Monday, March 29, 2010

training 3/29-4/4

3/29- Lakeshore 8 in 57:35 (7:12 pace). I can't believe how well I ran today. I felt like I could have gone all day. 1st half was 29:30, 2nd half was an awesome 28:05 with a final .25 (with no rest) in 79.9 (5:19 pace). Miles 5-7 were all 7:11-7:12. That's BQ pace and I barely put forth any effort. I've got a shot at a PR in Nashville.
Grade:A/2 credits/distance=8.0

3/30- I felt well enough to run today but took an elective rest day. Good call. I felt sleepy by 10 PM and needed almost 9 hours. No weird dreams this time. I expect to be ready for a hard and hilly 8+ tomorrow.

3/31- Outstanding Trak Shak run with Preston. First time in a while that we've run together it is was one of our best. New course PR of 58:54 on a route measured at 8.16 miles. My 59:50 was run on an 8.00 course so that's the equivalent of a 2 minute course PR. Average pace was 7:13 with amazingly even splits considering the hilly route. All 8 miles were below 7:30. 7 out of 8 were between 7:06-7:18.
Grade:A/2 credits/distance=8.5

4/1- Glad the 1st quarter of the year is over. It wasn't very good overall. Today was decent considering that I wasn't fresh. Vestavia 5 in 38:37 (7:44 pace) followed by a rest then brief interval work. 400 in 72.0, 200 in 35.1, 200 in 32.2. Best time of the year for 400. I don't think I could have done much better than 65 fresh so I've got a ways to go to get that 59.9. First taste of sprint work sure felt good. I always get my best runner's highs after intense speed sessions.
Grade:B+/1 credit/distance=6.0

4/2- Basically a carbon copy of yesterday's run except it was shorter because I intended it to be very easy, ran the first mile too fast and could not slow down. I ended up quitting after 4 in 30:48 (7:42 pace) then did an easy cool down. No sprints today because I'm going long tomorrow. This is not an A because I ran it too fast.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=4.5

4/3- Good long run. Started with Scott then continued alone. Christian Runner's loop followed by the Trak Shak 3 then an extension through Mountain Brook. Fairly even pace, finished at 1:57:45 for 15 miles (7:51 pace). That's just about on target. I was working hard at the end but wasn't totally spent. Short cool down. Much of the last half was run in a gentle rain, which didn't affect me during but caused some chill after I finished. Solid but not outstanding.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=15.5

4/4- Trak Shak 7.5 in 59:56 (7:59 pace). Struggled through this one. Faded badly in the second half and had some stomach trouble along with a feeling of being "beat up." Had to hustle at the end to secure a sub-8 overall pace.
Grade:C/1 credit/distance=7.5

Weekly summary:
Very good week overall. I need to slow down on my easy days if I am to maintain this mileage. Again, I hit 50 miles on the nose with every run averaging less than 8:00 pace. I want to start introducing some intervals now and hope to push the next 2 weeks hard then give myself a generous taper before Nashville.
Distance=50.0/ GPA= 30.9/9= 3.43

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

training 3/22-3/28

3/22- Nasty weather. 45 degrees and rain so I did my 3 mile recovery jog on the 'mill. I got about what I expected the day after a hard race.
Grade:B-/1 credit/distance=3.0

3/23- Took some manganese and felt overstimulated again. I'm actually pleased that it happened. Based on my test results, that was what was supposed to happen. I'll see how I do on 1/2 of manganese and if that's too much, I can get by on maybe 1-2 per week. Today's workout was an all out 2 Mile at Veteran's Park and I was out of breath almost immediately and managed to finish in 14:44 (7:22 pace) with splits of 4:46-4:56-5:02.
Grade:D/1 credit/distance=2.5

3/24- Trak Shak 6.5 @ 7:03 pace. One tick faster per mile than last week. Still a bit stiff. Stuck with the fast group for about 2 miles and faded a bit at the end. Still managed a new best of the year at 5M (34:54) and 10K (43:48). Less taurine and less manganese from now on. Finished with a 1 mile cool down.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=7.5

