more and feeling better than expected.

Still I need to keep my training diverse with some rollerskiing, ski walking, and cycling, and should probably do a better job of mixing those in every week. My overall volume is moderate this summer, about an hour a day plus one or two weight workouts with the kids. I could make the time to do more, but that's been hard to squeeze it in with work and coaching and all. Well that's my excuse anyway.

For now at least I can enjoy summer with some training and racing, and consider that news of the imminent demise of my aerobic life, which seemed to be the case last year, was a bit premature. Appreciating every stride because someday it will end, or be very tough to get out there.

Ester Dome Ass Kicker on a Whim

I wasn't planning on doing Sunday's Ester Dome Ass Kicker at all, and have never really considered doing the event because it's usually in the middle of the probably the busiest race month of the of the year. Knowing that it's a brutal course, I've always figured why thrash my quads out there for a race that is kind of extreme, if not an outlier.

But after some urging from a friend, I was pecking away on the computer at 8:45 on Sunday morning, I thought what the heck just do it as a workout. My promises were to walk/go easy down the Chute and then run within myself on the long downhill onto Stone Road into Ester.

Driving over, I thought I might be able to sneak in a masters (45+) win in the Northern Trail Series, but while warming up, I spotted Simon, and figured that'd be tough.

The plan was to hit the first half hard, and I gave it a good go but Saturday's 12 mile run on the Murphy Dome/Cache Creek loop must have been residing in my legs. I walked almost the entire Chute (1200' or 1300' of climb in 1 mile), with Max Kaufman and a guy from Missouri, while Mike Kramer, Andrey Ionashku, Ben Nelson, and Ray Sabo were out ahead a minute or two. Sabo took a wrong turn and headed down the Equinox trail, so by the top it was Max I and together in 4th and 5th (I think our split was 34:40).

At the top I said goodbye and he sped off. In the past I've taken the Chute in about 2:12 to 2:20 from the top to the where the Equinox trail splits off, this time it was more like 3:20 or 3:30.

To tell the truth, I was surpised (at how slow I've gotten on uphills) to see Simon and three young guys (well 30 somethings) within 30 or 40 seconds at the turn around and knew that they'd be catching me on the Chute. Sure enough, Simon went by just past the Equinox turn off and then two others, on that lower portion, wich is actually steeper than the upper part.

I caught the youngsters on the trail after it flattend out then the road climb on Azurite Way, and had my sights on Simon who was maybe 20 sec up by the time we headed down Stone Road, with about 1.5 miles way. But that was it. He was stalking Max (who was up another 20 or 30 seconds) and I held to my promise of not trying to fly down the hill, and turning my quads into hamburger and knee into mashed grisle.

Simon's a dangerous downhill runner and caught Max when they made the last turn. I was 6th in 59:16, about 35 seconds behind them. I think seven ran under 60 minutes, which would be a "record" for one day. Usually it's three to five under an hour.

So it was pretty fun, and I think the Ass Kicker could be an even bigger event if they made the finish into a block party--mmmm beer. I'd also like to see if they could have primes for first up the hill, or maybe even add a hill climb only category.

Here's the News-Miner story and some pictures.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Flint Hills Mile Age grade scores

Took me a while but now I can post the top masters age group scores from last week's Flint Hills Mile, at West Valley High School Track (June 30, 2011). Nice, near perfect conditions, about 70 partly cloudy with a 6 or 8 mph breeze on the homestretch.


1 Melissa LEWIS (40).........5:57.9.....74.99
3 Jane Lanford(67)...........6:22.9......84.52
9 Karen Nanseth(48).........6:43.6......70.18
10 Erika VAN FLEIN (51).....6:43.9......75.95


1 Chad CARROLL (40).........4:48.1......81.67
3 Roger SAYRE (53)...........5:11.7......83.66
6 Robert Weeden (49)........5:41.0.....74.04
7 Dave Leonarad (56).........5:46.0.....77.29
13 David WITHOFF (54).......6:06.1.....71.83
16 Keith Kimbrell (54).........6:08.0....71.29
18 Warren Taylor (57)........6:12.1....72.48

Kudos to Jannette Hanneman (81) and Glen Hackney (86) for participating and doing a solid job.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Flint Hills Mile: Slow enough to invoke the wrath of John McEnroe

Ran the Flint Hills Mile, third of the local eight Flint Hills race series. The good news is 3rd overall, when previous bests had been 5ths (I think 2006 and 2008).

The downside was my time a personal worst (PW) in an official mile race. Previous worst was a 5:08 soon after arriving here in Fairbanks with my family in 2004. The situation was somewhat similar, in that I was coming off long term injury. But that year we had a lot of smoke already and it was just 5 days after Midnight Sun Run back then: we had 12 this time.

Didn't have the most spry attitude yesterday and just wanted to get it done. In fact I was thinking over the last hour or two before the race, okay that's it. NO MORE of these miles. Too old to run the mile anymore and I can't get the leg turnover going, and training is difficult. But then you see these 80 year olds out there and what can you say?

Based on minimal speed work (less than 4 miles at mile pace over the past month (i.e., 1500 m to 1 mile at race pace over 4 weekly workouts), I knew sub 5 would be tough but came in pretty confident that I could do low 5 (5:02 to 5:06 seemed realistic). The plan was 78,77,76 and kicking in with 73 or so. I think you have to run a 73 at least once or twice in practice before you do it in a race.

A lot of the usual suspects were not in attendance (Brinegar, Kramer, Eversman, McDowell, Linberg, Nelson et al.), but I knew that Chad Carrol would set tough pace up front. Didn't know any of the other younger guys so this was the lightest FHM field in my years here.

I was in about 8th or 9th through the first lap, which got strung out with Carrol's fast pace (maybe 69 sec). I came through in 79. Too slow, but my practice efforts had been too fast (76s) which resulted in tying up later).

Started to pick up at the lap but still came through only 2:38 at the half, in 6th place. At this point I could swear to hearing age compatriot John McEnroe (born a year after me) screaming all the way from LA:

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I can't F@YY%I\G BELIEVE how SLOW you are running!!"

Picked off one guy around the first turn another on the back stretch, and one more in the far turn. Back into the breeze toward home one more guy 20 meters ahead. Honviently veered into lane 2 and I passed him with a lap to go (3:55). 3rd place, wow.

By now I was pretty mad, what with figurative Johnny Mac yelling and all, so really tried to kick it in over the final 300. Thing is there just wasn't much in the tank. Might have gained on 2nd a little but he was more than 50 m ahead on the final turn and finished almost 15 sec ahead.

They made us veer into lane 2 at the finish into a human chute (only in Alaska) and I crossed in 5:11.7, 11 sec slower than '08 and '09, and what would have been solid 10K pace a couple decades ago. I missed All-American by 1.8 sec.

Oh well, had a good run there for several years. If my training was Monopoly, I'd be trying to win the game on the purple and blue properties with 3 houses, not hotels on the yellow and greens.

Last year I was injured, thinking I might be out for two or three weeks, but it turned out to be the rest of the year. So, 5:11 it is, which is actually fairly consistent with the 10-12/mile slower for 5K and 10K so far this year.

Next up, 8K in two weeks. Run for the Valkyries is not my favorite local event, but it's on the calendar and it's in the series so 8K out and back along the Chena River it is. Santa Claus Half next month is the one I'm really looking forward to.