The “science” of sports…

First things first: I shuffled through my 8.1 mile course ..and really shuffled; it wasn’t fast, at all. But it had lots of hills and the weather was great.

I was thinking of bailing out and making it 5, but then I passed some older man (ok, my age..perhaps a few years younger) who was resting from riding a bike, and smoking. That ticked me off and the anger fueled me enough to do the second hill segment that made it an 8.1 mile run/shuffle.

Sometimes, contempt can motivate.

Yeah, I know..yadda, yadda…I should seek a more “aware” way..contempt is bad, blah, blah, blah. But it got me going.

And yes, this is coming up on the 20’th anniversary of my first Steamboat 15K:

And what a joke I’ve become. Ok, this shows a “middle aged man slow” morphing into an “older man slower”…which the extra slowness brought on my too many 100 mile finishes, an extra knee operation and a body that won’t tolerate as much training as before. And yes, some of newer half marathons were genuine walks, not runs. But the 5K results tell the story.

So, what is the right formula?

And that leads to my commentary on sports science. Yeah, evidently that is a place for sloppy statistics.

But I get it…sort of. There is just so much variation between people..even between outstanding athletes. I remember discussing Olympic swimming…and seeing medalists in middle distance had a super high turnover rate..the other had a much lower, fewer strokes per length..and both blew away some excellent swimmers to dominate their events. Different bodies…different paths to success.

And training: what works for one person will burn out and/or injure another.

It is even worse among the non-elites..and especially for people like me.

So basically, I’ve given up and just try to be as specific as I can for the upcoming event that means the most to me. And I’ll try..but hey, 1023’rd place is a lot like 1047’th place, so why sweat the details?


May 22, 2018 Posted by | running, statistics | , | Leave a comment

Peoria Race for the Cure decline (but with a silver lining)

This weekend’s Peoria Komen Race for the Cure had just over 5500 participants, including 216 in the “time run” division. I remember back in 2012, there were 201 men running and over 840 females; in fact, I “won” an age group award in the 50-54 male division but would not have placed in the same age group among the women! (reason: the larger female division attracted good runners; most of the men were people like me).

This Peoria Journal Star article from 2015 has a nice timeline of the Peoria race:

1986: The first Race for the Cure outside of Dallas is in Peoria, established by the Junior League of Peoria. The first Peoria race had 1,275 entrants raising $20,000.


1995: Peoria Race for the Cure registration reaches a record number of 15,000 on the raceโ€™s 10th year.

(personal note: someone I know wore shiny purple spandex leggings to this…with clear as a bell “V” shaped VPLs….with the most feeble “my long shirt will cover this…(nope)” excuse. ๐Ÿ™‚


2001: Record number of participants with 27,547. For the first time, one of the race co-chairs also runs the race, Jo Bertolino.


2005: Peoriaโ€™s Race for the Cure opens to both men and women. Peoria was the last site to allow men to participate in the Race for the Cure. The first year for Kids for the Cure.

My note: in these years, the men started several minutes behind the women..


In 2010: there were still 18,000. There were 824 timed runners.

In 2013, the men and women started together. I missed having the women to catch.

But the numbers have fallen off…and evidently that has not just been here. Some really resented men being included, but remember that there were still 18000 participants in 2010..5 years after men had been included. My guess is that the 2012 rift (where funding was cut off to Planned Parenthood) was a major factor; this hurt them with liberal women and reversing the decision angered some conservative women.. This further put their spending under a microscope …and how much “cure” is there in their spending?

As for me: well, I still like the race (and even prefer a less crowded course, which is the silver lining for me) and so fell on the “participate” side of skepticism. But in terms of size and scope, it clearly isn’t what it once was.