3/25- Interesting day. I started my run on Lakeshore and 1 mile into it, the skies began to open up so I turned around and ran a quick 6:40 2nd mile in the driving rain wearing nothing but a tank top and shorts. I went back to the car to wait it out then ran an easy 5 in 37:55 (7:35 pace) with light effort. It wasn't effortless but I still felt good. No chromium or manganese and plenty of taurine was a winning formula today.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=7.0

3/26- Took the day off work today. I would only have worked a half day anyway because of my trip home. AM run- Trak Shak 13 loop followed by an extra mile. Time was 1:47:45 (7:42 pace). That's a little fast for a training run and I would get yelled at big time if I revealed that on RWOL but my base is still on the low side so I can handle it. Tied up a bit in the last 4 but managed to hold on. First run longer than 13.1 since January and good preparation for Nashville. All 14 miles were sub-8 and only the 2nd (mostly downhill) was sub-7:30. 1st half was 53:32, 2nd half was 54:13. That's only 6 seconds per mile of difference. Good job today. Just barely missed an A-.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=14.0

3/27- Body is tired from yesterday's effort and a long trip but it did cooperate. Easy 5 on Jefferson trail in 38:48 (7:46 pace). I could not find an even pace for some reason. It was either 7:30 or 8:30. Decent overall. If I can squeeze a run in tomorrow, I will hit my highest mileage since January.
Grade:B-/1 credit/distance=5.0

3/28- AM-Easy 3 progression style on Jefferson/Peters trail. Overall pace was 7:15 (7:30-7:20-6:55) with the last .25 at sub-6 pace. Forced to split up the run today because of time constraints.
PM- Easy 3 on the 'mill @ 8:11 pace with no effort. Body is tired from the travel but when called upon to perform, it was up to the task. That's a good sign. Overall day was 6 averaging 7:43.
Grade:B/1 credit/distance=6.0

Weekly summary:
Ran all 7 days and I am feeling it. My next rest day will probably be Tuesday. That's a good number on the weekly mileage despite the travel days. 6 out of 7 days were sub-8 pace. I feel like I am regaining some of my Baton Rouge level fitness and might have a shot at a PR in Nashville. 3 good weeks of training until race day.
Distance= 45.0/ GPA= 26.3/9= 2.92

Monday, March 22, 2010

Medical report

About 2 weeks ago, I began to experience a bit of fatigue but fortunately, I at least knew what to do to cover up the symptoms (I did not solve the real problem). I stopped the taurine and eventually cut out the Lithium/SBF because it made me feel sluggish. I also added chromium, which helped but it was unusual that I needed so much to get the desired effect and it made me feel uneasy. I tried neurotransmitter support briefly but it just made me feel overstimulated and confirmed that I no longer need that stuff. I had 2 consecutive normal neurotransmitter tests in 2009 so I declare victory on that front! I was hoping to see a significant improvement in my thyroid/adrenal hyperfunction and I had good reason to be optimistic. My weight was consistently over 150 and my once ravenous appetite had diminished. My training was still sub-par but that was because I was out of shape after the Achilles tendon injury.
The result:
It would be like seeing a jobs report with a net gain of 10,000 when you were expecting/hoping for at least 50,000. You can take some solace in the fact that things are improving albeit at a frsutratingly slow pace. Investors would not be thrilled with such a jobs report and that's how I feel about it.
-Once again, there is no trace of adrenal fatigue. Just like last test, that number was right where it should be, near the middle of the normal range.
-Blood sugar is still within the normal range but is now near the edge of it. Not a big concern yet but if current trends continue, it could become a problem in the future.
-Thyroid hyperfunction improved marginally from 2.4 times faster than ideal to merely 2.1 times faster. I don't expect it to be perfect but anything above 1.5 times faster than ideal will result in sub-optimal function.
Now to the biggest concern: Adrenal hyperfunction. Although related, this refers to something different than the adrenal fatigue number. The ideal value is 4.17 but for athletes, it is better to be a little high than low. Figure that I will feel my best around 5.00. What was my result? 15.00, a full three times faster than ideal. Ouch!
This number had been below 2.00 (less than half of ideal) when I had adrenal fatigue. Once I broke through that barrier, the adrenals shifted into overdrive. My doctor said that this is common but I feel like I've done just about everything that I can to slow them down again. Just like my thyroid, I can take solace in the fact that this number has improved. Last summer, it was 17.78 then it dropped to 17.00 in December and it now stands at 15.00. The trend is my friend. Still, in my current condition, my dream of a Boston qualifier is impossible. If I train at 60 MPW, I will probably end up hurt again and even if I stay healthy, I don't know that any mileage will get me to 3:10. To even have a chance, this number should be in the 8-10 range and the thyroid should be no faster than 1.5 times over ideal so I've got a ways to go.
To complicate things, I am deficient in manganese, which was the cause of my recent fatigue, and supplementing with it stimulates the adrenals even more. When I take the manganese, the sluggish feeling goes away and I feel as hyperthyroid/hyperadrenal as I really am. Hopefully, I can get by with very little manganese and I need little-no chromium now (that number improved, surprisingly) and just take a ton of Lithium/SBF and/or add some choline and inositol.
All things considered, I'd say that I did quite well in Atlanta but I'm sick of saying "all things considered." I want to be in balance NOW. Yes, I still believe that to be possible. Nothing is impossible with God.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

