Monday, October 29, 2018

Retirement Is Bittersweet

Casimir Loxsom, World Best Indoor 600M, 1:14.91

No one has done more to make PSU Is 800U than Casimir Loxsom. Sure, there were champions before him and champions have come since, but no one was there for as many big moments and for longer than he has been.

Cas announced his retirement from professional running over the weekend:  (Thanks to Ken Brinker for delivering his statement in suitable format.)

In 2005, I was convinced to run indoor track to stay in shape for my first love of soccer. I was going to be a 55 meter runner and hated every second of it. My coach had other plans and anchored me on the 4x800 in my first meet, and I ran 2:07.

Over the next 13 years I developed a love and passion for our sport that I worry sometimes won’t ever be rivaled by future endeavors. I say “our” because what I fell in love with was the special community of human beings who choose this life.

Over the last year and a half, I’ve gained two things. The first is a tremendous amount of respect for each and every person that pursues Track & Field at the highest of levels. It’s a smaller community of humans that understand what it takes to be the best and how hard it is, and also how much is sacrificed in the process. I’ve also gained an incredible amount of empathy for those who choose that it isn’t a path they want to walk (or run) anymore.

When I graduated college and signed a professional contract, I wrote myself a letter. I decided that I’d never take a set amount of time off after a season. I told myself I’d start training each year when I felt motivated to. I knew the fall it didn’t come back would be when I’d decide to hang up the spikes.

I made the decision in the past few hours, but really I’ve felt this way for a few months. Today, I am a former professional Track & Field athlete. I can’t believe it’s now, but really there will never be a good time. The decision was made with a very heavy heart, but also with optimism.

I will never be too far from the community or the sport, and truly believe I can play a part in making it better while helping a lot of people in the process.

So thank you, everyone. It’s been a wild ride and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’ve been truly blessed to experience the things I have, both good and bad.
I must say I enjoyed watching him run more than anyone I know.  Even Seb Coe, who I often compared to him.  His stride was magnificent and his pacing was always as even as anyone can be in the 800 meter range.  I will let others chronicle his highlights and awards.  I just want to say "Thanks" for all the thrills he gave this washed-up former second-stringer...


 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Nittany Lions Are True Leaders


Again, I apologize for the lack of substantial posting.  I have many submissions from my hundreds of readers that I haven't gotten to yet.  Your mother told you, "Patience is a virtue!"

But I needed to post this one first.  Greg Fredericks sent this along and it dovetails with all the talk of the 1968 Olympic Trials we have had lately.

Turns out that the former mayor of Lancaster, Art Morris,  was a PSU middle distance star when Greg was just getting started.  He ended up participating in groundbreaking Altitude Training Testing in Peru and Colorado.

Art Morris.
In 1965, Art Morris, a sophomore distance runner, was among a group of six Penn State track athletes who were recruited to undergo testing at high altitude in Nunoa, Peru (13,000 feet), and Mount Evans, Colorado (14,264 feet).
The study, “Physiology and Performance of Track Athletes at Various Altitudes in the United States and Peru,” was underwritten by the U.S. Olympic Committee, the U.S. Army and Penn State’s Human Performance Laboratory (now Noll Laboratory) under the supervision of noted physiologist E.R. Buskirk.
Art related that despite the high-altitude training, it did not result in better times when they returned home, closer to sea level.

Art eventually ran a 4:07 mile for the Lions.  Huzzah for a pioneer!

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Way, Way Back Machine Is Rusty


Sorry for the dearth of posting lately.  Work is a four-letter word that ends in K.




But it was 41 years ago that we first heard of the plane crash that decimated Lynyrd Skynyrd.  I remember exactly where I was when we got the word over the radio.  We were nearing the hotel in Williamsburg, VA on a Friday evening in the cross country van driven by Coach Groves.  I was seated in the next to last row between Ray Krombel and Kevin Kelly O'Brien.

Also in the van were Captain Bruce Baden (in the shotgun seat) and Captain John Zeigler.  Others included Jim Clelland, Frit Cooper, Mike Wyatt, Larry Mangan and his Freshman roommate Tom Rapp.  (Did I miss anyone?)  Of course I did!  Campbell Lovett, Dave Felice and Brian Boyer were there too!  Bob Snyder was injured.  (no wonder the van was uncomfortable. 14 of us was too many!)

We were on our way to a meet with Willam and Mary and Georgetown on the grounds of the insane asylum next to the campus.  Coach Groves told us a few stories of escapes from the place. Nice to know when you were alone in the woods during the race.

Our warm-up that day was to run the entire 10K course.  Then the race.  And then the warm-down turned out to be the entire 10K course!  I actually fainted during the warm-down and, as always, the only person who noticed was Mike Wyatt, my guardian angel those first 2 years. I think we won the meet, but I hope others chime in with more.

