Thursday Track Report: Process Of Elimination

July 6, 2017

It was warm, drab, misting, and humid as Jim Myers, Lance Bland, Tom Cali, John Domico, Costas Maranas, CJ Wagner, Kevin Becker, Bob Shafer, Doug Schunk, Mike Zimmerman, Seth Senior, last week’s newcomer Logan (I’ll get his last name next time), Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed for the State High track. The kind of day when summer, even if it’s mild, starts to work its attrition magic on you. 

Doug Schunk had earlier pointed Bwana to a video of a one mile elimination race on FloTrack. The races starts with 6 or 8 runners. The last person to finish each lap is eliminated, and those who remain chug it out on the last lap to see who wins. As you might expect, the race has some wild pace swings. Everybody is fresh on the first lap, and nobody wants to be the last guy, so its pretty fast, with a sprint start and sprint finish. These guys did it in 58 seconds, a low-3:50s mile pace. The second and third laps are a lot slower, though there’s always that sprint near the end. Average pace in the middle half-mile was about 4:30! Then, the last lap is when the guys pull it all out, whatever is left. This one finished in 4:09 with a 56 final lap (a high 3:40s mile pace), and it went down to the wire. Could we do that at the track? Or something that simulated it? It turns out that one of Bwana’s seldom used stand-by workouts does the job: Mad Minutes. Run 5 X 1 Minute. No breaks between the minutes. Inside each minute, jog slowly for 30 seconds, run at mile race pace for 20, and then sprint, with legs and arms lifting and working, for the last 10 seconds. Doesn’t sound too bad, and it feels easy on the first rep, but that 30 second jog after a 10 second sprint is NOT enough before you have to start picking up the pace. After each 5 Mad Minutes set, take a longer rest, then do it again for 2 or 3 cycles. 

Speaking of elimination, Jim Myers remarked that Bwana is the “Last Man Standing” among the Thursday Track “Original Originals”. (Anyone who joined the group in the last 25 years is a newbie.) What he meant was, the last one running regularly. Mike Dooris is in great shape, but hasn’t run in years due to a very old injury that came back to haunt him. Myers is also in great shape, but mostly bikes and swims and stays off his tricky knees. But when you get down to it, the running part is not as important as the “still standing” part. These guys will outlive Bwana. And all the “old newbies” like Domico, Lance, Judd, Costas, etc, are still going and helping to attract the “young newbies” that keep this thing going. As I say every week...Keep Running!

Thursday Track Report: Five Minutes' Peace

June 29, 2017

It was sunny, warm, and humid as Bob Cornwall, CJ Wagner, Mike Casper, Costas Maranas, newcomer Logan, Andy Maguire, Jaimie Wright, Mike Zimmerman, Bob Shafer, Mike Martin, Seth Senior, Kevin Becker, Rob Peterson, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur. Summer hasn’t really hit yet and the crew was thankful for the strong breeze.

Bwana’s workouts can sometimes be a respite from other stresses in life. If you have kids, maybe you remember reading to them the children's classic Five Minutes Peace by Jill Murphy about an elephant mother of three elephantettes (who live in a house and dress like people). Mom can’t get the kids to settle down, stop destroying the house, and behave so she can have five minutes to herself. She finally duct tapes them to the kitchen table and draws herself a nice bath. (I made that last part up.) Jaimie has a similar situation at her house, with 3 young boys and a teenage girl. Well, the two older boys are at grandma’s, the girl is at camp, so it’s heaven at home with “only” the baby. And somehow, she managed to dodge out to come to the track without using ANY duct tape! She got there just in time for Bwana’s hot weather, short rep workout of NX3X300. Do N sets of 3X300 with each 300 run at mile race pace and 100 meters of very slow rest between each rep. Take 500 meters of lollygagging between sets.

We’re starting into the heavy vacation season. Bwana will be here next week, but not the week after. Similar stories from others as the weeks unfold. Just keep your running up, even if it’s slow and on a sandy beach somewhere.

Thursday Track Report: A Deuce-and-a-Quarter Ain't No Cadillac

June 15, 2017

It was warm and quite humid as Tom Cali, John Domico, Lance Bland, George Lesieutre, Costas Maranas, Bob Shafer, Mike Martin, Doug Schunk, Joel Niemann, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed for the State High track. It was good to know we were going to a place that would be there when we got there, even if we had to step around a construction site. Too many weeks lately of not knowing whether the indoor or outdoor track (or neither) at Penn State would take us in.

