07/25/10 – Mann Wins National 45-49 Title in 1500m

Mann Kicks Home to Win 1500m

Mann Kicks Home to Win 1500m

It was hot, hotter and hottest in Sacramento, and the Strawberry Canyon Track Club netted some nice hardware in the form of two bronze medals and one gold medal! Yes, Jeff Mann is the Strawberry Canyon Track Club’s first-ever USA national champion as he won the men’s 45-49 1500-meter race in a stellar performance. Teammate Matt Bogdaniwicz wrote the following effusive email:
Strawberry Canyon TC Masters performance of the year- my vote Jeff Mann 92.46% Men’s 800. No open Strawberry Canyon athlete, or Pacific striders open, master, senior etc has ever reached that milestone. There may have been a 90% somewhere, but doubtful that is like a 4:07 Mile, 14:00 5k, or 29:00 10K at the open level. The 2:02.51=1:49.35 open. I just think it should be recognized somehow. I know Pete Magill use to list performance by % on his site.”
Yes indeed!
Backtracking a bit, the first day of competition was Thursday morning, in which Strawberry Canyon TC stalwarts Thom Trimble and Tim Keenan competed in the 5000-meter event. Divided into age group sections, Thom Trimble ran first and posted a mark of 17:41.52 (11th-place) on a day when the temperature was in the upper 80s and muggy at the start of the race.
Keenan - 17:14 5,000m

Keenan - 17:14 5,000m

Tim Keenan lined up in the men’s 45-49 division of the 5000 and ran a solid time of 17:14.27, not under the 17:00-barrier he’d hoped to crack but then again the conditions did anything but favor a distance runner’s physiological requirement for cool air.

The next round of events for the Strawberries was the 10,000-meter event and the weather did indeed disappoint as temperatures crept up all morning. There was a cruel irony in that the 60-89 men’s race went off at 7 a.m. when it was in the 50s and they actually put up some impressive times, lending false hope to the 10K runners competing in their later morning heats.
The men’s 50-59 heat was combined and Thom Trimble and Jeff Teeters were entered. Jeff had been nursing a sore hamstring and made a race day decision to jump in, realizing he could always step off the track if he felt that dreaded twinge. At one point he openly wanted the conditions to be “120 degrees and with high humidity” so he would be able to grind out a race and not be forced to rely solely on his gimpy hamstring with a faster pace a cooler day would predictably allow for.
The temperatures were already pushing the low 80s and the humidity remained, which slowed things down considerably. Thom and Jeff both went out conservatively, perhaps Jeff’s sore hamstring was a blessing in disguise as he really set himself up for a pretty good run. however (in his own words), he “got greedy” and started charging after some attainable guys in the middle of the race. Thom bided his time a bit and caught back up to Jeff. Thom’s 37:06.05 (4th place) barely missed the medal podium, while Jeff managed to fight his way to 37:23.95, likely not what he had been hoping for timewise but considering his significant tweak he was happy to survive the race intact.

Trimble - 4th in 50-54 10,000m

Trimble - 4th in 50-54 10,000m

Next up was the men’s 30-49 age group 10000 and the weather wasn’t doing the competitors any favors. At one point it started to feel like Jeff Teeter’s weather forecast would be uncannily accurate as the 90-degree weather took it’s toll on everybody. Tim Keenan was able to maintain a strong pace in significantly hotter conditions than the earlier morning races and finished with a time of 37:06.61, good for 6th place in that age group. Coach Carl Rose did not enjoy that morning’s jaunt and finished in 10th in 40:12.82.
Sunday was the final day of competition and the Berries heated things up in the middle distances. First off was the men’s 45-49 age group 800-meter run and Jeff Mann was raring to go despite having various niggles and tweaks (hamstring, back, calves) during the course of the season which were reflected by some up-and-down performances. However he ended tangling in an inspired three-man war and came through fighting tooth and nail all the way until the end. His third-place bronze medal was arguably the club’s best all-time performance (see Matt’s endorsement above) as Jeff cranked out a phenomenal time of 2:02.51. He was just edged by Ireland’s Kevin Forde (2:02.40) and Oregon’s Mike Blackmore (2:01.12). This was one of the best races of the meet, going all the way down to the wire. Jeff was very pleased with his season-best breakthrough and bronze medal.
Bogdanowicz Runs 2:01.99 800m