ING GA Half report

(Check back in a few days for pics)
-2010 debut that was supposed to happen 2 months ago. As my readers know, I was pretty much laid up for 5 weeks with an Achilles tendon injury and had just started back with training 3 weeks ago after a successful prolotherapy treatment. I had done no interval work, no runs longer than 13 miles and no more than 40 miles in a week since January. I had done a few quality tempo runs and based on those results, I figured that I was in shape to run about a 1:35-1:36 on a level course. An Atlanta course would be 2-3 minutes slower because of the hills so anything under 1:40 would have been acceptable but on one level I was pleased just to be able to participate. In my case, training is indeed somewhat overrated. As long as I am relatively healthy, I am talented enough to turn in a decent time in races 13.1 or shorter even if I am a little out of shape. On the other hand, if I am far out of balance and my adrenal symptoms flare up, there's no way I could finish even if I had a 60 MPW base.

Fairly smooth trip. I arrived around lunchtime Saturday. I would be staying with my best friend Nick from Clemson. We had done two local 5Ks together but never a big time race so I was excited. We did some carb loading at Mellow Mushroom then headed down to the expo at the Georgia Dome. I would buy some Sport Beans and a Christian Runners singlet then we had dinner at Longhorn's Steakhouse (18 oz. Ribeye). The next morning, we got off to a bit of a late start and opted for MARTA rather than chance it with parking and potential traffic congestion. We did not arrive until about 15 minutes before the start so after a hasty warm up, we said our "good luck" and headed to the starting line with it still dark outside at 7 AM.

This was the toughest course of my 6 half marathons. I would describe it as relentlessly rolling. There were some short and fairly steep hills and some long gradual ones. Flat stretches were few and far between. Fortunately, we usually had some nice downhill after the climbs but you can only expect to gain back about half the lost time on the downhills as you lose on the uphill. Difficulty rating was 7 out of 10 and yes, I have raced harder courses at shorter distances. With about 16,000 participating, it was sure to be a bit crowded at the start. Fortunately, I was able to find some open space fairly quickly and actually overcompensated for my slow start. The first mile was mostly downhill so it is not surprising that it was my fastest of the race. In a good race, the first 3-4 miles feel easy then it's comfortably hard until about Mile 10 followed by survival mode the last 5K. I was a tad stiff early but overall, I felt pretty good and can usually tell very early whether it will be a great race, a decent race or an awful race. Today was no worse than "decent." The only problem was mild stomach discomfort but I was confident that it would not get any worse. The plan was to keep the effort even and try to remain fairly comfortable for as long as possible for I knew that the last few miles would be tough. After a mostly downhill first mile, the next 2 had ups and downs and I kept the pace sensible but Mile 4 would be about 75% uphill. My pace slipped a bit but I still felt pretty good.
Early splits: Garmin measured 2-4 at 1.02
6:57 (6:57)
7:14 (14:11)
7:19 (21:30)
7:30 (29:00)
A 7:15 pace through the first 4 and I was pleased. I knew my PR of 1:32:57 would not happen today but I was on pace for a 1:35, which would be halfway to a BQ.

