Friday, June 27, 2014

Jim Loftus Mile

Formally known as the Flint Hills Mile, this was the first Jim Loftus mile, named after long time track race director here who was national/world ranked masters middle distance runner (2:12 800 m at 55). Jim passed away from cancer last summer, and we all miss him. I thought about him a lot on Thursday.  

The mile is exciting as it is tough. Although the physiology is very different the mile is like the marathon because you have to force your body to push at levels that are uncomfortable.  In marathon you bonk, in the mile your legs and lungs usually seize on the last lap—or two—but sometimes you can float through and accelerate all the way to the finish. Running ecstasy.

I used to love the excitement and rush of pouring it on with a lap to go, with knowledge that the training had paid off and now was the time unleash bundled nerves and to rejoice in a welling of speed. However, my love-hate affair with the mile might be ending.

I’ve always wrestled with some pre-race anxiety when preparing for the mile, but learned to overcome that and even embrace it. This year following the Midnight Sun Run I just didn’t feel like I was ready, not just physically but mentally.  However, I had trained for this race since early May and I had wanted to improve on my time from last year.

Compared to previous years I was less nervous this time. The weather was about perfect a cool 60 or so, overcast and only a light breeze down the homestretch. I had hoped for 76 sec laps (the pace I ran in 2012), but in workouts I had not been feeling comfortable at that pace so I settled for 77s in my plan, with hope of  a good kick and maybe something like a 5:03-5:08 if everything went well.

Everything was near perfect—instead of forging my own way in no-man’s land, I followed a good group running near my goal pace—and we were doing even splits so all I had to do is hang with them. I was in contact at a half mile (2:35), and close enough through 1100 meters to maybe make something happen. Or not.

Back in the day (say from about age 26 to 50) I’d start to pick it up at 1100 and pass people on the home straightaway, right before the bell. This time I had nothing. They just ran away and I could not muster the speed. At three-quarters I was 3:53, maybe 3-4 seconds behind Ted, Joe, and Andrew as they had jumped early. Around the turn they pulled completely out of contact and on the backstretch I was 6 or 7 seconds back.

I did regroup on the final curve and, even though I could feel the headwind, I focused on knee lift, form, and tried to accelerate. Well two out of the three isn’t bad.

I crossed the line in 5th place at 5:10.6, just 0.1 faster than last year. Not quite what I wanted, but at my age maintaining means moving ahead. Age grade 86.1, which is actually my second best ever for the mile (2012 was 86.6), and that includes bettering my all time best as an open runner or any other races as a masters.

Still something is missing this year. I’ve heard that a runner’s speed drops off precipitously at 55 so this could be some of the last vestiges of hanging on. I do plan on the Alaska Senior Games 1500 in August, but not sure about anything on the track beyond that.

I do look forward to road racing, trails, and cross country. So maybe it’s time to put track aside. Whatever the future holds I will keep my race bib, which aptly bears the name of the Jim Loftus Mile.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Midnight Sun Run Age Grade Results

Time - Name (Age), AGE GRADE PERCENT
41:15 - Melissa Lewis (43), 77.58 (consistency)
44:19 - Dorli McWayne (61), 89.72 (sets the standard again)
44:30 - Joy Tinnes (45), 73.15
46:35 - Erika Van Flein (54), 77.59
46:36 – Margaret Hooper (51), 74.66
49:34 – Lorraine Bubar (62) 81.38 (Nice Run!)
51:08 – Jane Lanford (59), 75.60 (respite between marathons)
Time - Name (Age), AGE GRADE PERCENT
36:35 – Roger Sayre (56), 88.17 (same time as last year)
37:50 – Eric Sumner (41), 75.66
40:05 – Tommy Dalhill (48) 75.37
40:50 – Dan Bishop (52) 76:41 (big improvement!)
40:54 – Keith Platzk (46) 72.72
41:11 – Emil Magallanes (58) 79.66 (past MSR Winner! 1993 Champ returns)
41:40 – Greg Wisenhant (55) 76.76
42:25 – Andy Holland (58) 77.37 (RCN President)
42:29 – Tim Lee (52) 73.44
43:28 – Dave Withoff (57) 74.84
43:50 – Jim Gower (52) 71.18
45:40 – Bill Hoople (64) 75.76
46:16 – Bob Vitale (61) 72.80
46:27 – Philip Salmon (61) 72.59
46:38 – Stephen Ford (60) 71.59
49:26 – Larry Hill (65) 70.62
56:11 – Jim Madonna (76) 71.47 (Inspiring!)

