Monday, October 7, 2013

2013 Portland Marathon

When Frank Shorter won the 1972 Olympic Marathon, he said that the highest gratification was that "I finally got one right."

Well, I finally got one right.

But when people ask if I qualified for Boston (sub-3:25), I can truthfully say...
I'm not sure.
  • The clock at the finish was reading 3:24 and change.
  • My watch read 3:24:53: I started the watch 10 sec before the start to ensure proper operation (if the watch malfunctions, I don't cross the starting mat until I have it working). Therefore, my watch's clock time should have been conservative
  • The unofficial race timing had me at 3:25:23, 24 seconds slower than my Boston standard.
I've asked the timing company to revisit.
The other strange thing: the 5k timing mat had me at 7:27 pace. My Garmin splits below have me at 7:45. No way should there be that big a discrepancy! Almost 200 yards??? Regardless, my biggest issue is the elapsed time.
However, even a 3:24 doesn't get me to Boston because this year's cutoff was about 90 seconds faster due to the number of entries. No big deal; I'm very happy with my race.
Avg Pace
Mile 17 was the bastard uphill to the St. John's Bridge; I pulled back on pace and kept effort level. That's the first time I've been able to climb that hill without walking.
Finally, a solid finish!!! Check out my last 1.2 miles. I was running scared, trying to catch the pace group. My hamstrings were sending warnings for the last 8 miles, so I stopped a bunch of times to stretch them. At about 39k, I went all in and decided it was time to gamble. Up until then, several times I was only steps away from complete hamstring seizure. Lots of pace jockeying to keep legs in check; aerobically I had plenty of capacity.
My last 10k was right at 7:49 goal pace. Thrilled with that! After I stopped to stretch each time, my pace was very snappy as I caught back up. Felt smooth. All I need to do is get more core strength so I don't need those pauses, and that's an immediate 2 minute aggregate gain.

  • The Tuesday night speed workouts are huge. Keep doing them, and develop a better high end
  • Core and posterior chain work helped a ton. Hamstrings were threatening but never seized. And my last 10k was solid.
  • I had a larger breakfast earlier in the morning, and stomach was really full. Back off a bit.

  • Recover
  • Continue with Tuesday night group speed work (invaluable)
  • 20 miles a week or so thru winter
  • More intensive Plyo/Core work
  • Get back in the pool
  • next year, run a fall marathon (PDX or Marine Corps) and get 3:19:59. That will get me into 2016 Boston; that year, I'll be 50, so my qual time will be 3:30. The 3:19 will get me into the Sub-10 minute group that can sign up before the masses who sneak just under the radar.
couple other things:
  • I ate a little more breakfast than usual, 3.5 hrs prior. Stomach was uncomfortably full the entire race. Only took 2 of my planned 6 gels, and 4 of six salt caps. Didn't want to upset stomach further
  • Crimson urine afterward. Kidneys? Nah, just beet juice powder at breakfast
  • drove home 3 hrs solo afterward, then ran a mile to flush the legs. Today, I'm feeling the least damage I've ever experienced after a marathon.
discovered that Emergency has a lot more electrolyte than salt caps. Been drinking that every morning.
Glad that one's in the books! Come a long way from my debut 4:35 of 3 years ago.
And my resting pulse is 48!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

2013 Prefontaine Classic

I'm excited. Thrilled. Beyond psyched.


Because it's my first track meet of the year when the sun is actually shining! So far this season, it's been cold, rain, wind, some snow. No more.

Pre-game at Hayward Field

And, BTW, this is the best meet of the year. Anywhere.

After arriving in town on Friday, I went straight to the Hilton to meet up with NC track blogger Pat. Instead of seeing tons of runners, the first mob I see is attending the hotel's tattoo convention.

I don't make this stuff up.

Pat and I take a 5 mile stroll along Pre's Trail. Not as many tattoos out here: not at 8 minute pace, anyway.

The meet organizers gave up some great Dry-Fit polos to wear this year. Never enough DF for me.

Another gem for my wardrobe...

Friday afternoon, sun is warm. A fellow official, noticing a very large female Chinese shotputter near the equipment building, says to her, "Beautiful day today!"

She replies, "Thank you very much."  In perfect English, no less.

I love track.

China also sent a high jumper and pole vaulter. Never seen an Asian vaulter before. Times are changing.

Friday night, men's 10,000m. Italy has a guy in the race, and he's easily the second-best looking guy on the track. By halfway, he had dropped back and was struggling. He needs to stop the suffering and call a modeling agency.

