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: 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: A Marked Mystery

June 1, 2017

It was a nice day, a great day to be back at the Penn State outdoor track for the first time in about a year. And it’s a new track! Barely even broken in by the Big 10 Championships. It’s still not clear how regularly we’ll be able to use it. We really only got in today because it was the opening day of the Pennsylvania Special Olympics. The bean counters, pencil pushers, and “risk mitigators” still have a stranglehold on it. But Judd Michael, Mike Casper, Mike Martin, Joel Niemann, Rob Peterson, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur took advantage of the opportunity under mostly sunny skies, mild temperatures and a nice breeze.

Bwana decided to give an old standby to check out the “Imperial Units” markings in the unmarked “Lane 10”: 1 Mile - 3X 1/4 Mile. Yes, the markings are there, not faded and barely visible as was the case with the old track. But have they recalibrated? The new track is the same size as the old one, but there seemed to be about 15 or 20 yards more to an imperial mile than was the case in the old days. All the other markings were proportionately farther away from where the old ones were. What could explain this? Bwana noted that the new markings are on the boundary between Lane 9 and the unmarked 10, whereas the old marks were on the outside of lane 10. So maybe the new marks are intended for running in Lane 9. Who can answer this question?

As mentioned in an earlier email, next week we’ll try the PSU outdoor track again and go inside the MSF if it is unavailable. After that, the State High track will be ours for the summer if the PSU track is still closed to us.

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!

Thursday Track Report: Fartlek Farrago

May (?) 4, 2017

We’ve had the most mixed up weather, with May in February, April in January, January in March, and a whole bunch of mixed-upedness in April. Well, it’s May, and so on Monday it was July and today it’s April again. Judd Michael, Andy Maguire, Mike Martin, Bob Shafer, Jaimie Wright, Elsa Hansen, Joel Niemann, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed for the track under cloudy skies, cool temperatures, and the threat of rain.

The weather has been a savory stew, a crazy casserole, a mad medley, and so Bwana gave a fartlek farrago for today’s workout: A downward ladder, 5-4-3-2 laps in Lane 5, with 2 lap rests after the first two reps and a 1 lap rest before the last rep. Start at 5K race pace and pick it up with each rep, finishing at a mile kick pace on the 2-lapper. That and a little salsa picante (Bwana recommends Tapatío) will really spice up your regimen. Maybe Bwana will let the flavors marry a little more and mix it up next time (3-5-2-4?).

Next week is rare off-week for Thursday Track. With Penn State hosting the Big 10s and State High still in session, there will be no suitable venues except for Rec Hall, and who wants to run there in May? (Or August, or whatever month it decides to be next week.) We’ll get together again on May 18, venue TBA.