McMullen Mile: A step in the right direction.

It was a dark and stormy night.  No really it was, but that didn’t stop about 100 people from running in the 2013 McMullen Mile.  As I’ve said many times, the McMullen Mile is my favorite race of the year.  I spend all spring looking forward to racing it, and all summer thinking about what I can do better next time.  I’ve had some great performances there and some truly terrible ones, like last years flame-out.  This year was I was very happy with my performance even if my time wasn’t great.

The Start

The normal field of 15 or so runners was cut down to only 7, I assume because of the rain.  Personally I enjoy running in the rain and was looking forward to it all afternoon.  As the meet got underway the rain really started to pickup, and despite a race volunteers best efforts the inside lane on both turns were underwater.  Most runners were opting to run in the second lane around the turns rather than splash through the puddles.  This wasn’t to simply avoid getting wet feet, but because it looked like enough water to really slow you down if you tried to slog through it.  When our race began around 8 pm the heavy rain had relented a bit but the puddles were not going anywhere.

First turn.
First turn.

A runner from RIT took the early lead and I settled in to the front of the pack containing the rest of the field.  As we approached the end of the first lap I thought, either the RIT kid was about to run a 61 or the rest of us were about to run a 70.  Turns out he was running that fast, and I split the first 409 meters in 1:08.  I contiuned to lead the pack until about 700 meters when Mark Streb went by me.  Soon after that Greg Selke passed me quickly followed by Chad Byler.  I wasn’t concerned about the 3 of them streaming past me as I was pretty sure I could outkick both Chad and Greg.  Mark Streb is a sub 4:20 miler so I wasn’t really concerned about what he was up to.

Me jogging lap 3
Me jogging lap 3

I made a move past Greg in the first turn of the final lap after having practically jogged a 72 second 3rd lap.  I had let Chad get about 2 seconds ahead of me and Greg about 1 second ahead of me, but thought they were both within striking distance.  I closed to within a stride or two of Chad and felt like I was going to be able to roll right past him, but he found some new life with 200 meters to go and held me off all the way to finish.  If you look at the splits below you’ll see I was right thinking I could close faster than Chad and Greg, the problem was I only ran .045 seconds faster than Chad on the last lap and I needed to run 1.6 seconds faster than him.

1.6 seconds too slow.
1.6 seconds too slow.

While I didn’t run as fast as I would have liked, I was very happy with a 3 second improvement over last years time.  Considering last years weather and track conditions were perfect, I was getting more than 4 hours sleep at a time, and generally doing more running than I was this time around a 3 second improvment feels more like a 10 second improvement.  I also haven’t run so many sub 4:40 miles that I can just dismiss them because they aren’t low 4:30’s.  I haven’t mentioned Kenny’s performance in the race, because I think he would just as soon forget about it.  Instead I’ll refer you to my post from a few months ago talking about his awesome marathon win in 2 hours 35 minutes.

Complete Results

    Name        Splits        Age  Time
  1 Mike Kurvach              23  4:25.09
      1:03.454 (1:03.454)  
      2:10.738 (1:07.284)  
      3:18.943 (1:08.206)  
      4:25.088 (1:06.145)

  2 Mark Streb                23  4:30.59
      1:08.800 (1:08.800)  
      2:18.351 (1:09.552)  
      3:26.641 (1:08.290)  
      4:30.582 (1:03.942)

  3 Chad Byler                30  4:36.75
      1:09.126 (1:09.126)  
      2:18.901 (1:09.776)  
      3:29.710 (1:10.809)  
      4:36.750 (1:07.040)

  4 Joshua Perks              38  4:38.31
      1:08.662 (1:08.662)  
      2:18.717 (1:10.056)  
      3:31.308 (1:12.591)  
      4:38.303 (1:06.995)

  5 Greg Selke                23   4:40.6
      1:08.925 (1:08.925)  
      2:18.569 (1:09.645)  
      3:29.914 (1:11.345)  
      4:40.606 (1:10.693)

  6 Justin Niebel             28  4:48.48
      1:09.586 (1:09.586)  
      2:21.540 (1:11.954)  
      3:37.503 (1:15.964)  
      4:48.476 (1:10.973)

  7 Kenny Goodfellow          23  4:54.16
      1:09.191 (1:09.191)  
      2:20.998 (1:11.807)  
      3:36.709 (1:15.712)  
      4:54.156 (1:17.447)

How to win a road race

If you happen to glance down at the post below, you will note that I wrote I was more interested in running a fast time at the Ed Erichson 5 miler than I was in winning.  Alas, it was not to be.  I did not run a particularly fast time, but I did win the race.

