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Feel the (freezer) burn

Feel the (freezer) burn

When I lived in Rochester, NY I ran  in the Freezeroo Race Series every year. Seeing as they were run in Western New York during the winter they were often, as the name implies freezing cold. Nothing however, prepared me for the weather on January 1, 2018 in Londonderry, NH for the Millennium Mile Road Race. It was 9 degrees and sunny, which is doable, but the sustained winds of 15 mph gusting up to 35 mph made it feel like the flesh was burning off your skin. It is the only time I’ve ever finished a warm up colder than when I started. The only positive about the weather was the wind was kinda sorta at our backs, when it wasn’t trying to push us off the left side of the road. I ran this race last year when it was a balmy 35 degrees. It’s a silly race. 1000+ people line up at the top of a hill and race down it for 1 mile. The total elevation drop is 84 feet.

Last year I had no idea what to expect or what to make of my 4:33 finish. I knew it was faster than I could run on the track, but I came away thinking I didn’t not run it nearly hard enough and I left a lot on the hill. The second half of the race is basically an exercise in keeping your legs spinning under you as fast as you can. If you can avoid the urge to lean back and break, it is sort of hard to be tired by the end. My goal for this year was to be tired at the end, be the first masters runner (last year I was second by 2 seconds Casey Carroll ) and to break 4:30.

I only managed 1 out of my three goals. I was the first masters runner, and 13th overall, but I didn’t break 4:30 and I wasn’t tired at the end of the race. I finished in a lung searing 4:30.4, but even that wasn’t enough to make me feel truly tired like a mile race should. I must need to work on my downhill running technique, I’m not pushing off enough or something going down the hills.

This Sunday I’ll have a chance to see how a 4:30.4 down hill road mile in Arctic temperatures coverts to 65 degrees on an indoor track when I race at the GBTC Invitational. Anyone want to take a guess?

Results Here


Know Your Racer: Carl Palmer

Know Your Racer: Carl Palmer

Mens Veterans

Carl Palmer

So when did I become so old to be called a ‘veteran?’

As with many runners, I claim I was a good soccer player ….  until it came time to start kicking with your left foot (say, 6th grade).  All I was really good at was hustling, I suppose.   I ran some track in junior high school (mile), but never scored a point.

Come high school, I never made varsity, although to be fair, we would run our JV versus varsities  in one of the two leagues were were in. That “Delaware Independent School Conference” league was so bad that I actually finished 7th at the league meet.  On the bright side, I’m pretty sure I beat the current senator from Delaware.

I so badly wanted a letter in high school.  I ended up barely making varsity baseball, ending up with a stellar .111 average.  At least had no errors in my handful of games.  So I got my high school letter that way.

When I got to Swarthmore college (Division III), a guy on my freshman dorm convinced me to go out for cross country.   It was a fun diversion that became my passion over the years.  I probably would average 7 minute miles in races that first year – about 20th fastest (or 10th slowest) on the team.  Sophomore year, I did a little better, and I also did track in the spring, making it the first time I ran year-round.  After Sophomore year, I would average 40-50 miles/week through the year.  I cracked the top 7 on the XC team in Junior year, but it was my enthusiasm (or whatever) got me elected co-captain.  By senior year, I was typically ~5th or so on the team, meaning that my performance would affect the score (slightly).  I did have one out of my mind race at a big invitational where I finished right behind our number one runner, and that finish propelled us to win the meet.   30 years later, I’m probably the only one that remembers that meet.

During college, I only ran a handful of road races in the summer.  But come to think of it, I won trophies at a couple of the smaller 10K’s.  But this was the 80’s, and running wasn’t like it is now.


Carl Competing in College.  Curly Hair.  Favorite Shoes.  Striped Tube socks!
Carl Competing in College.  Curly Hair.  Favorite Shoes.  Striped Tube socks!

Side commentary – my experience of improving over time is why no cross country coach should cut people for performance.  When I hear of coaches cutting kids at the high school or college level, I take it personally.  The sports are there for student benefit.  …. But I digress.

PR’s from the 80’s  (….a long long time ago in a galaxy far away)


1 mile 4:36 (cinder track)

2 miles 9:53

5K 15:43 (rubber track – my usual races were ~16:20)

10K 33:38 (rubber track)

In my first grad school, I ran with my roommate who ran for Purdue.  It was humbling – I learned the difference between division 1 and division 3 athletes.  That is, division 1 are athletes, and division 3 are …. not quite as good.  He had this extra gear where he could just go zoom any time he wanted to.

In my PhD years, I continued to run with professors and other assorted students at lunchtime.  It was a great way to get to know people outside of your own field.

In 1991, life happened.  My wife was pregnant with our son. She gained weight, I gained  weight.  She gave birth. She lost all the weight.  I didn’t do either of those.

I tried running with a running stroller once. My son screamed.  Stroller was returned to store.  Not much running after that.

