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Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

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Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Martin VW on Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:11 pm

Boston. Kicked. My. Ass.

Ohhh, it started out innocently enough. I usually recover incredibly quickly. So I wasn't surprised when I was turning 2:55 800s with relative ease a week after. But by mid-May, I couldn't run 10 miles at an 8:15 pace without struggling.

I ran a 12K race in late May 30 seconds per mile off of my capabilities, fading late. I took a step back and started to slowly seek consistency. I had some enjoyable runs along San Francisco Bay, in the hills around Napa, and along the Pacific in Orange County. The reduction in mileage without a reduction in eating and drinking (hey, we were on vacation) has me at 200 lbs. for the first time in a LONG time. But, the HRs are starting to come down and I'm starting to feel like a runner again.

This weekend I raced a 5 miler in 33:24, a 6:41 pace. That should be 6:10. I'll attribute 10 seconds to the extra weight and 20 seconds to a lack of stamina. I was at 5:45 for the first half mile and 6:09 for the first mile, so it's there. I just have to bring it out.

A few people have commented that they thought I was done racing. Nope, not quite. Not yet. Done with marathons, for sure. But I was recruited to join a Senior (50+) team in the USATF New England Grand Prix series, a 7 race series from February to October. So I'm racing for them. It's a lot of fun. Our team didn't field a team for the first race (10 miler) - you need 5 runners, minimum, and we had 3 (I didn't run) so we got a big fat zero. We placed 4th at the New Bedford Half, which draws a STRONG field. A solid performance at the 12K earned us a 2nd, and we started to climb in the overall standings. A 3rd in the June 10K earned us a little in the standings, but we had a really strong team showing in Saturday's 5 miler to finish 2nd by a wide margin and climb into a tie for 3rd overall, with 2 races to go - a 5 K on September 30th, which will have a huge impact on the final standings, and the Cape Cod Marathon, which probably won't.

Problem is, my ability to help the team has slipped with my times. After a team 2nd best in the New Bedford Half (1:25:40), I finished 6th on Saturday, out of the scoring. On the one hand, the team has gotten stronger, which is great, and will even more so as one of the better Masters guys turns 50 in August. On a personal level, I want to contribute.

So, I've got 9 weeks to forget how to marathon and remember how to "sprint." I've got a really cool Pete Magill 5K plan to follow that has a little bit of everything, but everything I think I need. I have the motivation. And I have, I think, enough time. Pete's article is here http://runningtimes.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=19258

The team is very much on track to finish 2nd overall. Top 3 teams get paid. My goal: finish no worse than 4th in the 5K on our suddenly very strong, deep team. It's going to take some doing. But if the next 9 weeks go well, I think I can get there, using all of the science I know. It could well be my last race, ever, especially if I run strongly. Wouldn't it be cool if I earn a "payday" in my last race?


Last edited by Martin VW on Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Matt W on Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:33 am



That would be cool for you to truly cash out in your last race. We all know that you can get those freakishly long legs to turn over pretty well. Hopefully you get the ideal weather you deserved to get on Patriots' Day and get to go out with a race to remember. Best of luck in your training. Are you doing any tune up races that are not in the Grand Prix schedule?
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Chris M on Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:01 am

Get yer butt down to DC (make up some work reason) and let's do a 25 x 400 workout or mile repeats.
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:15 am

Very cool, Martin. Being part of a "team" and "team competition" is a 2nd to none experience. I have so valued my time spent with the ATC Competitive Masters team and participating in such events as XC Club Nationals and Cherry Blossom. Since I've moved, there is not the same "team" in Cleveland - just a very elite team (Masters includes Barbara Broad and Fred Kaiser both truly elite Masters. Barbara is 60 and run a 3:19 marathon, and in his mid-50s, Fred still runs in the low 2:20s), so I will miss that. I do hope to run Cherry Blossom again for the ATC though.

I'm also a bit jealous.

