Wednesday, August 23, 2017

2017 season tribute

Athletics is an inspiring journey.  Here's a quote from an article I saw on T&F News:
Dear Younger Me: Michael Granville
Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.  Smile often. Don't take things personal, especially what someone else may do to you. But take what YOU DO TO YOURSELF personal. Life is 10 percent of what happens to you, and 90 percent how you respond. Remember to Follow One Course Until Successful (FOCUS).  Be grateful.  See the beauty in people and act as if that's all you see. Have Compassion. Continue to spread good news about health and fitness with conversation and lead by example.  .... Keep putting in the work. Keep pushing the limits of your dreams!

Below is a pro photo of the NCCWMA 400m final and a tribute I wrote on facebook.


Last week I went 4 days with about zero exercise and went on a few mild carb binges involving bread, pastry, and potatoes.  Nothing too excessive.  I'm still about 147.5 lbs.

Finally, last Friday I biked up the monster hill on Roark's Cove road, always a challenge even when I'm in shape.  I also hit the weight room for some upper body work.  I think it will be at least another 2-3 weeks before I set foot on the track again, and when I do, it'll be just once a week until about Nov.   I hope this end of season doesn't play too hard on my motivation to train.  It just seemed that I didn't reap any benefit from some very hard work at the end of this season.

Privilege of participation

One additional thing I wanted to mention, it is easy to take for granted participation on this level.  Even one minor injury can take the level of competitiveness or participation to zero.   Not being injured is #1.   In the world of masters track, one or two individuals being injured can promote a bronze medalist to a champion.

I had a few tweaks this season but thankfully no significant injuries.  As life is fragile, the fitness of a masters sprinter is even more fragile.  It is a also a matter of intelligent preparation and luck that one's body can withstand the rigors of training, especially for a 400m.  I was injured a lot in my first year, especially quads and hams.  That probably influenced my shift from being a 100/200 to 200/400 guy.  It is common for many world class 100m guys to start the season racing a 400m.   Tyson Gay, Usain Bolt, and Walter Dix have all done it.  This season, an M60 guy with a lot of experience ran a 100m in his first meet and tore a ham.  Out for the season.  This is an example of poor preparation.   Not real bright to start the season as an older masters with a 100m race.   I love running the 100m but I rarely do so.  Penn Relays is a good time to do it because it's after indoor and well before outdoor Nationals.


It has been probably since 2013 when I fractured my foot that I took more than a month off from training on the track. It's been a journey and a privilege, not only to put my hands down on the line with the fastest men my age in the world representing the USA, but also to compete in college meets (and not finish last).

My masters track colleagues are some of the best people I've ever met. A brother and sisterhood of speed, where we come together a few times a year like a family reunion, in a different city, or on a different continent as Team USA. The journey of the training and competition, as well as the respect and friendship of my masters track family has given much to my life, a vital balance and compliment to my career of music teaching and performing.

International competition has also given me the opportunity to drive through the French Alps with my dad, to the beaches of Australia, and the streets of Daegu, Korea. I'm a relative newcomer to Masters track, only beginning in my 50s 7 yrs ago, but it's been quite a run: Five National Titles, a World Title, a World Silver and 2 Bronze, NCCWMA Gold, a 4x200m M55 World Record relay, USATF Age Group Athlete of the Yr. Award, a bunch of Team USA relay medals, National Silver and Bronze medals, and the opportunity to join my GPTC teammates at Millrose and Penn Relays.

The great thing about track, is you bring it or you don't. Unlike music, where you're only as good as someone thinks you are, there is no subjectivity in track. My 400m time in Daegu (55.17) was the fastest time in the USA in my age group since 2014, #3 in the world this year (indoor and outdoor), and fastest M55 indoor time in the US in 9 yrs.

As we move up in our age group and make way for the faster and younger, we look toward being 'reborn' every 5 years into a new age group. The medals matter less than the journey. I look forward to maybe one more World meet next year in Malaga, Spain until I enter the M60 age group just before the 2020 World Championships in Toronto. Thanks to the USATF Masters and Team USA. Now, I think I'll take a little time off.