Incidentally, I became a fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd that day when I learned they named the group after their mean gym teacher, Leonard Skinner at Robert E. Lee High School.  hee hee hee




Saturday, October 13, 2018

Homecoming Means Coming "Home" And A Visit With Coach Groves


A Home meet during Homecoming week means a Friday meet.  That means many of us can't swing it. But many certainly did!  Yesterday's Penn State National attracted many Track alums.

The meet went well, especially for the Women, who topped all teams, multiple ranked teams.
In her fourth race donning the Blue & White, Julia Paternain crossed the finish line in 20:30, which marks her third win of the season, two of which have come at the Blue-White Golf Course. Just 11 seconds after Paternain finished the race, sophomore Alison Willingmyre (Wernersville, Pa.) completed the 6k course in 20:41 to finish fifth overall.
Along with Paternain and Willingmyre, Danae Rivers (Derby, Conn.) and Kathryn Munks (Chester, N.Y.) both tallied top-15 finishes. For Rivers, she ran 20:48 to place seventh and Munks took 15th in 21:01. Moria O'Shea (Greensburg, Pa.) rounded out the scoring for the Blue & White as she ran 21:16 to finish 35th.

In the men's 5.2-mile run, the Nittany Lions ran to a 10th-place finish as a team with a score of 252 points. Individually, Colin Abert (Easton, Pa.) paced the Nittany Lion harriers as he placed 10th with a time of 25:17.
In addition to Abert, Alex Tomasko (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) finished 43rd with a time of 25:47 and John McGowan (Northport, N.Y.) took 53rd in 25:54. Underclassmen Isaac Davis (Cogan Station, Pa) and Owen Wing (State College, Pa.) rounded out the scoring as they finished 71st (26:08) and 87th (26:14), respectively.
Homecoming Visit: Steve Walsh and Dan Curran. Photo by Greg Fredericks.

Julia Paternain. Photo by Tom Shiffer.

Womens Start. Photo by Tom Shiffer.

Steve Shisler, Bob Hudson, John McGraw and Tom Shiffer.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Windy City Makes It Difficult


Tyler McCandless placed 20th (7th American) at the Chicago Marathon on Sunday.  The cool, windy and rainy day made it difficult for many runners. His 1:06:36 split led to a gritty second half fighting the weather conditions. Still, Tyler was within 2 minutes of his career best, and in a major Marathon.

2:16:37

Monday, October 8, 2018

"The Michigan" Results


I had the pleasure to make it in time to see the Division III Hartwick Cross Country workout on Friday during True Blue Weekend.  I suppose its like a combo Parents Weekend and Homecoming all rolled into one.

With 2 weeks off of meets, it was a good time for a big workout for all of the athletes in preparation for Championship Season.  And I would have to say that Coach Tom Hartnett had them well prepared for the whole thing.  Each of them had a thorough understanding of the goals and methods of the workout.  Each athlete had their own pace schedule for the 1600/1200/800/400 workout even including the intervening tempo miles!  That ensured the maximum benefit for all the runners from first to last.  In my day, trying to keep up with the top runners ensured a horrible 10K race in mid-week and a collapse for the real weekend race to come.

The workout started and groups of 2 or 3 took off on their own schedules.  And it was remarkable how close everyone was to their prearranged goals.  The resultant scene was choreographed pandamonium.  Here is video I smuggled out from under the watchful eyes of security:




Daughter the Younger held on for the hardest workout in her young career.  All the other runners also survived.  Smiles were everywhere at the finish as the next day was a rare rest day!

The warm down brought out the smiles.

Coach Hartnett keeping track of the pandemonium.

Daughter the Younger hangs on in her 800.

Our Michigan Friend, Jonathon Cross remembers being in the original "Michigan" workouts in Coach Ron Warhurst's first years at U of M.

"Yes. We did that workout in my last couple of years at Michigan.  Those were the first two years Warhurst coached too.  We did a hard mile on the track then ran on the roads (sometimes over to U of M golf course) followed by another hard mile on the track.We went out a gate at the end of Ferry Field from the track."
He added:
"Getting tired thinking about that!"


Friday, October 5, 2018

The Hardest Workout Of Them All?


Daughter the Younger's Division III Hartwick Hawks Cross Country team has 2 weeks off until their 3 season-ending Championship Season meets.  As part of the school's Parent's Weekend, the team will host parents and Alumni for a workout on Friday at 4:00PM.

The workout chosen by second-year head coach Tom Hartnett is "The Michigan Workout" from Head Coach Ron Warhurst.  Tom has invigorated both the Men's and Women's teams by regaling them with the mystique and history of the endurance test he ran while at Division I Sienna.

