CIDA/CIAND 5K: relearning old lessons

Conditions: Not much wind, some sun, 26 F (-4 C). Brrr… I’d predict about a 2-3 percent slow down due to the cold as happened in the past.

I did this race last year when I was further along in training and it was 6 degrees F warmer. Like last year, I went with Tracy to the race.

Upshot: 25:50 for 5K; 15 out of 68 finishers (8:19), 4’th in the age group.

There weren’t many people here and Pat O’Bryan was a bit stiff in starting hence I went out ahead of her. I closed on some ladies and passed them on the way out; mostly I chased a younger, tall guy who was to finish 22 seconds ahead of me.

The lesson: though I was familiar with the course, I didn’t remember where the splits were. According to people with Garmins, the course was accurate enough, but the mileage markers were off (long) as explained by my splits: 8:30, 8:42 (17:12), 8:38 for 1.1.

When I saw the first mile (still chasing one of the two runners I would catch), I thought “I know it is cold and I am not used to it, but I thought that I was doing better than this!” So I attempted to put a bit more into it. I could see Terry and Jerry in the distance (they are very tall) and my distance to them didn’t seem unusual.

We circled and headed back; I was in the place I would finish in and could see the tall younger guy up ahead. Mile 2: 8:42????? That discouraged me; and I am not deep enough into the season to be confident as to what I can do. So I thought “ok, low 26 finish?) and started to let up. But I saw the tall guy and said to myself: “Race. Try to catch him; forget about your time.” So I tried and I did close the gap just a bit. But as we turned toward the start I could hear some quick footsteps; I could tell that was Pat breathing down my neck (not literally; I am about a foot taller than she is). I’ve raced her often enough to recognize her footsteps.

So I said: “pick it up; don’t let Pat catch you” and so I tried to push.

The end of the course is a “once around the parking lot loop (just over 400 meters)” and I saw Terry finishing in 23:28 and knew that I’d be done in about 2:30…time to pick it up as I had a shot of going under 26. So that, plus chasing the tall guy plus trying to stay ahead of Pat sped me up enough to get under 26 (25:50); Pat was 5 seconds behind me. Note: she beats me most of the time.

So, this was 41 seconds slower than last year but I was further along then and this was a tougher day to run.

Afterward, I went out to bring Tracy in and yelled for the other runners; Tracy (F 70-74) won her personal battle to break 40 (39:38) and to beat two women that she had been leap-frogging with.

After the food, conversation (hi JJW) and awards, I had a nice conversation with one of the directors of Building Steam. We talked about a few issues and now I am raring to go.

Another issue
I like this race (well organized, decent course, decent food afterward) but am concerned with its future; it used to have 5 times the current participation. But the small crowd lead to a curious statistical result:

1. Joe Hanks 50-54 19:56
2. Daniel Ball 55-59 19:58
3. Leo Vanvervlugt 60-64 20:08

These are wonderful performances for this age group. But this was NOT the Senior Olympics. This reminds me of this “Slowest Generation” article. Though the competitive young people (e. g. team members) train very, very hard and really get after it, the non-team members…not so much. Then again, who has time to be concerned with times when one is texting and taking selfies while they are running? :-)

If you want some amusement, google “slowest generation” and read all of the butt-hurt.

March 28, 2015 Posted by | running, time trial/ race | , , | Leave a comment

How good at sports are you? About measuring human performance relative to others…

Workout notes Swimming.

500 very slow; Mike and Jason beat me.
5 x 100 fist/free on 2:10. slow; first 2 were 2:00;then I migrated to 1:55 then to 1:50 for the last 2.
Then 3 x 100 drill (fins), 200 free:
3:31, 3:29, 3:27
100 drill
150 side (stayed with a slow free style swimmer for 50
50 back

It was ok; started bad but got better when I focused more.

Human performance relative to age: who you are compared to makes a difference

Yesterday, I noted that, by the measure used in this calculator, my age adjusted performance at the bench press is better now than when I was at perhaps my peak fitness.

