Back on track



It’s been a while since I’ve hit the track.   

By “a while,” I mean about three years. No sprints. No ladders. No Yassos. 

That probably explains why I haven’t set any PR’s lately.   

But this year will be different. This is the year I’m trying to set a marathon PR and qualify for Boston.   

So this morning, I dragged my slow legs out to the Eastwood Middle School track, about two miles from my home, and got down to business.    

I did a two-mile warmup (eight laps) in Lane 1 at an easy, 8:30 pace.    

While I trotted around and around, I took in the scenery, starting with the track under my feet. It was in good shape. The rubber surface was smooth and springy.  

Around me, the air was nice and cool. The whole track was shaded by a tall row of trees to the east, which protected me from the morning sun.   

Best of all, I had the whole track to myself, which was a luxury. In the past, I’ve had to share it with clueless joggers and walkers who hogged the inside lanes as they slowly pounded out the miles.

Hey slow walkers, that’s what Lane Six is for! Get out of my way when I’m doing speedwork. 

A few years ago, I even saw a guy pedalling his bike around Lane Three, with his dog on a leash running beside him. I guess if you live long enough, you’ll see everything.    

After my warmup, I got down to the drill.

My goal was to run five sets of 800 meters at a 3:20-3:25 pace, with a 60-second interval between each set.  This drill is known as the dreaded Yasso 800s, and it has helped in the past.    

So I punched my stopwatch and took off. Here are my times:    

Set 1 — 3:27 (too slow)    

Set 2 — 3:28 (even slower; what the hell?)    

Set 3 — 3:22 (OK, getting a little faster)    

Set 4 — 3:21 (improving, keep it up)    

Set 5 — 3:16 (best one!)    

So I ended on a high note. I decided not to push my luck and run a sixth set.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll add one more set per week, and try to keep up the pace.    

Let’s see if old, slow Trail Boy has a few speedy races left in him.    



I’ve missed a few days of blogging. But I’ve been running.    

On Tuesday, I ran six miles on neighborhood roads before breakfast.    

On Wednesday, I ran hilly trails at Fort Ben at lunchtime for an hour.    

And today, of course, I did speed repeats at the track.    

That about covers all the surfaces this week: pavement, dirt and rubber.

Did I leave anything out?    


The marathon season is fast approaching. I plan to run two or three this year. The first one is about a month away, the Cleveland Marathon, on May 16.    

This is last year's medal, but you get the idea.

That’s a pretty cool date, by the way. On May 16, I’ll turn 51. Running a marathon in my hometown seems like a good way to start a birthday.    

I don’t have a firm goal for Cleveland. It will be my first road marathon in nearly three years. I just want to run it for fun.    

By the way, just because I haven’t run a marathon in three years doesn’t mean I haven’t kept pushing myself in other ways. I’ve run a trail marathon, a 25K, a 50K and a whole bunch of 10-milers and half-marathons. All on dirt. Plus I plan to run another 50K trail race this summer.    

But above all, this is a year for a road PR. 

This fall is when it will all come together, I hope. At least that’s the plan. My goal is to run a road marathon for speed and PR: 3:35 or under.

I’m still deciding on which marathon will be the big one. Stay tuned!    


My old running buddy, Kevin, is having a tough spring. He was looking forward to running the Boston Marathon for the first time, having qualified twice last year  — first in Cleveland and again in Chicago.    

He paid his money to get into Boston. He got his number. He began training.    

But no one told Kevin’s professor about this plan. The professor scheduled a final exam for next Tuesday. Yes, that’s one day after the Boston Marathon.  

That was a surprise to Kevin. Final exams weren’t supposed to happen until next month. But the professor had his own timetable.    

Kevin is trying to complete his Ph.D. in computer science, and doesn’t want to screw it up by flying back into town the night before an important exam, dead tired from running Heartbreak Hill and the rest of the Boston course.  

So he’s going to delay Boston until next year.    

Kevin is a tough runner with a huge heart, but you know this has to hurt.  He and I have run a few races together — including three marathons in 2007 and the Buckeye Trail 50K last year, during which he was my “zen master.”    

Hang in there, Kevin. You’ll get to Boston.  

In the meantime, Kevin plans to  run the Cleveland Marathon next month, pacing a friend who is hoping to break 4:00.     

So the silver lining in this whole debacle is that another runner will get to benefit from Kevin’s pacing and jokes for 26 miles. And maybe I’ll run a few miles with them.  

And who knows? Maybe next year, Kevin and I can run Boston together.


2 Responses to “Back on track”

  1. so great to see your blog and excited to watch you improve your time with the track repeats I will try that soon!

  2. Jim Hermiller Says:

    “Let’s see if old, slow Trail Boy has a few speedy races left in him.”

    From where I’m running, you are young and very fast. None of the numbers you cite in your blog count as “slow”!

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