Finally, the course leveled off briefly then went downhill for a short time. We would hit a nasty uphill at the end of the 7th mile (after a nice downhill) at which time, the marathoners and halfers would split up. By this point, even if my pace slipped to 8:00, I would still finish under 1:40. I was roughly 47:20 at the halfway point. After the "summit," the next 2-2.5 would be mostly a gradual steady decline and my pace remained fairly even and the effort was still fairly comfortable. All of these miles were measured at 1.00
7:21 (36:21)
7:18 (43:39)
7:24 (51:03)
7:17 (58:20)
7:23 (65:43)
Survival mode:
We turned into Piedmont Park shortly after 9 miles and I suddenly felt my legs go dead. It is unusual that I lose so much energy so suddenly and it sure didn't help that there was a nasty hill just before the end of Mile 10. I was afraid that I was cooked. I took a couple of Sport beans, which seemed to put a little spring back in my step. The course went back downhill in Mile 11 so with 2 miles to go, it started looking better. I took a couple more beans and that proved to be a bad call. Maybe extra chromium may have been a better choice. As it was, my upset stomach got much worse and it got so bad that I actually had to stop for about 20-25 seconds. Thankfully, most of the discomfort passed and I continued uphill toward the finish line. With one mile to go, my legs were dead and I could not dig deep because I literally was afraid of what would come up if I dug too deep. I had zero finishing kick and my last mile would be my slowest. I jogged across the line dead tired in an official chip time of 1:38:18 (7:30 pace overall). My moving time, not including the pit stop was around 1:37:55 and could have been a little better if I was able to dig at the end. AG: 60/676=91st percentile
7:54 (73:37)
7:42 (81:19) downhill
7:40 (88:59) short 0.97, excludes pit stop.
8:56 (1:37:55) final 1.13 (7:56 pace)
Final thought:
I got just about what I expected out of myself today. My grade is a solid B. Figure that if you throw out the pit stop, I was 5 minutes away from a PR on a course that is about 2 minutes slower. That's not bad at all. I should do better next month in Nashville.
A bit of an adventure here. Nick didn't quite PR but still ran a good race. We could not find each other in the big crowd. The temp was dropping and the wind was picking up. Rain was on the way so I went back to MARTA and fortunately, I remembered where we parked and when Nick showed up 20 minutes later, he was quite relieved to see me. After lunch, I headed back to the 'Ham in the pouring rain. I arrived safely at home and signed up for the Peachtree 10K just before it sold out.

Monday, March 15, 2010

training 3/15-3/21 race week

3/15- Trak Shak 3.1 in 20:47 (6:41 pace) plus cool down. Best time of the year. I did have to stop at a red light for over a minute but I still would have broken 21 without the stop. On one level, I am pleased with this run because it was only 1 day after a quality long run. On another level, I still felt sluggish and simply "just not right." I hope I can turn the corner soon. Race day is just 6 days away. Even pace but zero finishing kick. Splits: 6:41-6:47-6:38-42. I am satisfied with my time but not pleased with how I felt. I drank a recovery drink last night with just a little taurine and I didn't feel well at all in the morning. I may try some neurotransmitter support but will not do anything new or stupid on race morning.
Grade:B-/2 credits/distance=4.0

3/16- This is a scheduled easy day and it is now a rest day. I tried some tyrosine with vitamin C and had a negative reaction within 2 hours. The good news is that it means that my body is producing enough adrenaline without it and too much with it. I have now narrowed the cause of my mild fatigue down to one and it has got to be excess glycine. I felt great last Wednesday at the Trak Shak and it may have been because I forgot to take it the night before. Taurine also increases glycine so that's probably why I can't tolerate that stuff at all. Of course, stopping it now could throw the rest of my formula out of whack and I have a race to run in 5 days. I could turn the corner or be a disaster. I wouldn't have it any other way. As for today, I know that I will suck big time so rather than take a D or an F in an easy run, I'll rest completely and let tomorrow be quality.