The numbers: 1982, I weighed 190 and could bench press 260, which was 1.26 times my body weight; the minimum for a rating of “excellent” was 240 pounds.
This year (2015), I weigh 180 and can bench press 185 (I got 200 last year), which is a ratio of 1.03 which rates as “excellent”; the minimum rating of excellent for a male my age and body weight is 155 pounds. So, by this measure, I rate higher now than then, and that surprises me.

Now when it comes to, say, the 5K run, using this calculator, I am worse now than as a younger man. I ran about 19:00 as a young man and 19:53 as a 38 year old; last year’s best (at 54) was 24:42, which grades to 21:08 for 20-29, and 21:50 as a 38 year old. Note: my 54 year old time grades to 23:00 as a 45 year old (I ran 23:46) and 23:44 as a 49 year old (I failed to break 24 that year).

So, why do I rate higher in lifting than in running? One reason might be that perhaps my build is better suited for upper body strength than running. It could be that I don’t run as much as I did when I was younger, but my lifting hasn’t changed that much.

But I think that something else is going on.

The running calculator is from a “sport” page; there you are graded against the best in your age group. That is, you are graded against the most extreme outliers.

Now as a young person, outliers were mostly determined by inherent athletic ability. Yes, I know that the athletes have to train like demons, but the training is so that they can beat other outstanding athletes and not to beat me; witness the world class marathoner who ran 2:14 on 35 miles a week of running.

Now when you talk about age, you have to factor in not only genetic ability for the sport, but also the aging process itself; we do NOT age at the same rate, have the same level of accumulated injuries, etc.

So when you are compared to the best in your age group, you are being compared to people who are “double outliers” (ability, aging..)

On the other hand, I think (not sure) that the bench press calculator compares you to the AVERAGE MALE of your age group. The outliers get averaged out, so to speak.
As one ages, that is a very different comparison; as one ages, one can maintain a reasonably good score, relative to the average, by merely staying active when so many others do not. That will not help you vs. the outliers.

Side note
I noticed that my age group place in the Steamboat 15K has gotten worse. One factor: there are now fewer people in my age group; there aren’t many 55 year olds who would just enter a 15K running race on a whim (“I wonder how I’d do”); the only ones there are the seasoned runners. That isn’t true for the younger age groups.

Evidence: This past year, there were 43 people in the male 50-54 age group. I placed 38’th (.88). There were 60 people in the male 35-39 age group. My time would have placed me 46’th (.76). That is, AT MY CURRENT AGE, I placed higher in the 35-39 than I did in 50-54!!!! The reason, I think, is the level of competitions; only seasoned “over 50 years old” runners even attempt it.

March 27, 2015 Posted by | running, swimming, weight training | , , , | Leave a comment body is not kidding me

I ran my 6.4 mile course (hilly, just over 10K) from the house to the university gym. I had the pleasure of a woman on the XC team being in front of me from the entrance to the Park on Parkside and I beat her to the RCC easily! Ok, I did take my usual Columbia Terrace to Maplewood cut whereas she did the “to University to Main”; so I did about 1 mile in the time she did about 1.5.

My goodness…I am slow.

Then to the gym.
pull ups: 5 sets of 10 (yes! Back to that level) rotator cuff
bench: 10 x 135, 1 x 180 (not that easy), 2 x 170 (huh?) 6 x 160 (depressing) (rotator cuff)
seated, supported military: 2 sets of 12 x 50 dumbbells, standing 10 x 40 dumbbells
pull downs: 3 sets of (7 x 160 traditional, 7 x 100 low)

I was weak but…well…never mind. I am tired of excuses.

I keep having this “well, that switch is going to flip and those 7:30 mpm training miles and 10 x 225 in the bench press is going to come back”, but that has not happened and, to be honest, hasn’t happened since the late 1990s.

But here is what is a bit bizarre: the last time I was about this weight (as a young man; about 190 lbs. vs. the 180 I am now), I could bench press 260. I got 310 as a 230 pound man.

I used this calculator.

So, 260 at 190 pounds in my 20’s grades as 1.37 (percentage of body weight) or 20 pounds above the minimum “excellent” range.
Now I get 185 at 180 pounds at 55; this grades at 1.03, which is 30 pounds above the minimum “excellent” rage (155 for someone my age).

