Thursday, May 24, 2012

Flash Mob Track Classic

I think the high school track season here in Alaska is way too short, not to mention that some of the JV kids barely get to run three or four meets in a year. No time for development and to gain experience. So once again, for the third year in a row I've put on a little end of season mini-meet. It's tricky, because ideally I'd like to have it a full week after state, but that's Memororial Day weekend when most everyone is out of town. So I've had it mid-week, four or five days after state.

The twist this time was that this meet was totally unofficial. In the past two years I've gotten all the permits through the schools, school district, running club and back. Sheesh, for 12 to 20 kids just getting out there and stretching their legs. So I made this one a "time trial." Probably will miff someone-somewhere, but when was the last time we had UAF or FXC getting permits to run their 3K time trials on the track?

Fairbanks Youth Track
Flash Mob Classic

May 23, 2012


100 Meters
1. Kieran O’Neill 14.0

200 Meters
1. Kieran O’Neill 28.8
2. Sarah Lilly 33.3

400 meters
1. Patty Egan 1:03.0
2. Abby Bravo 1:18.0

800 meters
1. Brigit Noon 2:49.7
2. Kieran O’Neill 2:50.0
3. Sarah Lilly 2:56.6

1 Mile
1. Sarah Lilly 6:02.0
2. Brigit Noon 7:43.5 (Paced Mom)
Amy Noon 7:43.5


100 Meters
1. Brandon Kowalski 12.5
2. Seth Kane 13.8
3. Jesse Mayo 14.1
4. Tristan Sayre 15.6

200 Meters
1. Brandon Kowalski 24.9
2. Peter Noon 26.9
3. Mikko Sayre 28.2
4. Seth Kane 28.8

400 meters
1. Erich Hoefler 1:00.3
2. Seth Kane 1:03.3
3. Jesse Mayo 1:04.4
4. Tristan Sayre 1:05.7

800 Meters
1. Brandon Kowalski 2:24.0

1 mile
1. Tristan Sayre 5:01.1

1320 yards
1. Jesse Mayo 3:48

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Torch Run "5K"

Ran the Torch Run on Saturday, on my way down to the state track meet. The course was purportedly 0.3 mile short last year so they went out and remeasured and re-routed. It was still a little short (3 miles instead of 5K).

I felt a lot out of place before lining up because I was the only one within three miles wearing a singlet and race shoes. Oh well, for a good cause. It was hilly with the course starting and finishing at the UAF police station and going up Tanana Drive to Kuskokwim, down past Ballaine on the bike path to the crossing with Ballaine and back on Farmers Loop to Tanana and to the police station. With the hills splits were all over the place, with the last mile (uphill) being about 15 seconds slower.

17:02 for 3 mile solo effort, I'm more than okay with that.

I'm not really okay with the local race schedule.

We are into the silly season here. All that some of us (a minority I expect) want from time to time (once or twice a month would be great) is an accurately measured race course on reasonable terrain. What we have instead are the ubiquitous 5K fund raiser fun runs--90% certain to be on a mismeasured course--or killer hill classics like the Anihilator, Two Way Torture Test, Masochism on Moose Mountain, Ester Dome Ass Kicker, and of course the Equinox Marathon itself. Now I've done each of these and will likely do them again but geez it sure would be nice to have a series of accurately measured road races that could draw in some of the faster local competitors so that we could have some good race times. As it is, we have a handful of races, each with it's own foibles:

Chena River Run--becoming the most competitive race in town. Downside is the course is so winding that times are 10-15 sec slower. Plus it's early, so most runners don't even have their best race legs yet.

Water Run--great little event on perhaps the fastest course in town, an out and back along the Chena River starting and finishing at the GVEA Power Plant. The downside is that it's just three days before or after the Chena River Run, so usually you have to choose one or the other. As such the competition is spotty because most opt for the bigger race. The other downside is that it's an out and back on bike paths so coming back you are taking your life into your hands going against jogger/walkers going 3-4 abreast and utterly clueless that other runners are returning.

Midnight Sun Run--probably my favorite race in town, and effectively the only 10K. I enjoy this event but do wish we'd have one or two more that would have a fast course and that would start at a reasonable time of day (say 9AM).