(Nah.... weight room tonight).

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

North/Central American and Caribbean Championships, Toronto - meet report

NCCWMA 400m Champion M55

It's been a great season for me.  And, I don't want to be too negative in this last post, since I won the NCCWMA M55 400m Championship, but I can't sugar coat it... I did not come close to achieving my goals and was very disappointed in my performance in this last meet, particularly because I had worked so hard for it.  On the plus side, I really peaked when it counted, at the World Championships in March.  So... before I summarize the good and the season overall, I have to review my failure at this meet.  Maybe I can learn something from it.  57.1 was my slowest championship winning 400m time.

It's been a long season.  Maybe too long and seeming longer than any other, due to the lack of a break last fall because of the WMA Perth meet in November.

Beyond what I did or didn't do, the bottom line is I had fun, especially the last day running the 4x4 relay and spending time with my dad.  I have to think that matters a lot and I have to remember what it is like to participate and not win anything.  The joy of this thing is people, colleagues ... this track family that I only get to see a few times a year, and being able to run fast without injury with the fastest guys my age in the world.    I don't need to get hung up on my times and forget about all the good stuff, especially when I come home with an individual Gold medal (and a relay Gold).   Many friends didn't get anything, some even got hurt.   

One of the greatest perks from this meet is the support from USATF and Nike.   We got an amazing Olympic kit, the same used in Rio.  No other athletes in the world get this except USA Masters Team and USA Olympic/World Championship team.  And... it wasn't just a singlet.   In addition to the sleek high tech rubber studded racing clothes (our choice between singlet/tights and one piece), we got a full warmup suit, and both long and short sleeve T's.   I chose the 2 piece since it's more flexible and better for a 400m.  I had to stand in line for an hour plus to get the kit, thanks to my dad who waited in the car... all this while trying to coordinate a plumbing emergency repair at my home with a friend's phone (mine didn't work in Canada).  What is cool is that I now have the US Olympic uniform from Beijing '08, London '12, and now Rio '16.   The new thing is the triangular rubber studs, assumingly placed to help wind resistance.  It fit really well, very comfortable.  Singlet was light as a feather.  Check it out:
Nike Vapor track and field kit with Nike AeroSwift technology 
I sometimes wear these uniforms at college meets.   Many of the kids recognize them right away.   "Where did you get that!?"

400m prelim
Ridiculously, we had to run a 400m prelim.  George warned me to not run it fast.  Jim said, 'we just have to beat one guy'.  I knew there were some stragglers in my heat, me and Jim ended up in the same heat due to a typo (someone seeded in 1.4 sec, meant to write 1:04, didn't even show).  I was jumpy and false started after a long hold.  We got off and Jim and I coasted down the back stretch together, and I felt good so I made sure I beat the guy outside of us on the turn.  I hit the 300m in just under 41 which was a tad less than goal, then jogged the last 100m in 17.  Finished in 57.78, Jim about 5m behind.   Felt easy but both Jim and George said it was too fast and unnecessary.  Anyway, that put me in lane 4 for the final and Jim in 3.  Daryl said he strained something but won his heat in 1:03.  There was a guy in my heat that ran 1:18, he muttered something about his 'first race in 15 yrs.'  He was overweight.  We had to run this prelim because he chose to enter, one of the few circumstances working against me, would have been nice to just run a final.