So, when one takes age into account, I am actually…in age graded terms..stronger NOW than I was then. That is just bizarre because it sure doesn’t feel that way.

March 26, 2015 Posted by | running, weight training | , | 1 Comment

I’ve got a decision to make…

Well, with the exception of one year, I’ve worked “Building Steam” since 2004. What it is: it is a program to help new runners build to being able to finish a 4 mile race. When I first did it, it was run by the Illinois Valley Striders; it was an “experienced runners helping out newbies” sort of thing.

Well, over time….

They decided to include “access steam” with the main program, which means that we now have to take the physically disabled (wheelchairs) and the mentally disabled (with mentors). That is limiting just a bit; e. g. no trips over the bridge which serves as hillwork for the non-disabled runners. I had mixed feelings on that one but was willing to live with it.

But now: the Striders have decided to work together with Running Central on Building Steam guessed it….corporatization.

One of the program representatives (head of the local group for recreation for “special needs” people) said something to the effect “we don’t need you to be trashing our sponsors on the social media”….uh, I am not going to even be censored by my employer, much less by some group that I volunteered to help. :-)

The store owner did say that shoe companies are reluctant to sponsor races as they see little to no tangible increase in sales because of that. So they have a one year contract with a particular company and..well…he all but asked us to encourage our trainees to consider that company’s shoes. Was he just “telling it to us straight up” or…..hmmm.

Nope: I don’t do sales for a living, and I won’t do them on a volunteer basis.

And so I have the “Team Steam” shirt; by Friday I’ll decide if I give it back or not. I am leaning toward leaving this program, as it really doesn’t resemble what I originally signed up for.

I’ll let paid employees do the advertising and selling of merchandise, thank you very much.

March 26, 2015 Posted by | running | | 3 Comments

Humility and relative speeds

In a recent post I had talked about starting a hill run alongside a group of men’s track team runners. I had said that they pulled away from me so quickly it appeared as if I were standing still. I told my department chair this (he is a runner) and he reminded me of why it appeared this way:

they ran that hill interval (approximately 400 meters) about twice as fast as I did. So they are about twice as fast as I am; that is, the rate at which they pulled away from me is approximately the rate at which I would have pulled away from someone standing still.

To wit: their speed for this interval: about 4 minutes per mile, or \frac{1}{4} \frac{mile}{min} . My speed: about 8 minutes per mile (5K pace) or \frac{1}{8} \frac{mile}{min} . So the relative speed between us is \frac{1}{4} - \frac{1}{8} = \frac{1}{8} \frac{mile}{min} .

That. Is. Humbling.

March 25, 2015 Posted by | running | | Leave a comment

Hills, Huckabee, Cruz and Cranks…

Workout notes: right around freezing, overcast and breezy.
1.4 mile warm up
lower loop in 10:16 (8:20 pace)
4 x lower to upper Bradley park hill, with walk/jog recoveries
10 minute jog
38 minute walk home (from the rear Park Road entrance past the dog park and Parkside)

Slight tug in the upper left hamstring early. I focused on quick steps and knee lift. Some Bradley men’s track team runners were there and did some hill reps; they blew me away (half the time), which is completely expected. Still, it is humbling to be shown, in stark terms, exactly how slow you are.

Nevertheless, I had a tempo run, hills and a walk so it was a good workout. I got some lung burn going, which is what I need.

Mike Huckabee: recounts PART of the story from I Kings, Chapter 18. This is where Elijah calls down fire from heaven to accept his sacrifice to “prove” that his god was the real god. Pity he didn’t produce a unified theory instead. :-)

Here is the part of the story that Gov. Huckabee leaves out:

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”

40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.

This murder of people who follow a different religion kind of reminds one of…ISIS?

How any modern person can take this stuff seriously continues to baffle me.

Speaking of Charlatans: Ted Cruz is an official candidate for the 2016 GOP nomination. No, he won’t win. But in 2012, he carried Texas 56.5-40, whereas Elizabeth Warren carried Massachusetts 53.7 to 46.2. President Obama won Massachusetts 60.6 to 37.5. That is why I don’t take Senator Warren’s presidential chances seriously.

