Chasing a Sub-6 Mile – Final Chapter – I DID IT!

When Covid-19 took away my racing events for the year I decided I needed a goal to replace them.  Since I had been focused on endurance events like marathons and Ironman and the training that goes with them, I thought that maybe I would try something that focuses on speed.  After participating in the Torch Run at work and testing myself for a mile afterward and hitting 6:35, I came up with a plan to try to run a sub-6 minute mile.  

I trained through the summer and into fall and tried a few test runs to see if I improved.  The first attempt lowered my time to 6 minutes, 32 seconds.  The second attempt I hit 6:25.  Now I was seeing some improvement, but still pretty far away from sub-6.  The third attempt resulted in a DNF when I basically went out way too fast and pulled the plug on it at the half-mile mark.  The fourth attempt clocked in a 6:24, an improvement by 1 second, but still a long way from hitting my goal.  I figured a few things would need to happen.  

First, I needed a cool day.  I also needed the wind to either work for me, or not work against me, or both.  And lastly, I needed to move off the track and trail and find a course that was mostly downhill with limited interruptions.  So on my 57th birthday, I found that the conditions might be right to give it another go.  

So here’s the attempt at achieving my goal:

OCTOBER 17, 2020 – Attempt Number 5

  • TIME:  5:44.1
  • WHERE:  KENSINGTON ROAD, MOKENA, IL
  • WEATHER:  ~60 degrees, strong/gusty SSW winds
  • LEAD-UP:  9.25 mile run Thursday, rest day on Friday
  • COMMENTS:  I told my son Ben that I was thinking of giving the sub-6 mile another try, and since he was coming down for my birthday with his girlfriend Emily, he brought his special racing Nike ZOOM X shoes, which he claimed would make me faster.  I was skeptical, but I would at least be open to give them a try.

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So when he arrived, I tried them on and I had to admit that they felt pretty light and springy.  Ben had already ran 12 miles that morning, so he grabbed a bike from the garage and offered to pace me along.  As I did some warm-up through the neighborhood, I changed my mind on the route we had discussed a few minutes before.  I decided to run out of my neighborhood on Kensington because I felt like it was more downhill than the other route we thought of using.  Emily jumped in her car to follow us and watch as well.  I did a little less than a mile to warm-up the legs and to get used to the shoes and told Ben that I would pick up my tempo and hit start at the corner and we’d be off.

My pace felt good as I hit the start button on my watch and I quickly locked into the tempo I felt I could comfortably hold.  Ben was monitoring my bike computer and advised that we were right at 10-11 mph, which was just what we needed.  A quick left and then right turn about 200 yards or so into the run and downhill we started.  The wind was really strong at my back, but I could not sense that it was aiding me.  At least it wasn’t hurting me either.  

The only thing I was worried about was a street that I had to cross about a half-mile into the run.  The intersection wasn’t a 4-way stop and the cross street didn’t have to stop for traffic.  But Ben pedaled ahead and gave me the all clear and I trucked through the intersection without even looking for any cars.  

The next section was somewhat flat but still descending.  I was really starting to feel the burn in my lungs, but my legs were still churning pretty well.  The legs weren’t tiring much.  

At about 2/3’s of a mile I realized I had a decision to make ahead – I could go straight and then turn left around the neighborhood I would finish in, or I could make a left and then turn right.  As I searched my memory for how the neighborhood was laid out, I figured that the second option would be better as I would finish with a downhill and not have to climb at the end.  

My breathing was now producing spittle, which was flying out of my mouth at every breath.  I gave a quick glance at my watch to see the distance I had left and I saw that I was at about 0.86 miles.  Time to dig deep!  I also saw the pace was showing 6:15, which gave me an “oh crap” moment.  I thought maybe I was going to miss it.  

After a few more hard pressed strides, I saw the watch turn from 0.99 to 1.0 miles and I hit stop.  I gave myself a few yards to come to a stop and then looked at the watch and saw 5:44.  

5:44!

My jaw dropped.  I couldn’t believe it.  All this time I had been thinking that taking nearly a half-minute off my previous best was going to be a very difficult thing to do, but not only did I do that, I really did it!  15 seconds under my goal of sub-6!  