Hey Daniele, Calvin Klein wants you...

Saturday morning: I arrive early and start taking notes. Out on the warmup track, there's Kim Conley, who squeaked onto the Olympic team last year with a hellacious kick in the 5000m. Her Olympian status earned her tons of race invitations in Europe, and she has been making waves.

some guy with Kim Conley

Right before we walk out onto the track, I go make a final pit stop. There's a long line; hurry up, people. As I'm finishing up, I hear the national anthem. Oh no: I'M LATE!!!! We're supposed to be at our stations for the singing.

Relax, Campbell: the vocalist is merely warming up in the weight room. My cardiac patterns recover quickly.

The singer is a tiny, tiny woman with big pipes. And she doesn't have to force the high notes. There's an author who says you can run better if you inhale for three steps and exhale for two; maybe this singer is also a proponent.

I'm stationed in front of the men's pole vault; great competition. Brad Walker, American Record Holder is here. Not sure if he's more famous for his record jump or for the number of hairstyles he has worn.

Brad, Part 2
Brad, Part 2

Not Brad, but good hair...
Anyone remember House Party?

Blogging makes me crazy sometimes....

Also here is Renaud Lavillenie, Olympic Champion. He looks like actor Keith Gordon.

The actor-wannabe wins with 19'6", big jump. Every time he cleared a big height, he pumped his fists and celebrated. ON THE WAY DOWN! Very cool.

Party time on the ride down!
And his footwear: oh my. Lime-green neon with Velcro straps that look a lot like cycling shoes. Looks like he's thinking about riding the Tour de France in his spare time.

His shoes are louder than mine

 Women's 5000m: Olympic Trials foes Conley and Lucas are off the back in a hurry. Not hard to do with all the African gazelles in the race. I do the math and realize Conley is running steady, looking for a 15:18 that will qualify her for Worlds in Moscow. At 4k, she's at 12:13 with a solid shot. Then she blasts a 2:56 final kilometer to finish at 15:09, well under the standard. That's 10 seconds faster than she ran here last year, and a 5 second PR over her Olympic run.

Nice job! All she has to do now is place at Nationals without having to worry about setting the pace. Big load off her shoulders.

Men's High Jump: Skinny Guy Barshim from Qatar goes 7'10", highest jump anywhere in the last four years. Somebody please feed the boy; I can practically see his aorta. Then I notice he was born on 24 June; that was one of my favorite days in last year's Olympic Trials.

(the starting list that our head umpire distributes includes lane #s, country, personal/season bests, and date of birth). Then I do a search and find two guys in the 10,000m with the same birthday. A lot happened on 24 June, I imagine.

The Ethiopian kits are black shorts on hunter green singlets. Looks a lot like UO colors.

Women's 1500m: Kenya's Helen Obiri runs 3:58, fastest ever on American soil, and breaks Mary Decker Slaney's 1988 record. Mary was a beast of a runner, all five foot nothing of her. And to hold a distance record for 25 years?

NBC is televising live. How cool is that? NBC (me) on NBC! The network has these great self-leveling mobile cameras; the unit does not bounce as the cameraman walks along, so the picture is very stable.

Trivia: from where did this technology emerge?

Answer: Sylvester Stallone. No joke. When he ran up the Philadelphia Art Museum steps as Rocky, his crew had to develop a camera that wouldn't make viewers car-sick.

I have tons of useless trivia stuffed in my head. Other examples: I know the year the US Naval Academy was founded (1845), and I know how to start a nuclear reactor from cold wet layup without creating a radiation hazard.

Alex Trebek needs to call me.

Jamaica's Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce adds to her collection of two Olympic gold medals in the 100m, while Justin Gatlin wins the men's event. Sprinters have two muscle groups: quad and butt. Makes them run fast and walk funny.


I'm watching Florida runner Tony McQuay in the 400m. At the halfway mark, he's way behind everyone, so I write him off and start watching the battle up front. Turns out Tony was biding his time and later snuck into third place. Guess I need to pay closer attention.

High School Junior Mary Cain runs the 800m with the big girls, and doesn't do much except become the first prep runner ever to go sub-2:00! Girl has no fear; none. During the post-race interview, she says, "I really didn't think; I just ran like an animal!"

The crowd roared. You go, girl.

WR Holder and Olympic Champ Ashton Eaton and his Olympian fiancée Brianne do a ceremonial victory lap. I break from my stoic umpiring protocol and slap him five as he passes. I hope that outburst doesn't get me banned from the track.