Interesting to read your comments about Boston, because I am beginning to think that my malaise in early June and my subsequent "injury" is a result of the tough conditions we faced that day. Weird, I agree, but I've been through similar things after a warm (hot) marathon before even when not truly racing.

Good luck with this new endeavor. Maybe we can meet up sometime when I come to Boston to visit my daughter.
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Dave-O on Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:17 am

I knew you were just retired from marathons; I was just cracking a joke.

But I am glad to see you blogging again. Magill's 5k program seems suited to your strengths.
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Joel H on Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:52 am

Good luck Martin, 9 weeks is plenty of time. I trained for 8 weeks this past Spring for a 5k and went from 6:40 to 6:28 in my 1 mile time trials. I never did run the 5k but that was by choice.
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Michael Enright on Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:38 pm

Sounds like fun. Hope the 5k goes well. That 5 miler was definitely slow for you!

I ran Cape Cod last year, so good luck to the guy who has to score well on that - the hills in the second half did me in (and the nor'easter didn't help much either).

Go team!
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Martin VW on Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:58 pm

@ Matt - one of the freakish things I have to combat is that my marathon shuffle is not as condusive to the 5K. So I'm going to be doing some plyometrics - form drills, if you prefer - to hopefully "turn back the clock" on my biomechanics. That's the one area where I think 9 weeks won't be enough to realize a material impact.

@ Chris - Magill's plan does include a 20 x 400m @ 5K effort with a 1:00 recovery. That's one thing that drew me to the plan. You know that's a personal favorite. It IS 5 days before the race, and that seems a little to colse, but I will liberally adapt the plan based on the things I know about myself.

@ Michele - yeah, I've heard good things about the ATC org. Sorry to hear you haven't found a similar org in Cleveland, but I'm not that surprised. Would be fun sometime to discuss what we perceive as the Top Running Cities. But I'm not sure we have fair representation, especially on the west coast.

@ Dave - I knew you knew, not sure about others. I also expect quite a few here doubt my sincerity about not training to race in '13. The last few weeks were so frustrating, I almost called it quits earlier than planned. But I want to see my commitment to my running team through, even though we've picked up some strength and depth, and I now could without hurting the team's chances. I think I owe it to myself to go out stronger than 2012 has been so far.

@ Joel - I hope you're right! Age is a factor too, though, so I don't know that I can drop the full 30 seconds. It'll require re-establishing CV fitness and leg strength that are already there from Boston, though. I won't have time to build it if it's gone/atrophied. But I don't think it has.

@ Michael - Thanks! In a series like this, what matters most is who's running any given day. The team that's ahead of us in the standings didn't have their #2 guy Saturday, and it killed them. They finished 5th because of it, and we picked up 3 of the 4 we trailed them by. We have a pretty strong team running Cape Cod, including our #1, #2 and #5 runners, and of course everyone has to run those same hills so it's relative. I'll bet that the other teams won't have their #1 and #2 running - the marathon is probably the least important distance in USATF. Some of the guys on the team have never even run a marathon.


Last edited by Martin VW on Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:23 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Martin VW on Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:21 pm

Based on the way the calendar falls, here is Week 1 of the 9 week Magill plan I've constructed:

7/30MonShort Run (40 minutes) or Medium Run (60 - 80 minutes) @ 65% to 75% of VO2 Max / 60% to 70% of Max HR (108 - 125) or OFF
7/31Tue5K Effort Repetitions: 15 minute warm-up, 5-10 x 1 minute (2 minute Recovery), 15 minute cool-down
8/1WedMedium Run
8/2ThuMedium Run
8/3FriLong Hill Repeats: 15 minute warm-up, 6 x 60 seconds, 4 to 5 minute recovery, 15 minute cool-down
8/4SatMedium Run
8/5SunLong Run: 2:00 - 2:40 @ 65% to 75% of VO2 Max / 60% to 70% of Max HR (108 - 125)

What I like about the plan is that each week includes two "hard" sessions, and that the other sessions are all at aerobic / low intensity paces. Magill emphasizes duration, not distance. He makes the point in the article that plans that focus on "mileage" miss the point of aerobic endurance training. Should a 30:00 5K runner train for twice as many hours per week as a 15:00 runner to get their 50 miles in? Would those weeks be equal, since the mileage is equal?

