Friday, July 24, 2015

Mt Hood

I traveled this week and spent several days crisscrossing the Western portions of Oregon and Washington.  It was very clear and Mt Hood looked fantastic.  I also got a chance to check out Mt Hood from the air.  It looks good either way.  We were in the Columbia River Gorge  as well, and the scenery was really something.   That is definitely big country out there.

The weather was really warm and dry in Albany, Oregon and I did try to run outside and it was so dry I really struggled with my breathing, so I just ran inside on the treadmill.  I am working on my endurance and weight loss, so I am doing 800 meter and 1600 meter runs.   I have finalized my racing schedule for the rest of the season.  I will run in Kentucky and do the 100 400 double.  They are electronic timed and I really want to get a good 400 time and break 62 seconds if possible.  Kentucky is a Sunday meet and that  helps logistics as well.   My last meet will be the Greater Nashville District Qualifier in October.  The current plan is to try for a great time in the 200 and get in the show for the rest of the events.

Pretty simple plan and I have enough time to get some good training done.  As it starts to cool off a little, I will start  harder outdoor training and get the 400 time coming down as we approach meet day.

By the way, after three weekends on the roads, we are are NOT going anywhere this weekend.  We need the rest.  Wedding, track meet, class reunion...  The weeds in the garden are calling really loud..

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dark Side

The dark side exists.    This is a post that I have been thinking about for around a week and I need to get it out in the open.   Those who have known me long realize that I can get depressed in the winter due to the lower levels of light.  I have been dealing with it for a long time and I think the situation is under control.  I understand I have a problem and Linda is very helpful in reminding me that I am slipping and I need to fix it. 

A couple of days before the meet last weekend, my left side lower jaw was hurting.  I could eat, but the pain was significant enough to think about getting some help.   It was too late to get it looked at before the meet, so I had to just deal with the situation.  I have had some injuries on the left side of my head decades ago, but side effects of  those things will pop up after time.  I chewed long leaf tobacco for thirty some year and was a 'left sider'.  Two things that I did in the past that can have a  significant effect my body now.   I also like nacho chips and they can get lodged in the gum.   So we have 3 choices.....

The dark side says jaw cancer.   I thought about that a bit, but I am going to force the dark side to take me, I am not going willingly to the dark.  Thinking the worst is the worst thing I could do.     I flossed aggressively a couple of times to get any  chips worked out, used my mouth guard to sleep--was I grinding my teeth???    Gradually the pain subsided and currently I do not have any worries about my jaw.  

The dark side will take you down if you cooperate.  I am going to continue to fight and come out the other side into the light.  The mind is very powerful and it can overcome a lot of bad.  If I would have let the dark side take me last week, the devil only knows what how much fun he could have had with me.   

Tell the dark side to take a hike, and then continue with the good life that the light has provided. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Post meet review

200 meter finals podium.    I ran seventh and just did not really have the zing for the race.

I ran fifth in two straight National Finals in the 400 meters.  The 400 is 'my' race and the results are close, but still not far enough up the podium to suit me.  I want metal, not ribbon....   I dug out some info that was written by the coach for Michael Johnson and Jeremy Wariner, who were the premier 400 m athletes in their generation.  They both attended Baylor University and the Baylor track coach-Clyde Hart- has some definite experience in creating quarter mile champs. 

There are ways to predict your 400 meter time that is achievable with the proper training.   Take your best 200 time, double that and add 3.5 seconds.   27.7 x 2 +3.5= 58.9 seconds.   I finished the race in 62.55 seconds.   There is a couple of seconds out there that I need to go find.   Coach Hart has written many articles about training and I have worked on some ideas for my training that should help me get quicker.  I the past, 400 m athletes have been distance people that you taught speed, and the  sprinters you teach the endurance.  In recent history the speedsters who were taught endurance were much more successful.  It is hard to teach speed, and I do agree.   