3/17- Trak Shak 6.5 @ 7:04 pace. New course PR. No glycine and that made a big difference. This course has 4 absolutely nasty hills so this run was far superior to my Lakeshore 5 @ 7:09. Best time of the year for 5M (35:04) and 10K (43:56) but the most important thing was that I felt like myself today. I'd say this translates to about a 34:30 (6:54) on a Lakeshore 5. I can't predict what will happen if I stay off the glycine permanently. Do I need to cut it out or merely reduce it? Strong performance. A sub-7 would have been a solid A.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=6.5

3/18- Last quality run until race day. Hoover 4.5 @ 7:12 pace, water stop followed by a 400 sprint in 76 seconds (best time of the year) then a cool down. Pretty even pace (7:08-7:16) Decent performance. Medical report showed modest improvement (ugh) but at least it was a bit better than 3 months ago. I think that I would run about 1:36 on the Baton Rouge course and Atlanta is at least 2 minutes slower. I'll be happy with anything under 1:40. Excess glycine was the cause of my fatigue and I remain unsure of what to do about it. No more experimentation until after race day.
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=5.5

3/19- 3 mile recovery jog in 23:57 (7:59 pace). That's right. A recovery jog at less than 8:00 pace. I actually tried to slow down but I was in rhythm and could not. That means that I can really jack up the mileage in April. Maybe back to the 50 range but not 60. I took 1 glycine and felt a bit sluggish almost immediately. Hopefully I can wean off the chromium and stay on the SBF/Lithium and maybe add some choline/inositol. I was a bit stiff and the grade is based on how I felt, which was average. This run will probably make little difference but it does add 3 to my weekly total.
Grade:B-/1 credit/distance=3.0

3/20- Drive to Atlanta. Rest day.

3/21- ING Georgia half marathon in 1:38:18
Grade:B/4 credits/distance=14.0
HM grading scale: 1:30:00 is set at 100 with 2 points off for each minute after that so:
A:1:30-1:34/B:1:35-1:39/C:1:40-1:44/D:1:45 or worse/F: only DNFs

Weekly summary:
High quality but low mileage. Every single mile was under 8. Pretty good race week overall. Nothing spectacular but nothing less than B- either and I like the consistency.
Distance=33.0/GPA= 33.5/11=3.05

Monday, March 8, 2010

training 3/8-3/14

3/8- Lakeshore run with Jason progression style. Overall time of 76:55 (7:42 pace). 1st half in 39:01 (7:48), 2nd half in 37:54 (7:35). Needed chromium again. AAARRRGG! It won't be long until this stops working and I'll need taurine again. AAAARRRRGGG! If ING were held today, I would have had a decent showing. Solid performance and an improvement over yesterday. I wanted a long one today because the weather looks iffy later in the week and I'll be in Nashville on Friday and may be hurting a bit after the prolotherapy.
Grade:B+/2 credits/distance=10.0

3/9- Johnny's speed was rained out so I opted for an easy 3 on the 'mill in 24:30 (8:10 average pace). My knee was killing me during the day but no worse on the run. I'm not worried too much. The pain stems from tight groin and hamstring muscles and I've had it before. If I ever get my body chemistry in balance, it won't be an issue.
Grade:C-/1 credit/distance=3.0

3/10- Trak Shak 5 in the rain. Garmin died in Mile 2 but the first mile was 7:28 and I ran an even effort throughout. This was nearly effortless and it was the best I have felt since the injury. Tomorrow will be a long tempo then I have 1-2 days off. I hope that I can bounce back quickly from prolotherapy. I leave for Nashville after my workout so there will be no posts until this weekend.
Grade:A-/1 credit/distance=5.0

3/11- Lakeshore 5 in 35:44 (7:09 average pace and kept it pretty even). I bailed on the 6.5 and stopped for too long at the water stop. Felt a bit sluggish after taking the 2nd SBF. Can I cut that stuff out altogether? Best time of the year. Nearly an all out effort but I only managed tempo pace. My appetite has diminished considerably recently. I used to eat half a large pizza in one sitting. Now, I felt fine after just 2 pieces. I find it hard to believe that my thyroid/adrenals have reversed themselves to under-activity but my symptoms are consistent with this. I'll get some answers on the medical report. Drove up to Nashville that evening.
Grade:B-/2 credits/distance=5.0