Santa Claus Half Marathon--more or less tied with Midnight Sun Run as my favorite. The only thing I'd like to have is another half marathon in town that has the entire course on flat pavement. I think we could run a minute faster at leasat if the entire thing was paved--that said I like the Santa Clause race as it is.

4th of July 5K and Labor Day 5K--these are put on by Lathrop coaches Kevin Brinegar and Chad Carroll. Both good events on accurately measured courses. My only complaint about these is that you have to navigate that narrow little wooden bridge (twice) on these runs.

That's it. We have like 60 events in town but for accurate road races with fast courses and good management all we have are three or four 5Ks, a 10K, and an off road (mostly) half marathon. My solution, if I could have a say:

Move the Water run either a week earlier or later, and maybe change the course so runners aren't colliding.

Add a festive and fast 10 miler or 15K in mid-late May.

Add a half marathon (or 20K) road race in early July (week or so after the 4th, when we used to have Santa Claus)

Add a 10K road race in August.

Run my XC series in September and October!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Nice State Meet!

I think I've seen every Alaska state championship meet since we moved here--well other than 2004 when I had just arrived in the state and the meet was in Anchorage. Other than that definitely. Now that I know a lot of the kids it seems even better. It's a small state and truthfully most kids are just rounding into shape by the time the season ends. Our outdoor track season is only 1/2 to 2/3 as long as any other state in the country.

Girls 3200, Colony's Audrey Michaelson showed she could be the best all-around runner in the state since Leah Francis (2007-10) by running an 11:04 with a blistering final lap. Michaelson repeated in the 1600, finishing with a 69 or 70 sec final 400 m to win easily in 5:04. Easily has potential to run 10:40s/and down around 4:50 this year. Just as dominant was Wasilla's Morgan Dampier who took three 1sts (200, 400, and 800) and a second place in the 100. She has a great range.

In all divisions the 800 was the most exciting with each being decided at the wire. The funkiest was the girls 4A with a tired Dampier controlling the pace at a jog (72 at 400) along with two Wasilla teammates who effectively boxed Michaelson onto the rail for most of the race. They didn't start picking up the pace until about 250 m to go and it looked like Dampier would walk away with a 10 meter win, and perhaps there would be a Wasilla sweep, but on the home stretch she inexplicably swung wide, just when Michaelson poured on a kick and gained with each step. Only 0.01 separated them at the finish. Dorky pace but a good tactical race.

For the boys middle distances talk about breakout races when it counts! Max Romey's PR for 3200 m prior to Friday was 9:43 and his best 1600 4:36. The rangy senior from Service hung with the lead group for five or six laps (led mostly by Kodiak freshman Levi Thomet) before taking control and putting down a 2:10 final 800 to win in 9:29. On Saturday our own Peter Noon from West Valley led for the better of three laps, going 62, 2:08, 3:16 but he was shadowed by Romey who took over on the homestretch of the third lap to win in 4:21, a PR of 15 seconds, and one second ahead of Noon's school record 4:22.

THE most exciting race of the day was the boy's 4A 800 meters. Senior Joe Day of Palmer has had a great year, breaking 2 min almost every time out, and with several relay legs in the 1:55-56 range as well as Friday's prelim in 1:55. But Lathrop's Kyle Hanson has been running strong all year and has posted 1:57s was expected to challenge. After that it was wide open with Ryer Kornkven from Lathrop and Brandon Kowalski also posting sub 2s this year. But it was Jordan Fogle of Kodiak--fresh of a championship 4X800 team earlier in the day--who went after Day's fast (55 sec) first lap, with Hanson and the field 10-15 meters back. Day looked to be a lock with 150 and then 100 m to go, but Fogle (with a previous best of 2:00) held on, and with just 5 meters to go, Day's leg buckled and he stumbled which gave the fast closing Fogle enough to escape with a huge win and nearly six second PR, 1:54.86!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Regional and State Middle Distances

Tomorrow became the next day and the next and now it's Friday!?

If you haven't heard/read about it, last weekend's boys 1600 was a barn burner. The paper's depiction makes it sound like Kyle Hanson would be and was the annointed regional champion and new meet record holder. Well, that wasn't decided until three fourth's through the final lap.

West Valley's Peter Noon had the state's fastest time with a 4:27 the week before and within two strides spectators could see that he wanted to control this race. Noon immediately strung out the field and blazed through the first 200 in 30 seconds and 400 in 62, with the fast kicking Hanson a good two seconds back. There were seven or eight runners under 67 seconds.

