Thursday, January 7, 2021

Track and Field: It's All Physics!

 Two of my passions are PSU Track and field and trying to learn more about Physics.  Both are intimately entwined in the world of 2-time World Champion and Olympic Silver Medalist, Joe Kovac's life.  Stop by and check it out at his Facebook page!

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Who Ran The Most In 2020?

 Who among us happened to run the most miles in 2020?  Treadmill miles do count, but only because that's all I have.  Reply with your mileage on our Facebook Page, or in the comments below!!  And make it miles, because we're Americans dammit and Jimmy Carter blew it in the 70s when he tried to switch us to that ridiculous metric system!  Lasted all of one week, if I remember correctly.

Jimmy knows peanuts and centimeters.

The winner will receive a very nice prize of my choosing.  Because I am a nice guy.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Most Popular Running Loops

The results of the poll are in!

The 3 most popular Penn State Track Alumni running routes from the recent inquiry are:

  • The Barrens/Pine Forest/Scotia Range
  • Game Lands/Toftrees
  • Colyer Lake
And don't forget, I neglected to include Skimont/Bear Meadows /Switchbacks. I feel that also would have garnered enough votes to appear here.

The least favorite running routes were:
  • Nixon Road/Marathon Course
  • Houserville /Lemont
  • Bypass Loop

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Workout Wednesday: Snowmageddon Edition


Somewhere in the nominations for favorite running courses/loops, someone mentioned a fun run in the snow (Steve Balkey).  I remember one in particular.

While the first team was away at an Indoor Meet, the rabble like me was left behind to fend for ourselves. So it was with great surprise that I heard from Rob Whiteside on a Sunday morning about going for our usual distance run.

But it was snowing with already a foot on the ground (curse me if it was only 10 inches!) and the motivation wasn't high.  But Rob has always been my muse.  It is why I made him my Best Man, confusing many in those years long ago.

Rob persisted and off we went.  We went down 4 Hills and headed to Swatsworth Road (another loop I forgot to put on the poll!).  Instead of heading toward the Deer Pens and the Observatory, we turned up the hill much later and headed to the newly expanded Airport which had cut off our old route through the woods to what the younger crowd call Sh*tspray.  

This meant about 5 miles through 12 inches (10 inches?) of snow until we hit the fence and had to turn around and retrace our steps.  Those 10 miles in snow without snowshoes was the equivalent of an easy marathon or at least "a hard 20".

But this was back when men were men (and women mostly avoided us).  I forget if I made it back for Brunch in the dorms.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Distance Runners Favorite Loops (The Poll)


I have taken liberties combining/renaming loops to come up with this list.  Of course that can encourage disagreements and outrage and negative comments.  That is sorta the whole point of the blog anyway!

Poll Here

 And after all that, I forgot to add Bear Meadows/Skimont to the list.  Duh...

Monday, December 7, 2020

Having Been Reminded Of The Switchbacks...


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Primal Seven Run

It was a dark and stormy morning. It didn't start out that way. It started out as any normal Sunday morning seemed to when we awoke and realized that we had to hightail it to Rec Hall shortly or we would incur Coach's wrath for being late for the Mountain Run. Usually we had to wait only for Gary (Black) to show up! Shaking off the vestiges of the night before, we donned our scratchy blues and grays and supplemented them with the even scratchier sweats of further gray. It was early Spring which is really late Winter in Happy Valley.

We piled into the Van of Blue with Coach driving, the entire rag tag bunch of 15 or so of us scratching, bitching and farting as usual, before making it to the starting area somewhere in Bear Meadows. The 15 mile run (actually 17 as usual) was throughout Bear Meadows, with the Switchbacks somewhere in the middle. (A chill has unexpectedly run up hundreds of spines of ex-PSU distance runners at the mention of Switchbacks!) All was going swimmingly until the second half of the run, when a dark chill seemed to envelope our world. By then we were spread out sufficiently that few of us were within site of each other. Soon site-lines didn't matter, as the darkness got worse. Then the rain began. A cold, cold rain, that seemed to penetrate to the bone. As we laughed that it couldn't get worse, the lightning began. At first, the frequent lightning was a benefit; it allowed us to occasionally see the road ahead and ever so slowly make it back to the Van. But then, the trees started bursting into flames occasionally, usually right next to us, with trees occasionally falling into the surrounding darkness with a sickening crunch.