I told Ben and we celebrated with some high-fives and some big smiles.  

A screenshot of my Garmin results, proof of the sub-6 minute finish.
The route I took. I like how Garmin added the color coding for pace on the route. You can see that I was speedy (red) when I was heading downhill. You can also tell when I started to run out of gas (blue) near the end.
I jogged back home and had the wife take my victory picture. I could definitely feel the wind in my face coming back, hence the backwards turned visor. I hardly ever turn it backwards.

I was kind of coughing at the end of the run while my heart rate was coming down.  Ben said that it was pretty common and even has a name – “track hack.” I guess I just irritated it with the volume of air I was pushing in and out.

As I recovered I started wondering why this attempt was successful when the others were not.  I definitely had a cooler day, and the wind was in my favor, but I have to really think the most important aspect was the mostly descending route that I took.  Not having to fight gravity is a big deal.  I’ll admit the shoes were lighter and more springy, but the psychological advantage may have been a bigger factor.  If you feel like they are giving you an edge, then maybe they will.  

But I got to think it might be due to the mustache that I grew back.  The spirit of Steve Prefontaine must have been with me.

My Search For American Muscle – Part XIV

ONE SIMPLE QUESTION

I follow a few muscle car pages on Facebook just to torture myself with seeing what everyone else out there is enjoying while I sit carless in front of my computer.  

One day someone in Arizona posted that they were selling a 1966 Plymouth Satellite convertible, powered by a 318 Poly for $28,500.  It looks awesome and I was really trying to talk myself into inquiring about it.  The big issue is Arizona is pretty far away and buying a car sight unseen makes me extremely nervous.  Plus it has a 318 Poly for an engine.  

The 318 was one of the general workhorse engines for Mopar and there were many, many cars equipped with the 318.  In the Mopar enthusiast circles, the 318 has a nickname – “boat anchor”.  Basically, it’s a dog of an engine as far as performance goes.  But there is one saving grace:  it’s a 318 “Poly”,  and there’s a lot of love for the poly version of the 318.  Poly means that the combustion chamber is polyspherical, kind of like the hemi.  Kinda.  So, it’s a unique little engine that some Mopar lovers like to play around with.  Me?  I’d pull the damn thing and put in a hemi, probably a Hellcat.  Or at least pay someone to do that for me.  

Here’s the 1966 Plymouth Satellite for sale in Arizona.

I finally worked up the interest thinking it would be a fun driver even if it was woefully underpowered.  I poured over the pictures and came upon a photo of the door jamb showing the VIN of the car.  In the picture, however, was an unusual green wire coming from the car into the door.  I found that to be weird since there is nothing powered in that door – no power windows, door locks, lights or stereo speakers.  So I clicked on the comment box for that photo and asked one simple question:

“What’s the green wire for?”

A day later I checked back in with the post fully expecting to have it explained to me.  Nope.  But not only was there no answer there was no photo.  The poster deleted it!  What the hell?  Instead of giving an explanation, or even a “I have no idea,” they just decided to delete the photo.  Now it looks like they are trying to hide something.  My best guess is that it was an old speaker wire for a speaker mounted in the door, but the door panel looks new was probably replaced sans speaker.  Just a hunch.  But this guy decided to hide the photo for whatever reason and now I’m more confused than interested.  

I put a link to a video of the car below.  It is a nice looking car.  I’ll keep an eye on it.

This isn’t the deleted photo, but if you zoom in you can kinda see the green wire in the jamb of the door.

Link to the owner’s YouTube video

Chasing a Sub-6 Mile – Update #2

Time for another update, so here’s how my attempt at getting under a 6-minute mile is going .  (See below for the links to the previous two posts.)

I had not given the sub-6 mile attempt much thought since the last time, as I was still hoping to increase my miles for the Big Hill Bonk Last Runner Standing ultra. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has killed that event and I will have to wait until April 2021 to give that one another go. I wasn’t that focused for some reason on keeping up with getting under sub-6 minutes until I was at a group ride and one of my Facebook friends (Hi, Angela!) who read my blog inquired about it. I mentioned the above and that I have also been dealing with the typical aches and pains that usual appear at this time of year after the work I have been doing, things like plantar fasciitis, piriformis butt pain, etc. All things that I typically just ignore and train through.