Now Texas is a southern state, and southern states have enjoyed a population influx. Some say it is the Republican policies but others point out…it may be …the weather….now that we have air conditioning to make summers tolerable. Seriously, if I could find a job with comparable salary and benefits down south, I’d move. I am tired of northern winters.

Other languages: Randazza goes after those who were outraged at the Pledge of Allegiance being said in Arabic. What many don’t know is Allah is merely the word for “God” in that language; it is the same deity that Jews and Christians worship. Personally, I skip that part anyway and say the pre-1950’s version:

Now this is NOT the original, no matter what the caption says. But it is the pre-Red Scare version:

The original is this:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

It was changed to the video version in 1923 and then to the current version in 1954.

March 24, 2015 Posted by | 2016, politics, politics/social, religion, republicans, republicans politics, running | , , , | Leave a comment

Accepting weakness

Workout notes: a bit different than what I’ve done recently.

First: short weight session.
Pull ups: 4 sets of 10, 7 and 3 with short rest. Rotator cuff
incline bench: 2 sets of 10 x 135, 4 x 145 (rotator cuff)
military presses: 2 sets of 10 x 40 dumbbells standing,
barbell: 6 x 85, 6 x 75 (almost no rest between)

then to the pool for 1800 yards (1 mile, or 1.6 km)
250 free
5 x 25 back, 25 free
5 x 25 fly, 25 free
50 side

2 x 200 on the 4 (3:45, 3:42)
100 back
200 in 3:43
100 back

My right shoulder got slightly achy, hence the off strokes.

Weight: 181.5; felt somewhat bloated…(TMI: I was correct..found that out later)

So, it was a decent workout.

Weakness Every since Junior High, I’ve always taken a bit of pride in my strength. No, I was never “D-1 football player strong”…not even close..not even “D-3 football player strong”. But from my Sophomore year onward: at 190 pounds I could bench press 260 and at 230 I could do 310 (lifetime PR). I could do 11-12 reps with 225 (PR is 11 with 230 as a graduate student in 1986.)

So I wasn’t anywhere near a power lifter. But I WAS stronger than average.

That isn’t even remotely the case now. Example: I was playing a game of H-O-R-S-E with my wife’s grandson. He is a college student; big guy (6′ 4″, burly). He tried one shot while sitting down well beyond the 3-point line and at least hit the rim.

I couldn’t do that; I lacked the strength to reach the rim. That was humbling. I used to take pride in being stronger than most.
That isn’t true anymore. That is tough for me to accept, but I have no choice.

I can’t say that I am discouraged as I keep going to the gym, swimming, running, walking, and I have no plans to stop as long as my body allows it.
But it does bother me, as does my finishing around the median (just a few places faster) at a campus 5K run, which featured mostly student runners (39/83). Yes, I was just getting over a virus, but had I run like I did this past weekend, I would have only been 35’th. Yes, I am 35 years older than most of them…but still that had me doing a slow burn.

(BTW, I won the game of H-O-R-S-E; I took a lot of medium “old man” shots and made a high percentage of those)

March 23, 2015 Posted by | running, swimming, weight training | , , , | Leave a comment

So so 5K

I looked at last year’s races, and this year’s 5K (Interplanetary) is more or less in line with them: 5K in 25:27, 71 out of 269, 5’th in my age group (55-59 male; about 3 MINUTES from being fast enough to place, and no, that isn’t close :-))

7:59/16:10 or 7:59/8:11/9:16

I jogged about 2 miles from our house to the start where I met Barbara and Tracy. I did NOT feel good on my jog down; in fact I wondered if I was even going to be close to being under 26.

Day: sunny, no wind (rare for Illinois), chilly; tailor made for running.

And yes, there was a TON of cute spandex; severe eyestrain day.

I made a mistake and perhaps got a bit impatient during the first mile; I got there in 7:59 which, given my current conditioning, was perhaps 10 seconds too fast. I could tell that I faded a bit as we went around the Goose loop as I started to lose places.