400m Final
Before the race, I asked my dad to drop me off thinking I could get to the track faster.  Huge mistake.  Got lost on campus and walked/jogged about 2 miles, sometimes in a mild panic trying to find the track.  I got misdirected and few people were helpful.  I finally got to the warmup area about 50min prior to race.   I was a bit tired.   I warmed up and headed to the track.  Rain looked imminent.  We already had a rain delay earlier.  Thought I heard thunder.   We had 2 scratches, so there wasn't much competition except Jim. We got in the starting blocks and I got a decent start, went out hard for about 50 - 60m and got called back by a second gun.  I thought, OK... rain delay.  But no.  Judges ruled 'unfair start'... someone didn't hear the 'set' command.  Ok, more wasted energy.  Finally, we got off and I cruised easily, knowing that the only way I'd lose was if I got hurt or rigged up really bad in the end. I was too conservative.  I hit the 300m in about 41.35, even slower than the prelim.  (I've run that fast in training shoes).  My last 100m I felt ok, no rigging, in about 15.75 ish... I looked at the scoreboard and was disgusted with my time:  57.10.   Even slower than Nationals.  All that work for this!?  Very frustrating.  Jim took second and ran a 59.  He looked at me and said, "why'd we run so slow?"   It was a failure to execute.  Didn't have that aggressive backstretch.  Was probably close to 27 at the 200 instead of 26.  Splits were probably 13, 14, 14.3, 15.7 or 27 / 30.   Goal was 13,13,14,15.  It was primarily the second 100m I think.  Saved too much.  My goal was to better my ranking and run under 55.55.  It was a fail... but I still won easily.  That wasn't the worst part.

400m Final

200m prelim
The schedule greatly favored the 100/200 guys and really screwed us 200/400 guys.  The 200m prelims were immediately after the 400m.  I had about 75 min.  This was the fastest M55 200m field in years, and of the 20+ guys, only me and Jim had just run the 400m, all the other guys were fresh, having run their 100m final 5 hours before.  The first 2 heats were really fast.  6 guys under 25 in 2 heats.  (Perspective: I took Bronze in Lyon with 25.08).  Because of Leondus, who put down a fake seed time of 24.08 then scratched, Jim ended up in a very slow heat and won it in 25.9.  I had Val in my heat, who I beat at Nationals last year with my A game, but didn't have it, having just run a 400m.  We ran shoulder to shoulder and he beat me by a few tenths and I finished in a pedestrian 25.6.   For the first time ever in a masters competition, I was eliminated from the final.  The World 200m indoor champion - eliminated.  James, who did make the final with a slower time, apologized and said he felt like I got screwed.  Wasn't his fault.   My dad tried like hell to change his flight and flee the scene on Sunday, but he found it wasn't worth it. $$$$ Afterward, my dad and I went out for a late dinner, had Thai food, I had a rare beer.  Felt the season was over. Didn't know whether we'd have a relay or not the next day.

It was a super competitive M55 200m final.  Don was beaten for the first time in years in both the 100 and 200.  Alan had a stellar meet, running 24 flat winning the 200m, and the 100m in 11.83.  If I had run the same time I ran in Daegu or Sewanee, it would have been only good enough for Bronze.   They did have a +2.9 wind, that helped.

The 4x400m relay was me, Jim, Daryl, and Dale.  But I was glad to get Val on the team instead of Dale, since Dale had just run the 800.  I got to the track late, probably 45 min before the race, warmed up a little.  Took a few photos.  Decided to run second leg, Jim led off.  We were racing a spectacularly fast USA M50 team, a Trinidad M50 team, and M55 teams from Mexico and Canada.  I was happy and joking, threatening Jim that I'd be standing at the end of the zone, and how far did he want to run?  Lee was laughing.   Karnell and Lee had the M50 first legs, they were way out in front but Jim was closing in on the M50 Trinidad team which I passed immediately after the hand off.  I just took off.  I swear I held my own against Lee on the back stretch at least, he's a 53 guy.  I felt like I was flyin' and I didn't seem to get tired.  Jim ran about a 60-61 on his leg and when I handed off to Daryl, the clock said 1:56.  Which means I ran at least a 56 leg, someone said 55.6.   Figures.  I didn't care, I didn't warmup, I just let it fly.  I just ran!   Probably the way it should be.  That was well worth doing. Our last 2 legs averaged only about 62 so our time wasn't great but we still won, had a good time.  Happy for Daryl and Val to get medals.  Dad elected to stay in his room, didn't go.

I'm not big on medals, I've got a pile of them.  I didn't even collect my relay medal.  (Daryl might have and may send it).  But these medals were some of the nicest.  Large, double sided, heavy.  Much better than the chincy medals that we got in Daegu.

