Thanksgiving running plans

Hi there PGRCers!  Let’s get this blog rolling!

Here’s your opportunity to share your Thanksgiving running (or taking the day off) plans with your fellow PGRC runners.

I often run the Howard County Striders Predicted Time Race on Thanksgiving.  I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll run this year, as I’m recovering from recent minor surgery.  I feel mostly ok now, but haven’t run at all in about a 10 days.  If I’m feeling up to it, I may run the Tidal Basin 3K tomorrow at noon.   

What are your plans — anyone Turkey trotting in the area or out of town?, running at Greenbelt Park Thursday morning?, staying home and sleeping in?


Grapevine Race Report

by Bob Grumbine

PGRC went 8 strong to the Run through the Grapevine, Sunday, November 4th, and all came back. Given the difficulty of the course, this was pretty good!

Our teams were PGRC 1 and 2:
1: Cindy Cohen
Clare Imholtz
Monique Meleance
Ginny Fromel

2: Bob Grumbine
John Giamalva
David Ferris
Gene Lehr

PGRC 1 finished 1 point out of 3rd in the Open Women category. For Clare it was her 3rd time out, and again a personal best on the course. Cindy turned in the best PGRC time of the day, 46:11.

PGRC 2 finished 2nd in the Master’s Men Category, so won a bottle of wine apiece. This was Gene’s first race since his heart surgery. Quite a day for first racing!

I’ll invite the team runners to post about their takes on the race.
For my personal race report …

The race is a tough one, but with some happy memories of our team in 2004, and when I ran in 2001 (apparently I only do this every third year; there might be a reason?) with friends from MCRRC. That was the year I had run my trail 50k race, and had continued training well. So I had a fast time (38:40 then, versus about 35:00 I’d have done on a flat 8k) and was relatively strong on the hills. (Still walked some. I’d learned about tactical walking by then.)

This year, I hadn’t been training a lot (as in 2004) and ran slower (47:44). More walking, and less speed on the downhills. Still, I’m feeling the progress of this year over last (when I couldn’t consider running the race) as I’ve been getting out more regularly. So I managed to push the downhills some, try to cruise the flats, and survive the ups.

Now, for all that the uphills are indeed serious and will slow you down, all those ups are balanced by downs. It turns out that Clare and I had the same strategy. Take the speed on the downhills. This takes some practice* and confidence. But, since gravity wants you to go downhill, and you want to go downhill, you can take some advantage. If a person you’re racing has fried his legs running the ups, you can take a lot of advantage over her. Consequently, I passed a lot of people, for good, on the downhills. None on the ups*, and only a couple on the flat (namely, the last 200 meters).

With everything going on, I did manage to run hard and feel properly wasted at the end of the race. Good news!

Also good news is that Vickie (my wife, most of you have met her) was _not_ feeling fatigued by walking around the course, standing, waving at me and other PGRC’ers. 3 years ago was shortly after her first back surgery and this was very fatiguing for her. Today, with her having taken up exercises, and such, just a nice (if breezy and cool) day in a pretty area.
Good day, and good people.

To the future: I do find it helpful to have targets to be training towards. Now that I’m back to training more regularly and racing (labor day was my first race in almost a year), some race targets are reasonable again. It’s also the case for most of us, certainly me, that committing to our goal to friends is a help in reaching it. So my major goal is: Run the 2008 Grapevine 1 minute per mile faster than this year. It’s attractive, in that there’s a nice round number involved. It’s not outrageous (this is aiming for about 5 minutes faster, but I did run it 9 minutes faster before), but enough of a reach that I won’t be in shape to do it in a week or two (or month or two). It also has some natural steps of progress. The target is to average 8:36 per mile for 8k on the very hilly course. So, one step is to average that for 8k on a flat course. Another is to average it on the Springburst course. Also for flat 10k, 10 miles. (This is a tough course; if you can run your 10 mile race pace on it, you’re extremely strong. Cindy noted it as her flat marathon pace.)

Side note: I did take my splits on the course. On a flat 5k my average pace is now 8:10. For comparison, my splits in the race were: 9:06 9:46 10:15 10:22 8:10 (8:25 mile pace) I probably took the first mile too fast, and eased up a bit much on the 3rd and 4th miles. The 4th mile is almost all uphill, and I was doing a fair amount of walking+ (so I’m not sure I could have covered it much faster — mile 3 is more of a surprise). The 5th mile is almost all downhill, including some pretty steep ones and I took advantage of that. But no mile is without uphills and downhills. Not many races, though, would leave me fairly happy with a 2 minute difference between my fast and slow miles. On a road 5k, I get annoyed if it’s more than 20 seconds.