Here's 2x Olympic winner Mo Farah for the men's 5000m. World-class goatee.

I mentioned the sprinters are all quad/glute. Mo has none of that, and no calf muscle either; just lots and lots of hamstring. Like cables.

Galen Rupp is here, too. The boy ran here at UO, then gets an Olympic silver medal right behind his buddy Mo. Galen's shorts are horribly wrinkled, but he gets the biggest ovation anyway.

Their coach Alberto Salazar is on the infield wearing a black and red outfit with a cool red webbed pattern. I think Spiderman is now designing Nike clothes.

Speaking of birthdays, Australian's Ryan Gregson was born on mine, but 25 years later. He honors me by running next to last in the Bowerman Mile.

A pleasant 130-mile drive home, only to return in three days for NCAA Championships.

Did I mention that I love track?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

2013 Eugene Marathon


Getting closer to Boston, but more issues to resolve.

Good warmup, good breakfast, all gauges in the green. I'm ready for this sucker.

Last race was Portland and a 3:37; lots of the usual hamstring cramps in the final 8 miles coming off the bridge. This training cycle went better, and I was hopeful that I've figured it out.

Back in February, I suffered a mild calf strain. Seems like my calves are the biggest issue during hard training; definitely my Achilles heel. So to speak....

Because of the calf thing, I backed off on long tempo runs in the last couple of month and was hoping it wouldn't be a problem.

Started the race slow. My standard plan is to let the pace group go for about the first 5 miles, then slowly reel them in. Done.

Approaching 8 miles, I steel myself for the 19th Street Hill. I've taken a beating on this slope before, really going anaerobic way too soon, then suffering the rest of the way.

This time, I rocked it.

I crested the hill with the pace group, then freewheeled on the way down. And smiled.

Near 10 miles, some idiot woman in front of me sees a spectator friend with a camera. The runner slows and poses, right in the middle of the road.

And right in front of me.

I'm locked and loaded, just focused on the task at hand. No bozo is going to distract me. Nor will she slow me down; I put a forearm in between her shoulder blades and keep rolling. She apologizes; I don't acknowledge.

But the running gods took notice.

I realize that I'm working fairly hard  to maintain this pace, and I'm not halfway yet. This could be trouble.

13.1 miles in low 1:42. Right where I need to be; the problem is that I don't know how long I can hang on.

Did I mention the hamstring tightness that began at 8 miles?

Couldn't believe it. 8 lousy miles???? That's definitely going to be trouble.

and it was.

At 16 miles, I begin to drop back a bit, trying to baby the leg. Once the legs seize, there's no unlocking them. That's experience talking.

I was carrying a larger than normal load of salt caps, so I start pounding them. And my stomach felt fine, so I jammed all the calories I could down my gullet.

Didn't matter; the legs locked at 21 miles. But at least I wasn't hungry!

The last 10k wasn't horrible like in years past, but it wasn't much fun, either. I couldn't open up my stride for very long, and I was also getting winded. But I still kept hoping my quads would relax, and I kept an eye on the clock.

With 2 miles to go, passing Skinner's Butte, I need to run better than 5:30 miles to the line. Not going to happen.

I run a respectable last mile, and the last 400m was at 7:26 pace. Decent finish, just under 3:32. Will have to re-evaluate my training.

Once I got out of the car after driving 130 miles home, my hammy locked big-time. Had to stand in the garage for 5 minutes immobile before it loosened.
Remind me again why exactly we do this?
With a somewhat disappointing day behind me, I needed some way to regain my self-respect.
Light bulb goes off. I grin.
After 3 glasses of wine and a huge dinner of lasagna, know what I did?
Yup. Ran a mile.
Wow. It really hurt. The first 300 meters, I had a complete loss of motor control. Literally staggering. Once my legs loosened a bit, all that food and wine in my stomach became a larger issue. Ugh.
The good news is that my recovery the next couple of days was much better than ever before. That one lousy mile made a big difference.
But I know what I need to do: spend Tuesday nights with the Footzone running group. It's a series of speed workouts that will really help me develop some more gears.

Gonna get me some new wheels and bust this sucker.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

2013 Spring Break

We hadn't been to California in a couple of years, so it was time to go visit Mom in Marin County.

On the trip down, we stayed overnight in K-Falls. Nice lodge near the lake.

The view from our deck
The next day on the drive south, Zoe decided to make a blanket tent.