3/12- Round 2 of prolotherapy. As much fun as it was to be examined for trigger points and being stuck with a large needle, I would prefer not to do it again unless it is clearly necessary to do so. The good news is that Dr. Johnson says that I may not need another treatment. My testosterone level is RIGHT WHERE IT SHOULD BE! YES!! I suppose that since I'm still young, it came back nicely. If I had developed adrenal fatigue in my 40s, it is harder to regain lost testosterone. Unfortunately, downtown was jammed because of the SEC basketball tournament so I couldn't go to the Wild Horse. I went to Opryland Mall instead then headed home before rush hour. Planned rest day.

3/13- Pretty strong inflammatory reaction. It is just beginning to diminish so I waited until the evening and ran an easy 3 progression style on the mill. Overall time was 24:42 (8:14 pace) after a 9:00 first mile. 51 degrees with wind and rain. Normal high is 66 here. Hopefully, I can do my LR tomorrow.
Grade:C/1 credit/distance=3.0

3/14- Hip soreness not completely gone and may remain for up to 5 days. I wound up at 13.1 in 1:42:56 (7:51 pace) plus a glacial warmdown. I was hoping to hit 15 but felt that the hip soreness was slowing me down towards the end. 12 of 13 miles were sub-8. Weather: 52 degrees with wind and drizzle. "It's raw, man!" Satisfactory workout. I'll do okay in Atlanta but won't come close to a PR. 1:40 could be a stretch on that course but I'll take a sub-1:45 and I should be able to do that especially if my hip/groin is pain free. Nashville next month should be better (1:35 range). Hopefully, this bad weather will clear out of here and next weekend will be nice.
Grade:B-/2 credits/distance=14.0

Weekly summary:
No real complaints about this week. Averaged a sub-8 over 40 miles. Not my best but far from my worst. I hit the mileage target despite cutting 2 workouts short. My body is acting weird but that's nothing new. I got about what I expected out of myself overall.
Distance=40.0/ GPA= 24.8/9=2.76

Registration for races that sell out

On March 21st at noon, online registration opens for the Peachtree 10K, which takes place on the 4th of July in Atlanta. Appropriately, I will be in Atlanta that day for the ING Georgia half marathon and can stop back at my buddy Nick’s place and sign up as soon as it opens. It may be necessary to do so because the race could be sold out within a few hours. Even in this economy, it seems that more and more big time races are reaching full capacity sooner and sooner. Some people see this as a problem and have proposed a variety of solutions. A few races have raised the entry fees, which has had little impact. Despite the availability of substitutes, the elasticity of demand seems to be very low for any big time race such as Peachtree, Cherry Blossom, NYC marathon etc. On the other hand, I’m sure that if a local 5K charged a $50 entry fee, its registration would plummet. Currently, there are 3 approaches to handling sell out races: 1) first come-first serve, 2) random lottery or 3) difficult qualifying standards. First come-first serve is the most common solution and I suppose that the rationale is that the race will accept those whose desire for entry is the greatest. I see this as a problem. Some races such as Houston and Chicago open registration more than 6 months in advance and both sell out within weeks so if you are banged up or do not wish to make definitive plans that far in advance, too bad. Peachtree, Cherry Blossom and the Boston half all sell out on the day registration opens and it may not be long before the sellout occurs in terms of minutes rather than hours. If for some reason you do not have internet access at that time, too bad.

 To avoid this problem, a few marathons such as St. George have a lottery system in which registration is open for a set period of time and all have an equal chance of selection regardless of the day they applied. In most cases, if you are denied entry, 2 or 3 years in a row, you are guaranteed entry the next year. I dislike both solutions for one key reason. I would hate to tell an elite runner who runs a 30 minute 10K that he cannot run because a walker who is pushing a baby stroller wants to participate as well and either signed up earlier or was chosen in the lottery. Then, of course, there is the Boston marathon with a qualifying standard that is unattainable for the majority of runners. Even though I may not be capable of reaching those standards, I am okay with them just for that one race because they add to its prestige and mystique. Still, that said, I would be opposed to the idea of every big race imposing a similarly difficult standard such as a 40:00 10K for Peachtree and with the way registration has been increasing, even that may not be tough enough to prevent a sellout before race day. So, what is the best solution? Leave that to me.