The workout isn't your typical "intervals" workout, as it is one that requires a recovery almost as lengthy as a 10K race if run properly.  Here's a summary of a classic "Michigan Workout" from Competitor Running:
Here’s how to do a standard version of The Michigan:
— Warm up with 2-3 miles of easy jogging followed by 4-6 x 20-second strides.
— Run 1 mile (4 laps) on the track at your current 10K race pace.
— After the mile on the track, jog 2-3 minutes off the track to the start of where you’ll run a mile at your tempo run pace. An out-and-back stretch of road or dirt loop will work well for this part of the workout.
— Run 1 mile off the track at your tempo pace, or roughly 20 seconds per mile slower than the mile you just ran on the track.
— After completing the mile off the track, jog 2-3 minutes back to the track for the next interval.
— Back on the track, run 1,200m (3 laps) at your current 10K pace, aiming to hit the same lap splits you ran for the first mile of the workout.
— After the 1,200 on the track, jog 2-3 minutes off the track back to the start of where you’ll run your second tempo mile.
— Run 1 mile off the track at your tempo pace.
— After completing the mile off the track, jog 2-3 minutes back to the track for the third interval.
— Back on the track, run 800m (2 laps) at your current 5K race pace, or roughly 4-5 seconds per lap faster than you ran your first two track intervals.
— After the 800 on the track, jog 2-3 minutes off the track back to the start of where you’ll run your third (and last) tempo mile.
— Run 1 mile off the track at your tempo pace.
— After completing the mile off the track, jog 2-3 minutes back to the track for the last interval.
— Back on the track, run 400m (1 lap) faster than your current 5K race pace, or as if you were finishing the last quarter mile of a race. Focus on running fast but relaxed—hold your form!
— Cool down with 2-3 miles of easy jogging, stretch, refuel.
Coach Groves adapted this workout for use (or misuse!) by Nittany Lions.  We ran a few in 1979 and 1980.  Our version entailed a 3 mile warm up from Rec Hall (1979) or Beaver Stadium visitor's locker room (1980) to the new track in its current location absent the Indoor Complex.

A timed mile was then run as one group, immediately followed by a tempo run of 2 miles to the Observatory fields past the Deer Pens for the second timed mile.  Immediately after the second timed mile, runners return to the track at tempo pace for the last timed mile, this time in scattered, bedraggled groups.

For those of us in the middle or back of the pack among the large number of distance runners in that day, keeping up with the leaders on the "tempo" runs between timed miles, was not an option.  Merely trying meant running essentially a 10K race (usually on a Wednesday).  This almost guaranteed a horrible race on Saturday if one was on the schedule!  I have to check my logs to see if I have any of these workouts documented with the surrounding races?  Or any of you can check yours and chime in!

Gary Black remembers one of these workouts with Tom Rapp clocking a 4:14 on the final mile, to the taunts of those coming in behind him.  I was nowhere near this event, as I could not keep up with the leaders following the second mile.  But I wasn't in the last group either, and I'm kinda sorta proud of that!

I have reached out to Ben Flanagan, Michigan's NCAA 10K Champion to opine on his remembrances of any Michigan Workouts.  I hope to hear back soon.

I had breakfast with Ben at 2017 Big Ten Champs.
Jonathon Cross, Michigan Alum and Friend of the Group, ran for the first years of Coach Ron Warhurst and may offer some great insights also!


Monday, October 1, 2018

Progeny In The Endurance Ranks


This post features the offspring of friends continuing family athletic exploits in Division 3 Endurance Sports.  I have to say Endurance Sports because noted crackpot and our Erwin Shroedinger Endowed Chair for Advanced Physics has a daughter who apparently received slightly more than 50% of her genes from him!   (Just kidding, Ron Moore.  Ultra-Trail running isn't even slightly crazy.  Wink Wink.)

First up is Elizabeth Moore, who is a triathlete in the new sport of Women's Triathlon at Transylvania University in Kentucky .  She has won all three events so far as a Freshman, and is qualified for the National Championships.  I have a feeling we will be seeing more of her in the future.

Elizabeth Moore


Second up is Phoebe Whiteside, who we all know from her trek of the entire length of the Appalachian Trail with her dad, Rob Whiteside, 2 years ago! Remember, I have also trekked the entire width of the Appalachian Trail and have a t-shirt to prove it. She runs for Suburban Philly Swarthmore College.

Phoebe Whiteside


Third is Valerie Collins, daughter of Group Friend Martha White Collins.  She runs for the Tartans of Carnegie Mellon University in the Burgh.

Valerie Collins, 87


Last, but not least is Anne Baskwill, Daughter the Younger, who has found a new love for running at Hartwick College near Cooperstown, NY.  With her previous hurdling activity in high school, she may just run the Steeplechase for the first ever year of Track at Hartwick.

Anne Baskwill, front left
Please forward news and pics of any more progeny in the college athletic ranks!
 
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