Bogdanowicz Runs 2:01.99 800m

The wounded warrior brigade continued, as Matt Bogdanowicz lined up in the men’s 40-44 800-meter race with an injured achilles. He managed to run an exciting race, running as evenly as possible with his sore achilles. His 2:01.99 was a season-best performance and he finished 6th overall. He should be able to break 2:00 fairly easily next year if he stays healthy and can train with our stable of sub-2:00 middle-distance runners.

After missing the USATF Club nationals meet with a strained soleus and possible inguinal hernia, Joshua Seeherman could not resist the temptation to race in the USATF meet either come away with a season-ending performance or exacerbating a potentially bad injury. He courageously and perhaps ill-advisedly ran the in the 800-meter men’s 30-34 race, and though his 2:04.09 reflected three weeks of lost fitness, Seeherman was still able to secure a prestigious bronze medal in this event. Those do not grow on trees so regardless of his time, getting a medal for the club, while injured, was huge in my humble opinion.

While some runners can only handle a little over 2 minutes at 800m pace, club member Bill Brusher was able to endure this semi-sprint race for over 3 minutes! It’s not that Bill is a bit slower or out of shape, it’s that he is running with about a third of his red blood cells tied behind his back. As many of you know, Bill is in the middle of chemotherapy to treat his cancer. Chemo is good for treating cancer, but not good for helping runners transport oxygen. Bill’s hemoglobin count of around 10 mg/dl is well under the normal 14-18 mg/dl – almost like running with just one lung. If his blood count drops a bit more, Bill could be the only athlete at the meet who was LEGALLY using EPO (a red blood cell producing drug).

Prior to being diagnosed with cancer Bill had his sights set on running in the high 2:20s and making the finals of the 55-59 division. Rather than pull out of the meet, or even worry about finishing last, Bill pushed forward with his plans. He expected to run about 3 flat and finish last in the prelims. He did – 3:01.68 to be exact. It turned out it would have taken a 2:21 to make the finals anyway.

Bill has only four more chemo treatments and hopes to be cancer free and back to serious training and more hemoglobin soon. Bill turns 60 next summer and will be raring to go for the World Championships to be held in Sacramento in 2011.

Last but not least…on Sunday Jeff Mann had more work to take care of and take care of it he did…in the men’s 45-49 year-old 1500-meter event. He was lined up against some great competition, including all-world 45-49 age grouper Pete Magill, coming back from an injury-riddled season himself, as well as Jeff’s nemesis in the 800-meter race, Kevin Forde. Mann went out in 70 holding on to a solid third and fourth place, with Magill shadowing his every move. The runners cranked, as the race thinned out into a five-man race by the 1K mark, with Forde, Francis Burdett, Andi Di Conti and Magill. Things really got hopping after the bell lap as Mann took the lead with about 300 meters to go. Forde and Magill were a half step behind, dangerously riding Jeff’s coat-tails for a punishing finishing kick. Not to be denied, Mann dug down deeper and fought his way down the home-stretch. He was not about to lose to Kevin Forde a second time, and he crossed the line in a spectacular time of 4:13.90, just clear of Forde’s 4:14, and Magill’s 4:15.
Congratulations to all of the Strawberry Canyon Track Club masters and seniors runners for putting together such inspired efforts and represent us so well at USATF nationals. Great job everyone! (Carl Rose)

07/10/10 – USATF Club Nationals

Cool, foggy weather greeted the Berries as five hardy athletes participated in the USATF Club National Championships. This was the most significant track meet of the year for the Strawberry Canyon TC, which took place on July 9-10 at San Francisco State University. In terms of classic periodization, it was an oddly timed duck in what is ideally the base-building portion of the training schedule. Hence a few other Berries whom had qualified for the national championships prudently opted to sit this event out and train for fall cross country.