Monday, June 23, 2014

10th Midnight Sun Run

It’s been a good run. Ten starts at the Midnight Sun Run since 2004 (I did Mayor's Marathon in 2009) and not a bad race. Ten tries, each an age group win, I think five masters titles, and five top ten finishes. I’m just glad to still be running, running pain free. Everything else is just a bonus.

That said, I need a change and next year hopefully it will be something different.

This was probably my most relaxed race day leading up to the race. I didn’t do much of anything but read some and hunker down between waves of heavy rain showers.

Although it looked threatening at 9 PM the evening was cool and overcast. I figured to be good for a 36 min, and planned on holding low 5:50s for as long as I could. They moved the start back about 100 meters to account for course change, due to the flooding Chena River—and this time the Howitzer was not so obtrusive. I quickly settled into a decent pace and the first 3 miles were almost textbook. 5:51, 11:40, and 17:30.

The only hitch was a rookie move by yours truly at the 2 mile water station. I was feeling dry mouthed at the start and really wanted water. I had just passed four or five runners and dropped the first attempt at grabbing a cup, and had to cut across the road to get another. Got a little tangled up with another runner, I apologized for being such a bonehead, but he seemed good with it.

I was in 9th, running with Dylan, on University. That's always a surreal stretch--busiest street in town, mostly deserted. Two guys up about 20 sec had been dropped by the chase pack, so we nodded and set out to reel them in. 

There is something hinky about that 4th mile, and it’s always long, and this time the split was way off because they put the marker at the wrong spot. Dylan surged strongly right at 4 and I couldn’t match that, opting for the steady approach. By holding back there went any chance at breaking 36.

I always feel the worst in the Riverview neighborhood, which is about 2 miles of the course. Distracted by all the block parties (somewhat subdued this year), and feeling miserable (that happens every year).

A young woman offered me a beer at 4.2 miles (Bud Light) and insisted that I looked like I needed one, but of course I declined. Maybe an Amber next time!?

5 mile split was 29:28, which seemed legit (although I'd really like to wheel that).

I passed a tall guy in white top and basketball shorts and then worked on catching my son’s friend Joe, a high schooler. We ran together for about a half mile and I felt well enough to pick it up for the stretch. I always work on practicing surges for the last part, and managed one for about a minute, but that was about it. Cruised it in to hit 35:17 at 6 and 36:35. The last 0.21 seemed a tad long, but who’s counting.

7th overall and a surprising if not shocking 1st runner over 30. Everyone ahead was in the 20-29!

Hey this was a fun one, I didn’t get as worked up. Nevertheless, I’m hoping to find other June venues for the next year, or three…but we’ll see.  

Of Irony and Audacity

“Let me tell you about these great new inventions called blogs. They’re perfect for verbose-self satisfied, narcissistic posting.”

[The above quotation was from a message board that I formerly moderated, made by one of the most narcissistic, self-indulgent, contributors that I've seen on the internet]

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Are you a prolifigate racer?

Race season here is in full swing, with three or events a week going on. Last week it was the Annihilator 10K, then on Tuesday Masochism on Moose Mountain, Thursday was the all comers track meet, Tour de Fairbanks cycling this weekend, a local Color Run, and Run Lulu Run 5 and 10K. Next week is busy too. So it got me thinking what kind of racer are you?

Prolific - a marathon a week or several shorter races in the same time? That approach is increasingly common. I am amazed at the number of races and race miles that some people rack up. 26.2 on Sunday, 13.1 on Saturday, 10K Sunday, 50K the next Sunday, 50 miler as a tune up for the next week's 100 miler, followed by a 26.2 the next week off in California... 20 or 30 years ago you hardly ever saw anyone doing that. Now it's almost the norm, and you're kind of not cool if you don't do all that.

The Focused Moderate - up to about two races a month on average, with emphasis on performance or being recovered enough to feel good. Well, I probably fall under the Focused Moderate category. If I do the series races I'll do a few races in the series or between events as preps or fillers, but not at an all out effort. I figure you only have so many peak efforts in a year, maybe six or seven, so it's best to pick and choose a little. This year I'm doing fewer tune up races to give my legs a chance to recover. Still feeling the effects from the half marathon two weeks ago, so I'll probably pass on a race effort at the summer track series or road 5K prior to the Midnight Sun Run in two weeks. I just feel like being a little bit under-raced this year. So I'll have four races in a May and June.

Seasonal - run a certain amount of races, but only in a discrete time frame. Typical of high school or college teams. They're still out there, but it's hard to follow that pattern unless you are on a team.

The Shy Runner - Takes a major event (often a marathon it seems) to step out of all that mileage to run, maybe only do one race every six months, or in some cases once every few years. To each their own, but I'd get bored doing that. Easy to lose focus so all that you're doing is logging miles and workouts.