Fast forward to 2009.  My doctor tells me to lose some weight, or she will put me on cholesterol pills.  So I start writing down everything I eat and literally counting the calories.  [I’m an engineer.  That’s what we do]  Yes I can tell you that ~3500 calories does equal one pound.  So if you cut out the 5 100 calorie hard pretzels you eat for snacks every day, you lose a pound in a week.  It happens.  Over 3 months, I lost 25 pounds. [And as an engineer, of course I graphed the whole thing]  Oh yes,  I also started running ~2-3 miles a day with my dog.

So my doctor said to me “Your cholesterol numbers look great.”  I said “You told me to lose weight.”  She said “But nobody ever listens to me.”

So I’ve been running since then, with some of the typical up & downs (injuries, life, bad winters).

I spice up my activities by also participating in Orienteering, which is running off-trail in the woods, looking for ‘controls’, using only a map and a compass.  The best raw runners rarely are the best orienteers, because the harder you run, the more likely you are to make bad route choices.  See (shameless plug).

I came across Roadkill Racing in early 2015 via a strange set of circumstances that involved LinkedIn and me mistaking someone else’s identity, and then stumbling across the roadkill site via google.  I saw that my friend Jim Werven was on the team, so I figured, why not.

My best times of the last quarter century have occurred with me wearing a Roadkill Racing Singlet:

2015 Sunset House 5K: 6th overall of 276, 18:28 and a fun kick at the end to get 1st Master’s.  “Better than sex” (tongue in cheek) – If you’ve ever done it, you know what I mean.


Carl Palmer at2015 McMullen Mile.
Carl Palmer at2015 McMullen Mile.


Happy Carl - Sunset House Award
Happy Carl – Sunset House Award


Sometimes 6 weeks is all you need

Sometimes 6 weeks is all you need

If you’ve ever wanted to race the mile but weren’t sure the best way to go about it, Roadkill has you covered. If you have built a decent base training for 5k or longer races you can easily make the switch to the mile. I’ve added this as a training page as well so it will be easy to find later.

This a 6 week plan intended for runners doing 25-45 miles per week of training. You will focus on getting comfortable running at mile pace while maintain the aerobic fitness you already have. During this 6 week phase it is fine if you back off your usually mileage a bit while you adjust to the stress of the faster paced workouts.

If you do not know your 1 mile or half marathon race paces you can use this calculator to estimate your paces based on another recent race time. I’ve only listed workout days. Most other days should be 30-60 minutes of easy running with a long run ever 7-10 days of 90 or more minutes. By easy running I mean running at a conversational pace, the best way to make sure you are going at an easy enough pace is to run with someone else and have a conversation with them.

Please see the notes below for more explanations and suggestions.

Week 1 Training Pace Example times for a 6 minute mile
2(8×200 meters with 200 meter jogging rest) 4 minutes rest between sets 1 mile pace 45 seconds per 200 meters
5×1000 meters with 200 meters jogging rest half marathon pace 4:28 per 1000 meters
Week 2
8×400 meters with 400 meters jogging rest 1 mile pace 90 seconds per 400 meters
4×1200 meters (1.5 miles) with 4 minutes rest half marathon pace 5:25 per 1200 meters
Week 3
16×200 meters with 200 meters jogging rest 1 mile pace 45 seconds per 200 meters
6×800 meters with 400 meters jogging rest 5k pace 3:20 per 800 meters
Week 4
no early week workout
8×300 meters with 100 meters jogging rest 1 mile pace 67 seconds per 300 meters
Week 5
8×400 meters with 90 seconds rest 1 mile pace 90 seconds per 400 meters
5×1000 meters with 3 minutes rest 5k pace 4:12 per 1000 meters
Week 6
4×400 meters with 3 minute rest 1 mile pace -3 to -5 seconds 85 per 400 meters


Strides are a great way to work on your form and your top end speed. They teach you to run fast but relaxed. At least twice a week you should do 4-6 strides after an easy run or work them into the last mile or so of your easy run. Start slow and build speed for 5-8 seconds until you are near you top sprint speed, hold that speed for a few second then gradually slow down to a jog, jog for 30-60 seconds before starting your next stride. A stride should take about 15-20 seconds or about 100 meters.

Warm up/Cool down: 

You should establish a warm up and cool down routine and try to do it the same way every workout and every race. This will help prepare both your body and your mind for the hard effort. A proper warm up doesn’t just prepare your muscles but it also primes your cardiovascular system. While everyone has a slightly different routine I would suggest doing roughly the following.

40 minutes out: 15-20 minutes of easy running, start at a shuffle but end the last few minutes and your normal easy run pace or even slightly faster.

20 minutes out: Change into whatever you plan on racing in, bathroom break, final sips of water or sugar drink.

10 minutes out: Head to the starting line (or where ever you are going to start your workout). 4×20 seconds strides at 5k race pace with 1 minute between strides. Do any dynamic stretching (high knees, butt kicks etc) you prefer.

You should finish your warm up routine as soon as possible before the start of your race. Standing around for more than 3-4 minutes will negate much of the work you just did to get ready. There is no time to work into a mile, you need to be ready to run hard from the gun so a good warm-up is critical. I strongly encourage you not to do any static stretching before a race or workout as it robs your muscles of power and likely does nothing to prevent injury. Save the static stretching for after.

Cool down: 10 minutes of easy jogging followed by a good mix of carbs and protein.