Workout notes my legs were a bit heavy from this weekend so my walk was an easy 2 miler. But first came weights: leisurely pace. shoulder pt:

pull ups: 2 sets of 5-5-5-5, 1 set of 10 (these went well today; the 4 sets of 5 with brief rests are challenging)
bench press: the physics profs were there so I had a spotter: 10 x 135, 1 x 185, 1 x 195, 1 x 200, 4 x 185
decline: 10 x 170
incline: 10 x 135
military: failed with 55 dumbbell seated, 10 x 50 dumbbell standing, 2 sets of 10 x 45
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 200 Hammer
abs: usual twist crunch (50, 24), moving bridge, yoga leg lifts (2 sets of 10), headstand (easy), planks: 2:30 (sucked), side.
Then came the walk.

Lifting is just plain weird. The weights do not feel heavier than they did 20-30 years ago; I merely lack the strength to make the lift. It is as if my muscle has been replaced by jello. I talked to a former Bradley athlete who is in his late 80’s and he had some interesting observations. One was that his MIND has slowed down..and his mind is very much involved in his athletic movements.

Mine really isn’t; in terms of kinesthetic intelligence, I am “special needs”. I often have no idea what my body is doing..only a mental video of what I *think* it is doing…and that video often does not match reality. I had a a terrible time when I was growing up.

I remember once embarrassing my dad at a baseball game; I was at bat, hit a pop fly and fell down in the batter’s box when I tried to run to first. I got back up but was thrown out (they dropped the fly..hey it was Little League). Dad came up to me in the dugout and said that he would pull me from the team if I couldn’t do any better than that. Yes, he was man enough to apologize to me later in the day. But the fact remains my body is easily confused; that is one reason that I am a dreadful trail runner; if someone is with me in, say, a road 5K, they will probably crush me in a trail race (if they have any experience at all).

Oh..that was a digression. But the point is that an athlete ages a bit differently than the rest of us as his/her mind is very much a part of their sport, and the mind declines with age.

May 14, 2018 Posted by | running, social/political, spandex, walking, weight training | , , , | Leave a comment

Running, lifting, weight and aging …the formula keeps shifting!

Yesterday, in addition to my usual weight workout, I did two sets, count them…TWO sets of goblet squats (do the window sill which gets me a bit past parallel)…with…wait for it…a 53 pound kettlebell (for those who are unfamiliar, that would be awesome..for say, a 90 pound 70 year old woman..but pretty pathetic for a 205 lb. 58 year old male).

And today I was sore! Seriously. Here is what I’ve found:

1. I need more “easy days” between hard workouts else I don’t recover AND
2. My “off season lay-offs” have to be shorter..I lose too damn much, too quickly.

The formulas keep changing on me.

And as far as weight: I gained about 10 lbs (noticed it in July) and haven’t lost it. Why? My guess: I am eating the way I used to when I did more mileage and was younger; now I have the double whammy of fewer miles and a slower metabolism.

But…I am stronger than I’ve been since 2010, and I can still do my 5 sets of 10 pull ups. So, what do I want to be: a lifter who walks and runs, or walker/runner who lifts? I have to choose.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not strong at all; my bench press workouts include a set of 5-7 with 185 OR 4-5 with 190, followed by 8-10 with 170, or 7-9 with 175. That isn’t exactly NFL linebacker strength.
But when I was below 190 lbs, even 2-3 reps with 185 was hard.

Yes, I know, one has to take age into account, but still…the weights don’t care how old you are. Either you can move them or you can’t.

Rumours Tribute Show We went last night; it was good.

One funny thing: the Stevie Nicks character wore a thin white dress …and appeared to have a white leotard underneath which showed up as a full brief panty line. And of course, regardless of what formed that wonderful “parabola”, I liked it. Why?

And that took me back to weightlifting. Way back in 1994, the conference was in Auburn. My buddy and I found a nearby gym and I went there to lift and I was doing multiple reps with 225 (4-5 I think, then again I weighed about 235 in those days). I miss being that strong (ok, that wasn’t that strong). But I remember catching the eye of the females in the gym; she wore some very thin, white spandex shorts with..yep..white briefs underneath.

Ah, when I was handling 300-310, other guys would look.

Now: no one cares what I lift. LOL…I admit that I miss that.

