Monday, May 26, 2014

No backsliding at the Glacier Half

I went in to The Trent/Waldron Glacier Half not quite knowing my fitness. The 17:55 Chena River Run earlier this month didn’t indicate great shape, but have felt better over the past 10 days.

Goal time self bargaining began at 1:21 and if everything went well, hopefully a sub 1:20, with the plan of 6:15-20 pace on the way out (200 ft elevation gain) and low or sub 6s on the way back. I guess it went well.

We had a nice cool morning, with a taste of Kenai fire in the air. And while I might have gone out a bit easier and not run quite as fast on mile 5, Saturday’s effort was about as fast as I could go.

Here are my splits (with some rounding errors):

6:03 – chatting and settling in (4th place)
12:21 (6:18) – hang back a bit, 13.1 is a long ways!
18:38 (6:16) – break away from two runners
24:54 (6:16) – some hill climbs and one runner in sight (15 sec up)
31:10 (6:15) – 5 miles
37:05 (5:55) – flat mile, pushed it too much? (move into 3rd place)
43:09 (6:09) – decent hill over the foot bridge
49:19 (6:00) – mental math says stay under 6:00 pace to break 1:20
55:16 (6:01) – feeling it
1:01:12 (5:56) – 10 miles, wishing that was the finish! TG for downhills
1:07:08 (5:55) – passed by 20 something dude who was running 5:40 pace
1:13:05 (5:56) – legs and cognitive function failing
1:19:03 (5:58) – barely hanging
1:19:38 (34.8) – you call that a sprint!? (got ‘outkicked’ to the line by two women who had started an hour earlier)

Age grade 88.6%, which is close to my all time best, I think last year’s Independence Day 5K at 88.9% was the only one higher. The half marathon is forgiving, which is why everyone over about the age of 30 loves the event. But because of that it’s one of the tougher ones to break a 90%. I would need to run 1:18:24 this year to get a 90.

Speaking of age grading they actually rank the results.Turns out though the 2nd place guy was 55! Woah! He dropped almost 3 minutes off his time here from 2012, and 5 minutes faster than 2007. You’re supposed to get slower with age! Anyway, 1:16:53 is for 55 is way fast (age grade 90.96). Only a handful in this country can go faster than that. So I got 4th overall and 2nd in age grade rankings. A fun day, and something to work on for this year and the future.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

10 Years

I passed not one but two decadal milestones. It was 10 years ago today that I arrived in Fairbanks on a blustery afternoon, kind of bleary from a solo five day drive from Colorado. Although I have lived in one state for longer periods (about 23 in Colorado and 12 in Iowa), this is the longest continuous period I’ve lived in one town and one house. Growing up I spent nine years in the same house in Colorado, and my parents had the same house in Iowa for just over a decade, but I was in college for four of those years and after the summer between freshman and sophomore year, no more than a few scattered weeks a year at that house.

So anyway 10 consecutive years here is a personal record of sorts. By nature I’m a rolling stone and like the shingles on our roof, I’m starting to gather some moss.

That said, it’s been a good decade professionally and as a masters athlete. To come here I kind of took a downgrade on the career ladder, although for an incentive they offered more than I would have if I’d stayed in Colorado—cost of living plus a bonus, plus coming off soft money there, the prospects of a more stable position here. In some respects it wasn’t a great career move, but the tradeoff of an Alaskan adventure and long-term job stability were a good draw. For the previous 23 years I’d bounced all around the country looking for gainful, long term employment. These were grant funded or term positions, and within a year or two I would start looking for a new project. I did get some good offers from agencies in the 80s and early 90s, but turned those down to pursue academic opportunities. Looking back, I don’t know the years studying mountain sheep in the badlands worth it. The times were some of the best in my life but career-wise I could have done just as well (and gotten there earlier) with a masters degree. However, the work here has been stable. Environmental planners are not born, they are made, and they are in demand.

