Thursday, April 2, 2015

Three Things Thursday

Is it that time again? Actually, in terms of work it's Friday since we are off tomorrow, which is nice because they also declared it casual day. So we've got that going for us, which is nice.

*I hope everyone had fun reading my post from yesterday. Normally I don't get into April Fool's stuff, but I remembered that it was 30 years ago yesterday that Sports Illustrated ran George Plimpton's brilliant story about Sidd Finch, a reclusive, monk-like world traveler who was blessed with a 168 mile per hour fastball.

I was 15 and at a New York Mets spring training game that day when in the middle of the game this guy walked through the grandstands followed by a bunch of people with cameras. They stopped a few feet from me and he spoke to everyone and then left. When I got back home to Illinois a few days later and opened my SI to the story, I yelled out, "I SAW THAT GUY!"

So that was really the crux of the idea, just to do some funny storytelling that I hoped you would like. The post also had references to the Brady Bunch (George Glass and his wife Jan), as well as the Chicago Bulls (Scottie Pippen). Although it was all a story, if someone from Nike reads this and likes my idea, give me a call, OK?

*Tech/tactical tip. It's pretty common after a race, especially a big one, for people to go on social media and say a course is long/short because their GPS said it was. This typically happens after big city marathons, which in those cases I can assure you they are as accurate as can be. If a course is certified by the USATF -- and has a certification number -- you can be confident in the fact it is accurate. If it's not, chances are there may be a little wiggle room in there.

The Viking Half Marathon I ran on Saturday isn't certified, and my Runtastic app had me running 13.23 miles instead of 13.1. While it is likely there is some "wiggle room" in there, what I got out of the data was the importance of making the course as short as possible. While in many races it's hard to run the tangents -- and Saturday they had cones in places that widened some of the turns a little -- and the exact line used to measure the course because of the crowd, it's also beneficial to either look at the course ahead of time or look ahead to figure out where the course is going next, and adjust accordingly.

So let's say the course I ran Saturday was accurate, if my GPS was correct, and there were no buildings or anything that would've gotten in the way, I ran .13 miles longer. In terms of time, at a 10:21 pace, that adds up to more than a minute. While in this instance it doesn't really matter, think about when you are gunning for a PR, or even getting close to that magical Boston qualifying time. Then, it matters. It matters a lot.

Many people put so much detail into their training and racing, but course management always seems to be a forgotten piece to the puzzle. Now that I have a way of gathering data related to that, I'm going to try and do better in the future.

*I brag about my son Matt's running a lot in this space, but today I'm going to brag a little about my younger son, Kevin. He had his first track meet last night and set PRs in all three events in which he competed. His jump of 12 feet, 6 inches in the long jump was 18 inches better than his best last year, and in the 800 he improved from 3:35 to 3:09.

In the last event, the 4x400 relay, he was the third leg and he and a boy from another school had a pretty nice battle going on. Kevin looked like he was starting to slow down with 100 meters to go, but with a lot of encouragement from his friends he took off running and easily won his leg and handed off the baton with his team in first place (they eventually finished second). His split of 1:19 was nine seconds better than his PR, but what was even more inspiring was just the way he raced that leg instead of just running it. He was very happy with himself.

Running doesn't come as easy to him as it does to his brother, but he is starting to love the sport and enjoys competition, and that in itself will help him improve. Because he got in a little situation with homework, he won't run in a meet for another two weeks, but I'm sure some new PRs are waiting when he gets back on the track.

Have a great Easter!

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