Thursday Track Report: The Curve of Suck

February 2, 2017

Groundhog Day. Phil says it’s going to be another 6 weeks until winter goes away. Well, it got here 6 weeks late, so that figures. A big group of Phil’s cousins, John Domico, Tom Cali, Judd Michael, Costas Maranas, Michael Goldfine, Meira Minard, Andy Maguire, Mike Zimmerman, Seth Senior, Dan Coughlin, newcomers Jeanine and Kristen, Monica Acosta, Elsa Hansen, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur, eager beavers all, showed up to see what Bwana was dishing out.

Actually, Bwana doesn’t dish out to the “Fast Guys” so much anymore. They come ready with their own workout ideas. Today it was 3X3X400 at some Fast Guy pace. Meira was one of the guys today, and the two newcomers, Jeanine and Kristen, somehow got mixed up with them, at least for a couple of reps. Bwana’s group did almost as much volume, and it gave him a chance to talk about the Curve of Suck. Bwana’s workout was a downward ladder: 5-4-3-2-1 laps in lane 5, with 2 laps rest after the 5 lapper and 1 lap rest after each succeeding rep. The idea is to maintain a consistent pace on each rep, starting close to your mile race pace, and then bump up the pace on each succeeding rep. The Curve of Suck goes like this. The 5 lapper, tough as it is, is not the worst rep. Suckiness goes up a notch on the 4 lapper because even after a couple of laps’ rest, you’re still recovering, and 4 isn't that much less than 5 laps, percentage-wise. Plus, you should be going a little faster. The 3 lapper is only a tad less sucky, because though you’re going a third less distance than in the previous rep, you’re doing it on half the rest. But going into that last lap of 3, you at least feel like you can turn it on, rather than just dragging your butt in. Finally, the 2 and 1 lappers feel like the downslope, though you really should be sucking wind and practicing your kick pace. Once you’ve done this workout and are familiar with the Curve of Suck, it’s not one you look forward to. But suck it up and do it! Those last couple of reps are fun. The payoff!

Speaking of payoff, everybody is working hard! It’s a good thing, too. Spring 5Ks and marathons are just around the corner. Well, 6 weeks, anyway.

Thursday Track Report: Senility Sets In

January 26, 2017

The weather was changeable: breezy with temperatures in the mid-30s, but heading south, as John Domico, Tom Cali, Judd Michael, Meira Minard, Andy Maguire, Michael Goldfine, John Iceland, Mike Martin, Bob Shafer, Seth Senior, Josh Litofsky, Jo Ohm, Elsa Hansen, Monica Acosta, Jackie Luong, Sam Thompson, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed for the track. We’ve had a mild winter so far, but with enough craziness thrown in to keep us honest, and a good 6 or 8 weeks left to go.

Thursday Track has always had a nice mix of ages, and though all the “Thursday Originals” are in various stages of decrepitude, we still get new generations coming forward. I want to say we get kids from 18 to 80, and that was almost true today. Jackie, the new kid, is an 18 year-old freshman, and Sam Thompson isn’t 80, he’s in the youthful first years of his eighth decade and set on keeping himself in the running for many more seasons. Bwana, on the other hand, is already losing his marbles a couple of months shy of 60. He gave the same workout this week as two weeks ago, and though it’s a challenging favorite, under normal conditions of sentience, he would have not have repeated as quickly. This week: N X 3X300. Run 300 m at mile race pace with just over 100 m rest before starting the next. Do that three times, then take a longer rest. Do N = 2 to 4 sets. Consistency is key. Don’t sprint, but keep a hard pick-up pace!

This Friday is the second of three Indoor Mile meets. Too late to get in on this one, but those of you who are sitting on the fence should just jump in! Next Friday is the last one, and the event features a heat of the 3K as well as a predicted mile contest. Don’t let life and the chance to hack your lungs out pass you by! You’ll regret it when you’re old!

Thursday Track Report: January Thaw

January 12, 2017

Three days ago it was brutally cold. Two days ago, we were in the midst of warming that brought a nasty ice storm. But today it was nearly tropical, with temperatures approaching 60 and off-and-on rain. John Domico, Judd Michael, Marty Klanchar, Bob Shafer, Mike Zimmerman, Dan Coughlin, newcomer Jackie Luong, Rob Peterson, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, Joel Niemann, and Marty Mazur headed for the track for the first workout in the MSF this year. Half the group did a couple of indoor laps, then headed back out to take advantage of the rare January warmth.