Noon led at 800 with a 2:08 and he had about three seconds on Hanson with a 3:16+ at 1200 meters. But on that homestretch Noon slowed slightly while his Lathrop rival was inching up. Maybe two seconds separated them with a lap to go. Not until the homestretch with about 120 meters to go did Hanson pass Noon. 4:24 and 4:25 respectively, both under the 20 year old region meet record, set by Eielson's David Dyer. The top seven runners in this race PR'd and six of them qualified for state.

A couple hours later it was Hanson again as the heavy favorite in the 800. This time he was forced to be the front runner, followed by teammate Ryan Kornkven and West Valley's Brandon Kowalkski, all three coming through 400 meters in under 60. Hanson looked in control the entire way, although a fast closing Kowalkski had a breakthrough race with 1:59.7, about 1 second behind Hanson, with Kornkven a solid 3rd in 2:01.8.

The state 1600 will be almost as intruiging as the 3200, with all the same players in the mix. Noon and Hanson will headline, but Kodiak's Christianson and Thomet who ran a tactical race in Palmer last weekend will no doubt be big factors. It's going to take a 4:20-4:22 to win it.

800 should come down to Hanson, Palmer's Day (1:59 this year), and Kowalksi, with Kornknven right in there for a possible top 3 finish.

The boys 4X800 should be very exciting with Palmer, Kodiak, and Lathrop all posting times in the 8:14-15 range. Look for sub 8:10 and maybe 8:05. The result of that race on Saturday morning could affect the 1600--that will be the story.

For girls, Morgan Dampier of Wassilla has the state's fastest times from every distance from 100 to 1600! An 800 m specialist she should dominate any race she enters.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fast Times at Lathrop High

In spite of the short season, often lousy weather, and overblown officiousness at the local and state level--some just seem hell bent on running track and field right of the state--last weekend's action at the Mid-Region (officially Region 6) championships was again surprisingly good.

Our local paper does cover the events, but again the writers do not deal with nuance. So I'll take a stab at it, focusing on middle distance and distance events.

Assault charges should be filed against the Alaska weather. Although the temperature was comfortable in the mid-50s, the 3200 on Friday afternoon was held under battering 20-30 mile per hour winds.

State cross country champion Megan Edic won her first of four races with a 12:16, 34 seconds off her season's best. She was followed closely by teammate Brook Lizotte, who ran 12:19, 24 seconds slower than she did at the season opener in Anchorage, while West Valley's Dorothy O'Donnell was 3rd in 12:29, 20 seconds off her season's best.

Edic and Lizotte qualified for state, Edic earning an automatic bid with the win and Lizotte on time. At state watch for Sarah Freistone of Dimond who has run 11:16 to lead all runners. Watch for cross country strong women Jeanette Northey, Lydia Blanchette, and Edic could be in the hunt.

The boys race was also slowed by the wind. The trio of Kyle Hanson, Peter Noon, and 3A runner Andre Ionashku of Delta took off fast, in just over 70 seconds for the first lap before settling into 5:00/mile pace. Lathrop's Hanson (also winner of four events over the weekend), unleashed his lethal kick and won with a fast last lap to win in 10:00, followed by West Valley's Noon (10:05) and Ionashku (10:06). All three were 15 to 20 seconds slower than their season's best. The duo of Mikko Sayre (that's my boy!) and Erich Hoefler worked together ran 10:18 and 10:19 to take 3rd and 4th for 4A, and also qualified for state next week.

Next week's boys 4A 3200 should be very exciting with several talented and emerging stars. Kodiak's Levi Thomet, a freshman, ran 9:38.99 to edge teammate Cole Christianson by 0.01 at the regional meet in Palmer. Meanwhile, Service's Max Romey (runner up at state XC) ran a solo 9:46. So the the race will feature five athletes who have run 9:46 or faster this year and with better weather hopefully (it's usually quite nice at state), all or any of the five stand a decent chance of running 9:30 or faster. Hanson clearly has the best kick, but who can string it out and take that weapon away? In the 2nd pack there are several runners who should also break 10. Ten under 10? When was the last time that happened at the Alaska state meet?