Still, 16:10 at mile 2 wasn’t that bad but just a bit afterward, I pulled off of the course to walk perhaps 5-10 seconds. I am not used to feeling “race bad”; some speed work during the week, as well as this race, will take care of that. Dianne went past me so I tucked in behind her and let her pull me along. She finished stronger than I did (8 seconds faster; most of the gap came in the final 400 meters or so); my last 1.1 was 9:16 (8:25 pace)

Afterward I went back for Tracy and then met up with Barbara at the end; she walked the mile and then went 1.5 miles more.

NCAA Basketball
I watched Wichita State women get eliminated by a strong California team (seeded 4’th in their bracket); it ended 78-66 but it was 78-58 when Cal emptied their bench with under 2 minutes to go. This was one of those “death by 1000 cuts” blowouts; it started close and every 2-3 minutes or so, Cal had extended their lead by a point or two.

Now the Golden Bears play the Texas Longhorns, which are a team I used to watch from 1985-1991. UT even won a national title and made another final 4 those years. A Sweet 16 was *almost* automatic for them; during that era I saw the Wichita coach play for Tennessee.

I note that ALL of the Missouri Valley teams are gone; Drake, Northern Iowa and Missouri State all lost their first NIT games.

On the other hand, all of the MVC men’s teams won their games: Northern Iowa and Wichita in the NCAA, Illinois State in the NIT and Evansville and Loyola in the EIEIO.

This might not be by chance.

I think that men’s basketball is deeper than women’s in that there is a bigger talent difference between the seeds; that is, the talent difference between a men’s 13 vs. 4 seed is less than the difference between a women’s 13 vs. 4 seed.

There is historical data that bears that out

I don’t know all of the factors, but I have a conjecture as to one of them: there are greater social (and monetary?) rewards to being good at basketball if you are male than if you are female; hence I think that if any male has any talent in basketball, college scouts will find them. So the talent pool is bigger and more spread out, since there is a limit to the number of players that can be put on scholarship at any one school.

Among the women: my guess is that many “hidden gems” remain hidden; those that are discovered get snapped up by the BCS type schools leaving less top talent for the mid majors.

This is part of the reason that sports records (e. g. world records for track events) continue to improve; as financial rewards improve, more talent is mined.

Many complained when the UCLA men’s team got an NCAA berth. Now they are in the Sweet 16.

In honor of that:


Yes, there were players of yesteryear that could “get up there.”

March 21, 2015 Posted by | basketball, running | , , , | Leave a comment

Common memes/statements I have no patience with (why I don’t fit in)

First things first: I DO respect this lady’s attitude and accomplishments; both are impressive.

But I have little patience at how others present such things.

1. At times, there appears to be an attitude of “this septuagenarian can do it therefore SO CAN YOU” in some of these presentations. That, of course, is nonsense.
Think of it this way: when I was in my 20’s, there were guys my age and size who could bench press 500 pounds (days prior to bench shirts) and other guys who could run a marathon in 2:10 or faster. NO ONE said “if they can do it, so can you.” Reason: the people who could perform such feats are understood to be outliers (the Steven Hawkings of athletics).

Guess what? Outliers exist among the senior age groups as well, and this lady is one of them. Another example: I had a 70 year old friend who ran a 45 minute 10K; that is abnormally good for that age.

Now if you want to say “you can probably get stronger than you think that you can”, THAT would be honest.

2. While she is indeed strong for her age, sex and size, she cannot outlift me, nor should she be able to. So please stop saying such things; that is condescending. She is incredibly strong for a woman her age though and her age graded performance would blow mine away, easily.

3. And I’ve seen memes that talk about “feeling old”. Guess what: if you are habitually active, you WILL feel your age as time goes on and your performances will show your age, period.

In my case: I found that I had to reduce the volume of my training and I had to be a bit more specific about it. That is, if I trained for, say, the 5K run, my long distance stuff would suffer more than it did a decade ago. I have to be choosier if I want to “age group improve” in one event or another; moving up in the marathon hurts my 5K; getting better in the swim hurts my running, etc. I also need to be more deliberate about strength training (weights, hill work, faster swim intervals, etc.)