Workout notes: treadmill froggy workout (5 miles) followed by 2 miles of walking on the track in lane 1 (compensated by adding extra distance) 27:44
treadmill: (0.5 incline after .25 miles) 1 mile (4.9-5.2 every .25 miles (11:57), 6.0-6.7 (30:52), 31:49 to get to 5K, walk .1, run to 42:47 for 4 miles, walk .25 miles, run to 54:36 (picked it up last .5). Then the 2 mile walk.

Legs are still sore, but not that bad. My guess: the flat-to-shallow inclines didn’t tax my thighs.

January 20, 2018 Posted by | ranting, running | , , , , , | Leave a comment

One challenge of being an older “runner wannabe”…

I thought that I might try to do 8 miles-to 15K. When I got to 2.5 miles, I found myself shuffling at a 12 minute pace and realized it was not going to work. So I switched to running all of the uphill and downhill parts and walking the flats and finished just over 5 miles in 1:07-1:08 (delay at a light). And the workout became fun! Oh, it didn’t do that much for me, but the point was to “save it for another day”; I probably haven’t fully recovered from Sunday’s tough 14 mile walk at 14:30 mpm. Oh, that isn’t a fast walking time, but it was challenging for me, at this time.

I am simply too heavy right now (too close to 200 lbs) and, well, what worked for me in the past 4-5 years doesn’t work now. I need more recovery days; it is probably time to bring back swimming as cross training.

And I think that I’ve reached the point where I have to choose. I ran run or walk, but perhaps not both. What I mean: I can run enough to, say, do the occasional 5K at 27:xx but if I wish to train enough to have a good shot at walking a sub 6 hour marathon, I need to focus on walking and maybe have a few training runs (and an occasional 5K race) scattered here and there. I have to choose. And to be honest, right now, walking feels much more natural.

And that is the challenge for me: for a long period of time, one formula “worked”. Now the “best formula for me”, at least when it comes to running or walking, appears to change every couple of years or so. What worked in 2012-2013 no longer works.

May 16, 2017 Posted by | running, walking | | Leave a comment

I look like what I am…


Yesterday I went to the Minnesota vs. Illinois football game. I’ll comment more on that in my next post.

The above photo shows me (on the left) with my friend Tracy. I sure enjoyed myself.

But when I see myself, I see an old man. It is weird. When I see this photo and someone tells me “this guy “runs” at about 11-11:30 mpm in training”, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least. I LOOK like someone who does that.
If you tell me that this guy would struggle to get 3-5 reps with 185 in the bench press (hips down, dammit!), I’d say “I expect that”.

But when the above actually happens, I am still surprised. Sometimes aging is tough to accept. I have a sense of humor about it though.

On today’s 5 mile run (glorious, simply glorious running weather) a faster runner called out to me as he was getting ready to pass me “Ollie, I am about to pass you on your left”. He may have been doing, oh, 7-7:30 mpm? I laughed and said “how do you know that I am not going to beat you today?”…and he chuckled a bit…and disappeared into the distance.

Workout notes:
Yesterday: 4 mile walk in Bradley Park.
Today: weights then a 5 mile run; actually 5.3 miles in 58:56 (just over 1 minute faster on the way back; behind the Riverplex, around the gooseloop and to Rose hill intersection in the cemetery.

Weights: rotator cuff, a few free squats, pull ups (15-10-10-10-5), bench press: 10 x 135, 3 x 185, 7 x 170, incline press: 10 x 135, military: 8 x 50 standing, 10 x 45, 10 x 45 (dumbbells), 3 sets of 10 x 50 rows, 2 sets of 12 twist crunch, 10 yoga leg lifts, 10 moving half bridges, headstand.

It was all good and I am grateful that I can do it at all. Still my lack of performance bothers me…at times.

October 30, 2016 Posted by | Friends, running, weight training | , | Leave a comment

And I hit a negative milestone: it was bound to happen eventually …..


I remember back in 2001 reporting on a 10K run; I had…horrors or horrors…came perilously close to running over 50 minutes (44-45 was typical for me in those days). It was a hot weather summer 10K race in Wisconsin.

