Thursday Track Report: December in September

September 1, 2016

It was definitely cooler than it’s been the last few Thursdays. Low 70s. Cloudy. But Fall isn’t here yet! Not even semi-officially until after the Labor Day weekend, which has a habit of being pretty hot around here. Unfortunately, as of Monday, we have no outdoor track for our workouts. So Judd Michael, Mike Casper, Dean Capone, Michael Goldfine, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed to our winter quarters, the MSF indoor track.

Thankfully, summer followed us inside. It was warm and humid, but not unpleasant, so Bwana gave out some long reps: 5 X 3 laps (about 680 meters) at a 5K pace. Bwana suggested a 2 lap jogging rest, and everyone immediately halved that. I guess that was to make up for the fact that nobody else was doing Dean’s workout, which was 6X800. Dean’s obviously getting ready for something. Actually, already *is* ready, since he peeled off his 800s in consistent sub-3:10 pace.

The PSU outdoor track is still not resurfaced, though there was a lot of construction worker activity as Bwana looked down on the site. Maybe before Christmas?

Thursday Track Report: Track Limbo

August 25, 2016

Our mini-respite from heat and humidity took a respite today. It was “kinda hot and pretty darn humid” as John Domico, Randy Jepson, Mike Casper, CJ Wagner, Mike Renz, Dean Capone, Mike Martin, Rich Harter, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed for the State High track. The whole Summer-Fall thing is kind of in limbo. The kids are headed back to school, but the trees are still green. The weather is getting cooler, but not all at once.

Bwana’s not so undecided. We should be used to the hot weather enough by now to do longer reps, even if we get a hot sticky day. Today’s workout was NX600 at 5K race pace with a really slow 200 meter rest between reps. Those most used to the heat could do N=5. Everyone else did N=4. Except Bwana, who did N=3, and then threw in a bunch of 200s to make up.

And while we’re in limbo as the weather tries to decide if it’s still Summer, the Track Crew is about to step into Track Limbo. Today was the last workout at the High School track, at least until next Summer. But the PSU outdoor track is still at least a couple of weeks away from being done. So next week, those who want a track workout can come to the PSU Indoor Track at the Multi-Sport Facility. Bwana will be there, no matter how nice and sunny it is outside. See you there!

Thursday Track Report: Dewy Decimal System

August 11, 2016

It was hot, mostly sunny, and extremely moist as CJ Wagner, Bob Shafer, Mike Martin, Mike Zimmerman, Seth Senior, Allison Machnicki, Mike Casper, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed for the track. How much more of this summer can we stand? We’ll see. August still has a lot of humidity in it. At least we got some rain!

If you had to pick one number, just one, that would tell the tale of how your summer run is going to feel (besides the number of beers you had last night), what would it be? Temperature? Nahh. As they say, it ain’t the heat, it’s the humidity! Those days in June when it first got over 80 sure didn’t feel like today! But what about the relative humidity? Well it’s almost always relatively *very* humid in the morning. That’s why we get dew. But 100% humidity when it’s 50 feels nothing like 90% humidity when it’s 20 degrees warmer. Well, what about some combination of temperature and humidity? Nope: I said *one* number. And for me the best number is the dew point. No matter what the temperature is, if the dew point is above 60, I ain’t likin’ it. If it’s above 70, life sucks. And if, like today, it’s over 75, that *really* sucks! The only other variable that modifies that is whether the sun is out or it’s cloudy, and maybe whether there’s a breeze. And thank goodness we had a light breeze and a few clouds today! Bwana gave the Crew a light workout of short pace work with relatively long rests. 8X200 at mile race pace with 200 meter slow jogging rest. Not too horrible on a day like today, thought the reps when the sun peeked out were pretty bad.

Maybe it’s a good thing the mOUnTaiNBACK is a little later than usual this year, on October 30. When the race used to tend toward early October, we’d be getting into some of the tough training legs of the Discovery Series about now, and those would be done in dire humidity. Hopefully by time the Series starts on September 1, the swampiness will have abated.

Thursday Track Report: Sweater Weather

August 18, 2016

There was a marked difference between this week’s weather and last. Just a week ago, Bwana thought he should have had an ambulance standing by as runners were nearly fainting doing a short workout of short 200 meter intervals in sweltering heat and humidity. This week, we were still sweating, but the good kind, the kind earned by doing longer reps in less-than-heat-stroke-inducing weather. And the healthy breeze helped take away the sweat and cool us down. So where was everybody? Only 5 showed up at the track: Andy Cunningham, Rich Harter, Joel Niemann, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur. Maybe everyone else was sipping hot cocoa in their warm jammies…

Today’s workout was a little longer than last week's, though not the full-up high volume workouts we like to do in the Fall. Bwana called out the old “No-Brainer”, the tune-up middle-distance workout we’d always start every track season with before we had an indoor track. The workout is 400-800-800-400, all run at 5K+ race pace with a 400 meter rest between reps. Run the back half faster than the front, if you can.

It may be hard to believe with all the sweating we’ve been doing that real "sweater weather” is just around the corner. That’s the time of year when those who have worked through and endured the horrors of August heat and humidity find that they can suddenly run faster. At least that works for the youngsters in our group.

Thursday Track Report: Ghostly Apparitions!

August 4, 2016

It was hot, but backing off from the heat wave, with sun, clouds, and breezes as John Domico, Randy Jepson, Costas Maranas, Mike Renz, Mike Martin, Mike Weyandt, Seth Senior, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, Dana Todd, and Marty Mazur headed to the State High track. It’s at about this time that the weather starts its long cycle down to the ideal running weather of Fall. And what comes with Fall? Besides football, I mean. Students! We’ll be having to move from the high school track in the next few weeks. Where will we go? Right now the Penn State outdoor track is still under reconstruction. We’ll always have the indoor track as an option, one we’ll appreciate in January, but not one many people like to use in September and October. We’ll save worrying about that until we need to.

Bwana has been getting a lot of blasts from the past, ghosts from long ago. He got an email from Kirk Rager whose path may take him back to our group again. And Kirk’s buddy Dana, not exactly a ghost but someone who’s been too busy with other things this summer for a regular track presence, showed up today. But it may be one his last appearances. Dana is headed to more humid climes (and even more intense football culture, if you can believe that) within the next couple of months. More on that later. And as Bwana was trying to dredge up a workout, and meanwhile regaling runners on a legendary Randy Jepson workout, who should appear as if summoned from beyond? Randy himself, a rarity in recent years! Today’s workout did not summon any ghosts of our younger capabilities. It was an easy one: 2  X 1 mile of Autochthonous Americans. Indians, for the Politically Incorrect. Form a line of 5 or 6 like-paced runners. Start running at about a 5K race pace. Last person in line picks up his pace to move to the front. When he gets there, the new last person continues the progression. A nice way to mess with your pace and breathing.

As I said above, we’ll soon be seeing the new last-in-lines, and their crazed parents, moving in. You may appreciate the above workout when you have to high-tail it across the street to avoid a minivan going the wrong way down a one-way street!