Another milestone is that I’ve also just received my 10 year certificate for government service. Even though we live in times where many think government work is bad, and its employees even worse, it’s an achievement that I’m somewhat proud of. And with all due respect to the military there are other ways in which to serve your country.

Actually, looking at the numbers, I passed the 10 years of service long ago. I worked as a wildlife technician in Minnesota as one of the last in old YACC (Young Adult Conservation Corps) for a year, right after I’d finished college, and then a summer as a volunteer for the U.S. Forest Service in Colorado. Those don't count toward my official record, but to me they do. So that makes almost 11.5 years. In addition, I spent just under six years supporting U.S. Army Alaska’s environmental conservation program. I wasn’t a federal employee (working for Colorado State University as a contract employee), but everything we did was in support of the Army’s mission to sustainably use its training lands. So that actually makes 17 years. I’m proud of that, and no political blowhards can take that away. End of story.

Enough for this day, maybe later I’ll catch up with the decade of running here but first I have get up on the roof and clear some of that moss.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Not even close to a 4 min mile but hats off to Bannister!

Sixty years ago on a windy afternoon at Iffley Field in England Sir Roger Bannister ran the first sub 4 min mile, and with that feat he has inspired generations of runners. Sub 4 is still a big feat--a standard of excellence--and if you get down to it, it's harder to do than climbing Mount Everest. Not to downplay the latter, but with money and resolve a lot of people can do Everest, only the very talented and dedicated get under 4.

If you haven't done so, check this video of the event as it happened:

Meanwhile, Steve Spence who ran in the Olympics and won a Bronze Medal in the 1991 World Championships marathon, has broken 5 every year since he was about 15 years old. I'm no Bannister or Steve Spence, but my name is Roger.

So in deference to the feats of those great athletes, here's my year by year history at the mile. I didn't race in high school, and only started as a sprinter in the weeks following graduation. So not a perfect record by any means--wish I'd actually worked on a Spence like streak, rather than being half-hazard for several of those years--but happy to be in the low 5s into my mid-50s.

5:30 (1976) Time trial (age 18), Iowa City, IA
4:47 (1977) Time trial, Grinnell IA (following my first XC season in college; also ran 4:49 at a summer meet)
4:39 (1978) Meet at William Penn College, IA (also ran a 4:17 1500 m in Chicago that summer)
4:55 (1979) split in 2 mile at indoor track in Sterling, IL (didn't run the mile that year)
4:31 (1980) Drake Relays, Des Moines, IA 4:30 split in 4 X 1600 meters (we got last place)
5:00? (1981) 1st mile at Get in Gear 10K (33:35), Minnesota. Did not race the mile that year, nor 5K.
4:52a (1982) 24 hour relay, Boulder CO, converts to 4:44 at sea level
4:57a (1983) split in 5K (15:28) in Steamboat Springs, CO converts to 4:49
5:03a (1984) split in 5K (16:23) in Fort Collins, CO converts to 4:55
4:34a (1985) road mile, Fort Collins, CO converts to 4:26
4:34a (1986) Track meet Boulder, CO converts to 4:26 (also ran 4:11 1500m in Boulder)
5:0Xa (1987) 5K split (16:30) Roy, UT converts to about 5:00
5:0Xa (1988) 5K split (16:31) Reno, NV converts to low 5s
4:32 (1989), Track meet, Syracuse NY
4:34 (1990), Road Mile Elmira, NY
4:32 (1991), Time Trial, Ithaca, NY
4:43 (1992), Time Trial, Dickinson, ND
4:46 (1993), Time trial, Dickinson, ND
4:53 (1994), Time trial, Dickinson, ND
4:56 (1995), Time trial, Grand Forks, ND
4:57 (1996), Time trial, Bemidji, MN
5:30? (1997), 5K split (17:40), Amherst, MA (Injured most of the year)
4:38 (1998), Masters Mile, Amherst, MA (AGE 40 Comeback!)
4:41a (1999), Fort Collins, CO (converted from 1500 m)
4:53a (2000), Track meet Boulder, CO converts to 4:45
5:09a (2001), road mile Fort Collins, CO, converts to 5:01
injured (2002)
5:10a (2003), road mile Fort Collins, CO, converts to 5:02
5:07 (2004) Flint Hills Mile, Fairbanks, AK
4:56 (2005) Flint Hills Mile, Fairbanks, AK
4:54 (2006) Flint Hills Mile, Fairbanks, AK
5:08 (2007) Road Mile, Fairbanks, AK
5:00 (2008) Flint Hills Mile, Fairbanks, AK (AGE 50)
5:00 (2009) Flint Hills Mile, Fairbanks, AK
5:13 (2010) All comers meet, Fairbanks, AK (converted 1500 m)
5:10 (2011) Flint Hills Mile, Fairbanks, AK
5:03 (2012) Flint Hills Mile, Fairbanks, AK
5:10 (2013) Flint Hills Mile, Fairbanks, AK