But I have done a couple of attempts, one of which was a total failure and the second one today that turned out to be consistent with what I think is going to be my best effort from here on. Here are the summaries:

SEPTEMBER 7, 2020 – Attempt Number 3

  • TIME:  DNF
  • WHERE:  BEARSKIN TRAIL, MINOCQUA, WISCONSIN
  • WEATHER:  Mid-50’s degrees, windy
  • LEAD-UP:  A bike ride with Kari the day before
  • COMMENTS:  This was just going to be a quick and easy 4-mile run before heading back out of town and a six hour ride home.  But seeing the day was pretty cool and I was feeling pretty good, I decided that I would warm up with two miles of light pace and then turn around and hammer it.  Well, I did that and totally threw out the pacing strategy that I had learned from previous efforts, mainly starting a little slower and pushing for negative splits.  No, I went out like a shot and burned out very quickly.  By the time I hit the half mile mark I was near hyperventilation and had to pull the plug on it.  My watch showed 3:22 for that effort, well off the pace I needed.  I blew it.  It was a little bit of a surprise, but I quickly realized my dumb mistake.  I jogged it back to the car and enjoyed the Northwoods scenery as I went.

SEPTEMBER 23, 2020 – Attempt Number 4

  • TIME:  6:24.8
  • WHERE:  MOKENA JR. HIGH SCHOOL TRACK
  • WEATHER:  72 degrees, light wind, low humidity – a perfect day
  • LEAD-UP:  A bike ride the day prior and an easy-paced 3-mile warm-up
  • COMMENTS:  As I started the 2.75-mile jog to get to the track I could tell this was probably going to be a wasted effort.  The upper leg soreness from the bike ride the day before was pretty evident, but once I got there I decided to see where I stand.  This time I made sure that I held back at the start and the first two laps were pretty good.  I felt smooth and wasn’t really feeling terribly taxed.  I pushed harder for the third and fourth laps and surprised myself when my watch showed 6:24 at the mile mark.  I think I need some more speed work training and a cooler day to get this time a little lower.  I think I might be capable of sub-6:20, but I’m thinking maybe my goal should have been to get under 6:30!  I’d have done it by now!

Stay tuned, I plan on doing my last effort or two in October.

 

Chasing a Sub-6 Mile – Update #1

Chasing a Sub-6 Minute Mile

 

My Search For American Muscle – Part XIII

CAR CURIOSITY

I’m still searching for a muscle car to own and along the way I have developed a sort of search methodology.  You would think it would be pretty simple – go to Google, enter in the year/make/model of the car you are looking for and then start looking for the one that catches your eye.  Once you find the “one” all that is left is to pay, pick it up, and then enjoy.  But I like to go into much more depth and look into the car’s past for some reason.  And I do that because it can be worth the effort.

This week a 1970 Pontiac GTO popped up on a website I follow and it caught my eye.  I’m not really “jonesing” for a ’70 Goat, but this one was nice – red on red, 4-speed, and purrs like a kitten on the video.  Most of the time I can find the VIN in the photos or in the description and then the journey of discovery begins.

 

This red 1970 GTO caught my eye. Listed at Bluelineclassics.com

The first step for me is to usually find the VIN and do some research on the car by going to a website that can decipher the VIN and fender/cowl tags and tell you something about the car. This car’s VIN begins with the following: “242370B”, which is Pontiac-speak for Pontiac (2), GTO (42), two-door coupe (37), 1970 model (0), built in Baltimore, MD (B). This one checks out as a true GTO.

1970 was a peak year for muscle cars and horsepower, and that usually means cars from that year would bring in substantial money on the market. It seems unusual to me that this car would be under $50,000, being a numbers-matching car (the engine and drive train are stamped with the sequence number of the VIN). This car does lack the Ram Air and hood mounted tach options, but it is a four-speed and is presented nicely. So naturally, I had to try to find out more about the car.

I Googled the VIN and was surprised to see this:

This is the same 1970 GTO located in Ohio, the same state where the current seller is located.