 My proposal is to impose relatively soft standard that will allow more serious and semi-serious runners in at the expense of walkers who may not exercise the other 364 days of the year. For those under 40, I’d set the men’s standard at 55:00 for 10K and 2:05 for the half marathon and the women’s at 60:00/2:15 with more time given for older athletes. I am of the opinion that barring obesity and serious medical problems, those standards should be attainable with 1-2 years of training at about 15-20 miles per week for a runner with average natural ability. Moreover, such a standard would give less talented runners a real goal and reason to feel proud when it is achieved. No, it probably would not prevent a race from selling out before race day but it would at least slow the process and in my view increase the quality of the event by focusing solely on runners rather than walkers. Still, as I have written before, I have tremendous respect for runners who get out there and train on a regular basis despite having little-no talent for the sport. I realize all too well that the standards that I proposed would be unattainable for those built like an NFL linemen and some have argued that it is not right to exclude them by imposing any kind of standard. That’s certainly a valid point but consider what would happen if well respected universities decided to scrap their standards of admission and simply let anyone in on either a first come first serve or lottery system. How about this for a compromise: Set up a tiered lottery system in which faster runners are given a greater chance of entry but does not exclude anyone because of slower qualifying times. You could also set it up to favor those who registered sooner rather than later. Thus, above-average runners have a good chance of getting in and less talented runners are not completely shut out. In conclusion, you can make valid arguments that there is no completely fair solution but I feel that the process certainly needs much improvement. Feel free to agree of disagree.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spring Training (baseball that is)

Football season is over and baseball doesn't start for another month. I don't follow basketball or hockey at all so this time is year is pretty barren except that it is the heart of racing season in the South. I used to be a pretty big baseball fan growing up but I don't follow it nearly as closely now. If the Braves are on TV or there is a good game on ESPN, I might watch some of it if I don't have anything better to do but I certainly won't plan my day around it. Like many fans, I was turned off by the Strike, the steroid scandal and the economics. Year after year, it seems that we see the same teams contending for the playoffs and the same teams as losers. Small market teams like Florida and Minnesota have been competitive in recent years but they are the exception and had plenty of leans years before that. The Yankees spent over $200 million on payroll, much of it on high priced veteran free agents while several teams spent less than $50 million. Yes, revenue sharing is a step in the right direction but I am of the opinion that we need a salary cap. It is a bit of a vicious circle too. A player who is among the best at his position may have a choice to play for a perennial contender such as New York, Boston or St. Louis in front of a packed house every night. He won't want to play in Pittsburgh or Washington for a team almost guaranteed to lose 90+ every year so these teams must overpay for mid-level free agents and hope that they pan out. Of course, there is the option of building through the draft but even that can be prohibitively expensive. A small market team may not want to pay a $10 million signing bonus to a player who won't see any major league action for 2-3 years. If he gets hurt or doesn't pan out, too bad. True, NFL players pay even more for their first round picks but in most cases, the pick will be an impact player in his rookie year. A typical scenario may involve a star rookie might coming up around 23 years of age then just as he is entering his peak, he will be eligible for free agency and is often traded before such time for a package of prospects, some of which turn out to be scrubs. That's why it's so hard to turn a bad baseball team around. Still, that said, I favor a fairly high cap on a team's payroll and do not favor a floor. I could see Pittsburgh overpaying veteran scrubs just to meet the minimum payroll and end up worse. In any business, if you produce a better product, revenues will grow in the form of increased tickets sales and new sponsors. A well managed small market team can be competitive for several years before having to rebuild and if everything falls into place, the playoffs are not out of the question. The new steroid policy is an improvement over the previous one but is still too soft. I can imagine a player taking a tainted supplement or even the very rare false positive test which is why I do not favor a ban longer than 80 games for a first offense (it's currently 50 for a 1st offense). A second offense carries a 100 game ban, which is far too soft.
I propose the following:
-$120 M cap on payroll (I think only 2-3 teams exceeded this last year)
- give teams the option of voiding the remaining contract of players caught using steroids.
-Impose a 2 year or lifetime ban for a 2nd offense.
As for the Hall of Fame, I strongly oppose the candidacies of McGwire, Sosa, Clemens, Bonds and Palmeiro. As for players who probably have used such as Piazza and I-Rod, innocent until proven guilty.
To make the HOF, you need to be either dominant (MVP-type) for 8-10 years before tailing off or be "very good" for 15-20 but never among the best. If you are a .285 hitter and manage to compile say 2800 hits and 400 HRs but never hit much higher than .300 but stay consistent, you should be rewarded for that but it seems voters are not as impressed.
As for the playoff system, I was and still am a proponent of the Wild Card. Prior to '94, if one division was up and the other down, a 100 win team could finish 2nd and be shut out while an 85 win team wins a weak division and is just 2 series wins away from a championship. I propose the following reforms:
-Give home field advantage to the team with the best regular season record, not the league that won the All-Star game (I should get agreement there.)
-Set the minimum standard for qualifying for the playoffs at 86-76. If the division winner doesn't make it, it goes to the team next in line for the wild card if their record is better. Goofy, I know but hear me out. It's conceivable that we could see a sub .500 playoff team. It would have happened in '94 if not for the strike. San Diego got in a few years ago at 82-80 while a 90 win team got shut out. St. Louis won the series despite going just 83-79 on the season. If only 3 one run victories had gone the other way, we would have seen a World Series champion with a sub .500 record. You can bet there would be calls for reform if that happened.
This will be my last sports post until the NFL draft.