+ Walking is something else to practice and get quick with for this race.

* Hills … Clare and I talked a bit about hills training after the race. I’ll be posting a separate note with some thoughts on hill training.

Some Thoughts on Hill Training – Physical

by Bob Grumbine

Clare and I talked a bit about hills training after the Grapevine race (wonder why?). Here are some of my thoughts on hill training. These are only on the physical side of the training. They’re missing comments about technique, and about the even more important part of mental attitude to the hills.

For hill training, you need to run hills. The first order of hill training is to run on routes with hills on them for your usual jogs. This is a very good form of hill training — you get used to running on hills and maintaining even effort as the terrain varies. This can get pretty challenging, as with, say, running to the first and second fence on the road in the park, or on Perimeter trail. If you can do these, you’ve got pretty good hill legs.

To get great hill legs, suited for racing on hills and laughing at most road courses, you want some more specific hill training. Same as you practice race paces by going to a track and running that pace — for shorter duration than the race — you do your hill training by hitting hills harder than your normal jog, but for shorter times.

One part is, you do the first training for ups separately from the downs, and vice versa. Running downhills is a different technique than the ups (regardless of what method you use). So on uphill day, you run the uphills hard and slow jog or walk the downhill. Then on downhill day, you power the downs and walk or jog back up to the top. While I envision it as an interval workout (and in a minute some will need to be that) you can also do it as a ‘hill fartlek’ run — run a hilly course and then power the downs, or the ups, as they come. The drawback to this is some courses don’t give good spacing and variety to the hills.

For hill intervals, you want 3 types — short and steep, medium and medium, and long and slow. ‘Short’ means 15 seconds duration, steep meaning that at the end of those 15 seconds, you’re breathing hard. Medium/medium is 1 minute of running, and, again, you’re breathing hard at the end (but not much before). Long and slow means about 5 minutes running time and going up the whole time without you having to slow down for lack of breath.

You don’t do these off a standing start at the bottom (or top) of the hill. You make note of your starting point, then back off 50-100 yards and jog towards it. Start slowly and then be accelerating towards your hill speed by the time you hit the start mark. Hold that pace the entire way up (or down) to your stopping mark, and then slow to a jog, turn around, and jog/walk back to the starting area.

This is a tough workout. It counts as a hard day if you’re doing hard/easy training, and you should have no more than 3 hard days in a week (generally speaking, for most of us — you’ll have more, perhaps, if you’re doing, say, 50+ miles per week and training many days per week). On the other hand, as you do get to having several running days per week, and your longest run is pushing 60 minutes, introducing a run like this (whether in fartlek or interval form) is good running strength training and will help you even if (like in my fast year at Grapevine) you are walking parts of a hilly course.

Other experiences and thoughts about how to do hill training?

Bob Grumbine

Thursday un-Track Report, 11-1-07

by Cindy Cohen

Last night was our first off-track Thursday night run. Kent, Emily, John, and I had fun running the Paint Branch trail in the dark.

Many sacrifices were made to run with PGRC–Emily skipped happy hour with her fellow chemists, Kent put off cleaning his house for his weekend guests, and John avoided unpacking boxes from his recent move.

Join us next Thursday at 6 pm (earlier start so some of us can attend a race timing meeting at 7:15). Lights and/or reflective clothing recommended.


Greenbelt Wright Stuff 5k 1 Month Away!

by Austin Conaty

Hello Runners and Walkers,

The Greenbelt Wright Stuff 5k is just one month away.
I got the Tshirts and they look good. Long sleeve
cardinal red with white lettering. registration
is activated (but does not provide the $5.00 PGRC discount).

Download a PDF version of the registration form here: and mail it
in to get the reduced price of $15 for PGRC members.

This is the 5th annual running. The race proceeds will benefit
American Heart Association (in memory of my father), St. Hugh
Knights of Columbus, and Holy Cross Hospice (in memory of my

We have about 10 volunteers, but we can always use some more.
If you are available, please come and help out before you
run or walk the course.

I hope to see you there. Happy Running!

-Austin Conaty
Greenbelt Wright Stuff 5k Race Director

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