Thursday Track Report: Track Sucks!

July 27, 2017

The heat and humidity were down a bit from last week, so what would have seemed like a swamp a month ago was only mildly unpleasant. Jim Myers, Tom Cali, John Domico, Chuck Phillips, Joel Niemann, John Sheakoski, Lilith Aninori, Rob Peterson, Bob Shafer, Mike Zimmerman, Doug Schunk, Logan Madill, Rich Harter, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed for the track under hazy skies.

Track sucks. That’s the first thing John Sheakoski said to Bwana when we arrived back at our workplaces. And Bwana agreed! But John has been coming semi-regularly for over 10 years and Bwana has run this circus for about 25. People really stick with it for some reason. One guy who has been sticking with it for even longer is Paul Bolin. Paul was a Thursday Track regular in the 1990s, as well as a regular at the old Penn State summer all-comer meets. Paul, who moved to Texas around the year 2000, does a regular thing every year, similar to what Bwana does, but twice as intense: He runs his age in laps on a track. (Bwana does his age in furlongs, about half a lap, out on a road or trail). Paul turned 63 this week, but could not do his 15.75 miles due to a serious health problem. So Chuck Phillips, who keeps in touch with Paul, put Bwana on to something Paul’s daughter Maddie organized: Run some laps for Paul. We weren’t up to doing 63 each, or even 6300 meters, but among the Crew we totaled up to at least that many laps. Bwana gave a workout of 6 x 400 at 5K race pace. (Adam rolled his own workout and did 5 X 800.)

Bwana had Lillith snap a pic for Paul Bolin. I think maybe 5 of us hail from as far back as Paul’s tenure (Myers, Cali, Phillips, maybe Domico, and Bwana). The rest are “new” faces, still getting used to how much track sucks!

Read more: Thursday Track Report: Track Sucks!

Thursday Track Report: Star-Crossed Track Lovers

July 20, 2017

Ushered in by "Arts Fest Weather”, dog days of summer are here, and we’ve got some Sirius heat and humidity. It was hotter than the surface of Betelgeuse as Tom Cali, CJ Wagner, Tara Murray, Mike Casper, Jaimie Wright, Mike Zimmerman, John Wilcock, Mark Lee, Michael Goldfine, Bob Shafer, Mike Martin, Dan Coughlin, Seth Senior, Logan Madill, Rich Harter, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed for the track. Bwana had gotten there early and found only Lloyd, Ilgen, and Harter. Then a woman showed up at the track whom Bwana didn’t recognize from 100 yards away, until, that is, she started running. It was the familiar gate of Tara Murray. Long time no see! Greeting Bwana, she said, “Do I get a gold star just for showing up?” Well, coming all the way in from Bellefonte on the hottest day of the year so far deserves some kind of accolade! And Tara had just gotten back from Phoenix, where she’d been running in the desert heat, albeit before sun up and on flat terrain. The next thing Bwana knew, the rest of the Crew was making the turnstile whirr. That included John Wilcock, visiting all the way from North Carolina, where it may be hotter than here, but it’s a whole lot flatter, at least where he’s located. Yet JW plans to run in Rothrock this weekend!

Bwana didn’t want anyone to be seeing stars on a day like today, so he gave a workout of all short stuff: 8X200, and 12 if you wanted a platinum star (though Adam insisted on doing a roll-yer-own thing of multiple 800s!). The Crew got through the workout safely. No hurling. No ECNALUBMA’s.

This Crew must really love track, and all the star-crossed lovers can paste a gold star on the calendar on their refrigerators, not just for showing up, but for not dogging it!

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: 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: 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!