Tomorrow, middle distances.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Foray into the 5K: More Than You Ever Wanted to Know

Gratuitous Preamble. The other day I brought up when a local running/stats guru indicated that it was wonderful to see fast and young runners break 17 minutes at the Chena River Run, while mentioning the recent past we were seeing old (30s and 40s) runners win and post slow times at local races. Hey, with several top 10 finishes from age 47 to 50 at CRR I resemble that!

I get that and accept it.

But as I said here, the war cry of the 1990s and early 2000s, originating I think from the Farm Team in California (many elite, some professional level, former college runners among them): The older we get, the faster we were.

Here is my 5K story. [I wasn't That fast, but tried hard]

1977 to 1982 – I ran my first 5K at 19 in the summer of 1977 at a state park in eastern Iowa. I think it was about 17:40 or 17:50. I had run track the previous spring where I specialized in running slow (2:08 to 2:11 usually) for 800m. I was just starting out as a distance runner and had been doing 30-40 mile weeks for a few months.

Within a year I became a 5K runner by default, no one else wanted to do it and the faster guys wanted to do the mile. I really struggled with the 5K and hardly improved. My debut in the spring of 1978 was 16:31—and the coach said derisively that his grandmother could run faster—and improved only slightly to 16:15 a few weeks later. The nadir of my running career, bar none, was taking dead last at our conference meet (90s F) in Chicago in about 17:20. I got lapped twice by national champion Dale Kramer (PR 13:51, but mid 14s that hot day) and almost quit the sport. Even as a senior, my 5000 m personal best only improved to 16:14, just one second faster than I ran as a struggling sophomore.

Early post college (1980-82) there weren’t many road 5Ks, and I might have run one or two but no better than mid 16s.

1983 – 15:28 Autumn Run Steamboat Springs, CO. Break out year. If you consider 6,700 ft altitude the run converts to very low or sub 15 minutes. However, the course was not certified. I did run step for step with a guy with 9:20 2 mile, 31:15 10K, and 2:25 marathon credentials (all faster than I ever ran). It was a huge PR for me and I ran my all-time best 10K and PR marathon in over the next three weeks. [because the race was uncertified I consider a 1985 time on a certified course as my all-time best 5K]

1984 – 16:23, Colorado Run (altitude conversion 15:52)

1985 – Ran several fast times at altitude
15:39 (altitude conversion 15:11) – Greeley CO. Head to head with Doug Bell who went on to become US Masters record holder at 5K. I was 27, Bell a venerable 34 a the time. He was about 12 sec ahead and this was the closest I ever got to him! He actually ran faster at 40-45 (14:30s or 14:40s) than he did at 30-35.
16:10, Loveland, CO (altitude conversion 15:41)
16:00, Colorado Run (altitude conversion 15:31)

1986 – 16:04, Human Race (altitude conversion, 15:35)
15:48, Colorado Run (altitude conversion, 15:19)
16:20, some race at Denver Tech Park (altitude conversion 15:50)

1987 – 16:30, little 5K in Roy Utah, altitude conversion 16:04

1988 – 16:31, big 5K in Reno NV (altitude conversion 16:02)
16:35, 5K in Park City UT (altitude conversion 16:03)

1989 – 15:50 Mobil Fun Run, Ithaca NY (NO Altitude Conversion!!!). Raced against now local masters runner Mark Lindberg (obviously neither of us were masters at the time).
15:59 Finger Lakes Running Club All Comer’s meet
15:39 Empire State Games Qualifier
15:35 Cazenovia NY Fourth of July 5K
15:34 Empire State Games 5000 m (aggh, this could have been my best but it was 80s with 85% humidity, hot asphalt track)
15:43 Freihofer’s 5K (men’s version)

1990 – 15:43 Guthrie Gallop 5K, Sayre PA (return to ancestor’s namesake town to run a race!)
15:50 Some grungy road 5K in Syracuse, NY
15:36 (split on the way to 17:39 3.5 mile at Manufacturers Hanover championship in NYC)

1991 – 15:44 Guthrie Gallop 5K, Sayre PA
15:45 Syracuse Track Club All Comers meet
(a boatload of XC 5Ks, which were certainly sub 16 level, although times were 16:10s-20s)

1992 – 15:50 Some little race, Dickinson, ND where I was doing graduate field studies.

And that 1992 race was all she wrote for sub 16, let alone 16:10. I was 34 at the time. I think I ran just one more 5K that summer, 16:14. After that I got slower and slower.