I have a lot of data about the last two National Finals and did some analysis of the premier runners that have run the 200 and 400 meters.  My analysis was using the above equation for 400 meter time to find out what the factor was for each athlete using their 200 and 400 times.   From this data it is obvious who are sprinters and who are distance type athletes. Michael Murray and Jerry Crowe who beat me this year and Michael who also beat me in Cleveland, have a factor around 4.  They are running about as fast as they can in the 400, they are lean and are not as effective in the 200 m.  They are highly conditioned athletes who are not true sprinters, as such.  These are generalities, but I think the end game here will be legitimate. The athletes that are competitive in the 100, 200 and 400 tend to have a higher number of 6 to 8.  They are true sprinters and they are highly conditioned.   My score runs around 6.8.   This number indicates that I am a decent sprinter, but lack the conditioning to win in the 400m. 

Let's look at the big picture for getting a medal.  Can I medal in the 50 or 100 at the National level??  That would be a stretch, the raw speed is not there, I have looked at the numbers.   Can I medal in the 400 m-- yes, it is my best chance.  Can I medal in the 200 m-- I have a shot.    Michael Johnson held the world record in the 200 and 400 m at the same time, still holds the 400 m record.   MJ's training is well documented and I followed some of his techniques in the past and will continue.  Do I want to be Michael Johnson??  Not really, but the best training for the 400 is basically what he did and my plan going forward will be to do the 200 400 double in the Nationals and USATF Master Championships.   The athletes that get into the finals for both the 200 and 400 is very limited.  The dominant athletes can do all the sprints.   In this year's 60-64 year old division, no one doubled in the 200 400m.    There are sprinters who go fast and only do the 50, 100, 200 and avoid the 400 painfest like the plague.  I run them all and get beat in the short races and compete well in the 200 400.   The 200 is run against totally different athletes than the 400 group.  I basically get to race everybody who shows up.  Fine with me.  Beat them all if I can.  Is this distribution of any real bearing?  I many ways yes.  

Blah Blah.... what is your plan Buddy??   I want to run 2 or 3 more meets this season.   I am going to make a major emphasis change in my training to get that two seconds that I am leaving on the table for the 400 m.   My first change is much more emphasis on longer runs that include 400 and 800 m runs at 80%+ pace.  My conditioning needs to improve.  The only fear is my bad feet, hopefully they can hold up.  I will do a lot of treadmill work, it is pretty easy on my dogs. I will run the 400 m on Sept 19 in Kingsport, TN and challenge the 60 second barrier.  Why there?  Jerry Crowe will be at that meet and I will see if I can talk him into being my rabbit.   The final meet of the season will be October 10 where I will challenge my 200 meter form.   Lyon Fleming will be at that meet and he is really fast with an USATF All American time at the Nationals 200 m finals.   He will be  great to race in the 200m.  The competition is critical in getting good times.    A third meet in Kentucky would be an option , but it is on Labor Day weekend, the day after the Kelly Clarkson concert and that could be a bad choice to run that day. 

Why change now?   I think I can go quicker in the 400 and I will be in older group next year.  I want to maximize any age advantage I can gain.   I am completely sucked into the track competition.  It has been a big part of fighting some of the depression I used to suffer in the winter, and I like to compete, I want to challenge myself.   I am also going to lose some weight.  Every elite athlete was quite trim.  I am also going to work my upper body more and regain some of my arm strength.  I have really slacked on the upper body strength training, I have concentrated on lower body work the last couple of season to hopefully get quicker in the 400 and 200.   My workouts are going to be longer as a result, so I will need to feed the beast during the workouts.  I also will do more slower paced running , like 5K's or possibly a mud run or two  in the winter to keep the fitness level in control. 

Change is hard, but I want to get on the top step and I will not arrive there without changes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Day 3. Of Nationals. Finals Day!