This is the same car sold by a Chevrolet dealer in Ohio that sells classics on the side. It was listed for sale at $27,900. What? Now my alarms are going off. How does the car get sold for such a low price and then flipped for $17,000 more? Interesting stuff.

I also found a forum called “The Supercar Registry”, and someone had recently made a post about it. The poster mentioned the red on red GTO and how it looked pretty good. Then the experts checked in.

  • “Beautiful car, but it needs the correct bucket seat releases.”
  • “and correct dash (72 dash) and that stupid Buick sticker on the air cleaner…”

So apparently the bucket seat releases are from a 1968 Pontiac, and not the 1970.  The dash comment I had to look into and confirm, it is consistent with a 1972 model GTO and not the 1970.  Weird.  And the “Buick” sticker comment was explained in a further comment that it is consistent with the stickers Buick used, even though it bore a Pontiac emblem.  Pontiac apparently never used that design on their air cleaners.  

I also learned from the description of the previous sale listing that the car was originally painted silver and had been changed.  It seems to me that the car would be worth more and attract more buyers being a silver/red combo and not red/red just for appearance and originality sake.

I’m not that familiar with the GTO but I learned a lot was wrong about this one!

Orienteering Fun

My coworkers had been talking about this show called “The Worlds Toughest Race” on Amazon Prime Video and asked if I had watched it.  I hadn’t, but I asked if they were talking about the Eco Challenge, and sure enough that was it!

I was familiar with the Eco Challenge having watched a series or documentary on it probably ten years ago.  Apparently it lives on and somehow escaped my attention.  That’s probably because I watch two cable channels and nothing else.  But they were adamant that I should watch it and so I checked it out.  I probably shouldn’t have because now I have a new hobby.

The Eco Challenge requires a lot of skills to get through it, but as I watched and studied it I realized that orienteering is most likely the greatest of the skills to have.  So I looked into orienteering and found that a local forest preserve district had some dedicated orienteering courses to try.  All I needed to do was to recruit the wife to join me and try it out.

The course we checked out is in a forest preserve called Waterfall Glen.  The f.p. website had a lot of great information on orienteering and maps to their four dedicated courses.  If you are local to the Chicago suburbs, you can check out their website and course maps here:  Click here and scroll down to Orienteering Course

I did convice Kari to join me without much arm twisting or begging and we talked about preparing ourselves for this mini adventure.

Kari:  “Do you think I need to wear pants?”  Me:  Nah.

Kari:  “Should we bring water?”  Me:  Nah.

Kari:  “Do you want any sunscreen or bug spray?”  Me:  Nah.

Well, we probably should have worn pants and water would have been a really, really good idea.  We did end up bringing the sunscreen and bug spray and did apply it, but it probably wasn’t really necessary.  It was a really nice day so we got by okay.

I have never been to Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve but as soon as we neared the entrance I realized that it might be the most popular forest preserve in the southwestern suburbs of Chicago.  It was packed.  People were walking, running, biking, hiking and just generally hanging around on the trails.  Fortunately for us we weren’t on the main trail for long as our orienteering took us onto much less traveled paths.

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We decided that we would try the long beginner course (Long Beginner Course Map) first instead of the shorter beginner course mainly because we didn’t know how to find the start of the shorter beginner course.  That’s pretty funny considering map reading skills are necessary for this little adventure.  Fortunately the longer beginner course started right at the exact spot we were at.  We settled on nicknames – I would be both Lewis & Clark and Kari would be Sacagawea.  I thought that was pretty clever until I realized that Sacagawea was actually the one showing the experienced explorers where to go.  As fate would have it, Kari was a perfect Sacagawea.

We easily found the first “control” marker and I patted myself on my back for not getting us lost.  The second control marker was located down the path a little bit, but I looked at the map and tried to convice Kari that it would be quicker if we took this side dirt path through the woods.  Fortunately she was game and off we went.  

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Let’s just try that shady path instead of the completely safe path. Okay, sure!

 

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Found one! Here’s what the markers look like.  You were supposed to write down the letters on the map for some reason.  I guess its so you can prove that you found it.  Photos work too in this day and age.