After the relay, dad and I watched the World Championship 4x4s on NBC, then went to a nice park on the coast and had an excellent seafood meal over looking a marina.
It was nice.  Glad he could come and happy to have been able to see a small part of the coast.

Scarborough Crescent Park

It was quite beautiful.  I snapped this last photo while dad sat in the car.

It's always hard to walk away from a season, a training lifestyle, spartan diet.  Already I've had my 2 cherry pastries yesterday.  6 pieces of crunchy sunflower bread toast with butter and cappuccino this morning.   Just a small consolation for months of hard work.  I won't stop being fit even though I must stop running for a while.  Bike and weights.  Work on my upper body and core, rowing machine.  No need to make it harder than it needs to be to come back.  I have Sr Games district meets I can run in Sept / Oct.  Maybe I will.

I'll have more to say in a summary later, but all those who have followed this blog, I appreciate the interest and I'll be posting less regularly for a while as I make the shift to becoming a musician/music professor again.

Thanks to dad for the support and interest.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Last workout of the season

Went to the track today with a friend and former student visiting Sewanee.  It felt odd to have someone there with me.  Perfect evening, 72º, partly sunny.

I didn't do much.  My timer finally died ... after 5+ yrs and 6 titles, I'm sorry to see my little chirping mechanical friend die.

Did a full warmup, some strides, starts, one hard 100m in spikes which my friend timed in 12.51 from the 400m start, and a 90% 250m in trainers.  That's it.

Hoka trainers on 
400m warmup, stretches, drills 
2 x 50m strides 
Puma spikes on 
3 x starts from blocks 
100m from blocks - 12.51 
Hoka trainers on 
250m ~ 400m pace from back stretch to middle of home stretch

Never feel like I've done enough to get ready, but I think this will have to do.   I think maybe I should have done more volume.  Who knows.  It's just a matter of being loose, rested, relaxed, and executing properly.  Sometimes I don't ever think it's possible to be ready for a 400m.

I'm getting a massage tomorrow and taking the next 2 days off.  Will stretch and get ready for a relaxed 400m prelim in Toronto at the NCCWMA Championships on Friday.

My weight is on target... even had 2 pieces of toast this morning, first carbs in a while and still 144.8 after dinner, which is good.

Been at this since mid December.   It's been a long road, quite a journey.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Rippin' n ready

It was a good day at the office.  After yesterday off from the track, I wanted to do a light speed workout today, and it went well.  Did blocks, some race pace turns, and drills.  The funny thing about speed is that it is not commensurate with effort.  Some days I work very hard, feel like I'm running fast but the clock says no.  Some days, the speed is there, faster than expected.  Today ... the speed was there.

Hoka trainers on
400m warmup, stretches, drills 
2 x 50m strides 
Puma spikes on  
3 x block starts 
100m from blocks, lane 4, 400m start - 12.8 
250m from top of the back stretch - 32 (12.7, 13.3, 6) 
150m from 200m start - 18 
100m strider on the turn 
Hoka trainers on 120m strider

My 250m and 150m were way faster than expected.  Granted, in the 250m, I took a 3 or 4 step flying start but I exceeded my goal of 33 by a lot.  It very well could have been 31 high.  Now, if I could just do that after running a 13 sec 100m... I'd be in PR territory.  To be fair, I probably was running a bit faster than 400m pace but it didn't feel like it until the end.  Same story with the 150m, right about 18 flat with the first 100m on the turn.

This is just what I needed to do today.  My weight is very good also.  141.8 lbs after workout.

All systems go!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Shake out / day off

Actually did go to the Fowler Center today and did a full warmup and some drills and hops, but no real running.  I looked at my archived workouts prior to some of my successful races in '15 and '16 that showed I pretty much adhered to the every other day regime, and since I did significant work yesterday and my feet were a bit sore, I just settled for a long bike ride today after my warmup.

I'm enjoying watching the IAAF World Championships.  Seeing LaShawn Merritt go down today in the 400m Semis reminded me how even an experienced guy like that can run himself out in the first 200.  I could see it happen to him... right when he hit about 270m, his stride changed a bit and I could tell he was losing fluidity.  Having Van Niekerk making up the stagger on him also didn't help.  It also happened to Fred Kerley, who seemed to go out too fast, running against faster guys than he's used to seeing.  He ran about a half second slower in his semi.   Unlike Merritt, Kerley was lucky to make it to the finals.