Monday, May 05, 2014

Chena River Run 2014 Age Grade Rankings

Here is the age grade honor roll for men and women at this year’s Chena River Run.

Dorli McWayne continues to dominate, and she’s usually good for high 80s or low 90s. Erika VanFlein has been a regular on the list for the past several years. And this time the sister duo of Sharon Baker and Donna Difolco made the grade. Congrats women!

I’m still hoping for that elusive 90, but that won’t happen at this race. It will have to be at a faster course later in the year. Dan Bishop has made a huge leap in fitness this year, improving 2 minutes from 2013, to score a 76.47. Way to run Dan! Ed Debevec, Dave Whitoff, and Bob Baker scored well in the typically competitive 55-59 class, while Larry Hall ran to a solid 72:55 as a 65 year old.

In age grading a 70 is considered regional class, 80 national class, and 90 world class. It’s a good motivator for masters runners.

89.33--Dorli McWayne 21:43 (59)
77.86--Erika VanFlein 22:53 (52)
72.83--Sharon Baker 24:32 (55)
71.79--Donna Difolco 23:21 (50)

86.49--Roger Sayre 17:55 (56)
76.47--Dan Bishop 19:37 (52)
74.53--Ed Debevec 21:20 (59)
73.83--Dave Whitoff 21:10 (57)
73.73--Bob Baker 21:01 (56)
72.55--Larry Hall 23:07 (65)

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Oy Chena River 5K

Going in I knew I didn't quite have the fitness for a top 10 or mid 17s, but in my head I thought a 17:40s was doable. Blew that in the first half mile. As usual, the field went out way fast and I ended up running faster than planned at the start, even though I was in 30th or 40th place.

How much too fast? Not sure, but my plan of 5:44, 11:28, and something like another one of those went down with the melt water. The opening mile was 5:39, and I was in about 20th place. From then on, no one passed me and I picked of seven or eight more runners. Not running fast, I just slowed down less than the others. But even though my 2 mile split was right on at 11:28, I knew I didn't have much extra oxygen uptake reserve to pick up the pace. So I just hung on, and tried to catch UAF skier Stefan, which I accomplished after the bridge. I tried to pull away with about 400 or 500 to go but couldn't hold the effort so dropped back. Ugghhh. Not enough running base, not enough speed. 17:55 (56 by rounding in the official results).

I guess it's okay. 12th overall, and an age group win. About where I've been the past few years, place wise but not pleased with the time.

I checked the age grade calculator, and it has an 86.5 percent. So that's well and good. Skeptical on the time equivalent of 14:55 (which was faster than I ever ran). Back in my 20s and 30s, I often opened an early season 5K in the high 15s to mid 16s. For example, in 1990 or so I remember doing the Billy Mills Fun run (and got to meet Mills, the 1964 Olympic Gold Medalist) in New York, and ran 16:30s or 40s. That was in mid or late April. Comparatively speaking, I feel about the same, just older an slower! The good news is, I've always been able to knock of 30 seconds or more once the season gets rolling.

More age grade results in a few days, when I get the chance. But there were some good ones.