Monday, March 1, 2010

training 3/1-3/7

3/1- Lakeshore 5 in 36:12 (7:15 pace). This was probably my best workout since the injury. Very even splits: 7:17-7:15-7:14-7:19-7:07. Put forth tempo effort and finished less than 3 minutes from a PR. Took no taurine during the day and was still hurting a little since yesterday's 1000 dosage. I'll be a little lenient with the grade. This would have been a low 35 in a race. I finished just seconds before the rain started. Yes.
Grade:B/2 credits/distance=5.0

3/2- Planned rest day. Forecast high of 39 degrees. When will this winter end?

3/3- Trak Shak 8 in 59:50 (7:29 pace). New course PR. This is the first time that I have broken 60 on this course. Yes! I know that I would not have broken 60 without the water stop but it still counts. Can I run with the fast group this summer? Temp about 40 with a 15 mph wind. The normal high in Birmingham this time of year is in the low 60s. In any event, Crazy J is back.
Grade:A-/2 credits/distance=8.0

3/4- Veteran's Park 4. Untimed at an easy effort. Felt pretty good during the day and about average during the run. My knee was a tad sore but I'm not worried. I have a day off tomorrow. The temp made it up to 50 today, which is still chilly for March but an improvement. I can't remember a winter in which we had so many days 10-15 degrees below average.
Grade:B-/1 credit/distance=4.0

3/5-Planned rest day. Planned for my first double digit run in almost 2 months tomorrow.

3/6- Planned a progression run but ended up running a steady pace throughout. After a slowish 8:22 first mile, the rest were all between 7:48-8:06. Finished the run in 95:42 (7:59 pace) which was about what I was hoping for. My only gripe was that when I tried to pick it up in the last mile, I had nothing left and was struggling just to maintain my average pace. I've got 2 weeks until Atlanta and I need to improve my fitness if I want a decent showing there. Longest run since the injury by a full 4 miles so I can't be too hard on myself. 1 mile cool down which left me even more beat up.
Grade:B-/2 credits/distance=13.0

3/7- Already hit my ceiling in terms of mileage. I doubt that I would have had much the day after the long run. Before I got hurt, I could do 10 milers the day after a 15.

Weekly summary:
I am clearly progressing but still don't feel as well as I did in December. I am off the taurine which is good. I ran the planned mileage on only 4 runs and survived the long run. I sent in my medical report but probably won't get the results until after Atlanta. The goal there is around 1:40 (7:37 pace on a tough course) and I am clearly not there yet. Next week is round 2 of prolotherapy so I may be hard pressed to get more miles next week.
Distance=30.0/GPA= 3.07