As the rain continued, our sweats came alive and stretched to 200% of their former length, taunting us with their elasticity. When we doubled the ends up and pulled them to our groin, they still dragged on the ground in the middle, making running a struggle. (I swear, I'm not making that up!) It got colder, more trees fell and others burned, we couldn't see where we were going unless the lightning hit near us, and we weren't sure if we could find the Van.

Somehow, someone's prayers were answered and several of us stumbled upon the Van in the torrential rain and darkness. It was now as simple as reaching for the key, which all of us knew was always placed on the driver's side front tire, AND IT WASN'T THERE! For the first time in our recorded history, Coach had kept the key, and was somewhere in the darkness behind us, running with the trailing group or possibly lost for all eternity. The downpour continued as we huddled in the ever worsening cold. We didn't speak much, some of us were wondering whether we would ever make it back to the dorm for our Brunch of Chicken Cosmos or something.

When Coach finally made it back to the Van we all hurried in, only to realize that the usual disgusting odors were now magnified exponentially. The windows fogged relentlessly as the yellowish haze built in the passenger compartment. The drive back was only seemingly 2 hours long, and as we were finally nearing campus a thought hit me, that has stuck until this day.

While we were out there in the worst weather I had encountered in my 19 years, I realized that as humans, we were no better off than the common Tree Shrew I had just learned in Evolution Class was similar to our earliest ancestors on the hominid tree. The Primal Seven was formed, as I thought of what the poor Tree Shrews must have felt while stuck in the trees during such a storm.
  1. Cold
  2. Wet
  3. Tired
  4. Hungry
  5. Lonely
  6. Scared And,
  7. Thirsty.
And they had no Chicken Cosmos to look forward to!

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Distance Runners!! Nominate Your Favorite Nittany Valley Runs For Our Poll


What was your favorite run in all of Nittany Valley.  Include a name or description, length or any other info that is relevant.  Hope to get a response from some of you.  You can nominate several if you wish.  In the comments below or on our Facebook site.


Monday, November 30, 2020

Barely Hanging On!

 So with nothing much happening on the PSU Track/XC front, some other news occasionally bubbles up. One of those things was the recent American Road Race Record in the 10-Mile.

Kiera D'Amato set the record the past weekend in Washington DC.

This is officially the very last Women's American Record which is not better than my PR. (51:11 in 1977).   Sigh...




Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Workout Wednesday: My Least Favorites


A notable alum has berated me mercilessly for having workouts I didn't particularly like, but it is what it is.  All in all, I loved running back in the day and enjoyed virtually every part of it.  My favorites were the mountain runs and repeat 400s.  My least favorite were:

  1. Tees to Greens - this was invariably on Wednesdays.  Big mistake was trying to catch back up to the real runners after every surge.  Made for a 10K at near race pace and a time nearly as good as the upcoming Saturday race.   My problem, my fault.
  2. The Modified Michigan Workout  3 x Mile with 2 miles of  "tempo" between.  Same problem for me in this one.  My problem, my fault.
  3. Any Hill Workout:  My heart murmur never liked these.  This led to excessively high heart rates at the top when John Barber or Coach Groves himself had you take your heart rates right after the peak.  I had to lie to avoid having to be shipped to the ER.  No one should ever have a 250 heart rate without seeing a doctor.


What are your favorites?  And least favorites?  I would love to hear from the Throws guys and the Jumpers and Sprinters as I barely know any of your workouts to begin with.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

It's Not Easy Being Green


Got a fairly good response to the repost of the 2010 post on "The Greatest Shoe Ever Made".  Of course, most disagreed with me, which was sorta kinda the whole reason for the post.  Thanks for the input everyone!  Your input is very valuable to me.  The Interns have filed these away in cardboard boxes in their moldy basement abode, for future reference.


But by far, the greatest reaction was entirely positive concerning the Adidas Spiders spikes from the mid-70s.  Many of us had them. And loved them.  Even the fastest among us...