Watching Merritt and Kerley today reminds me... it's a fine line and you never know how the body is going to react after the first 300m.   I do like the fact that the track in Toronto is an IAAF with short straightaways, unlike what I normally train on and the track at LSU that had 100m straights.  I sometimes wonder what intangibles go into finding that perfect balance and executing.  I think I'm able to only pull it off 2 or 3 times a year.  Daegu '17 (55.17) was one, Albuquerque '16 (55.22), and Jacksonville '15 (55.29) and Vanderbilt '15 (55.11) were my best executed races.  It's all about getting to that 300m mark with the least amount of effort and the most amount of speed.  What is interesting is that my indoor times 3 yrs in a row were faster than anything I did outdoor.  It's kinda strange.  If you include the indoor season, I had the fastest M55 400m times in the US, 3 years in a row 2015-17.  (In 2016 Corey ran 55.28 outdoor, I ran 55.22 indoor, World #1 for '16  indoor season M55).

I was happy to see the USA bring home sprint titles in both the Men and Women's 100m.  First time in a while, I think more than a decade.  Kudos Justin and Tori.   Sad to see people still demonizing Justin.  Pathetic really.  Wanted to see Bolt win, but was happy for Justin, he earned it.  Perhaps the USA can get their act together and beat the world in the 4x100s.

Back on track tomorrow.  Blocks and turns.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

event run, blocks, conditioning

Perfect night in Sewanee, 70º, dry under a rising full moon.   Felt almost chilly by the time I left.  

I was going to do just starts and short stuff today but I felt I needed more.  Yea yea ... I said no more hard workouts but I think I needed this one.

Hoka trainers on 
500m warmup, stretches, drills, and more drills 
2 x 50m striders 
Puma spikes on 
2 x 50m from blocks, full speed 
100m from blocks from 400m start - 13 
350m event run - 47.8 (12.8, 25.8, 40) 
100m from blocks from 400m start - 13 
Hoka trainers on 
'split 500' - 300m - 42 / 1 min rest / 100m 14.8 / 1 min rest / 100m - 14.2 
2 x 80m striders on grass - cool down

It was a bit more volume than I intended, but I left the workout feeling good, strong.  I did the extra conditioning because I again wasn't happy with my event run.  My splits were ok but I pushed it quite hard on the front end and was already feeling tight by 350m.  It was better than last time, but not much.  Still 56 pace.  That's why I put the trainers on and went back to work.   I'm going to need to find that balance between an aggressive first 200m and running within myself.  The never ending quest.  Also, I feel my 3rd 300m on the turn could have better form.  I need to work on that tomorrow.  Tomorrow will be a lighter day.

For some reason, I've been heavier.  144 lbs even after workout.  It's not bad, same weight that I've run my best times.

Friday, August 4, 2017

light conditioning

Was going to do short stuff today but there was football again in Sewanee so I went to SAS. When I got to SAS, a storm was about to hit.  Thinking the storm would chase away the football players, I headed back to Sewanee, after warming up.  The football teams were gone but by the time the rain stopped, there was very little daylight left.   So instead of dragging out the blocks, I did a brief conditioning workout and called it a day.
Hoka trainers on 
400m warmup, stretches, drills 
3 x 200m w/ 1 min rest - 28, 28.5, 29.5
I felt ok, I got some work in by the 3rd 200m and left the workout for the first time in a while not feeling like I tortured myself.  I guess that's good for this time of taper.

One unfortunate thing is that my trusty Gymboss interval timer is beginning to fail.  It doesn't beep loud enough to hear it so I have to put it in vibrate mode, and the clock itself sometimes gets stuck.  Funny that after 5 yrs and 5 Nat'l Titles, this essential little device is dying just a few days before season's end when I need it.  I can't overstate how important this piece of equipment is to me.  I've halted my workouts to go and get a fresh battery when it has died.  It is vital to my training.  I ordered another but won't receive it til late Monday.  I even thought about driving an hour each way to buy one but this one will do for 2 days.  I do want to run at least one more 300m event run in the next few days.