So, the medium and long runs done at recovery pace will result in less muscle damage than a GA / "easy" run and allow me to focus on the "hard" workouts. Now, if I was building to a marathon, I'd disagree, But the 5K distance is a different animal. I'll appreciate being able to really run my easy days easy.

Take last night, for example. I did 8 miles / 73 minutes @ 9:11 pace, average HR 123 (68%). Since I was still recovering from the race, that was the right workout. In fact, I'm still sore today. So, it would have been counterproductive for me to do those same 8 miles @ a 7:30 pace, which would be my norm. Sometimes I will. I still believe in the GA run, and I'll put some in when I'm feeling strong.

Not last night.


Last edited by Martin VW on Tue Jul 31, 2012 3:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Matt W on Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:43 pm



Nine weeks is about right for training for a 5K. That's only a bit shorter than a cross country season and I would see marked improvement over that period of time when I was coaching. I also would incorporate plyos/circuit training into my training plans and they seemed to work. Of course, I was coaching kids about 35 years your junior, so that will be one challenge for you. That training plan does seem to suit you, so I hope it gives you the results you are looking for. Keep up the good work.
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Martin VW on Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:10 pm

@ Matt - why should a mere 35 year age difference present a challenge? Smile

Good poijnt avbout it being about the same as a school season. I'm coming in in decent shape, hopefully I can show improvement as I work toward a "peak." I do thin it was a good idea to find a plan, though. Otherwise if I'm doing ti ad hoc, I may work hard but I won't be working smart and won't realize the same ROI.

BTW, Billy's going to be running XC this year. I'll have to hustle to get him up to 3+ mile training mile runs by September while also training myself. Plus he's on the ice every day for the next 7 days, and then in NY at his grandparents for 10 days (and therefore out of my immediate control).
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Martin VW on Thu Aug 02, 2012 4:26 pm

First speed session since April last night. Interestingly enough, it was virtually identical to the first speed workout McMillan put in my Speed Phase - 10 x 1 minute at 5K effort, although Magill uses a 2 minute recovery while McMillan uses a 1 minute. I wonder who is copying who?

Magill also stresses being honest with yourself about 5K "effort," that training at "race pace" on a track has little bearing on what you can actually do on race day. His preference is to train to improve the physiological systems, and then seeing where that takes you. He talks about two 19:00 5K runners that he trained that wanted to run mid-18s (sounds familiar). They trusted him and ran a 16:40 and a 17:50. I like the sound of that!

He also takes his runners off of the track for these early speed sessions (so does Mc Millan), to resist the temptation to run to a specific time, and also to simulate 5K race conditions - uneven surfaces, small chages in grades, 90 - 180 degree turns. so I did this on the road - 10 x 1:00, averaged a 6:13 pace. That sounds about right in terms of 5K effort, given the conditions (hot and humid) and the extra weight I'm carrying. And I think I stayed true to what Magill suggested as a guide, finishing the workout feeling like I could do a couple more. 8 miles / 73 minutes total.
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Chris M on Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:21 pm

2 mins recovery, 1 minute "work". Sounds like Magill is more of the mindset I prefer which is longer rest to work intervals which in turn keeps the speeds up and becomes less about combining a speed workout with an endurance or stamina workout.

Even if you don't come down here, we'll do the 20x400s with 1:00 RIs the same day. I'll do 1:20s just to put some pressure on you. Uh, I couldn't do that right now. Maybe 1:25s today.
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Martin VW on Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:43 pm

@Chris M wrote:2 mins recovery, 1 minute "work". Sounds like Magill is more of the mindset I prefer which is longer rest to work intervals which in turn keeps the speeds up and becomes less about combining a speed workout with an endurance or stamina workout.

