Thursday Track Report: Measuring Up

October 26, 2017

It was a little more Fall-like, breezy with cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-40s, as John Domico, Tom Cali, CJ Wagner, Meira Minard, Andrew Maguire, Jaimie Wright, Logan Madill, Harriet Smith, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed for the track.

After last week’s chaos, Bwana was put back in charge, if only to see if he could measure up to the new venue. But Bwana only proceeded to sow more chaos and confusion. Bwana tried to tailor the mini-front-loader we do at the track to the field lines on the IM Fields. But there was a communication breakdown and so it took a while for everyone to get into the groove Bwana was trying to lay down. Here was the workout: 1 rep is 1 full lap around the rectangular perimeter of the 4 IM fields. Bwana was told that’s about 800 meters (more on that below). Then, follow that with 3 times a circuit of a 2 IM Field rectangle, with just the short rest of 1 side of this rectangle between each go. Do two reps. You recover from the long rep while doing the shorter ones, kind of like what can happen in a race.

So how did the workout measurer up? As a workout, it’s pretty tough to do in the crisp wind, particularly because each corner of each rectangular has a hard slow-down after which you must pick up speed. Harder than on the track with its smooth corners. And it’s also harder than you think to keep up a real pace on grass. Bwana remembers the days when we’d run some hard runs on the Penn State Cross-Country courses that are laid out on the golf courses. There are markings each half-mile, and Bwana recalls that his mile pace was a good 20 seconds slower than it would be on pavement. There are two reasons for this: There’s a bit of slip in the grass, but more importantly, the soft ground absorbs your down step and does not give you much springback. Both of these are the reason competitors wear spikes in cross-country: to have some grip for stability and to push off. So how does Bwana know we were running so slow? Because he measured the distances with his GPS watch. What was reported to be 800 meters by the stand-in Bwana was really about 700 if you go past the field edge markings all the way to the outhouses on the long side of the IM fields, or 625 if you hew to the edge marks. The 2 Field circuit is about 380 meters. Bwana will put these distances on the track markings section of the web site some time in the near future.

Bwana can feel that we’ll be indoors sooner than we think if the weather keeps cooling off.

Thursday Track Report: Uneasy Lies The Head That Wears A Crown

October 19, 2017

Sunny, warm, and dry. And beautiful! We feel blessed when we get one or two days like in mid-October. But a whole week? And thankfully, the humidty has been turned down all week. About 15 or so runners, including Tom Cali, John Domico, Bob Cornwall, Bob Shafer, Mike Weyandt, Meira Minard, Mike Zimmerman, Judd Michael, Mike Martin, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur turned out at the IM Fields today for the weekly speed workout.

Bwana hasn’t been to the track workout in a few weeks, probably the longest he’s been away from the track in almost 20 years.. Busy, traveling, etc. In the meantime, the workout has moved, at least until bad weather comes, from the MSF Indoor Track to the IM Fields on Park Ave. And in the meantime, a new leader, with new protocols, new ways of calling the workout, has come to the fore. The trouble is, Bwana doesn’t even know who that is! He got to the workout site just as the workout was being discussed. “Discussed” being a term of art meaning "argued over", with Zeagle, Domico, Meira, and a few others trying to figure out what’s the what and who’s the boss of the square. The new protocol involves not recognizing latecomers (even Bwana, apparently). So Bwana and a couple of others were left to figure out by follow the leader. But, it was all good. The IM Fields are foot friendly, with plenty of marked out square fields for soccer or some other lesser sport. Lots of ways to do do reps of the same distance (even if you don’t know what that distance is). The day was great, and a good workout was had by all.

Whoever’s in charge these days will soon find out that the mantle of Bwanahood is not something to take lightly. You’re “in charge”, but nobody to take you seriously. You’re “in charge", but you’ll have lots of arguments and complaints about the workout. Looks like it’s happened already!