The Multi-Sport Facility seems to have chilled toward us since the break. You need to buzz in to the place, and non-PSU people need a chaperone. Yuck. Despite the new protocols, Bwana thaw to it that everyone who stayed got a good workout. It was the traditional year-starting benchmark workout: NX3X300. Run 3 reps of 300 meters at mile race pace or faster with a short 100 m rest. Then take a longer rest and gird yourself for another set of 3. And another. Bwana gave gold stars to everyone who did N=3.

This weekend begins the Indoor Mile Series with the first of three meets on Saturday morning. It’s too late to get into the first meet, but the next two, which will be on Friday 1/20 and Friday, 2/3, should get you moving. Time to thaw out those fast-twitch muscles and set some goals! Information here:

Thursday Track Report: Drafting and Grafting

January 19, 2017

Let’s not jinx this January. Another mild day, though not as tropical as last week. Temperatures were in the 40s with clouds and sun as Tom Cali, Marty Klanchar, Judd Michael, Meira Minard, Jaimie Wright, Bob Shafer, Dan Coughlin, Seth Senior, Josh Litofsky, Joel Niemann, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, newcomers Monica and Elsa (Hat Tip: Jo Ohm, for encouraging (bribing?) them to come!), and Marty Mazur headed for the track. A nice mix of runners. The fast guys and gals, a couple who were trying to keep up with that lead group, and the pokey group.

The larger, younger (except for Tom and Judd), and faster group ran 3 sets of 3X400 at a very fast pick-up pace with very little recover between reps, essentially the 40 yards or so from the finish line to the 400 meter hash mark in Lane 5. A longer recovery between sets made that workout bearable. The pokies and newbies actually did longer reps, and about the same volume. Three sets of 2 Laps - 3 Laps in Lane 5. One lap rest between reps and between each set made the reps blend together. The 2-3 oscillation bracketed 500 meters, and the aim was to keep the same pace on the longer reps as on the shorter ones The whole group, including the newbies, hung together pretty well, drafting in Bwana’s ample wake.

Bwana keeps getting questions about when/if we’ll be able to use the outdoor track. He still doesn’t know, but it’ll be at least till Spring. Judd suggested we organize a bribe, er… “Booster Club Donation” to get us enhanced privileges. Let’s bring that up at the next Club meeting.

Thursday Track Report: Jingle Bell Running Late

December 22, 2016

Everything has been different this year. What do you expect after the weirdest political campaign in living memory? Well, NOBODY expected NOT to have a track on which to do the last track workout of the year. But with the workout postponed last week due to bitter weather, and moved to a week late in the season when State College is almost a ghost town, we should have known. Most of the Crew met at Rec Hall ready for the usual run to one of the tracks on the east side of campus. But word came down that not only was the outdoor track still locked up, but the MSF Indoor Track building was closed for the Holidays. So, improvising, the group did our usual “Look Back / Look Forward” on the jogging track above the stands in Rec Hall. The banking on the curves, and the presence of a press platform, made the backward running part of the workout especially treacherous. Then, John Domico, Tom Cali, Jim Moore, Costas Maranas, Michael Goldfine, Mark Fedkin, George Lesieutre, John Sheakoski, Esther Prins, Torrie Raisch, Mike Renz, Andy Maguire, Mike Zimmerman, Dan Coughlin, Mike Martin, CJ Wagner, Bob Shafer, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed out into the elements. Well, all except Costas, who was in earnest about actually doing a workout today!

Heading across campus, the Crew nearly ran over Vicky Mazur, who was spreading Holiday Cheer and ringing some golden bells at the group as they ran by. The group decided to head past the tracks on the east side anyway to pick up any strays. There they found Joel Niemann, Jaimie Wright, and Jim Myers and headed downtown. First stop, as usual, the South Halls steps, a trail-runners workout. After that, up W. College to Rapid Transit Sports to pay a visit to Terry and the gang. And then, like bulls in a china shop, we went to Kitchen Kaboodle, to say “Hi!”. The Beaver Avenue parking structure afforded another hill workout, as well as a view of Mt. Nittany on the blustery top deck. The group then broke up, some heading back to Rec Hall, and some going on to a downtown mid-day happy hour.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Healthy New Year to all! We start again next year on January 5 AT REC HALL (due to a Penn State all day practice at the MSF). Workouts at the MSF will resume on January 12, just in time for the first Indoor Mile Series races on January 14.

Continue on for a few photos from today's run:

Read more: Thursday Track Report: Jingle Bell Running Late