March 18, 2015 Posted by | running, sports, weight training | , , , | 1 Comment

Hills and Patience

Workout notes I may or may not lift this afternoon; I might work a bit first.
I went outside to run 6 miles. I did a 22 minute warm up and then:

5 x 290 meter (.18 mile) hill between 1:34 and 1:37 on the 5 minutes, with jog rest (about 24 minutes total)

22 more minutes of running, which included one hard 350 meter (.22 mile) hill taken hard enough for me to have to walk a few steps. I feel some lung burn, as I should.

So this was about 6 miles total; the day was sunny, crisp (46 F) and windy. The idea is to strengthen my legs for faster track work, which I’ll start in a month or so.

Keep in mind how the past 4 basketball seasons have gone under the current coach:

MVC records:

2011-2012 2-14 (7-25 overall)
2012-2013 7-11 (18-17 overall, 2 CIT wins)
2013-2014 7-11 (12-20 overall)
2014-2015 3-15 (9-24 overall)

Yes, the first season was an injury riddled, transitional season in which the team had to resort to playing with walk-ons and former student managers. The second season was an improvement, though one wondered what was going to happen as 2 of the best 3 players on the team graduated. The third season was a step backwards and the 4’th season: the best you can say is that the team won a conference tournament game (52-50 overtime win against a dreadfully bad no. 7 seed) and that some of the home losses were close.

And so our outgoing athletic director is interviewed in today’s paper:

JS: Any regrets?
Cross: “From a process and decision-making standpoint, I don’t have any regrets. The regrets have to do with how this business works. Ultimately, winning and losing matters to a lot to people. I wasn’t here two weeks in 2010 when I told my wife, ‘No question in my mind, Bradley can be great. But I hope there’s enough patience for that to happen.’ Unfortunately, there isn’t enough patience.”

Uh…I suppose one could argue that some of the non-revenue sports (e. g. track and cross country) did VERY well. But men’s basketball is the athletic face of the university and, at one time, the one sport that produced revenue for the athletic department. Now look at the FOUR YEAR record and look at the direction.

Note: during this time, he INCREASED the season ticket prices for men’s basketball. Really.

Bradley Basketball season-ticket prices will increase for the first time in six years, but the school is adding benefits for all season-ticket holders and introducing improved premium seating at Carver Arena, according to the 2013-14 men’s basketball ticket plan announced today.

Bradley enjoyed one of the best turnarounds in the nation during the 2012-13 campaign, improving from 7-25 in 2011-12 to 18-17 this past season while advancing to the quarterfinals of the Postseason Tournament. Bradley’s improvement at home was pivotal in the overall turnaround as the Braves were 14-4 at Carver Arena (11-4) and Renaissance Coliseum (3-0) to equal the most home wins since the 1993-94 Braves went 16-0 at home.

Though season-ticket prices will increase in all of the Carver Arena sections for the first time since the 2007-08 campaign, Bradley will continue to offer budget-friendly and maintenance free season-ticket packages in designated upper-bowl sections at Carver Arena. In addition, five of the season-ticket levels will include games in Bradley’s on-campus arena at Renaissance Coliseum. In all, Bradley will offer season-ticket options at seven different price points with new labels: Courtside, Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Red and White.

So: raise prices as the team’s record gets worse…the predictable result: average “paid” attendance for the season was 5726 per game.


That is easily the worst figure since 1991 (and actually well before that) and it has been dropping over the past few years:

2010 9339
2011 8447
2012 7640
2013 6557
2014 6984 (carver games)
2015 5726

And keep in mind, these are tickets sold; during this past season the actual turnstile count was in the neighborhood of 1/2 to perhaps 2/3 of the “tickets sold” number. Even sportswriters from opposing teams have noticed. (and here)

There is more too this; after all the AD had a boss. And, at times, it appeared that the situation was like this:

“Down” (for years) was really “up” and those who wanted to make changes gave us no reason to have confidence that they knew what they were doing.

So perhaps the newest wave of changes will put us back in the right direction.

Note: given that we’ve had so much change, so soon, I understand that is MIGHT not mean getting a new basketball coach. I am in favor of sitting back and letting the new athletic director do his job.

March 17, 2015 Posted by | basketball, running | | Leave a comment


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