McMullen Mile Report (Mike)

This race went extremely poorly for both of us. We came in with high expectations, myself having PR-ed by 6 seconds in the past two years (4:42 –> 4:36 –> 4:30), and Josh with a similar progression capped off by an impressive 4:29 last year.

At least Josh had an excuse for running poorly...
He had to chase Hazel around the track pre-race


The weather was perfect. Low-70s, slight breeze, partly cloudy. World records have been set on such days. Fortunately, we were looking to run in the 4:20s rather than 3:43. But that didn’t matter because we finished so far from our goal that we may as well have been “going for” sub-4 (or something).


Feeling optimistic
Loud noises, etc.


We came through lap one in 68 seconds. Slow start, but not disastrous.


1209m to go


I was at 2:16 with 809 meters to go. Not good, but all was not yet lost. During laps three and four I made a half-hearted attempt to pass another runner who ultimately beat me by 3 seconds down the stretch.


"Powering" through lap four in a blazing ~70 seconds


I finished in 4:37, Josh in 4:41.


Josh displeased with the result
This picture aptly characterizes my feelings about the race


Following a solid 5K in May, this was a big disappointment. However, it was great to spend a couple days in Rochester and catch up with Josh, Lisa, and Hazel. Results are here and a race video from Boyce is below. We were not fast enough to keep up with the camera.



Wa Wa Wally Waddle 5K (Mike)

I look forward to this race every year. This year it was a great excuse to leave my new Annapolis, MD place-of-residence, take a train to Poughkeepsie, NY and catch up with Josh, Lisa, and their family, and also to support Camp Wa Wa Segowea, a summer camp that the Perks family has been involved with for many years. I had managed to win the race in its first two years of existence, so my goal was to establish a three-peat. My training has seemed mediocre of late: sub-par mileage but some decent track workouts here and there. I won two un-competitive 5Ks (in February and April), running in the 16:40s, and I ran a very disappointing 10 Mile race in March. I told Josh the night before the race that I’d be thrilled if I could run 16:15 or so, but that I wasn’t too optimistic. My primary goal was to win….PIE and glory (overall and age group winners received home-baked pies!).


The Wa Wa Wally Waddle 5K is organized by Josh and Lisa, and it takes place at Vassar Farms in Poughkeepsie, NY. The race course is a mostly flat out-and-back on a smooth dirt road, supplemented by a couple of ~500m laps around a somewhat bumpy grassy field. I caught up with Josh before the race; he said that there might be some stiff competition this year including three Pough-town locals who are fully capable of running in the mid-to-low 16s for a 5K. I was beset with both excitement (a more competitive race is more fun) and dread (a more competitive race hurts more), and proceeded into my race-prep routine.



I could only find a picture of the Kids Fun Mile start, so let’s pretend that the photo above was for the 5K. Just replace the little kids with strapping, svelte-looking distance runners and the giant turtle with Josh because he was the one who gave us the start-command. The 5K also had a lot more entrants than the Kids Mile (200+).


The first few hundred meters were pretty typical. Some high school kids sprinting off the line and then fading back after 200m, etc. As we rounded the grassy field, a lead-pack of four formed: myself, Mike Chow, Mike Slinskey, and Zach Kudlak. The cool thing about racing alongside two other Mikes is that it feels like everyone is cheering for you.



When we got back onto the dirt road, I accelerated and put a small gap on the others. I’m not sure if I slowed or if they accelerated, but they reeled me in as we approached the first mile mark. The pace felt fast but I wasn’t wearing a watch. Mike Chow checked his and informed us it was a 5:05. After the first mile Zach and Mike S. dropped back but Mike Chow and I kept pushing the pace. We traded off slight leads or ran shoulder-to-shoulder.


Mike seemed to be very strong; we continued to trade surges as we approached the two-mile mark, which he reported we crossed in 10:20 (5:15 second mile). Having run the course the two previous years, I had staked out the 2 mile mark as a good point to try to drop competitors. There is a small hill that crests just after that point, so it seemed like a decent spot to break away from another runner who might be hurting a bit more than usual. I surged, but not hard enough because Mike matched my move.


We continued to run shoulder-to-shoulder for the next half mile, when I finally managed to open up a small gap. I don’t fully recall (because I was very tired at this point) but I sensed that the gap had formed due to him slightly falling off the pace rather than my own acceleration. I never looked back, but I figured that I had 5-10 seconds on him with about 1/2 mile to go. The photo below confirms that 5 seconds was probably an overestimate.



Only one loop of the grassy field remained, but I was gassed. The finish line couldn’t come soon enough. Josh was standing near the last turn directing traffic, and he informed me that I was about 5 seconds ahead. With only about 250m to go, 5 seconds sounded plenty, so I made no effort to kick. Maybe I should have, but whatever. Mike never threatened my slim lead in the closing meters, and I came through 1st place in 16:13, while he was three seconds back. Kudos to Mike; he ran a really gutsy race that significantly benefited each of our finishing times.


I was really happy with how I was able to respond to tight competition. It was the second-fastest 5K I’ve ever run, only beaten by a 16:07 on an indoor track in December 2010. It was really good to see the Perks family, and I’m looking forward to catching up with RKR in Rochester at the Lilac 10K next weekend! Full results are here, the full photo album is here, and the below is me with my newest race shirt alongside the Waddle female champ, Marisa. Also below is a race video that Josh put together.