 

We made it through alive!  And the rest of the control markers were fairly easy to find, with the exception of two of them that had fallen down and were laying on the ground.  One of the markers was hidden in the trees somewhat and we had to double back a little bit when we realized we had missed it.  But we found them all and it really wasn’t too challenging.  It took us about an hour to navigate our way through the map and upon finishing we decided to take a crack at the other beginner course, mainly because we had time and also to the fact that our map reading skills had improved dramatically, thanks to Sacagawea – I mean, Kari.  

I foolishly thought the beginner course (Beginner Course Map) would be easier since it wasn’t as long as the other one.  Wrong.  For a beginner course, this one was much tougher, mainly due to the terrain – lots of indistinct trail with fallen trees and other stuff to confuse the heck out of us, and some open grassy areas which really tore up our bare legs.  Should have worn pants.  

The first four markers weren’t tough to locate, but the fifth one had us a little worried.  The trail wasn’t very clear and we had to double back and take different routes until we were finally able to locate it.  For minute there I thought I might have to resort to cannabilism, but fortunately for Kari we found it and continued on.  

As we continued on the trail to the next control marker we would occasionally pass some people heading the other way, usually asking if we had found the waterfall.  We didn’t find a waterfall, but we did find this hill that would have been a nice waterfall if the area wasn’t experiencing drought conditions.

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We made it back to the parking lot with our legs a little scratched up from the brush, our lower legs covered in trail dust, and kind of thirsty.  But our first shot at orienteering was a success and lots of fun!  I can’t wait to go back and try the intermediate and advanced courses.  I’m just going to make sure that I wear pants, bring water and maybe add some trail shoes to make it a little more easy to navigate.  

 

My Search For American Muscle – Part XII

I’m up to the twelfth post of my search for a muscle car.  I never thought that I would be having this difficult of a time in finding something that would satisfy my old car desires.  But I am having fun looking, even if it means that I am more of a virtual tire kicker than a real one.

I am a little perplexed as to the muscle car market right now.  It seems that it has dried up somewhat.  When I first started looking for a car in November 2018 there seemed to be a lot more available.  My three top cars that I have spent the most time looking at are the 1967 Olds 442, the 1967 Plymouth GTX, and the 1967 Dodge Coronet R/T.  Right now on Hemmings.com, there are only five GTX’s for sale, the Coronets number eight, and there are only four 442’s currently for sale.  A check of eBay basically has similar numbers as most sellers cross list their car on both websites as well as many others.  When the pandemic hit I figured there would be a lot of sellers, but I guess people are holding on to their investments for as long as they can.  And to add to my woes, I’m still hoping to find a convertible, which really limits the numbers.

What has been listed is being snapped up pretty quickly.  This 1967 Dodge Coronet R/T from Southern Motors in Michigan came up for sale this week and it’s already listed as “Sale Pending.”  It was listed at about $7000 less than what they are typically listed for, so I’m not really that surprised that it was snapped up quickly.  I have trouble acting that quickly on a car.  I like to really study them before I can even list them as a “favorite.”  

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The car lacked a drop-top, the Magnum 500 wheels, A/C, and it was black. I was trying to like it for $43K, but it was snapped up before I could.

 

One of the mistakes I have come to realize that I am making is that I have been limiting my search to primarily Hemmings and eBay.  I have discovered that there are some other good dealers out there that don’t list their cars on either site and seem to be doing just as well.

One of those websites is Bluelineclassics.com.  I’ve seen a couple cars on their page that had grabbed my attention only to be gone from the available cars within a week.  

Another page that I check on frequently is Brown’s Performance Motor Cars.  They currently have a very nice white 1969 Chevelle SS with a blue interior that I really like.  I’ll keep an eye on it, but I prefer the 1967 and 1970 Chevelles more.

I’ll keep virtually kicking tires for now and keep you posted.  Thanks for reading!

This Is My Life

I am a menace to society.  People have hatred towards me.  When people see me I honestly think that it must make their blood boil.  I’m as heinous as they come.  I should be locked up put away for my crime.  What’s my crime, you ask?  It’s because I legally ride my bike on a roadway.

