Sunday, April 24, 2011

Official Officiating

Track Season is here (finally).

The tough part is that it means many trips o'er the mountain to reach Hayward Field at the University of Oregon in Eugene. I told my wife that when we hit the numbers, I'll be renting a house there every year from April through July. This house will be within walking distance to the track. Until then, it's a full tank of gas and long podcasts on the car stereo.

The great part about track season is that my fellow officials and I get an unobstructed view of the events. Plus, we get to act important. And for free!

Yes, my eyes are open

Don and Betty, world class umpires
Always in a good mood (as long as it's not raining...)

Highlights so far:

Yesterday at the Oregon Relays (all levels of competition), a high school boy in the 1500m ran his last lap in 56 seconds while breaking 4 minutes. Huge wheels on that kid.

Boise-based Eagle High School had a good team in the competition. A coach and runners from that team were standing right behind me with two of their boys struggling in a distance race. I told them it's because they weren't getting enough love from the crowd. So the contingent roared on the last lap, and both kids kicked it home. It works!

Then the Eagle boys' team flew to a convincing victory in the 4x400 relay. Nice way to finish the meet.

During the high school girls 400m race, I had to disqualify a heat winner. She was parked on top of the inside lane line for at least 6 steps. High schoolers are DQ'd after the third step on the line. Sorry, kiddo, but rules are rules.

Big, big kudos to the catering company that provides meals for hungry officials. Incredible cheeseburgers! Last time, they even had sauteed mushrooms. A full belly makes for a happy official.

On the homestretch during a break in the competition, I had a nice conversation with a 20-something spectator (if you're not a track nut, you might not follow this):

Him: "Which university is OTC?"

Me: "It's Oklahoma Theological College."

He nodded wisely, but still looked a bit confused.

Me: "You haven't been in Eugene for very long, have you?"

A shake of his head.

Me again: "Ever heard of Athletics West? OTC is the modern day version."

Him: "Huh?"

Me: "Never mind."


For the unfamiliar, OTC is the Oregon Track Club, where some of the country's best runners train after college. OTC is like mom and apple pie out here.

One of my new habits is to run a few warm-up laps on the track before each meet starts. For me, this is kind of like paying homage to the running gods. Two weeks ago, I was trotting along when I noticed some tall guy doing same. Turns out it was 2008 Olympian Andrew Wheating. I crank it up a notch; pretty soon, he's off the back and nowhere to be seen.

Disclaimer: I was approaching cardiac arrest, while he showed zero signs of exertion. And he probably left the track out of sheer boredom. Doesn't matter: I'll take it.

On Saturday, I set off to to run about 2 miles with some sprints. After a couple of laps, some official at the finish line yells at me: "No warming up here. You need to use the practice track!"

Come on, man. I'm in the outside lane, the one that gets no traffic. And it's an hour before the meet starts. Grumbling, I end my run and walk back. Suddenly, I realize what just happened.

With my Nike garb, I looked like a real runner. And my form has always been fairly economical, so I sort-of look like I belong out there. And I was going slow and easy, like I was preparing to do battle.

Then it dawned on me...

This guy thought I was a collegiate or pro athlete. 

Never stopped smiling, as I will be doing this Tuesday on my 46th birthday.  

Saturday, April 16, 2011

2011 Goals (revised)

No, I'm not cheating by changing a few things.

This isn't like filling out your NCAA basketball bracket halfway thru the tournament.

I'm actually ratcheting my expectations upward.

I had originally listed a 4 hr marathon among my goals for the year. Last year's party was not exactly what I had in mind, even though it was my first one, and at age 45.

In looking at the calendar, my target race for the year is the Lake Stevens Half Ironman in mid-August. Two weeks later, it's the Hood to Coast Relay. If last year's tri is any indication, I'll be toast for at least a month. That would give me a couple of weeks max to properly train for the Portland Marathon, or maybe 6 weeks before the Seattle Marathon. Given the better condition I'm already in, I'd no doubt improve over last year, but I don't want to go 26.2 without a solid training season behind me.

So I got to thinking...

Runner's World recently had an article about a guy who followed the Hanson Brothers' training plan to great results (that's the running Hansons, not these guys).

Paraphrasing the RW article, their plan is all about adding strength by what they call 'cumulative fatigue.' The interesting part is that their longest prescribed run is 16 miles, not the 20 miler that most coaches recommend. The Hanson theory is that the proper cumulative work basically pre-loads your legs into thinking that the 16 mile run is even farther. So you're not training for the first 16 miles;  you're training for the last 16. And you don't have the extra pounding of a 20 miler.

Ok, guys, I'm in.

New goal; forgo the fall marathon. Recover in September, spend October thru December building mileage, then do the Hanson plan in preparation for the 29 April 2012 (estimated) Eugene Marathon.