Niko, 800m

Niko, 800m

The first day brought plenty of action for the Berries. First up was Niko Connor, who had to go it alone in the men’s 800-meter dash as a disappointed Joshua Seeherman scratched on race day, citing a lingering groin or psoas strain incurred while racing in Santa Rosa late last month. Josh came out to encourage his training partner Niko, who noted the pace went out a little too slowly, and was unable to come back to the leaders during the second lap of his heat. Niko fought down the home stretch and finished about a second off of his PR set earlier this season with a time of 1:59.77. Though a bit disappointed to end his season this on this note, Niko recognized his season was extremely long, and he had been fatigued for the past several weeks prior to this particular meet. His mark was still good for a respectable top ten 10th-place overall finish.

The final event of the evening was the men’s 10000-meter event which featured three Berries. Newcomer Patrick Reaves took out the early pace for us, coming through his first lap in 74.5 to David Yu’s 77.8. Joseph Binder, who said after the Marin 10K in May he would be shutting things down and rebuilding for fall cross country, was doing these races primarily as glorified workouts. Binder was about a second behind Yu at the 400-meter mark, and after a few laps, cruised through the rest of the race at a steady 5:30 per mile pace.

David and Patrick

David and Patrick

Yu ran an extraordinary race, pacing the first three miles in a steady stream of 76-77-second laps, teaming up with West Valley TC runner Todd Rose. They soon caught up to Patrick after the 2800-meter mark and passed 31:27 10K Central Park TC runner John Roberts. We could see the light start to turn on for Yu, who smoothly rolled through the 5000-meter mark in 15:55, about 11 seconds under his 10K PR pace of 32:11. At that point Yu looked very fresh and gave us a knowing little smile as he crossed the finish line of lap 14, fully aware of what could now be possible. He started to ease away from a tiring Rose, continuing to stalk the other runners lingering ahead of him. Next he caught and passed a surprised Sam Robinson of adidas Transports, who went out a little too hard with the early leaders.

Sam tried to hang with Yu for the next 1000 but David was not to be denied and Sam eventually fell off of Yu’s sizzling pace. David continued to close the gap on the tiring runners in front of him, all with PRs in the sub-31:30 range. At roughly 7.5K, Yu passed Rikki Hacker of the Kansas City Smoke, who ended up dropping out shortly thereafter. David smelled blood as he pursued other runners in front of him, passing the 8K mark in a monster PR of 25:15. His blistering pace started to wear him out in the last mile, as Yu managed to hold on for a 5:16 1600 between 8000 and 9600 meters of the long race. David literally had nothing left at the end as he closed with a 74-second last lap, but he crushed the 32:00-minute barrier and almost collapsed after the finish as the contingent of Berries fans erupted in raucous cheers.

Yu’s stellar 7th-place overall finish in the phenomenal time of 31:45.84 was one of the club’s best efforts of the season, and a textbook negative split in which his second 5000 was timed in 15:50. David netted the team two valuable points and he drilled an on-so-sweet 26-second 10K lifetime PR, climbing over five runners to 6th place on the Berries vaunted all-time 10K list. In terms of going to the well, David was completely bonked on the ride home as he shivered uncontrollably in the car, possibly on the verge of hypothermia, but was quickly revived by his teammates, a well-earned warm dinner, and the enticing prospect of a week off followed up by easier stretch of summer mileage base training.New Berry Patrick Reaves hung in there for a very solid 11th-place finish and 32:52.08 10K effort as he regains his fitness for a fall marathon, while Joseph Binder relaxed after falling off his PR pace early and finished in 34:11.49 in 12th place.

The second day of the competition proved every bit as exciting as the first, as the Berries entered two runners into the very competitive men’s 5000-meter event and Emily Bartlett, our newest woman who joined us in June for her first workout. Emily represented the Berries in the women’s 3000-meter steeplechase, and went out at a reasonably conservative first lap of 86.5 seconds. She was comfortably in fifth-place while shadowing Bevin Peters of the Central Park Track Club.