Finals day, everything counts today.   Although this is actually written on Wednesday, we will for the my sanity, write as if it is still Monday.  The weather was warm and still breezy, but the wind was now at your back down the main staight, this was a radical change from the first two days.   My first race is the 200 and I am in lane 1.   I went through my normal routine and felt ready to go when we ran.  I got a good start and was ready to kick it after the curve and looked around and I was already in the dust!! Since,  I had two more races and I was definitely out of the money here, I basically crusied home which is really rare for me.  I ran a 27.9 seconds, which was on 0.2 seconds off my qualifying time, it was OK, but not near good enough.  I ran 7 th.   Some days you got it, some days you don't, today was not a got it day.
Now the pressure is on to perform in the 400.  After a couple of hours of waiting and warming up we lined up, I was in lane 6 and Jerry Crowe was in lane 5.  I felt good and was in a good position, but when the stagger from turn 3/4 kicked in, I was fading and ended up 5 th.  My time was one second faster than the qualifier, a 63.5.  Jerry ran a very solid race and scored a Silver medal with a 62.96.  After reviewing the video, my last 200 meters was pretty weak, I will start addressing that ASAP.  Jerry Crowe is 59, Michael Murray -Bronze-from Louisiana is 59 and was podium at 2013 Nationals, I am 59 and made the podium the last two Nationals.  It was an old finals, only two people were 56 or under.  Three of the podium people were from the 2013 race, me, Michael Murray, Daniel Waugh --and he is a newlywed.  I was very excited that Jerry Crowe medaled in his first Nationals.

I had about 30 minutes to recover for the final race, the 4x 100 relay.  The Tennessee Tri Stars were against the Oreo Cookies in the 55 to 59 age group--just two teams.  They race organizers put us in lane 2, Oreos in lane 7 and between us 4 teams of the older men.  All on big heat of 55 to 65 year olds. By the way, the older guys won the heat, they ran a 48.03, Oreos ran 48.32, TTS ran 51.86 for a silver.  I finally got one.  I had been chasing a medal for 6 years, and I finally have one to hang on my neck!!!  The relay is a lot of fun, I ran the third leg turn and laid down a great effort with little rest.  My body responded when I went to the whip.  I was tired, but ran well and will get a chance to collect some metal...

Tennessee Tri Stars  with Jerry Crowe who we loaned to another team after an injury,  they scored silver in the young man group with Jerry's help! The guys in this picture won a total of  8 medals in track and field and PJ a gold in hoops.  Tennessee was presented well. 

After taking a bunch of pictures and a lot are on Facebook or Tennessee Senior Games web page, Linda and I stopped at the first palce we found and ate.  When I race, eating is just nibbling and I was ready to fold up, I was spent.  There will be a lot more in the next two days and a lot more pictures posted.  Phones take great video and digital pictures.  
The venue At St Thomas college was immaculate , a first class college with beautiful grounds.  Parking was a challenge, but what a great place to race.  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

400m prelim. 50 prelim

Another day of racing.  I ran the 400m prelim in Jerry Crowe's heat and knew if I could stick with him I would get to the finals-which is the goal for the race.  I started with blocks which I rarely do in the 400, and we were off.   The track is set up with a giant screen at the turn3/4 end and I was cruising down the backstretch feeling good, said hello to my wife as she was recording the race, and looked up at the video at my time and I Was kinda stunned--it was around 26 seconds at the 200 pole.  Wow, I was screaming.  No, you did not factor in the lane seven start, I was still in good shape.  The wind was at my back in the backstretch and turn 3 and the main straight had a good 10 mph breeze, which can really knock your speed down.  Making the turn, Jerry made up the stagger and went past me and I hung on to him for a second place finish of 63.5 seconds.  The fastest I had ran since Cleveland in 2013.   We both made the finals!!!  He is 3 rd quick and I was fourth quick....great day for two 59 year olds.  All the runners from Tenneessee made a finals in at least one event, which makes you proud for the state and the runners get a shot at medal.  

I came thru the race without any trauma, and needed some rest for the fun race, the 50 prelim in 90 minutes.  Linda and I set up camp on the backstretch under cover with 110 volt access for chargers. Perfect spot.  We visited with people from all over that We remembered from Cleveland and traded some great stories about meeting your wife at a later age, kids, travel, all kinds of stuff.  The visiting is a huge part of the fun and today was a great day to enjoy the moment.  It was warm and partly cloudy, about as good as you could get to race in the summer.  Great timing, tonight there is heavy weather with tornadoes warnings " the works" coming but it will be cleared out by gametime tomorrow.
The 50 m is a contest for the strongest and I finished in mid pack with a 7.4 second run and will watch the finals.  The speed needed to compete in the 50 is beyond my ability.  I could change my training to try, but I my genes were assembled to be a 200/400 star.  I can now rest longer, the 50 meters is first tomorrow morning.