After another close call with the car driving public, the thought of this is how life is for a cyclist passed through my mind.  This is my life can have different meanings, such as:

  • This is my life…  It can be positive, just like this blog in which I post things about the amazing experiences that running, triathlon, and life have provided to me.
  • This is my life…  The things I do day in and day out.  Mostly the same as everyone else, but from my perspective.
  • This is my life…  Or possibly something that occurs occasionally that can be burdensome, such as doing laundry nearly every damn day.
  • This is my life…  But my intended purpose of that statement today is that THIS IS MY LIFE YOU ARE ENDANGERING!!!  DOES A HUMAN LIFE NOT MATTER TO YOU IN YOUR FUCKING CAR AS YOU TRY TO PASS ME IN A DANGEROUS SITUATION?

I was riding my bike on a road that within less than a mile I would hope off of to catch the adjoining trail.  I just needed to be on it shortly.  But to people in cars, I might as well have purposely gone out of my way to plan my ride to coincide with their trip to Starbucks or whatever.

I get being inconvenienced.  I don’t like it either.  But I am a life out there on a bike, exposed to the world and your one-ton enclosed, all steel, with numerous safety features vehicle.  It blows my mind to think that a driver would go out of his way to avoid crashing into another vehicle, but some old guy in tight clothes on a bike is open game.  I probably wouldn’t even scratch your car as you hit me.

I wasn’t really intending to make this post an argument for sharing the road with cyclists.  I could tackle the arguments about why cyclists shouldn’t be allowed on the road, or give a counterpoint to “just because I can doesn’t mean that I should.”  I’ll save it for next time if the next time doesn’t kill me.

So as luck would have it, I have a video of this incident.   I have gotten to the point in my cyclist life that I feel it necessary to document my ride so that in the event that something happens to me, the authorities can look at the video and say “Yep, he was doing it right when he got run over.”

I was riding up some hills, the road was striped with double yellow, no-passing zone markings, and I was taking up a little more of the middle than the far right as safely possible just to give the impression that there wouldn’t be enough room to pass.  She attempted the pass anyway.  Watch the video.  Form your own opinion.  (Warning – The audio is quite loud – turn it down before hitting play.)

All I ask is that you think about that person on the bike when you drive.  They are someone’s family.  And it’s someone’s life that you put in jeopardy by not passing with caution.

This is my life.

Chasing a Sub-6 Mile – Update #1

It’s been a couple of weeks since I declared that I’m attempting to run a sub-6 minute mile and it’s time for an update.  Here’s the link to the first post:  Chasing a Sub-6 Minute Mile

The summer here in the midwest has been typical – hot and humid – and my efforts have been influenced by that.  It’s no surprise that the hot weather will produce slower times and my running has fallen in line with that.  But I have been training fairly consistently and I’m seeing a few positives come my way.  And the weather this week turned much cooler and less humid, so I decided to give it another go.

First, I’ve dropped about 10 pounds from what I weighed over the winter months.  This winter weight gain is something I struggle with every year, but I generally lose the extra weight by mid-summer.  I currently weigh about 167 pounds, so another five or so pounds less might make me a little quicker.  I’ll keep that in mind.

The second positive is I ran to the local junior high school track last week and did a speedwork session of 4×400 repeats with a 400 recovery between each one.  It was a warm day and somewhat windy.  I wasn’t trying to do it for any other purpose other than to put in some work at a faster pace.  But I was very happy to see that I turned in those 400-meter laps in 1:30, exactly the time I need to be at a 6-minute mile.  Now, each 400 was followed by a recovery 400 in which allowed my heart rate and breathing to recover.  If I could string those four laps together though I would meet my goal.  I’m not counting that workout as an official attempt because it was broken into four segments, but I did get a huge confidence boost from it.

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I learned a little about pacing those 400’s as well.  The first one seemed to be the hardest. I went hard from the start and felt like I was fading at the end.  The second 400 was run similarly.  When I did my third and fourth 400 I decided to hold back at the beginning and little and push hard at the end.  That seemed to be the best way to approach it as I didn’t feel like I was dying by the end of 200 meters and staggering at the end.  That will probably be my approach to any further efforts and time trial runs.  Also, I am aware that I only ran 1600 meters and a mile is 1609 meters, so I will have to keep that in mind if I do further time trials on the track instead of the trail/road.