The former University of Cornell runner was regrouping after an off-year of training subsequent to her entry into the University of California’s demanding graduate program, and tempered her expectations accordingly. Still, Bartlett passed Peters at the 1600-meter mark and started her assault on the third-place runner from the Greater Boston Track Club. Eventually Emily’s sporadic training caught up to her and Bartlett fell back, eventually getting passed by the hard-charging Peters and settling for a very respectable 5th-place finish in a time of 11:55.59. Though Emily was mildly disappointed in her time, she still managed to outscore the men’s team and her four points netted the Strawberries a 15th-place team finish. Emily shook it off gracefully and will regroup to focus on this autumn’s competitive cross country racing scene.

The men’s 5000-meter event was a barn-burner as Joe Binder and Sean McFarland limbered up at the starting line. Binder again utilized this as more of a solid training effort and went out at 77 seconds for the first lap and was content to maintain that pace throughout the race, coming home in a workmanlike time of 16:04.35, chugging home in 16th place.

McFarland, though, was ready for prime time and may have tied Elizabeth Scott for the open runner’s race of the year honors for the Berries. With his parents in town he came ready to put on a big show and take a bite out of his then-current 15:22 PR. Sean did not disappoint. He survived some significant jostling, erratic pacing and getting shoved into lanes two and three for the first mile. Sean’s first lap was in 72 but he was getting bounced around. Trying to avoid trouble, Sean’s second lap was in 77, and his third lap was a bit panicky as he jetted to a 68-second split as he tried in vain to free himself from the rippling welter of elbows and spikes. Sean came through the 1600 in 4:53, a bit slower than the race plan. Concerned for the outcome of his race as well as trying to minimize the potential risk of an injury, Coach Carl yelled at Sean (and saved a few choice words for the other runners, some of whom appeared to be on the verge of getting disqualified for their ruthless tactics) to take the lead at the 1600-meter mark, in which he settled into a better rhythm of 72.5-second laps

While the field was toying with each-other to determine placing and points, McFarland’s bold move to the front rendered a more honest race. Although some of the faster runners accelerated away later (including the first two runners who closed in a crazy 2:05 for the final 800 meters), Sean continued to hammer, cranking his pace up a notch after crossing the 3200-meter mark in 9:44, which indicated a 4:51 second mile. He started clipping off 71-second laps in the final mile, building up an even bigger head of steam. McFarland lumbered through the third mile in an outstanding negative split of 4:46, and with the gas he had remaining in his tank, Sean finished in 34 seconds for the last 200 meters. He staggered off after finishing the harrowing race in a spectacular performance. Sean’s final time of 15:04.43 was an amazing 18-second PR, good for 8th overall and 4th of the Berries all-time 5K PR list, also scoring the team one valuable point in the competition. (A vicious rumor has it that Sean celebrated his remarkable PR by downing an entire Zachary’s large deep dish pizza later that evening).

Given that we were a first-year club, the Berries ran extremely well and served notice that we are on the road to becoming a force to be reckoned with in the future. Next up is the USATF Masters National Championships held July 22-25 in Sacramento. (by Carl Rose)

08/01/10 – Binder Destroys Skyline 50 Course Record

In 2009 I ran the Skyline 50k, my trail ultra and first ultra in California, as a way to get to know something about the ultra community here in northern California. Running 3:47:59, I finished second to Chikara Omine, a dominant force in the open division of the PA USATF trail series. While we both eclipsed the previous 20-29 age group course record, Chikara claimed the new record with a 3:40:06. I decided to return to Skyline in 2010 to get some more ultra experience and maybe take a shot at a rematch.

I was very slow about signing up for the race, and I almost didn’t run it. On Sunday the week before the race I came down with a cold, the first I had gotten in over a year. Not wanting to try a 50k feeling sick, I shelved my race plans. Nevertheless, I started to feel better as the week progressed and had a few good runs. By Friday I was feeling a really strong itch to get out and compete, and I decided that if my sniffles were gone Saturday morning I would do the Sunday race. Thankfully, I woke healthy, and prepped for the race by doing a three mile run and a seven mile hike in Marin with some friends. I slept very soundly for a race night, and was ready to go on Sunday morning.