NCCWMA Championships
Not happy to see the 400m Final in Toronto is just 80 min before the 200m semi.  The M55 200m field looks like it could be the fastest in many years with an entire heat of 8 capable of running under 25.   (Compare with this year's European Champion who ran 25.10). Several present and former World Champions represented: Don, Alan, Jim, Rob, Val, myself have all won World titles, and then some really fast guys from the Caribbean and Canada: Jamaica, Trinidad: Ray, Martin, and Michael.   That's NINE guys that might run under 25.   It's crazy - (Consider I won Bronze in Lyon with a 25.08).     This semi totally favors the 100/200 guys who had their 100m Final 5 hrs before.  It should not have been scheduled like this.  They could have put the hurdles in between.  Out of us 9, I think only me and Jim are running the 400m.  It's going to be tough to make the final.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Alternate track

I was looking forward to this workout but when I arrived at the track, there was a football scrimmage going on so I had to go to the SAS high school track, a very hard worn tartan track, not particularly fast and hard on the feet.  Just a thin cracked red layer over blacktop.  

I was looking forward to NOT running a rippin' 500m to start.  I thought I could maybe run a PR 350m, which would seem a lot less taxing than a 500m.  I need to taper but need to practice splits.  I was shooting for a 47 350m, which would definitely be 55 pace, but no, 48 is what I ran.

Hoka trainers on  
400m warmup, stretches, drills 
2 x 50m striders 
Puma spikes on 
3 x starts from blocks 
350m - 48.2  (13, 26.2, 40.4, 7.8) 
more starts 
100m from blocks - 13 
200m from blocks - 25.8 / 45 sec rest / 100m - 14.8

I was still feeling a little soreness from previous workouts this week in the lower quads.  I think I need to work on my form and short game, as well as my splits.  I was a bit tight tonight, need to combine an aggressive start with total relaxation while pushing the pace to the max.  My starts were a bit inconsistent.  May try another 300 or 350 on Sat, hopefully back on the Sewanee track.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

spikin' up for speed

Perfect mid 70ºs and cloudy in Sewanee at sunset, calm winds.  I've reached out to some wise elders in the masters track world and am convinced that I need to start tapering now.  George H. suggested to cease the heavy weight workouts and hill sprints.  I need to go now for more specificity, technique, and race modeling.  I can say that I'm in much better shape now than at Nationals.

I put the spikes on and went for it today, doing the same workout I've been doing but taking it up a notch.
Hoka trainer on 
400m warmup, stretches, drills 
2 x 50m striders 
500m - 73.2  (56.8, 16.4) 
'split 500' - 300m - 41 / rest 1 min / 100m - 14.3 / rest one min / 100m  - 14.2 
Hoka trainers on 
2 x 80m strides
It was the fastest 500m I've run in training.  (As usual, I measured the stagger with my measuring wheel so I could run it all in lane 6, starting about 30m ahead of the 100m start on the straight).   I was nervous before I started, thinking it would really hurt if I hit the 400m mark sub 57, and yes, the last 100m was tough but it didn't kill me.  Felt OK.  I set my goal splits for the first 400m at 13, 14,14,15 or 13, 27, 41, 56.  Was running a bit ahead at 200, right on at 300, and a tad behind at 400m as the 4th 100m was run on the turn.  The last 100m I did ok bringing it home in just over 16.  The first 400m was comparable to the 400m I ran at Nationals.

 After that, I thought about just running a smooth 200m, but no... I did the 'split 500' (300+100+100 w/1m rest).    It was a killer as usual.  I thought, 'one more hard one for Toronto.'  I'm tempted to go back out tomorrow but I think I'll just swim and some light cross training, maybe some resistance bands.

I definitely think I've done the work this time and if I can't run sub 56 now, shoot me... I'll probably never do it.  I feel like I'm in the best shape since Daegu, maybe better.  Now just have to maintain, stay healthy, and sharpen.

After my 500...