Thursday Track Report: Remnants

September 14, 2017

The sky was drab and misting, the remains of Hurricane Irma falling on Joel Niemann, Rich Harter, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur as they headed for the indoor track at the MSF. The weather wasn’t so bad that we actually needed to run indoors, but we’re still not allowed on the outdoor track. The Rec Hall Crew did a non-track workout, but the way the weather has been retreating from summer, they’ll be glad to be running indoor track workouts soon enough.

Adam Ilgen had warmed up the track with his continuing repeat 800s. As he left, the sad remnants of the Track Crew did a set of 6X400. Run the nearly-two laps in Lane 5 at a mile race pace, and take a 200+ meter slow jog rest of 1 lap plus the stagger to the 400 meter start. Bwana ran consistently, though a long weekend of wedding partying in Nashville left him pooped by rep 4. David Lloyd was not so consistent. He started slow, but got better each rep, finishing with two back-to-back PRs. Now, PRs, are not the objective of a track workout, but to run continually faster and be able to hammer the last two is a sign of improving workouts. David has turned a new corner on his running ability, going from consistent with tiny improvements to a marked jump in ability. Bwana thinks David will easily be able to go under 6:30 in this winter’s Indoor Mile Series. In fact, he should consider this his challenge from Bwana.

Update on the track situation: We do hope to be able to use the outdoor track. The University, however, has instituted a pay-to-play policy for most of it’s Rec Department and Athletics Department facilities. The outdoor track falls in the latter category. Why not pay-to-play on the indoor track? Who knows? My guess is it’s because the outdoor track is pristinely new, and harder to monitor. (The MSF does have a relatively new sign-in policy.) The NVRC is going back and forth on the “pay” part to see if we can make the “play” part happen. More as things unfold.

Thursday Track Report: Summer's End

September 21, 2017

Summer is going out with a bang. After a few weeks of cooling weather after last month’s solar eclipse, the sun has recovered from the moon’s insult and is giving us unseasonably warm days. The last day of Summer saw temperaturs in the 80s, and Old Sol will continue pump out the warming rays into the first week of Fall. Unfortunately, the outdoor track remains closed, so those few who could take the thought of a sunless workout ran on the MSF indoor track. Judd Michael, Costas Maranas, Joel Niemann, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur did their workout indoors.

As long as we were stuck indoors, Bwana decided to call the benchmark indoor workout: NX3X300. Run 300 meters at mile kick pace. Rest for only 100 meters, then do it again, and then again for a set of 3X300. Take a longer rest and then do another set. Or two. The key is consistency. It may be a bit early to think about Winter. There are Fall marathons and ultras to get through. But this workout and some longer pace work are the keys to some great Indoor Mile times!

Bwana will be away next weekend again. Those using the indoor track should probably do sets of longer reps.

Thursday Track Report: Inside Out

August 31, 2017

It was, unfortunately, a pretty nice day. Unfortunately because the Thursday Track Crew is bereft of an outdoor track, at least for now. Jim Myers, Lance Bland, Judd Michael, Mike Casper, Joel Niemann, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur went to the MSF indoor track, where it was a bit clammy. Jaimie Wright did a warm-up with the indoor crowd, but as soon as Tom Cali and the Rec Hall group poked their heads to say that they were going to run outside in the nice, cool, late summer weather, Jaimie was out the door!

Adam had already done an impressive workout of 6X800 and laid it out as a challenge to the rest of us. Adam’s goal is to work up to 10X800, which is a great topper before a marathon or a half-marathon. Most of the marathoners in the crown aren’t close to needing that topper yet, and the Nittany Half is still 3 months away. So we needn’t go that far. Yet. Bwana did end up modeling his workout after Adam’s. Let’s say it was Adam Lite: 4 X 3 laps in the outer lanes. There, the distance of a 3 lapper is around 700 meters. The kicker is to start it in Lane 5 (680 meters for 3 laps). Do two reps there with a consistent lap time. Then for the last two reps, move it out to lane 6, where the distance is 20 meters longer over 3 laps. Keep the same lap time.

We’re all familiar with this kind of workout from the long winter when we’re grateful for the indoor track. Bwana and the NVRC are working on getting us “into” the outdoor track before the winter days cover it with snow. We’ll keep you informed!