The State High Track is state of the art, for a high school track. But still, it’s laid out differently from the outdoor PSU track: Different markings, finish line (and halfway point) well before the end of the straight, no Imperial Unit markings in the outside lane. But a track’s a track, and that’s a fact, Jack (but a Deuce and a Quarter ain’t no Cadillac). We’re big boys (and girls, though none were here today). We can figure it out. Speaking a quarters, Bwana gave 6X400 as the workout, with short (deuce-hundred) rests. So run at 5K+ race pace, with shortish rests, and try to keep the quarters consistent. Bwana nearly dropped a deuce on the last one and had to scale back to a 200.

Now that we know where we’re going (and sort of how to get there: the Rec Hall crowd is still figuring that out), we can hope that by the end of summer we’ll be having 15-20 or more people show up at the track. Just in time to be homeless again! Oh, I’m sure you’ll all be thankful for the PSU indoor track come November.

Thursday Track Report: Summer Training

June 22, 2017

The first Thursday Track of the summer. The weather was made to order “summery”, but not full-on hellacious. Tom Cali, John Domico, George Lesiuetre, Costas Maranas, Meira Minard, Mike Weyandt, Bob Shafer, Mike Martin, Dan Coughlin, Seth Senior, Ron Cunfer, Joel Niemann, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed for the track under mostly sunny skies, warm temperatures, and humid air.

Summer Training is more than just getting used to running in the heat. There’s a lot of things we do in the summer that require at least a little bit of preparation. Mike Martin is going on vacation at the Outer Banks next week and the Unofficial Beer Distributor of the Nittany Valley Running Club will be entering a “Beer Mile”. For those who don’t know, it’s a timed mile race where participants must chug a beer before heading out on each quarter mile. Four quarters, four beers. There are all kinds of special rules: no flat beer; beer must be at least 5% alcohol; no cans (so you can’t shotgun); all the beer in a bottle must be consumed in a 10 foot walkway before starting a quarter; puke and you’re DQ’ed, etc, etc. Mike wanted to get in some practice today in conditions with at some relation to the real thing. But, obviously, even though school’s out for the summer, beer wouldn’t be the smartest thing to bring to a school track. Now anyone who has ever done a beer mile knows that the alcohol is not what does you in (at least until *after* the race). It’s the volume of liquid and the gas from the foam. Bwana would have suggested Mike use soda as a substitute, but he chose water. It’s got the volume, just not the gas. Mike ran it as the rest of us started our workout. His finish time of 7:44 beat expectations. If he can hold anywhere near that time with cold, gassy beer, he’ll do alright. The rest of us ran a moderate volume workout of 400-800-800-400 at 5K+ pace with 400m rest between reps. Try to do the second half faster than the first. It’s not too trying a workout for a hottish, summery day.

Next week will we’ll be gearing up for the summer race schedule, which gets going on the 4th with the 4th Fest 4K and 4 Miler. How you train after that depends on whether you’re running the Arts Fest 5K, 10K, or 10 Miler. Whichever you choose, come to the track!

Thursday Track Report: Bring Back The Old Bwana!

June 8, 2017

It was mild again, with temperatures in the high 60s and a light breeze, as Mike Casper, Kevin Becker, Joel Niemann, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed for the PSU outdoor track. Yes, that’s right, the outdoor track. There was a gate open on the northwest corner (end of the backstretch), left that way for PSU athletes who were practicing earlier (and later). We were in this time, but I don’t have any feeling for how much we can count on that. As luck would have it, the MSF indoor track was closed (unexpectedly), so it was a good thing we had the outdoor track available to us.

It was a light turnout, but Bwana (by request) did not give too light a workout: A pyramid of 400-600-800-600-400 at 5K+ race pace, increasing pace as you went down the back end of the pyramid. Prescribed rest was 200 meters after the first rep and before the last, but 400 meters otherwise. I think they’ve toned down the backstretch wind as part of the track refurbishment, since it was in no way a factor today.

The ultra-regulars who made a showing were wondering why there has been a downturn in attendance lately. The only explanation is Bwana had was the uncertainty in venue week to week. The MSF track has been in use more often than we’re used to, and the outdoor track is only spottily available. To get around that, starting next week we’ll go to the State High track. Most of the recent regulars have heard tell of the old days when Bwana would put track truants on the rack in the third paragraph of the weekly email. Bwana has become and old softie, but those who make regular showings want the old Bwana back! Let’s hope the summertime switch to a regular venue will bring back the truants, or there will be heck to pay!