There's a child in there somewhere
First up: a little city tour. Problem is my idea of a city tour: it's by foot. And across the Golden Gate Bridge, along the waterfront, to AT&T Park and back. 19 miles, starting at 0600.

The GGB in my rearview mirror
Man, it was cold and blustery up there, probably 45F and 20 mph winds. I had to wait almost two whole miles before I took my shirt off. Oh, the humanity...

Made my way along the water to the other bridge, looking toward Oakland...

Bay Bridge at sunrise
Halfway there, but a long 9 miles left...

Ferry Building

Really wanted to stop here!!!

I wanted to run up Hyde Street like I did a couple of years ago (all the way up), but my coach would have killed me..
One of those city streets that are nearly vertical

The San Fransisco waterfront is a wonderful place to run. Trouble is, if you're heading back to Marin County, the Golden Gate Bridge seems a long way off. For a very long time...

Before I reached the bridge, I came across a casual 10k race along the water. Hmmmm, a little speedwork? Maybe not today. The race was in honor of Walt Stack, one of the earliest (and oldest) Ironman finishers. He was well into his 70's when he first did the race three decades ago: 2.4 mile ocean swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. Afterward, at the awards banquet, he accepting the prize for oldest finisher by saying, "I have surgery scheduled for tomorrow; going to have this bicycle seat removed from my ass."
I gave a little salute to the long-departed Mr. Stack, then kept chugging over the bridge. All good things must come to an end, though. And this ended after 19 miles; nice run!
Next up: a little ice skating...
Up in Santa Rosa, Charles Schulz built himself a gorgeous ice rink, regulation size, and it's open to the public. Very cool. And right next door is...
Upon entering the musuem, you see this on the far wall...
Get closer, and you see this...
The entire mural is made up of over 3,500 individual comic strips!! Very cool to see.
Then it was a quick lunch break at Russian River Brewing...

The next day, we took a trip down to the Monterey Peninsula. Man, I really want to live there...

The aquarium is really neat...

The following morning, I had another early run along the water...

Monterey Bay
Nice place for a bench, eh?

Back at the ranch; here's Zoe and Grandmom...

Mom and I...

 Zoe ate about three pounds of waffles and bacon before our departure...

Then there was a young blog writer still on his mom's wall...

Nice trip! Need to do that more often. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Best Athletic Quotes Ever

a good friend asked me what i think the best running quotes are. She found a good one from Oprah, but then she realized it was, well, from Oprah. Not exactly an experienced runner.

So I got to thinking....

Some of these are off the top of my head: I've spent way too much time committing trivia to long-term memory. There might be some rough paraphrasing here...just sayin.'

Here goes:

Frank Shorter (upon winning the 1972 Olympic Gold Medal in the marathon): "I wasn't elated as much as relieved, thinking that I finally got one right."

Kenny Moore (as a college sophmore, running a two mile race against the reigning NCAA XC Champion Dale Story. Moore went out slow, with a 10 second deficit halfway, then picked it up). "(In the last turn) Story looked back, his shoulders tightened, and for the first time I felt the full savagery of my competitive heart."  Moore went on the win the race in a 27 second PR, and ran in the Olympics two years later.

Bob Schul, 5000m Gold Medalist in the 1964 Olympics, who ran a 38.7 second final 300m on a wet cinder track in the rain 49 years ago: "(entering the last 100m and pulling up to fading race leader Michael Jazy)...for the first time in the race my legs are heavy but it doesn't matter now." Schul crossed the finish line laughing.

Bill Rodgers, many-time winner of the NYC and Boston Marathons and prodigious junk food eater (mayo straight from the jar): "I don't know if I run this much so I can eat like this, or if I eat like this so I have to run so much."

Emil Zatopek, multiple gold medalist 1948-1952, and Runner's World Magazine's Best Runner Ever: "If you want to win something, run the 100m. If you want to experience something, run a marathon." His training regimen included 40 x 400m in army boots.

Bill Bowerman, Nike co-founder and longtime head coach at the University of Oregon: "No one wins a mile race by winning the first lap."

Frank Shorter to a complaining Steve Prefonaine while training at altitude in a New Mexico snowstorm: "Steve, right now, there's no one in the world training as hard as us."  One of the few times anyone shut Pre up.

Rafer Johnson, 1960 Olympic Decathlon Gold Medalist, in a dogfight with C.Y. Chang during the final event. "All that got me through that race was knowing I'll never have to run another 1500m race. Ever." Rafer did not like distance running at all.