Even if you don't come down here, we'll do the 20x400s with 1:00 RIs the same day. I'll do 1:20s just to put some pressure on you. Uh, I couldn't do that right now. Maybe 1:25s today.

I don't want to pretend to know what McMillan's philosophy is on the short recoveries, but I wonder if a part of his thinking is that it's part of a marathon training cycle, which IS more about endurance and stamina than speed. Maybe his RIs WOULD be longer on a 5K plan.

In any event, I'm happy with the choice of a Magill plan. I looked today and I didn't see that he's written any books. As you said, he has a standing in the Masters community, but he seems to be giving his advice away.

I did find Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol in a combo Blu-Ray / DVD / Digital / Bonus Free Instant Video, all for $9.99 on Amazon while I was looking for a Magill book, though. Cool

And yeah, my coming down to DC to do a track workout so you can blow me away doesn't make a WHOLE lot of sense from where I'm sitting. I may have been able to overcome the age difference in 2009 / 2010, but not the 2012 Chris McKee.
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Dave Wolfe on Fri Aug 03, 2012 11:38 am

Magill runs 5k as well as anyone for his age. He used to have a website were he did give his advice away (upkeep took to much time). Best of luck Martin.
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Schuey on Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:16 pm

Oh no a VW blog, great we are all in trouble now! I'm willing to bet that if Boston wasn't so hot you would have recovered much faster like you did in past marathons. I have noticed that after all my hot marathons it took on average of a 3 to 5 days longer for me to recovery from them. So it doesn't surprise me that you felt the way you did especially since we didn't have the summer heat to train in for Boston.

Glad to see that you have some new running goal setup that you would like to achieve! Best of luck and as always I will look forward to following along and coming in to your blog and give a hard time and debate training and life in general!

Go White Sox!
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Martin VW on Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:02 pm

@ Dave: yup, believe he holds the record for 50+ runners in the 5K. So I'm putting my faith in his specific experience. I also saw those old blogs, surprised he hasn't sought a way to commercialize his success.

@ Schuey - thanks, bud. I too enjoy the back-and-forth among good friends. Smile
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Martin VW on Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:29 pm

Two boring but necessary low HR / low aerobic runs this weekend: 8 @ 9:15 (74 minutes) Friday and 10 @ 8:56 (90 minutes)today. Oppressive heat and humidity in the area right now, temps in the 90's, dew points in the high 60's / low 70's. Friday's run was outside, today I went inside, where I still sweated through my shoes. My shirt was heavy enough with sweat that I ended up with a bloody nipple. I'm sure the blood trail on my white shirt shocked a couple of people in my gym. Who says distance runners aren't tough! Smile

Also had a hockey tournament to tend to this weekend. A little frustrating, I had a kid that has become a friend of Billy's (and we with his family) slow to come off the ice, and also go out for a shift that wasn't his on Friday, almost costing us a penalty for too many players. Then he complained afterwards about ice time. On Saturday he skated through two changes on the same shift. And, this isn't the first time. So I had to bench him for a shift, not only to even the playing time out since two kids got short shifted, but also to help him to understand that he can't make those kinds of decisions on his own. He reacted by refusing to go back into the game, an unacceptable challenge of a coach's authority. We talked it over, his dad and me, and he and I, later in the day. But this kind of stuff isn't going to fly for very much longer. As a volunteer coach, the last thing I want to have to deal with is a kid's "issues" with authority!

We ended up with a very pourous defense all weekend and dropped three after winning or first game. Not the way we wanted to end the season, after winning the regular season championship. But, unless you win your last game, meaning a championship of some form, the tendency is to feel that the season was a failure. It wasn't. But, I'm glad it's over. Training camp for the fall/winter season starts tomorrow.

Copule of random Olympic comments. The 100m race is over SO fast, it's hard to absorb what happens without the benefit of a couple of relays. But what a race it was!

Talk about no such thing as a sure thing, McKayla Maroney disappointed today after coming in as a prohibitive favorite. But what struck me was that Aly Raisman, her "Fab 5" teammate, was completely absorbed in her iPad whem McKayla landed on her butt. So much for caring about your "teammate!"