Having a bad hair day
Having a bad hair day

When I made my return to road racing 10 years ago I was very concerned with winning races.  I don’t remember the exact race, but it took about a year before I finally won a 5k and my time must have been in the mid 17’s.  I’ve won a fair number of races since then at distances from 800 meters to 25K, sometimes with good times (for me anyway) and sometimes with not so good times.  I’ve learned over the years that it is nice to win a race, but I get much more satisfaction from a race well run than a race simply won.

Should I be thrilled that I won the Ed Erichson 5 miler this weekend?  By mile 1 I had a minute lead, and by the finish my lead was 5 minutes.  A bit of a hollow victory.  After the first mile I just went into cruise control mode and dropped from 5:20 pace to 5:30 pace for the rest of the race.  I told myself I was playing it safe, and setting myself up for a better race a week later at Johnny’s.  That may be a good reason, but the truth was, I just wasn’t motivated enough to run at race effort if I didn’t have to.  Contrast that with the Bergen 5k 2 years ago.  There I ran 16:15, my 2nd fastest road 5k ever, and I finished in 28th place.  Which race should I feel better about?

Anyone can win a race, and I do mean anyone. (I guess there is one person who is the slowest in the world but the other 7 billion could in theory win a race.)  It all depends on who decides to show up. Next weekend is Johnny’s Runnin’ of the Green.  If I have a great race I might finish in the top ten and win a bottle of wine.  I can’t wait to get my ass-kicked. Cheers to competition.

Ed Erichson 5 Mile Results.

My New Marathon PR

My wife would be happy to tell you that I have no lack of confidence, nor to I mind letting people know how awesome I am.  She would tell you I have an opinion of myself that lives somewhere between arrogance and hubris.  I however, don’t think of myself that way at all.  I prefer to think that I am simply self-aware and have the uncommon knack of being able to objectively and accurately assess my abilities.  So when I say something like “I could go out tomorrow and do 10×800 in 2:35 with 2:35 jogging rest and it wouldn’t even feel that difficult” I am not bragging, or guessing, or hoping, I am simply stating a fact.

One of the wonderful things about running is that when it comes to results there isn’t much gray area.  Your times are your times.  There are no refs to make bad calls, there are no teammates to drop the ball or to not come through with a single when you lead off the inning with a double.  It is you, the distance and time.  This makes predicting performance pretty simple, as long as you have enough data to draw from.  After many years of both running and keeping a detailed log of my running, I know down to a few seconds how fast I can run any given workout.  Races can be slightly harder to predict, because you are after all racing against others and not just racing the clock like in a workout, but even still there aren’t that many surprises when it comes to race results either.

It is for that reason I was annoyed when Mark Remy , editor-at-large for Runner’s World, posted this in response to my quote above…  “I’ll call your bluff. Go try to run 10×800 in 2:35 with 2:35 jogging rest, then come back here and let us know how it went.”  He as good as called me a liar, and that can not stand.  I will now admit that I possess two seemingly contradictory character traits, confidence and a fragile ego.  I don’t know which has gotten me into more trouble over the years but they often conspire to get me to do stupid things.  In this instance the stupid thing they got me to do was not 10×800 but to care what some random person said on the internet.  While Mark Remy may be an editor-at-larger for Runner’s World, once he makes a post on a message board he is just another random person saying stupid crap online like the rest of us.

Mark Remy and his friend.

Now on to the important stuff.  The workout.

I did not “go out tomorrow” to do the workout, but only because “tomorrow” was Yom Kippur and I was home with Hazel all day and could not leave her alone to go do a track workout.  So I did the workout the day after “tomorrow” as it were.  After work I drove out to the Nazareth College track.  I like doing workouts at Naz because it is close to Hazel’s daycare, I’m friends with the xc/track coach and my wife is a Professor there, also, rarely is there anything going on that prevents me from using the track between 3-5 pm.  Just to make extra sure the track would be free I check the schedule and nothing appeared to be going on.  I arrived for my workout at 2:50 pm to find the women’s soccer team beginning to set up for a game that would start at 4 pm, so much for the best laid plans.  I decided to try to squeeze in the workout anyway and headed off for a 2 mile warmup.

