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If you do call yourself a runner, can you handle the truth?
All-Comers Meets

T-Bone aka Tommy

Race Report: T-Bone Breakthrough

"The mile has a classic symmetry. It's a play in four acts." - John Landy

Tommy had his eyes set on a sub-five mile starting about midway through his fortieth year. Salivation was sufficiently induced on his birthday, when he ran a 5:06…not bad for January. He planned on making a more serious attempt during this summer's All Comers meets.

A week before the first meet, he did a dry run in 5:13. In his first meet, he ran a 5:06. His second meet, a 5:03 and won his race, despite some traffic which cost him some time. I planned on hooking up with him on July 27 to witness his next attempt…no better way than to run it with him.

We jogged over to the track talked about our pacing strategy. He was running his first lap a bit too fast which was costing him on lap 3. I had him do some 200's with me in our warm up to get him a sense of what a 74 second opening lap should feel like. He looked real good. I felt good too, which helps a lot if I was going to be any good to him at all. The last thing I wanted to do was die on the second lap and not be there for him on lap three. In his other attempts, he had not been under 3:50 after the 1200, and that was leaving him virtually no room on the last lap, even as strong as he is.

We were as loose as we could expect at the start of a race (which never is the case for me). There was a throng of runners (about 30-40 I would guess) toeing it up. When the gun sounded, Tommy grabbed lane one as he always does…the one good thing about his patented jackrabbit starts. He pushed hard through the first turn and already was about 5 yards ahead of me. He eased up on the back stretch and I pulled up on his shoulder at the 200 mark, glancing at my watch: 37 seconds. I said "good job, Tommy" and stayed on him through the second turn and on the home stretch of lap one. We came across in 74 seconds. Perfect.

We were still running 1-2 through the third turn and I then heard a couple of runners coming up. Sounded like about three of them. I didn't know where Tommy was and hoped he was right there. He was. We came across lap two at 2:29 and 2:31 respectively. Right on the button. I then started my third lap push, trying to get a sense of digging through turn five. On the back stretch, this kid came ripping by. I said to myself…shame on you, son for letting such an old man do all the work…It was a real motivator to keep me pushing. I felt good as could be expected, but was starting to fatigue going into turn six.

I came across lap three in about 3:44. I could hear someone churning behind me and I hoped it was Tommy. Later,

I found out it was and he came across in 3:47. Perfect. I also found out later his gentleman running cost him a couple of steps yielding lane one to a couple of dudes, who then proceeded to slow down in front of him. We'll work on that later. I then shifted my attention to the dude in front of me and launched a covert attempt to try to reel him in through shear hate. I was hoping Tommy was feeling the same hate toward me. If he did, he would have no problem taking it to the house. I closed the gap on the back stretch and pushed hard through the last turn, but could not catch him. But the good news was T-Bone charged hard down the final stretch for a 4:59.

The next week, he ran a 5:00.50, paying a big price for another fast opener on lap three. The scary thing was he closed with a 70 flat! With his strength and some more focused track work, I think he will surprise himself…but not Bruce and I. Stay tuned. Next year, I will writing about how he ran 4:55 and dropped me on the last lap.

More All Comers Meet Report

When I put my $2 down for the first All-Comers meet of the year, I did not know what to expect. Let's face it. I never really know what to expect before any race, given the fact I still have a lot to learn about running, but today was different. I had not done a track work out in a couple of weeks and had not run Kong since before the Jasper To Banff Relay in early June. While mile repeats are the workout of choice pretty much every Thursday with T-Bone and Coop, it is one thing to pump out three 5:30's and running one sub-5:00 mile. Weighing on my mind was also the reality that the last time I ran a hard mile on the track was pacing T-Bone on his 40th birthday last January. Given these circumstances, I was not what I would call brimming with confidence for the joggers' mile.

I have some people fooled. While I have some speed for an old guy, I really have to work at it and would not have progressed at all had it not been for Bruce turning me on to The Truth method. My speed does not come from one of those effortless looking, long athletic strides. Instead, it's one of those manufactured looking things: Short, choppy, fast turnover from a fast twitching lower body coupled with a weird, crouched upper body that is getting worse every time I am forced into that position running up Kong. But that's the key. It's intensity and hills that replaced the junk. And most importantly, the Truth Method has got attitude, baby…just like my golf swing…or the way I used to play baseball…helping get our team back into a game or taking us completely out of one with some of the chances I took… It would be attitude that would have to carry me today. I was not about to die on the track with my wife, daughter and son watching.

As I expected, I felt like crap in my warm up. I did my normal down to the bookstore and back warm up, two laps around the soccer field and then put on the spikes. If my feet did not feel light by then, well, it was time to fire up the attitude. My 200s @ 37 were not bad, but I still did not have the pop I was hoping for. While it was windy and hot, it did not bother me. I was not track ready. When we toed it up, I just focused on the inside lane and was going to make sure I grabbed it and take it from there. I couldn't believe how easy the high school kids gave it to me. Other than the horse that jumped way out front, I had it to myself with what felt like about four runners right on my shoulder. The horse died after 600 and we all went by.

The others behind me should have been ashamed of themselves for wind-maggoting on a 43 year old. I almost took off my hat and threw it in the infield just to piss them off in front of their swooning girlfriends as we past the west grandstand, but decided against it. Instead, I flashed back briefly to the days when I was their age…my blond mane, dancing off my shoulders as we headed into the fourth turn…which is about the time they blew by my sorry ass. My hearing did serve me correctly. There were four of them. My lead after 600 meters was a short one. My first lap was right on the button at 74. I make it a habit of checking the first 210 and I was right where I wanted to be @ 37, which included the waterfall start distance of about 10 yards. I felt better than I thought I would, but I knew it was way too early to tell.

Two of the high school kids broke free ahead of me at the start of lap 2, opening up a gap on the other two who fell back to fourth and fifth place. I made lap two in 75, for a cumulative 2:29. I was starting to hurt. Manciata's advice for lap 3 then blared into my subconscious: Concentrate! I tried hard to push through lap 3, but I felt like I was losing ground. Negative thoughts crept in and I starting already settling for something in the low 5's. Then, when I held lap 3 in 75, my attitude changed. It really changed when I heard my son yell "Go, Dad!" That was it, baby. Bruce's voice came back inside my head for his famous lap 4 advice and said "Find someone to hate." The poor fourth place kid happened to be within striking distance. I reeled him in just before going into the final turn and was in full latac hell at that point, but was flying and gaining on the kid in third. I pushed hard down the stretch and finished in 4:57.

While it sounds like a great story of running on pure attitude, today's lesson is (1) make sure you stay on the hills (hard steep runs for at least 30 minutes, twice per month…and that means Kong) and; (2) don't get too far from the track if you expect to run fast. Heeding this advice would have kept me from being wiped out for two days after a mile race, which was not because I am 43. And yes…I kept the hat on after the race.

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   Date and time page last updated: 03/14/2013 4:41 PM