First race in Annapolis: Anniversary 15K Run

Since moving to Maryland in late July, I haven’t done much racing. I had only entered two competitions and both of them were XC races in the Rochester area.


My training has gone fairly well over the past few months, but without the company of training partners, I’ve had a tough time on the track with quality interval (or faster) workouts. I have managed to consistently run some very strong long runs (capped off by a 14 miler at 5:56 per mile on Dec 3rd) and some solid continuous tempo runs. These longer efforts permitted a fair amount of confidence heading into the 15K on Dec 11th.


The race was held at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis. The course was nicely laid out. It was essentially a two-loop course on a paved bike trail with many winding turns and quick rolling hills, which were favorably distracting and challenging. Given the $10 entry fee, I was surprised to find top-notch race organization, timing, course marking, and post-race amenities. Both the 10am start and the weather were perfect: low 40s, sunny, and calm.


The Start


The race went off right on time. I immediately settled into a comfortable pace, and I felt great–light and bouncy. I’ve been running my tempos and long runs with negative splits, so that was my tentative plan for today (tentative because I’d also key off how the competition played out). I estimated a 5:40 pace, and there was one set of footsteps right behind me. I split the first mile in a surprisingly fast 5:22, but I decided not to lay off the gas too much because of the other runner just a few steps back.


The next four miles flew by at a pace I’ve only been able to maintain for a 10K distance or shorter: 5:38, 5:30, 5:33, 5:32. The steps behind me seemed to fade agonizingly slowly, as the quick pace gradually became more grueling. As I came through the 5 mile in 27:35, I encountered a “lolli-pop” part of the course that allowed a peek at the nearest competition. The next runner was about 10 seconds back, at most.




Miles 6 and 7 were awful. Apparently the 30 minute mark is where the 5:30 pace becomes enormously difficult for me. Every uphill section destroyed me and every downhill was troubling because I knew I had to push it in order to not fall off the pace too atrociously. The lactic acid that was building  in my calves and quads had caught up to me, although my breathing was not terribly labored. I didn’t note the splits for those two miles, but they couldn’t have been much better than six-minute miles. Even worse, the footsteps that had slowly faded over the first five miles were back, closer than ever!


I started to feel somewhat of a second-wind coming into the eighth mile (partially due to some recovery during the previous two slow miles and some timely downhill sections that permitted easy cruising). I split mile eight in 5:40, which was not as big a relief as the fact that the footsteps seemed to have faded once again. There was just one more hard mile (plus .3) between me and victory. I started “hammering” as much as is possible with such heavy legs. The ninth mile had lots of twists and turns and concluded with the steepest uphill climb on the course (welcome to the last .3 miles!), but I managed a 5:35 split. I couldn’t hear the footsteps anymore, so the last .3 were relatively stress-free. I almost missed the turn into the finish and had to back-track a few steps (it was not marked and the course volunteers weren’t in position yet), so I’m going adjust my official 52:40 finish time into an unofficial 52:38. I was definitely ready to stop running, as seen below:


The Finish - Not my best look


It was nice to score a race victory (results here), and especially sweet that it was my first race here in town. 52:38 is a 40-second PR for the 15K distance, which bumped off my time from the March 2010 Spring Forward 15K in Mendon Ponds Park. Now I just need to translate some of this fitness into speed to make a run at a 5K PR in 2012.

3-year Mile Progression

Josh and I were pretty fired up after the McMullen mile. Coming in to the race, we suspected that we were capable of running 4:30 or better, but actually achieving a ~6 second PR in the Mile was a special feeling.

I thought it might be interesting to analyze a little data, so I looked back through our logs to determine our race-based mile progression since we started training together in December 2008 (close to 3 years of running logs). I have included  information from 1 mile and 1500m races and converting the 1500m times to 1 mile times. Races not specified as "indoor" took place on an outdoor track.


Date Type Mike Josh
12/14/2008 (indoor, 1500m)   4:55
1/11/2009 (indoor) 4:58 4:53
2/1/2009 (indoor, 1500m) 4:58 4:53
3/21/2009 (indoor)   4:47
6/11/2009   4:42 4:41
7/17/2009     4:46
1/10/2010 (indoor)   4:44
1/17/2010 (indoor) 4:46 4:43
2/7/2010 (indoor, 1500m) 4:38.9 4:44
2/28/2010 (indoor, 1500m)   4:43
3/7/2010 (indoor) 4:40.3 4:47
6/10/2010   4:36.96 4:34.94
7/22/2010   4:43.99  
1/16/2011 (indoor)   4:36
6/9/2011   4:30.63 4:29.82


Although Josh has clearly raced this distance more than I have, our results seem to follow similar downward-trending-spiral patterns. Part of the spiral may be due to seasonal effects (indoor slower than outdoor, winter training different from summer, etc), and part of it is surely due to the natural ebb and flow of fitness peaks and slumps. Fortunately, we both managed to get it together last Thursday.
Should we ever race the Mile again?! 😉
Here is a nice video of the race put together by Eric Boyce. The video focuses on the leader's pursuit of a four-minute-mile.