And, can we PLEASE remove synchronized diving as an event? One of the winners talked about how disappointed he was when he failed to make his dive team in the Olympic Trials, so he took this path instead, and winning the medal was some gratification. We shouldn't be giving out Olympic medals as consolation prizes. It's like winning the NIT. What's the cheer! "We're 67th!?!"

Finally, if you're going to have some "pretend" precision in a judged (i.e., subjective) event that scores are measure to the thousandths of a point, if there's a tie, why not award two golds?!? Awarding the overall gold in the pommel horse to the Hungarian based on a tiebraker is ridiculous.
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Matt W on Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:11 pm


Well, there's one thing I'm glad I don't have to deal with when coaching basketball. I totally understand how coaching can be so rewarding and frustrating at the same time. I hope the next season goes well for you and Billy.

Keep up the good work in the heat/humidity. I know how oppressive conditions make training tough and can wear on you mentally when there isn't a break. It's a good thing you are tough.
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Dave-O on Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:27 pm

@Martin VW wrote:

But what struck me was that Aly Raisman, her "Fab 5" teammate, was completely absorbed in her iPad whem McKayla landed on her butt. So much for caring about your "teammate!"


I noticed that too. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt and hope she was recording or facetiming it...but who knows.

That being said, are we really that lacking in creativity that we need to recycle the "Fab 5" nickname? just, NO! It shouldn't be allowed. There's only one Fab 5.



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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Chris M on Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:28 pm

In an interview, Aly Raisman said that she was recording the vaults of McKayla using the iPad of her coach (Mihai Brestyan) at his request.

Agreed with Dave....THE Fab Five is not the group holding flowers below...



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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Martin VW on Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:08 am

@Matt - Humidity broke yesterday, looking forward to a solid hill workout tonight. Thanks for the support!

@Dave, @Chris - At the risk of overanalyze the shot, it didn't look like her iPad was even close to being pointed in the direction of where the other two athletes were looking.

And, they're as unoriginal on this one as they were in 1996, when that team was dubbed the Magnificent Seven.

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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Dave-O on Tue Aug 07, 2012 5:26 pm

@Chris M wrote:

Agreed with Dave....THE Fab Five is not the group holding flowers below...


I just read that Jalen Rose trademarked Fab 5 last year. Brilliant move. These girls will either be ponying up to Jalen or using Fierce 5 instead. Suckers.
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Martin VW on Tue Aug 07, 2012 5:31 pm

@Dave-O wrote:
@Chris M wrote:

Agreed with Dave....THE Fab Five is not the group holding flowers below...


I just read that Jalen Rose trademarked Fab 5 last year. Brilliant move. These girls will either be ponying up to Jalen or using Fierce 5 instead. Suckers.

Well, I'm no lawyer, but woudn't they have to be using the name to generate income, or in a way that is harmful to Mr. Rose for it to constitute a trademark violation?

Unless there's a line of Fab 5 lunch boxes that features the gymansts on it, I'm not sure how Jalen's going to see a payday here...
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Re: Last Hand: Cashing at the USATF Grand Prix

Post  Dave-O on Tue Aug 07, 2012 5:41 pm

@Martin VW wrote:
@Dave-O wrote:
@Chris M wrote:

Agreed with Dave....THE Fab Five is not the group holding flowers below...


I just read that Jalen Rose trademarked Fab 5 last year. Brilliant move. These girls will either be ponying up to Jalen or using Fierce 5 instead. Suckers.

Well, I'm no lawyer, but woudn't they have to be using the name to generate income, or in a way that is harmful to Mr. Rose for it to constitute a trademark violation?

Unless there's a line of Fab 5 lunch boxes that features the gymansts on it, I'm not sure how Jalen's going to see a payday here...

Not my area of expertise either, but the article did say that the girls and US gymnastics are looking to cash in on their popularity with products and whatnot, which is why the trademark came up.
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