And (gulp) qualify for Boston.

Oh, s*&#%, I said it.

What the hell. Aim high. I'll need a 3:25, pace of 7:51 per mile. That will be an hour faster than last time; my legs hurt just writing this.

Tomorrow, I've got a 10k race that will tell me where I am.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Oh, the things people do on vacation (lit fog???)...

Received a great email from an aunt; you know, the one who is younger than me! Casey married my wife's uncle and is an awesome lady. We had a blast at a cousin's wedding recepton awhile back, when Casey dared me to run the several hundred steps from the Seattle waterfront to Pike Place Market. Fun to do at 0600 in February while trying to dispose of a wedding reception hangover.

That run was surreal. Foggy, cool, misty. I'm running near the ferry docks when I hear a rumble-like growl coming out of the mist and getting louder. Alligator? Got a bit tense before I realized it was a man sleeping on a park bench and snoring loudly.

Casey mentioned a vacation they took to Maui. After reading my account, she shared hers. Narrative follows:

Hana: Crazy drive. Cool that you came back the other side. You know Doug, he had that rental contract memorized and no chances were to be taken. So we came back the way we went in. We actually swam in those 7 pools, which I later found out had pig waste runoff from the fields above the waterfalls. Uh, not so nice. I prefer not to think too much about it. I console myself with the fact that I'm still alive 20 years later and hopefully nothing really got stuck in me. Gag.

Haleakala (the 10,000 foot volcano/tourist trap): You are a nut!!!! I enjoy being able to say we're related, though, when I talk about your exercise regimes. :-) I am willing to live vicariously through your lunacy. Ok, so picture this: Maxx (oldest son) broke his leg just before the trip, so among many plans for that trip, our plan for all 4 of us to go to Haleakala was over. It was just me and Sam (youngest) that morning, Doug had no interest really in doing it a 2nd time (we did it on our honeymoon, the whole ride the bikes down the hill thing).

Sam and I arrived at the tour company, and realized we had forgotten our warm clothing! It was all safe and sound, folded up back at the condo, and the company we were riding up with didn't have anything warm.  So Sam and I went up in just regular shirts. Then, it was completely 100% overcast. So we waited for FOREVER, in the MOST BORING PLACE, to see LIT FOG. (those were Sam's words.) I kept telling him it would get better, but it really didn't.

Next came the bike ride down. Because of course Doug and I had such a great time 20 years ago, we wanted to share that with the kids. It's a few hours leisurely bike ride down, a breakfast stop at a little restaurant on the way, and then lunch in ... Paia? (That fish house on the corner of that main street was delicious! We ate there with the boys another day.) We got on the bikes, mine wasn't too comfortable, but Sam was already pedaling ahead and I couldn't get his attention. The company planned a pit stop ahead for everyone to double check their bikes and get a group photo so I figured I'd work it out there. Ummm, that was pretty much the last time I saw Sam until we got to the bottom.

I am not kidding~ Every turn I expected to see him splayed over the guard rails, but he was never in sight. Not once. Luckily he is my son, and we BOTH took the SAME wrong turn. Just as I was about to turn around after realizing I'd gone the wrong way (talk about silently freaking out! lol), I heard, "Mom!" Oh my god, I was never more glad to see someone - not only because I was so glad he was safe, but because I had no idea where in the hell we were! I was still riding that awkward bike, it was so painful and wobbly. I laugh a little hysterically still every time I think about it.) Thankfully someone in a van stopped and gave us a ride. (It was no time to care about killers and kidnappers, these were desperate hours man, 8 a.m., in Maui, on a bike, the stuff nightmares are made of!)

I think it was a guy who used to work at the bike shop, and I think he said something about knowing when he saw people on bikes on that road that they'd gotten lost. He drove us back to the road we needed and dropped us off to finish the route. I was wishing he'd just take us all the way. After all that, we STILL were the first back, back in Paia at EIGHT THIRTY AM, and I swear I had never been so scared and exhausted (and just a tad irritated ;-)) in all my life. Nothing was open yet to eat, so we just drove back to the condo (an hour drive or so I think). God, what a trip. I think they called us Mashers, people who ride straight down without stopping. No pictures, no time together looking at the view, no chit-chat, nothing. Sheer terror. In hindsight, I am so thankful Maxx couldn't go. I think it would have been way worse. Sam thought the ride totally made up for the sunrise! Of course he did.

Me again: Don't you feel bad for the schmucks who go on vacation and absolutely nothing goes wrong? How boring is that? Incidentally, all names have been unchanged in order to indict the guilty. And I put this posting into the "Stoopidity" category merely to reflect the stoopid things that happen.