In summer of 2002 I determined that when I reached 60 years of age in early July, 2003, I would run a series of races of a variety of distances during that age year, or as close to it as scheduling would allow. Now that I've passed the age 61 threshold, with the addition of the 5K I ran this morning, the series is done except for one omission. There is no entry for a 50-mile race, but I'm planning a remedial solution in March, 2005.
A plain text table showing every race event I did during GSR's duration is at the bottom. The best way to present commentary is as a series of notes on each event in turn.
During the 366 days I claimed my age to be 60, I recorded a total of 2445.74 pedestrian miles, an average of 6.69 miles per day, 46.83 miles per week.
During the project, which slopped slightly over the ends of the year on both edges, I ran a total of 505 miles in races.
The original agenda called for races of: 100 meters; 1 mile; 5K, 10K; half-marathon; marathon; 50K; 50 miles; 100 miles; 24 hours; multi-day.
In the course of things I added to this a 3.25-mile charity walk and two all-night 12-hour runs. All were unofficial as far as recording results, but formally sponsored and supported, not mere personal training runs.
The only item in the list not attempted was the 50-miler. The only one not completed was the 100-miler, which I DNFed at 80 miles. Some events I did or soon will do multiple times.
Here we find my most laughable performance, an astonishing 21.51 seconds. I believe a crippled grandmother pushing a shopping cart with a bowling ball chained to her ankle could have beat me.
There was no all-comers track meet that I could get to, so the occasion for recording this was not really a race. Arizona Road Racers (ARR) sponsors a series of informal open mile races. Following the second, at which I got my mile PR, the timer sent me down the track with a guy who had the starting gun, while he remained at the end with the gizmo to record times.
I had never even practiced a 100 meter run ever in my life. And I've never practiced starting one, which is probably the most important part. I asked the guy with the gun whether you're supposed to push off with your strong leg in back or forward. He wasn't sure. It felt most natural for me to have my left leg back — my strong leg. (I'm left-handed and left-footed.) But I used no starting blocks, so it probably mattered little.
When the pistol went off I leapt in the air like a startled cat and began flailing the air. It couldn't have been more inelegant. A second or two was lost just getting moving. Suddenly I found that my legs were still dead from the mile I'd finished twenty minutes earlier. I was utterly unable to push hard enough to stride, so just turned my legs over as fast as I could go, laughing as I went.
I did try as hard as I could, knowing it would be over soon enough. When I got to the end the timer asked me if I even wanted to see my time, probably thinking it wouldn't matter. Of course it mattered! I wasn't planning on humiliating myself again. At least not this year.
So 21.51 it is and shall remain. I do believe I'm actually capable of about 18 seconds with a little practice, which is still a joke.
This I did three times, at ARR open mile track workouts. The first was just an experiment to see if I could do it. I pushed as hard as I could, went out too hard at the beginning, and nearly DNFed at 200 meters — thought I was gonna die. When I came around the first lap I was on a 7:25 pace. Somehow I survived, but earned myself a major case of track hack, and didn't stop coughing for over two hours.
The next session I managed the first lap better, and set my PR of 8:22.99. The third time out I just couldn't keep up with that pace.
I was satisfied with my 8:22. Even though I can't recall my mile PR from high school, I believe it was somewhere around 9:15, run under threat and duress. If so, in 42 years I've managed to knock close to a minute off my mile. Not too bad for a geezer, eh?
This event was a charity event for children with diabetes, participated in by several thousand people, most of them corporate teams. The distance was not accurately measured, and results were not taken, but Suzy wanted to do it because the bank she works for was putting together a team, so I was happy to encourage that endeavor.
I walked only, but power walked. It took at least ten minutes to get across the starting line within a pack of lemmings, but after that I must have passed one or two thousand strollers, and was among the first to arrive back at the park. Leave it to me to do "well" in an event that doesn't count. I ran another 9.40 miles later on, my real workout for the day.
Run today (July 18, 2004) to round out the series. I posted the race report to Dead Runners Society. It was fun, and I would certainly do it again, except it interrupted my training for Javelina Jundred. Since I'm usually in the process of training for something outlandish, I virtually never have the time or inclination to train properly for shorter distances, so I may never get around to another.