We have a 4 x 100 relay team signed up for the last race of the meet tomorrow.  The Tennessee Tri Stars are in the 55 to 59 age group and we have a legitimate shot at a medal.  The relay is about as much fun you can have on the track, grown men acting like kids, I love it and I will get in it every chance I can at the Nationals.   All the runners in the TTS have finals tomorrow, so our group is competitve in the other speed events as well.  I can't wait.  
I have the 200 and 400 m finals tomorrow.  Linda asked if I thought I could medal--which my real goal- and I told here yes.  I don't know in which event, but I feel the chance is there.  I will be in lane one for the 200 which the lane I just ran my best time in forever, so I would like to repeat the performance.   The 400 is who loses the least amount at the end from muscle fatigue, I managed ok today.  I should be in lane 6 for 400, which is near the fast people, and if I can't medal they will earn the one they win.  

I slept about 4 hours last night and ran a lot of exhausting dream races.  Tonight I will try to get some real sleep and save the racing for tomorrow.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

200 m prelim

Still no pictures.  My all Apple set up is struggling with pictures.  I will get it figured out.  The race is loaded on my Facebook as a video.  Linda did great job of routing and filming.
I won my heat today in the 200 meters prelim and had to wait thru 3 more heats to see if I transferred to Monday's final.   I know how the folks in auto racing feel when they put a good time and wait until everyone else runs to see how they qualify or get the pole.  That wait was worth it, I qualified 7 th and get to run on Monday!  Yea! That is exciting...
I was in lane one, which is typically not a preferred lane, but I got a good start and made up the stagger at the 80 meter mark and dropped the hammer and actually pulled away in the last 20 meters.  It felt good to get there first.   I ran a 27.73 which is 0.7 seconds faster than my last Nationals.  27.7 would have qualified me in 7 th there as well. My training has been better and smarter.  I am faster in the second 100 meters than the first  I am keeping some gas in the tank.   The 400 tomorrow morning will test the training.  I am confident but uneasy, the 400 is a whole different batch of athletes.  Typical 200 people do not run the 400, I guess I am one of the exceptions.

Weather was warm and a stiff breeze in your face on the finish stretch.  Makes my time all the sweeter.  Overall, pretty good conditions.  No rain, hopefully we get tomorrow in with out any issues.

Tennessee had a good day and won some medals in the long jump and qualified a lot of  people in the sprints.   We are representing pretty well.  More chances tomorrow.  No athlete had any issues with pulling up or crashing, which makes for a lot more fun for all.

St Paul

It is Saturday or Day 1 for me at the Nationals.   We flew in yesterday and checked in at the convention center and had some lunch, we were starving.   After we got to our hotel, took a break, we decided to attend the Athlete Welcome at the local baseball stadium.   I did not do the welcome when in Cleveland, but it was a fun event.   PJ carried the Tennessee flag for state as we marched into the stadium.   It would put the participation at 1500 athletes.  Linda took some pictures of the event, but I am have trouble getting them linked to the blog.   Alive and Kicking was a vocal group that put on a show.  About two dozen seniors rocked the stage for 15 minutes--from Queen "We are Champions" to Lady GaGa-" Born this Way". They were fun.

While in St Paul you must eat at Mickeys diner.  This diner was in the final scene of the movie "A Prairie Home Companion". Divey and wonderful.  I had a banana milk shake and steak and eggs.  Linda had the liver.  Both diners were yummy and we were definitely filled up.  And we had our brush with the local film history as well.

Today we walked down to the Buttered Tin and had breakfast.  A local bakery restaurant that appears to be a local favorite.  We arrived and got right in, as we left at least 20 people were waiting on a seat.  A popular and delicious place to eat.   If my racing is lousy, my good eating will make up for it.

I race at 2:30 today, the 200 prelims.  Easy day today.  We will head over to the track around 11:00 and find some parking--which at first glance appears to be limited.  Then get ready to put on a show.  I ran the race a couple times last night in my dreams, it is interesting that the pain level is pretty low in the dreams.  Hopefully I can replicate they good runs I had last night.