 

AUGUST 4, 2020 – Attempt Number 2

  • TIME:  6:25.2
  • WHERE:  MOKENA JR. HIGH SCHOOL TRACK
  • WEATHER:  72 degrees, cool wind from the north, low humidity – a perfect day
  • LEAD-UP:  A rest day prior and an easy-paced 3-mile warm-up
  • COMMENTS:  This wasn’t going to be an official attempt as I was planning on just doing 8×200 and some 100 repeats, but it was such a nice day I decided to give it a go.  I’m glad I did.  My previous attempt came in at 6:32, so to shave off 7 seconds seems to be meaningful.  I’m still 26 seconds away from going sub-6, but at least I am moving in the right direction, time-wise.  The weather was definitely a factor, and I did also hold myself back a little at the beginning of the mile.  I wish I had hit my splits, but forgot on the first lap and then just went with it.  Here’s to progress!

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Chasing a Sub-6 Minute Mile

With the 2020 racing season canceled thanks to the dumb Covid-19 Coronavirus, I was left with a big hole where my Ironman training and race was.  What to do, what to do?  I thought about it for a little while and realized that I didn’t want to keep training for an Ironman that wasn’t going to happen and that I should probably dial it back some and maybe use this year as sort of a recovery from the heavy training I had been doing the past couple of years.  Yeah…  not going to happen.

Back in June I did something during my training that sparked an interest in me.  I work in law enforcement in a part-time, non-sworn support position, and I joined my department for the annual Torch Run to benefit Special Olympics.  I rode my bike about eight miles to get there that afternoon, ran the two miles with some coworkers to satisfy the event, and then for kicks I decided to see how fast I could run a mile.  I did it in 6:35.  And I thought, could I possibly run a sub-6 minute mile?  At age 56 and change?  It was definitely something I began to think about.

A month later, right after the race got canceled, I texted my Gunner teammates and  advised them that I was deferring my Ironman to Chattanooga in 2021 and that I was not going to follow the training plan for the rest of the year.  I also advised that I was going to shoot for the sub-6 minute mile.

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Johnny replied with this:

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Okay, now the game is ON!  Actually, I’m not sure if John was laughing at my super long text about what I was doing, or that I had declared that I was attempting another stupid goal.  John knows me well and knows that I will obsess over something that no normal person would do – the running streak that turned into 3+ years is a good example.  That’s probably it.  But whatever, I’m going for it!

In addition to the first time trial mile, I’m going to try to do at least one one-mile time trial per week.  I will still do my typical three bikes a week and run on alternating days.  I am going to add some speed sessions to my run workouts and probably run some hill repeats as well.  My Ironman training plan had some intervals and repeats in them, but I want to focus a little more on shorter and harder efforts.

I’m starting this in mid-July, and it’s been hot and humid lately.  I hope to see improvement throughout the next month, but I will probably need a very good weather day for my attempt.  I’m also looking to scope out the best location to do the mile.  A slight descent on a straight, uninterrupted portion of the trail might be a good option.  I considered doing it on the track, but my son Ben said that GPS doesn’t work very well on the track if I want to use that as my official certifying distance and time.  I do want proof.  The last time I attempted a mile personal best was when I was in my late twenties, on an indoor track at Highland Park, IL High School.  Ten laps around the small indoor track was a mile and I spent a few weeks working my way down to a 5:29 minute personal best.  It was just me and the track and my Timex back then, so not all that official.  I’m also thinking of having Ben pace me on my serious attempts.  He’s game and that’s no problem for the kid.

Below is a short journal of my recent attempts:

 

JUNE 11, 2020 – The Mile That Woke Me Up

  • TIME:  6:35.2
  • WHERE:  New Lenox Commons, approximately 1/3 mile loops
  • WEATHER:  Sunny, windy, warm and humid, midday
  • LEAD UP:  I biked to get there, ran an easy two-mile warm-up, then did the mile
  • COMMENTS:  The loop has an incline and decline and it was a little windy that day

 

JULY 19, 2020 – The First Attempt

  • TIME:  6:32.1
  • WHERE:  LINCOLN-WAY CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL TRACK
  • WEATHER:  Mid-70’s but very warm and humid following a day-long storm
  • LEAD-UP:  I jogged a three-mile warm-up to get there and that was probably one mile too many.
  • COMMENTS:  I strained my back earlier in the day and was having a little discomfort with that, but I still ran as hard as I could.  The track definitely felt warmer than when I was running in the shade on the trail to get there.  I was forced to use lane 4 as my lane as lanes 1, 2, and 3 were flooded out from the storm in one turn from the earlier rain.  Ben was right when he said that GPS may not record me very accurately on the track.

