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June 1, 2006

Running and Spelling

(Actually, if taken in order, it would be “spelling and running”…)

Part 1: Spelling

It’s Thursday afternoon, and I’m at work. And not watching the preliminary rounds of the National Spelling Bee. Apparently, watching the Bee doesn’t justify taking a whole day off to some of the senior management and administrative personnel I work with. Whatever. Some people just don’t get it. Thank God for TiVo.

I’m also distressed about the technological apathy in multimedia coverage of this event. I mean, we can land a rover on Mars that sends photographs to Earth, and we can film the migration of animals from space satellites, but we can’t watch streaming video of the Bee on our laptops at work? Isn’t technology supposed to improve our quality of life? What’s more agonizing than knowing the capacity exists to do something, but nobody cares enough to implement it? I swear, that Bee should hire me as a PR consultant one of these years.

I’ll watch the coverage on TV tonight, of course. I’m interested to see what ABC does with it. I’m excited to see how the competition unfolds. I’m curious to see if anyone passes out. In this competition, nothing surprises me anymore.

But since I’ll have 3 hours of prelims to watch before the main event, and since we’re getting the West Coast feed, the event will be long since over before I learn who wins. That’s why our house is going into an electronic cone of silence tonight - I’m not looking at e-mails or the Internet, and not answering the phone. You think I’m exaggerating, but I take this thing seriously. Tonight could be a very late one, like when the CNN anchors stay up past midnight to announce election results. Only in this case, it’s for something really meaningful.

Part 2: Running

This morning I hit the track again, in yet another attempt to transform myself from a Clydesdale into a thoroughbred in a short time span. I go through this process every year, and it never works well.

There are usually only 6 weeks between the Big Sur Marathon and the Dipsea Race, which happen to be my two favorite races. Six weeks may seem like a long time, but when you factor in one rest week after the marathon, and another week of fatigued running, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for quality training.

The Dipsea is an intense race. It requires prolonged anaerobic efforts on the steep climbs, bursts of explosive speed to pass people, and high-end footspeed to make up ground on those who start ahead of you. In other words, you need to race like a thoroughbred. The best way to train for it is to mimic these conditions with sprint workouts and high-intensity hill repeats built up gradually over a long period of time.

Unfortunately, I spend the beginning of January through the end of April logging high mileage, long-duration workouts in my marathon buildup. I’m very careful not to overdo the speed work in fear of injury. Like a Clydesdale, my top end speed is never great, but I can sustain my “pretty fast” speed for a long period of time – which is exactly what you want for a marathon. The training gets me in great shape to race 26.2, but inappropriately prepared for the challenge of the Dipsea.

So when the calendar turns to May I start doing shorter, faster speed work sessions, and racing up the steepest hills I can find. These workouts are always a shock to my system, and I’ve often made the mistake of trying to progress too quickly. Many years I’ve arrived at the Dipsea with a muscle pull or minor injury because of my short-cycle training approach – and I end up racing worse than if I hadn’t done any sprint workouts at all.

So far this year, I’ve been doing OK. The track workouts have been intense, but maybe just one notch lower than what I typically do in May and June. I’m sore but not injured. And my speed is slowly coming around. If I can avoid screwing things up for a week and a half, I should be in halfway decent race condition.

But I don’t have any lofty ambitions for myself next weekend – as I’ll describe more in my next post.

(You know, after I come out of the cone of silence...)


backofpack 6/1/06, 2:23 PM  

I'm gonna say right now, your wife must have the patience of a saint. Between the Bee and the Dipsea, you are like a kid during Fair time. (The Fair being the big event of our town, the rides, the rodeo, the shows, the goodies...it can drive a parent insane).

Good thing you've got speed training right now to burn off the excess Bee excitement!

olga 6/1/06, 6:03 PM  

Bursts on short steep hills sound too torterous to my taste:) I bet you'll do wonderfully! Prove me right!

Downhillnut 6/1/06, 10:23 PM  

I don't believe that I've ever mentioned that Tofield (Finola Hackett's home town) is 14 miles from one of my home towns (Ryley). Next time I'm up that way shall I seek her out for an autograph for you?

Darrell 6/1/06, 10:46 PM  

Kevin and Bean are still at KROQ. They were discussing the Bee again today. One of them (I still haven't figured out which voice is which) and Lisa May are totally into it. The other one doesn't quite see the point. It will be fun to hear what they have to say tomorrow.

jeff 6/2/06, 7:07 AM  

okay, i'm a bee novice and this was my first time watching it on television, but i was hooked. smsmh thought i was silly for wanting to see it, but as soon as it got started, she was hooked too.

from early on i was rooting for the winner. it was very cool to watch each of the last few get tripped up by a german origin word that *I* was able to spell, but they couldn't. yay!

ursprache. who'd have thought?

Deene 6/2/06, 8:05 AM  

hill repeats sound good and the downhills are excellent for quads. they hurt the worst afterward if you don't train enough.

stronger 6/2/06, 9:15 AM  

I would have clicked right past the spelling bee if it wasn't for you. Glad the american won.

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