In early 1996 I ran Foothills 10K as my first race, ran it three more years in a row, then not again until this year. I've run one other 10K event once. I like Foothills because it's a fast course and at a time of year that is usually good for me to do a run of that distance. Each year I've set a new all-time PR until this year, when I beat my first-ever time by five seconds, and was geezerly proud of that.
The Desert Classic is a low-key but well supported ARR club race. I had a good day, considering I did no specific training, and just showed up. My time for the race was exactly the same as my watch time for my very first half marathon, America's Finest City, in August, 1996, for which I trained for months like an Olympian, unsure if I could make the distance. As noted in the PR column I have since run this distance in 2:04:08 in training, also once in 2:04:09, in what were two of the best runs of my life.
Whiskey Row is considered an ultra by some people (though not by me) because of the extreme hills. Regardless of the appellative one uses to give it a handle, it's a tough course, not one on which to seek an all-time PR. To the contrary, I got a PW out of it. I chose this race, running it for the third time, simply because it was convenient.
Someone suggested I might have been better off doing the full marathon at Desert Classic and doing the half at Whiskey Row. From a performance perspective this is true, but then I would have run a full marathon along a boring canal, and would have missed seeing the beautiful forests near Prescott.
Pemberton Trail is the same beautiful 15.4-mile trail on which Javelina Jundred is run. I train on it frequently. My records indicate that I have now done 21 full loops and several partial loops. The PT50K race fell neatly into an available time slot, and is run during a beautiful time of year. (Yes, early February is beautiful for running here.) From this race I also took away my all-time favorite running shirt.
A few days before I turned 60, the race committee for Across the Years sponsored a non-competitive all-night 12-hour run at Nardini Manor, the new site of Across the Years, on the newly built track. It was a horribly muggy night. I was tired of being there after a couple of hours, sat frequently, slept some, and walked a lot.
This year the event was much better, mostly because it was held a month earlier, when the temperature was comfortable for running all night, and the humidity was also quite low. Despite having completed a 24-hour race just a week before, I managed to find a gear that kept me going. I went the entire race without sitting down, and was immensely pleased that I was able to do as well as I did so closely on the heels of a primary race.
As noted, I did not run a 50-miler during the GSR's duration, entirely because there wasn't one that was both convenient and doable. Zane Grey would have fit my schedule, but it's reputedly the toughest 50M in the country, and quite clearly beyond of my range of ability, so I didn't venture to attempt it.
Officially speaking, I've deferred that item, meaning that I'm declaring GSR to be completed, but will make up the deficiency later.
My first idea was to run Man Against Horse in Prescott the first weekend in October, just four weeks before Javelina Jundred. That might work, but then I decided I would get more benefit from an all-night triple loop training run of Pemberton Trail (total mileage 45.9 miles) being organized by a local runner in preparation for Javelina.
As long as I was deferring the 50-mile race three months, it might as well be pushed out a few more. Presently my plan is to do Old Pueblo in southern Arizona on March 5 of next year. This is reputedly one of the best 50-mile races in existence.
Granted, I participated in Javelina Jundred last year, but back problems obliged me to drop at 80 miles, 15 minutes short of 24 hours into the race, but with plenty of time left to finish within the 30-hour cutoff. The drop rate for that race was 49%. I was wide awake, otherwise strong, and raring to go, but my back would not cooperate. For the sake of GSR I counted it as an act of participation, but every ultrarunner knows what a DNF is.
Not one to be defeated easily, I am in training now to return to Javelina on October 30, determined that this time, I will get the job done.
FANS 24-hour race is in Minneapolis, and is run to obtain scholarships for inner city youths.
At FANS I was plagued the last few hours by the identical back problems that brought me down at Javelina. There is no DNF in a fixed-time race, nor in this case was there any need to be one. Other than the 12 minutes I sat in my chair at 4:00am, I maintained forward progress and stayed on my feet the whole race. Because my back problem slowed me down significantly, I missed a PR by 0.9 miles, when at mid-race I was certain I was on pace to get around 95 miles.
My third outing at 72 hours at Across the Years, my all-time favorite race, was not only my best effort at that race, but probably the best race I've ever run. I had a little problem with needing sleep both the first and second days, which ate into my mileage, but on the third day I came back exceptionally strong, needing only 15 minutes rest the whole 24 hours. My 180.198 miles was good enough to beat everyone but one man and one woman, both record-holding elites orders of magnitude out of my class.
Geezer's Sexagesimennial Romp is hereby declared to be a mostly done deal.