As a masters runner (40-42) I did have a comeback to run 16:21 in Massachusetts and had 4 or 5 races under 16:30 before the wheels came off again at 43.

5Ks don't get much respect, considered to be fun runs that anyone can do, if not derisively called "diaper dashes" by some marathoners ultramathoners (many of whom couldn't break 3:20 or 3:30 if their life depended on it), but running a good 5K all out is tough.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Chena River Run Age Grade Scores 2012

I've started a little tradition a couple years back so we'll keep it going for 2012.

Dorli McWayne did it again, with an age graded 92.4. The record for McWayne's age is an 18:52, so she's barely 1.5 minutes off of that. Really really solid. Jane Lanford also posted a good time (21:26) and score (84.5). Interestingly the top 5 women were the same runners as last year.

Among men, we had five in the 80s. Chad Carrol ran a little slower (12 sec off from last year), but scored higher (81.3% to 79.3% last year). That's a nice thing about age grading is that as long as you can maintain--or even improve a little--you can bump your percent.


Melissa Lewis.. [1970] 20:00 (76.9)
Dorli McWayne.. [1952] 20:25 (92.4)
Jane Lanford... [1955] 21:26 (84.5)
Erika VanFlein. [1959] 22:49 (75.3)
Deena Doublex.. [1950] 25:59 (74.7)


Chad Carrol.... [1971] 16:55 (81.3)
Roger Sayre.... [1958] 17:35 (86.6)
Mark Lindberg.. [1963] 17:43 (82.6)
Gary Holton.....[1963] 18:17 (80.8)
Dave Leonard... [1955] 19:13 (81.3)

Age grading, while not perfect, can give incentive to keep going. I alluded to that yesterday on Facebook, when I posted that runners actually look forward to moving up in age groups because of age classes/age grading. One of my runner friends shot back, geez within about 6 seconds, "Some runners maybe." Well, if you want to set a personal best every time out, I can see that. But realistically if you're into running for the long haul you will not be setting PBs every time out--for a competitive runner that window of improvement will range from about 5 to 15 years.

After that, then what? The alternatives are pretty much die, quit the sport, or just become a fitness jogger. Age grading provides a way for runners to still have fun and it is a quantifiable means to push the limits when those personal bests are years or decades in the rearview mirror.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Crashing the Chena: A 5K race report

Not much to report really, other than well at least I'm consistent. Here are season opening races (5Ks all) going back to 2004:

17:39 (2004, altitude converted)
17:51 (2005, CRR*)
17:34 (2006, CRR)
17:37 (2007, Water Run)
17:27 (2008, CRR)
17:39 (2009, Water Run)
18:06 (2010, CRR/5 weeks post knee surgery)
17:42 (2011, CRR)

I came out of last weekend with great hopes--maybe delusional because I hadn't really put in the necessary quality work yet--of going mid 17:20s, I was flat all week. So I re-adjusted the goal on Friday to just beat last year's time. Hang on, dude you're not getting any younger.

Unlike some other years, we had perfect conditions, low 40s and barely a breeze. Fast field, and everybody and their little brother took off quick. I checked my pace a couple times and don't know how accurate those instantaneous readings are, but saw a 5:31, and then 5:25 at about a half mile, still back in 40th place or so. So I settled. 5:39 mile 1, and only passed three runners in mile 2 (11:18).

Masters ace Mark Lindberg reeled me back in just after the Chena River bridge and I hit a rough patch for about about a half km, just hang on. I really wanted to catch little Max, who is on my son's XC team at West Valley, but the rascal was just out of reach. I threw in a final surge with about 400 m to go and got to within 3 sec.

17:35, 16th place.

A lot was said about the fast field, with a dozen runners under 17, and that it's been 20 years since something like that has happened. It's also been 20 years since I broke 16, which for about a decade was my standard of being decently fit. Hats off to the fast guys, the 1990s saying went, the older we get the faster we were.

So I met my goal, but I'm not at all satisfied. Expected more this year. Maybe I can bring it down a lot like I did in 2005 (48 sec faster in June) and 2009 (38 sec faster). Hope so.

Planning on rousting up the local hard cores for a fast 5000 m on the track, about a week or two before Midnight Sun Run. Meanwhile, I'm going to train more like a miler/5000 m runner than I have this past decade.

It's a quixotic endeavor. Going for it.