 I mentioned your post this morning about the Nike Internationalist.  It is one of many shoes I do not remember... but then at my age!  So, you also mentioned the Spider.  I have attached something from the old running storage box.  I wish I could tell you they smell new, but they smell more like "basement."



 I will add that mine didn't have the white tongue and ankle rim.  The green suede was all their was.  Not sure which version was the version 2.0.  Ah, the memories.

I will add that the best way to describe their color is that Michael Scott's Office used the same pigments.



Friday, November 6, 2020

The Lord Giveth And The Lord Taketh Away


After an incredible flurry of activism, fund-raising and general Hell-raising, the William and Mary Board has reinstated all of the teams previously discontinued following this school year.  This will be contingent on a restructuring of gender equity and financial concerns.  I feel that this means the hard part is yet to come.

As gender is defined today, (or not defined!) any governing body can pretty much do as it pleases. 

With the bold actions of thousands of concerned track athletes and fans, otherwise unaccountable bureaucrats were made to listen at least a little.  Highest praise goes to the Women team members of several sports at William and Mary who finally said "Enough".  The rest of us need to continue to stand for what we know it correct.



But with the rather positive news filtering out about the W&M news, word came immediately that Clemson had discontinued its Mens Track and Field team following this season.  This storied Power-5 program needs no one to sing their praises, and yet we must. 

As I view their information, I discovered that the Football team has its own water slide, barber shop and amenities unavailable to other student-athletes that boggle the mind.  The football coach makes a salary of nearly $9,000,000.

From Yahoo Sports:

Diving deeper into the numbers, the Clemson men’s track & field and cross-country program had operating expenses of $2.3 million in 2019, according to Sportico’s database. The program offers 12 scholarships that are distributed across 26 athletes, plus an additional 25 walk-ons, meaning that the tuition paid by runners in the program dramatically outweighs the cost of the scholarships awarded.

Clemson has offered men’s track and field since 1953. The program has won a combined 23 ACC championships and 16 individual NCAA titles, and produced 22 Olympians.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Throwback Thursday: The Greatest Running Shoe Ever Made


The Greatest Shoe Ever Made?

Due to my choice of profession, I am often asked "What is the best running shoe?".  My answer is invariably, "They don't make it anymore."  The recent craze of "minimalism" in running shoes is an overcompensation for the extensive cushioning all the shoe companies competed with each other to provide.  Air, gels, foams and more are put into shoes to provide off-the-shelf shock absorbing qualities which deteriorate quickly after your first miles.  A professor once described these gimmicks as "horsesh*t and splinters", especially when done to excess.  For us old joggers, they are fine, but for the competitive runners, they may not provide what's needed. Cushioning vertical forces, for the physics nuts out there, provides less horizontal force, the mainstay of a fast runner.  "Barefooters" and minimalists point to anecdotal evidence that today's shoes lead to more injuries.  True science shows a different story, something conspiracy theorists in the running community never heed.

The "perfect" combination of cushioning, wear (and quality looks!) was provided in the Nike Internationalists from back in 1978 or so.  I honestly put more than 4,000 miles on one pair without wearing out the out-sole and they still had the same cushioning (albiet less than today to start with) than when they were brand new. ( I know some will dispute this, but it's true!  Remember, I weighed less than $1.20 and couldn't afford a new pair anyway!)  I saved them and could still run in them if a gun was held to my head.  (Sometimes that is what it takes nowadays to run anyway.)  Nike even brought them back a few years ago, but they weren't the same and came in colors that were less than desirable.

By the way, Adidas Spiders were the "perfect" spike, just to show I can give some love to the other companies.  That green suede  was indestructible, even when a teammate spiked you in a cross country meet, removing your big toenail with surgical precision. (Don Ziter, this means you.) My toe was mangled but the shoe lived on. The trip to Ritenour (Wait an Hour) Health Center was memorable and sealed my choice of profession, if only to treat others better than I was treated that day.

I want feedback on "the greatest shoe ever made".  Give me a comment on your ideal shoe in the comment section below!
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