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I was in lane 4 the entire time.  Nice job, GPS.  That last diagonal line is when I finished the mile and then hit resume after walking 100 meters.

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Mile 4 was my time trial mile.

 

Here are the links to the attempt updates:

Chasing a Sub-6 Mile – Update #1

Moving On

THE LAST POST REGARDING IRONMAN LOUISVILLE 2020 

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R.I.P. LOUISVILLE IRONMAN 2020

It really didn’t take me too long to get over having the race I was training for come to an end.  I guess I had been expecting it to end for quite a while, but I just kept moving forward (a tried and true Ironman motto) in my training until the final word was announced.  So after having a week to think it over, here’s what I will most likely do going forward.

I will opt to take the automatic transfer to Ironman Chattanooga in 2021.  There is really no way the other three Fall 2020 transfer options are going to happen in my mind.  Three of us Gunner teammates were already signed up for Louisville, and two and maybe a third had not signed up.  So if we decide as a group to head back to Chatty in 2021 all I need to do is make the transfer official and start training next year.  If we for some reason want to do a different race then I will have no problem paying the transfer fee and do that race with the group.  But Ironman has some pretty specific rules on transferring, so I will have to take that into consideration.  We’ll have to talk that over.  I remember us talking about not wanting to do Chatty again, but I think that was the dreadful heat of the 2019 race influencing that decision.  It was an okay location, we enjoyed ourselves and I would go back.  But before I get too confident with all that, I have to realize that this is all conjecture.  There’s talk that this Covid-19 crap may stick around into 2021 and screw everybody’s race season up again.  So there’s that…

I will keep training, that really isn’t a big surprise.  I actually enjoy the weekly stuff, the long Saturday ride, and running is just part of who I am.  I can’t imagine not running.  Swimming on the other hand…  well, let’s just say that I do enjoy a cannonball splashdown after a long run or ride.  But I doubt I will do much swim training for the rest of the year.  The training won’t be anything too overwhelming, but enough to keep me fit and doing what I love.  I may join some local group rides now that it won’t interfere with me following my training plan.  I may also text a local friend to see if he wants to do some riding again.  We stopped riding together when my training became too specific and he just wanted to ride.  

I was kicking around the idea of doing an Ironman of my own making either at home or in Wisconsin at my lakehome and inviting my buddies to do it, but I’m not so hot on the idea now.  That would require us to keep training and following the plan and with the weather heating up and the fact we’ve had our bubble burst with Louisville, I don’t think any of us would want to do it.  I may, however, do a half-iron distance day of my own just because I already have the fitness to do that and could pull it off pretty easily.  I think the training plan has a 70.3 training day built into it coming up in a few weeks, so I may still do that.  I need to sleep on that a little.

Lastly, I have one more hope left of having an opportunity to race this year and that race is the Big Hill Bonk Last Runner Standing elimination ultramarathon.  This race was supposed to occur in April but got postponed to October.  I received an email last week stating that as of right now the race is a go until the race director finds out otherwise.  He gave us a drop dead date of September 15th, so we’ll know by then if he has to cancel it.  So since that tells me that the race is iffy at best, I’m not going to do any special ultramarathon type distance training and if the race happens I will just go up to Beloit and run 4.166-mile loops every hour until I can’t take it anymore.  And that’s all predicated on whether I feel comfortable around other athletes and doing the Covid-19 dance around each other.  If I don’t feel safe in that environment or it’s too big of a hassle I will opt out.

So there you have it.  I’m going forward with my daily workouts for fun instead of for a specific reason and we’ll see what happens.  So long, Ironman Louisville 2020.  Hello, Ironman Chattanooga 2021.