Well, I’ve finished 5K races in over 30 minutes before. Once, I was “running” in a snowstorm. Once, I went out too fast (charmed by Mamma T’s purple spandex) when I wasn’t in shape..and ended up doing the old “walk and jog” toward the end. And of course, I’ve walked them slower than that (judged 5K PR is 30:42; though I’ve gone under 30 in non-judged walks)

But today is the first time I “ran” a 5K, didn’t get sick and have to walk, and still failed to break 30 minutes (30:01)


Yes, I was one behind the median male, and just ahead of the median runner. Yes, conditions were brutal; it had just quit raining, the course was a bit slick in some downhill spots and..71 F with literally 100 percent humidity.


ALL those things were true. And ….well, I was just over 1 minute slower than last year, and just over 2 minutes slower than 2011.

I could go on and on about being physically tired, doing long running/walking training, just getting into the semester routine, etc. But the splits tell the story; I just had no drive at all until the last loop. If I feel good during a 5K run, it means I am not giving it the appropriate amount of effort.

And as far as the fatigue: I think that I’ll try a 3 week taper prior to the Quad Cities…one more “big” training week.

BUT it isn’t all bad. I did see Kevin who used to burn up the local 5K courses; he won my age group with a time under 22 minutes. He still looks super athletic, even though he is my age (I look terrible right now)

More importantly, I had a delightful time with Tracy, especially after the race. The Zoo opened the animal exhibits to the runners and we took advantage …








August 27, 2016 Posted by | Friends, running | , , , | Leave a comment

Steamboat photos and a Chiefs game..

Workout note I walked the West Peoria course with a diversion to the W. Peoria ball field port-o-potty. That added about .3 miles to the usual 4.1 and I stretched it to the the usual “Cornstalk out and back”, one 1.4 mile Cornstalk loop then returned home past Markin Center and along Bradley ave.


Yes, it was hot (and was eventually get to 97 F) and the course took me 2:42 to do (modest effort)


Along the way I saw Dave P., Larry and Cassie. Afterward, I saw that Tracy had won an age group award in the Steamboat 4, so I called her up to tell her. She really didn’t know.

And I had some time to think about my running/walking plans for the fall. I can sign up for my goal events now; what remains to be seen if these turn out to be walks or runs, or perhaps one of each.

Chiefs games
Barbara and I went last night; the Chiefs won 8-3, mostly because of the second inning which saw a home run and multiple extra base hits. The Bees rallied somewhat but the damage had been done and they were in too big of a hole. It was 8-0 after 2.

Today saw the Chiefs win 2-1. It was scoreless until the 7’th inning where the teams traded runs. Then in the bottom of the 8’th it was 2 outs and the Bees pitcher hit a Chiefs batter. Then came a walk, followed by a single with got the runner from second in. Then in the top of the 9’th, the final out was made by an excellent catch by the left fielder; I though it was going to drop for a hit.


We wore our Steamboat shirts to the Chiefs game last night. It always feels good to go out wearing the race t-shirt when Barbara also has one.


Barbara’s finish. The thing to remember is that she thought that her days of even doing these were over.


My finish. Seriously…34 minutes slower than my PB? That is what happens when I go out too fast for the conditions. And yes, I had long, slow runs in my background, and short, “fast” runs. But no longish “sustained effort” runs.


Does this shirt make my butt look big? T took the photo.


Here I am with Cassie; she beat me by 10 minutes or so. I saw her early and had sense enough to let her go; I did see her on a switch back and yelled..she responded.

When I looked at the paper to see the results…yes, I remember that I stated off in the first column. 4-5 years, later..second column. Now: last column. There were times during the race where I felt that I was merely in the way (as the faster runners lapped me in the upper part..2 2.65 mile laps) and I remember during my first couple of 15K races, *I* was one of the ones lapping people. Sigh…

But hey, it was a long, community run and I don’t know how many of these I have left.

I do have one thing to say about finisher’s medals (yes, Steamboat gives them) but that is for another post. Dinner calls.

June 19, 2016 Posted by | baseball, Friends, running, walking | , , | Leave a comment

Which of the following is true? (running: personal and trivial)

Today I ran the first 4 miles in 37:52 and did the final 2 in 17:19.(*) What happened?