At the course, I did the race day sign-up (pretty sweet for an ultra!) and strapped on my trusty Fuel Belt. At 7 am I toed the line and headed out with the lead pack, including Chikara, Jean Pommier, and Victor Ballesteros. Chikara set a good pace from the start, I followed him, and we came through 3 miles in about 19:35 with Jean not too far behind. One thing I found funny about this part of the race was the comparison between the printed course profile and how it felt to me. Looking at the course profile one would think that the first 2.5 miles are flat, when in reality they are seriously rolling. It is simply that these 100’ bumps bear no comparison to the 700’ climb awaiting in Redwood. Even though these were short climbs, we took them fairly easy, saving our strength for later challenges. Around mile 4 I rolled down a hill and dropped Chikara and Jean. They caught up to me as we headed up the gradual climb on the Grass Valley Trail, and I wondered if 2010 would be a repeat of 2009 in which Jean and Chikara and I stuck together through this area and over to Bear Meadow until both of them dropped me on the climb up the Golden Spike Trail.

The three of us remained together until the Bort Meadow aid station (6.29, 42:07), where I ran on while they stopped. As I eased my way up the hill they narrowed the gap but did not catch me entirely. I screamed down the hill to Bear Meadow station and crossed the road to the Golden Spike Trail. As we climbed up this singletrack, Jean slowly caught up to me. We ran pretty close together over to the big climb up to the East Ridge Trail, and it was really nice to have his company a few meters back for the challenging East Ridge climbs. We both hit the Skyline station, where I refilled a couple of bottles and grabbed a gel. I pulled out ahead of Jean and tried to put a gap on him before heading down the French Trail.

Doing the French Trail was a lot more fun this year than last year because I knew what to expect and felt more in control of the race. I pulled away from Jean a bit, and then passed some mountain bikers as they were going up hill. Getting in front of them gave me some added motivation because I was pretty worried that they would hit me coming from behind on a downhill. At one point it seemed really dicey as the cyclists and I headed toward an oncoming group of hikers. Luckily we all dodged each other and I stayed ahead of the bikes. It helped that I didn’t have to stop to cross logs!

Around this time I started calculating what I would have to do to break Chikara’s age group record. I had come through Skyline ahead of schedule for it, and I figured that if I made it back to Bear Meadow by about 2:20 I would be able to do it. After what seemed like a meteoric descent of the Toyon Trail, I reached the station at 2:20:57 and began a serious hunt for the record. Working at a steady pace I climbed back up the MacDonald hill, and then I started rolling, first down to Bort Meadow where I got a couple more bottle refills and then on the way down the nice, straight, smooth, downhill Brandon Trail. I concentrated on running as fast as possible while staying aerobic, which worked out well. The only mishap here was smacking into a post near the Bort station.

The long downhill was great. It was interrupted by the climb up along the shore of Lake Chabot to head into the Honker Bay aid station. It seems rude of the course to demand more climbing after such a nice downhill so close to the finish. Even so, I had enough left to climb the hills, motivated largely by a vision of reaching Honker Bay and having only a flat 3 mi run along the lakeshore to bring me home. Sadly, when I reached the last segment, reality did not match my mental picture of a flat, fast stretch on which I could run say, 16 minutes for 3 miles. As I should have expected, it was actually strongly rolling and even included a set of stairs! Despite these obstacles I managed to run 6:32 pace for this last part of the race to finish in about 3:37, three minutes faster than the previous 20s course record. Jean was not too far behind with an impressive time of his own, and Chikara finished in third overall. Later he explained that he has been dealing with some injuries since late spring and has had a demanding race schedule including WS at the end of June and the SF marathon just one week prior to Skyline. (Joe Binder)

I’m glad I didn’t stay home sick for this one!

Skyline 50
Lake Chabot and Redwood Regional Parks, Castro Valley, CA
Joe Binder
3:37:05, 1st
Course record by 3:01