Wednesday, April 30, 2008

AJW -- TV Star!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

From the east...

As luck would have it the last Saturday in April took me east to Boston. A long-standing work commitment meant I would miss the opportunity to get out for one last hard weekend on the trails before the Ice Cream Sandwich Run next weekend with a handful of anonymous Oregonians on the Western States Course. So, hoping to make the most of my circumstances, this morning I headed out for a 20ish miler along the Charles River.

It was a beautiful, postcard perfect spring morning and I had a bit of spring in my step. The river itself was filled with crew teams and the banks of the river were filled with runners, walkers, bikers, and a whole bunch of others just enjoying the day. The flat, smooth bike trail was gentle on my body and the 7-minute miles passed by without too much effort. It was spring at its East Coast best!

After about ten miles on the Cambridge side of the river I crossed over to the Boston side and began to head back. About fifteen minutes into this leg I encountered a large crowd gathered by the river. I wondered what was going on and jogged over. It turned out to be the beginning of a 5K road race.

Now, I honestly can’t remember the last time I ran a 5K road race but it was at least 10 years ago. Nonetheless, I thought it would be fun to see what I could do so I jumped in. Carrying two bottles, wearing trail shoes, and not having time to officially sign up I started running the 5K without a number. It was a little weird, but surprisingly fun.

A few minutes later a guy by the side of the bike trail was standing there with a watch. He was shouting out numbers,

“5:40, 5:41, 5:42…”

“Wow, pretty good I thought.” I tucked in behind a young guy with a Harvard shirt on who looked like Lewis Taylor. I forged on, now into a headwind.

At the end of a long straightaway another guy with a watch called out, “11:31, 11:32, 11:32…”

“Holy crap!” I thought, “Is this course short?”

I moved hesitantly past the Harvard guy and set my sights on the next guy in front - a skinny little bugger who looked a lot like Craig Thornley – in fact, he even had shaved legs! I passed him like a broken-down bus and turned for home.

At Mile 3 another watch guy was there, “ “17:10, 17:11, 17: 12…”

“Wait a minute, is this actually me? Is this me running?” A guy in front with a bunch of tattoos and a funny accent turned to look back, for a second, I thought it was Scott Wolfe. He pulled away before I could make positive identification.

Of course, since I was running bandit I politely (at least for me!) veered off about five yards before the finishing chute with an unofficial 5K road time of 17:45. I know that may not be fast for some people but for me it is pretty good especially after a two hour, 15 mile warm up.

By the time all was said and I made it back to my hotel I had run a solid 23 road miles with 3.1 miles hard running. Not bad for a Saturday morning on an off-weekend.

Needless to say, I am really looking forward to traveling down to Michigan Bluff on Thursday night and getting out onto hallowed ground. It should be fun! I’ll be doing my “heat dance” all week.

Yours, AJW

PS – For those who might be wondering what the Ice Cream Sandwich Run is here are the details:

We start at Cal 2 and run back, against the direction of the race, to the Swinging Bridge. Then, we turn around and run back to Cal 2. Along the way we stop at Michigan Bluff to talk smack and at Foresthill to eat an Ice Cream Sandwich and drink a soda (some guys drink Coke and the cool guys drink Dr. Pepper). After that, we try to run back to Cal 2 in under 1:15. Those who can do so without puking get a special prize. The rest of the day just deteriorates from there…

A Metaphor...

From time to time in my job as an Executive Director for a non-profit organization I am invited to speak to members of non-profit Boards on the topic of “Best Practices” in governance. In one recent presentation, I introduced a training metaphor to illustrate my point to a group of about 150 Board Chairs. Below is a summary, in outline form, of that PowerPoint presentation. While it is not specifically about running (as all of my other Blog posts are) I know some readers might find it interesting and possibly even helpful. So, here it is:

Focused Energy:
Endurance Training as a Metaphor for Success

Presented by: Andy Jones-Wilkins

Head of School, The Community School
Father of three
Ultramarathon Runner

1. Running Accomplishments Include:

• Eighteen 100 mile finishes including wins at Vermont and Grand Teton 2nd place finishes at Western States and Angeles Crest.
• 100 Mile National Trail Champion in 2006
• Attempting 6th WS in June
• Only runner currently in the field this year with four consecutive top-10 finishes

2. Training Plan: The Pyramid

– 50% of training is done at a base, foundation level
• Daily, aerobic effort
– 30% of training is done at a tempo level
• Twice weekly sessions of 40-60 minutes at race pace
• These efforts are hard, but manageable
– 20% of training is done at peak intensity level
• 1-2 workouts at 90% or higher of maximum heart rate
• These efforts stretch the limits of body’s capacity for pain

3. Purpose and Pitfalls
• Foundation runs build endurance and long-term fitness
• Tempo runs build strength and muscle memory
• Intensity workouts build speed and resilience to pain
• Too much Foundation improves fitness not speed
• Too much Tempo decreases body’s capacity to go long and fast
• Too much Intensity courts injury and burnout.

4. What does this have to do with measuring the success of your organization?

Consider the time you or your director spends in his or her work in each of these three training spheres:

• Foundation: Day-to-day managerial details of running the organization
• Tempo: Systems, policies, and structures to support the day-to-day operation
• Intensity: Strategic, long-range, visionary work to chart the future of the organization

5. Time Allocation in Your Organization

To measure the effectiveness of your organization consider these three “training spheres.”

– Excess of time spent in Foundation Training will threaten the long-term sustainability of the organization.
– Excess of time spent in Tempo Training will potentially alienate constituencies, particularly employees, and could lead to erosion in morale and other “softer” measures of success.
– Excess of spent time in Intensity Training will lead to mismanagement, confusion in the ranks, and, ultimately burnout or breakdown.