1. I had planned to run the last 2 miles harder.

2. At mile 4 I was tempted to continue in this comfortable, cocoon type pace. But I thought: “you aren’t going to get in good enough shape to be checked out by the hot grannies at the races if you don’t go harder than this.”

3. Some college student thought that she could pass the old professor and I wanted to teach her a lesson (and yes, she couldn’t keep up).

(*) yes, I know that this is way slow by good runner standards. But I’m not a good runner. ๐Ÿ™‚

February 2, 2016 Posted by | running | , , | Leave a comment

Sub 10 mpm is work for me now…

Today: I went to the track; didn’t know what I would do but it was snowy outside. I wanted to do something “moderately strenuous”.

I got going (lane 2): 10:10, 9:59, 9:45, 9:46 (39:42 for 4), 9:40, 9:50, 9:30, 9:20 (1:18:03, or 39:42/38:21). Basically, it was a 10 minute pace for the first 2, 9:45 for the middle 4, 9:25 for the final 2. Time: 1:18:03 (9:45 pace) This was one of my better *recent* efforts, and it was far from a “race” effort; it was “moderately strenuous”…just enough to get out of my warm, lazy cocoon.

I then walked 5 slow laps with Barbara (who was warming up for her workout), sped up a little for the next 3 and then walked another mile in 14:25 to finish 10 miles. Then I did a little bit of yoga.

I remember 78 minutes at this effort resulting in 10 miles, not 8. But that was last true 15 years ago. But that is how it is for a fortunate 56 year old. The pace you run now: it is slow compared to what you were able to do even 5-6 years ago. BUT 5-6 more years down the line, I’ll be wishing that I could run at my current pace, provided I am fortunate enough to enjoy my current state of health.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics is relentless and merciless. The Gompertz Law is real. (I think that teaching the Life Contingencies class has ruined me forever. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

The Gompertz law basically states that, for humans, the failure rate is an exponential of an exponential; your rate of decline accelerates rapidly as you age. Or put another way, the decline from 35-40 is much less severe than it is from 50 to 55. Or, if I am running the same pace as a 35 year old right now, in 5 years, that 40 year old will have slowed down a little, but I will have slowed down a whole lot more.

December 30, 2015 Posted by | running, walking | | Leave a comment

A blessing and a curse

During marathon taper time I tend to stare at my navel a bit more; it keeps me from running and walking too much.
One of our long time local runners posted this:


This was someone who was a 17 minute 5K runner as a middle age adult who became a 21 minute 5K runner as a 70 year old. He then suffered a horrible accident (almost killed by a car), could barely walk afterward…and is now running..8 minute miles while in his 70’s!!! To the rest of us: he is remarkable.

But he admits to being aware of other people gaining on him at races.

It happens.

My running buddy was an 8:30-9 minute per mile runner while in her 40’s. She now takes about 12-13 minutes per mile in her early 70’s. Privately, she has admitted that the smaller races are no longer fun for her as she ends up alone. I remind her that, for her age, she is a gazelle.

And yeah, where I was never a good athlete, it is happening to me too.


Now there are many reasons for this. Age, of course, lessens our abilities. Injuries do too; I had knee surgery in 2010. But, in my case, age lessens my ability to train; I simply can’t run as much as I used to. It takes a mental toll too; I don’t want to push as hard in training as I once did. So, as one ages, natural ability plays a more important role and I am not really built like a runner. That is one reason why my lifting and swimming has not taken as big of a hit as my running, though those have gone down too. My “11 reps with body weight” in the bench press has become 4.

But there is a blessing too. First note that I am wearing the same shirt in both photos. And, while it takes me longer to finish a set distance, I am still out there.

And a “good race” still has be doing a “happy dance” afterward..though these-a-days, my “happy dance” comes from breaking 25 minutes in a 5K (did that in 2014) instead of 20 minutes (did that in 1998).

And I still love my morning workouts; I love being on the roads as the sun is coming up and seeing that change in the sky.

October 8, 2015 Posted by | running | | Leave a comment