When I returned from my warm up I went to find the soccer coach to ask about using the track during the game, as I expected to finish my workout about 10 minutes after the game started.  He informed me I would have to talk to refs who wouldn’t show up until about 3:45.  This turned out pretty well as I spent the first half of the workout worrying about whether or not I was going to get booted off the track, which kept my mind off the monotony of running 7 miles on the track.

I got my video camera positioned at an angle I hoped would catch most of the track, but it was very sunny and I had trouble seeing the tiny Flip Camera screen in the glare.  I’ve never been much of a videographer, I much prefer still shots, but I wasn’t going for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography so I hit the record button and got to work.

Winner for Best Cinematography 2012 “Hugo”

I have been mucking about on the internet for a long time.  I will not claim to have used one of those old modems where you stuck your phone in a box, but I do remember when 56K dial-up was all the rage.  Having spent so many years online, I am very familiar with the phrase “picture or it didn’t happen.”  That is one of the reasons I hate posting race reports without photographic evidence.  Unfortunately despite my best efforts, I captured very little in the way of photographic  evidence of my workout.  I used a Flip Video camera from work, which is supposed to record an hour of HD video, and even though I charged it all morning it died after 5 minutes of filming.  I did not know this until the workout finished or I would have grabbed my iPad and propped it against the fence and recorded the video with that instead.  So for those of you married to “picture or it didn’t happen” feel free to call me a liar and stop reading here.  For the rest of you here is the few minutes of video I got followed by a rep by rep break down of the workout.


  1. 2:35 / 2:05 jogging recovery went out in 72 and backed way off the second lap
  2. 2:34 / 2:05 jogging recovery little better pacing still went out too fast
  3. 2:33 / 2:15 jogging recovery slow first lap then over compensated on the second
  4. 2:34 / 1:50 jogging recovery was really starting to worry about fitting in the workout ran the recovery too fast
  5. 2:34 / 2:20 water break jogging back and forth around the start line
  6. 2:32 / 2:30 jogging recovery feeling pretty peppy after the water, still worried about the running out of time
  7. 2:35 / 2:25  jogging recovery got off track on the first lap as I noticed the refs come out to the field had to bust it on the second lap
  8. 2:34 / 2:10 jogging recovery but was feeling much better having spoken to the refs during my last recovery lap
  9. 2:33 / 2:25 jogging recovery excited to almost be done, this workout is really tedious
  10. 2:32 thought about really going all out on the last one but the workout had gone so well so far I didn’t want to do anything stupid like run a 67 second final lap and tweak my knee.

So there you have it.  10×800 meters in 2:33.6 (5:09 per mile pace) with 400 meters jogging rest (about 2:15 rest).  Was it an easy workout?  No I wouldn’t say it was easy, but it was certainly easier than many workouts I’ve done.  Much easier than say the 7 miles of [ hard 1000 meters easy 600 meters] where hard was 5:40 pace and easy was 6:10  workout a bunch of us did this spring before I ran a 1:16:24 half marathon.  Really the hardest part of this type of workout for me is remembering to stay within myself and not get carried away in the middle.  If I had done 2 more reps it would have become hard, but maybe I could then rename the workout Perks’ 800’s.

I will stand by my original post that Yasso’s 800’s are neither a good predictor of marathon performance nor are they a progression of workouts that are particularly beneficial to one wanting to race a marathon.  Maybe very early in a marathon training cycle a workout like this might have some use, but late in a training cycle, which is where Bart positions this 10×800 workout, I think more marathon pace specific workout would take precedence.  I will also stand by my statement that people in general and journalist in particular have a very poor understanding of the difference between causation and correlation.  If anyone is confused by the difference I’m sure Mike Insler Roadkill Racer and Econ Professor at the Naval Academy will be happy to enlighten you.

If anyone still wants to insist this is a good marathon predictor workout then I will gladly accept my new 2:33:40 marathon PR.



I would be happy to do the workout again if someone from a certain magazine wants to send out a camera crew.