Dean Karnazes, legendary ultramarathoner: “Some seek the comfort of their therapist's office, other head to the corner pub and dive into a pint, but I chose running as my therapy.” 

Adidas ad: "It is impolite to count people as you pass them. Out loud."

John Stephen Akhwari, Tanzanian Olympic Marathoner: Early in the 1968 race, he collided with another runner and fell, dislocating his knee. He kept plodding along, completing the race an hour after the winner. When asked why he continued running, he said, "My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 5,000 miles to finish."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Track Season 2013

It's good to be back. First meet of the year...
Marching out onto the track, we approach the Bowerman Building behind the 100m start. Bowerman was the long time coach at UO, co-founder of Nike, and coach of a guy named Prefontaine. Bowerman paid for an athletic facility specifically for the track teams, and the building is strategically located to block the tailwinds from the north that could negate record sprint times.
I'm marching behind Bob, our head umpire, a guy who's been coaching track almost as long as I've been alive. We commute together for the meets, and we spend the whole time in the car talking track history. I look up on the Bowerman Balcony, and I see two white-haired guys. First guy with the beard is Vin Lananna, former head coach at UO and the guy who brought the last two Olympic Trials here.
Vin Lananna
No surprise to see Vin at the track. But the other guy?
I nudge Bob, and ask, "Is that Jeff Johnson?"
Bob looks up and nods. I smile.

Jeff was the first guy hired by Phil Knight to help sell shoes at a small company called Blue Ribbon Sports, later known as Nike. Jeff is the one who came up with the iconic company name while sleeping. He hung around for 18 years, then retired at age 41 after Nike went public. Great article in Running Times about him. Oh, the stories he can tell...
The Preview Meet is the first outdoor competition of the season, and everyone is getting into shape. The Oregon women's 4x100 team is DQ'd after botching a baton pass; English Gardner, faster than most pros while still a college junior, runs the backstretch so fast that the third runner can't get the exchange done before the passing zone ends.
I smile. Good day to work out the kinks, and the UO women have a very nice problem to solve.
Most of the Oregon athletes are running in non-standard events to work on conditioning. Mike Berry, one of the nation's best 400m runners, is in the 800m. Sprinters don't like distance; when Berry comes by at 700m, he does not look happy.

One guy who isn't running is Elijah Greer, recent NCAA indoor champion in the 800. I know what he gave up for Lent: haircuts.


Men's 4x100m relay: I'm stationed at the last exchange coming out of the turn. UO's anchor is De'Anthony Thomas, starting RB for the football team and lightning fast. He's my height with 20 extra pounds of pure muscle and explosive power. He strips off his warmup tights, takes the baton, and blazes home.
He left his tights trackside. It's starting to rain, so I put the tights in my pocket to keep them dry.
2 events later, still no De' Anthony. If he doesn't want the tights, I'll return them to the team or keep them.  I turn around, and here he is, looking around and looking sad. I pull them out of my pocket, and he beams.
Then he hugs me.
I love track.

Friday, January 25, 2013

2013 Goals

Okay, I'm a little bit late with this. But three weeks into January isn't bad.


We're gonna keep it simple this year.

1) Qualify for Boston

I need 12 minutes. A mile and a half. Heck, I've dropped an hour from my first to my third 26.2 mile efforts, and just need a little bit more. My last marathon was good, considering a cold before the race, a hideous last two months, and a stoopid taper. This time around, I'm on basically the same training plan, with a few more long runs. If I can stay consistent and avoid injury/illness, I'll have about 150 more miles in my legs.

Everything I've read lately tells me that marathon success is proportional to mileage. To me, that means a couple of things:
  • the obvious. No shortcuts. Gotta get the long runs done
  • less speedwork. I always overdo the hard stuff, and then I get injured and lose mileage. Besides, all I need to do is string a bunch of 7:49 miles together. That's not exactly sprinting.
Target is 28 April at the Eugene Marathon. I want to get this sucker done and off my plate. Then I can enjoy the summer.

Well, not really...

2) Swim under 3:00 for 200m

If you're a lifelong swimmer reading this, you're laughing. Three minutes is not exactly Phelps-like. But if you're a person who never swam for exercise (much less speed) until age 45, it's something. Masters swim workout are the key, and getting wet at least 3x per week makes a big difference.

My original plan was to do my swim by late March. In rethinking the schedule, I'm wondering if this is smart, since my marathon is only a month later. I'll probably cut down the pooltime to twice per week, and spend the extra time on plyo work or Nordic skiing. Then I can target a summertime swim effort.