Thursday Track Report: Up Front

August 10, 2017

The intersection of Thursday Track and mOUnTaiNBACK training is a little earlier this year due to the mOUnTaiNBACK being three weeks earlier than last year. Today is the day of the first Discovery Series run in Rothrock. The Series takes apart the mOUnTaiNBACK course and doles it out in 8 slices over the coming weeks. The runs sometimes take runners away from Thursday Track, at least those runners who aren’t hip to the value of running two-a-days in training for a multi-stage relay race. But you wouldn’t know it from today’s turnout! John Domico, Michael Goldfine, Mike Casper, Joel Niemann, Mike Weyandt, Dan Coughlin, Bob Shafer, Mike Martin, Rob Peterson, Doug Schunk, Logan Madill, Sharon Lester, Kelly Lehtonen, Ryan Burke and newcomers Ken Farnsworth and Noah Christie, Adam Ilgen, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed for the track under warm, sunny skies.

Bwana welcomed the new recruits Ken Farnsworth and Noah Christie, brought in by Ryan Burke. The Burkes’ family operated gym, One On One Fitness on Aaron Drive, has been responsible for numerous Thursday Trackers over the year. Ken is the son of one of Bwana’s neighbors. Noah is Julie Christie’s son. Julie is an experienced runner who used to be a Thursday Track regular with Julie Grubb. The “Two Julies” weren’t messing around when they came to the track! Today Bwana gave what he keeps hearing is one of the Crew’s favorite workouts, though he can’t figure out why. The Double Mini-Front-Loader. One rep is an 800 at 5K race pace followed closely by 3X200 with just 100 meters’ rest after the 800 and each of the 200s. The 800 front-loads you and the idea is to to run the 200s, each faster, while recovering from the 800. Do 2 or 3 reps. Maybe people like it so much because it’s NOT the Front-Loader (without the “Mini”), which doubles the distance in each of the steps of a rep.

Hopefully, today’s workout front-loaded the crew for this evening’s Discovery Run. The mOUnTaiNBACK is only 8 weeks away!

Thursday Track Report: Rejuvenation

August 3, 2017

Hot and hazy was the order of the day, though it was nothing like last week’s swelter. Jim Myers, John Domico, Michael Goldfine, CJ Wagner, Mike Weyandt, Bob Shafer, Michael Zimmerman, Rob Peterson, Mike Martin, Doug Schunk, Seth Senior, Logan Madill, newcomers Sharon Lester and Kelly Lehtonen, Joel Niemann, David Lloyd, and Marty Mazur headed for the track. A good turnout, despite the usual absences for summer vacations, business travel, etc.

Bwana tries to draw some new blood into the group during the summer months. We’ve already gotten a one (Logan), and today we got a couple more, a nice accomplishment. Sharon Lester and Kelly Lehtonen joined us. Sharon is a local and a State High classmate (early 90s) of Meira Minard. On top of that, her dad was one of the founders and the first President of what was then (around 50 years ago) known as the Nittany Valley Track Club (we changed our name to the Nittany Valley Running Club in the early 2000s). Her dad’s tenure goes back well before Bwana’s time (he landed in State College in the late 80s). Kelly is relatively new in town, has been to the HS track before, but today decided to join the Crew. Bwana took it easy on today’s group and called NX3X300. Run your 300s at a hard 5K kick or mile race pace. Take a short (100m) rest and repeat. After a set of 3, rest a bit longer and then do another set. Do as many sets as you’re up to. Today we did N=3 and felt, if not rejuvenated, at least as if we’d accomplished something. 

We’ve got a couple more weeks at the State High track, then it’s back to Penn State. Bwana doesn’t know the situation yet with the PSU tracks, but will let you know as soon as he does.

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: 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: 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!