Therefore, as with endurance training, the best governance practices stress balance, planning, and proper pacing

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tempo Tuesday

So, every Tuesday morning for the last two months I've run a hard 10 miler to test my tempo legs. Taking a page from Morton and Clifton, I have been trying to build length strength and speed simultaneously with this weekly workout. It's basically a road loop with rolling hills through Sun Valley (all between 6000 and 7000 feet).

Over this two month period I have been averaging 1:05 to 1:08 for the loop. This morning, much to my surprise, I busted it out in 1:02 and felt very strong at the end.

I am basically writing this because I find it interesting and a bit perplexing how, why, and, most of all, when, the body adapts to a certain training volume and is ready to put the hammer down. With just over two months before the Big Dance I now feel like I am ready to increase the volume and intensity and see how it all plays out. I must admit, at this point in my preparations I feel as though I am in the best shape I've been in since 2005.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not about to switch to 180 mile weeks in the Grand Canyon in bare feet but I am psyched to pick things up a bit. Sub-17 may actually be in the cards after all!


PS -- I'll be joining a bunch of those anonymous Oregonians during the first weekend of May on the Western States Course. Should be fun! I bet I'll be doing all the talking:)

Friday, April 18, 2008


It appears that adjusting my Blog settings to allow anonymous postings has brought a few more people out of the woodwork. I guess that's a good thing and it has increased the smack talk which is always fun.

So, in that spirit, I feel compelled to respond to the latest round of postings following up on my "Tagged" post:

1. While many Oregonians have beaten me at Cool I can count on one finger the number of Oregonians who have beaten me at States in the last four years.

2. I will never post anonymously on my own Blog. That's weak!

3. While it is true that I blew up and finished 35th at WS in 2001 since 2004 I have finished in the top-10 four consecutive times. Nobody else in the field can make that claim this year (unless Jurek enters!)

4. I have made it clear that I want to get 10 finishes and that I want to stay in the top-10 as long as possible. I also want to get the Masters' Course record and possibly even win the race. This year I think I am in 17 hour shape. So, any of you anonymous folks out there better come to the Big Dance ready to race.

5. I don't normally do the Training Log thing on my Blog but this last week I have surpassed 90MPW for the first time this year and I feel great. Take it to the bank!

That's all for now, go run!

Friday, April 11, 2008


Well, BlogMaster Scott Dunlap Tagged me to write a six-word memoir. So, here goes:

"Finding running clarified a blurry picture."

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Western States

The excitement at American River has added two more strong men to the Western States field. Anton and Lon are now added to the long list of contenders with less than three months to go. As I wrote in a post several months ago I was hoping for the most competitive field ever at 2008 WS and it is shaping up to be pretty close to that. With Anton, Lon and Todd (1st at Cool, 4th at AR) joining Koerner, Skaden, Cooper, Meltzer and a whole bunch of others the race is shaping up to be truly outstanding. Add to that the potential for a snowy first section and super-hot canyons and it should be a great day. As the day draws near I will, of course, have more to say, but as for now, I guess we all better get out there and train!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

AR 2008

In a recent post I gave a WS spot to Krupicka but a quick look at the entrants suggests it may be a tough race for the ment who want those top-3 spots. Here are some of the guys on the list:

Lon Freeman -- Sick race at Miwok in 2007. Ran his guts out for 78 miles at WS
Erik Skaden -- Owns this race on local ground. Is tapered for it.
Nick Bingham -- Former WS top-10 guy. Good footspeed
Lewis Taylor -- 2007 WTC winner. Hungry, smart.
Scott Jaime -- Mountain guy with surprising footspeed in the short stuff
Todd Braje -- 2008 WTC winner. 2:20 marathoner
Oz Pearlman -- Superfast East Coast guy. Sub-5:30 50 mle speed on roads
Michael Buchanan -- Consistently tough NorCal guy
Guillermo Medina -- Can never be counted out as he know what it takes to run hard
Jorge Pacheco -- Depending on which Jorge shows up can be focused and fast
Anton Krupicka -- Super-fast, insane high mileage guy

So, all in all, it looks like one of the most competitive races at AR in recent years. Too bad MonkeyBoy won't be there!


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Top Ten

I've been taking some heat lately about the lack of provocative posts on my blog. Folks have accused me of going soft or perhaps just trying too hard to be politically correct. So, in the spirit of the day, I thought I'd throw some thoughts out there in preparation for the Big Dance on June 28th.

I call it:

"The Top-Ten Mistakes Being Made Right Now to Ruin Dreams of Western States Glory":

10. Too Many Miles -- In April you need to focus on quality not quantity. Those people out there who are going 30% over their average weekly miles are simply killing themselves. Go hard uphill and down, get in the miles, and let the rest take care of itself.

9. Racing -- You need to get your butt kicked in the spring to win in the summer. Winning 50K races in April and May might be fun and feel good but it sets you back when the Big Time comes. All those people who've won the spring classics have mixed results at the Big Dance. You need to conserve. It's hard. Look it up!

8. Running into the race -- As much as I respect those folks who gain entry into the race with fast runs at Cool, American River and Miwok be careful about leaving too much on the course. Hammering those races can easily kick your ass especially during the last 20 miles of WS when all the Dogs get really hungry. Take a look at the results in places 7-15 over the past 10 years. It's a bloodbath! And it should be.

7. Injury Phobia -- Taking it too easy to avoid injury now will really sabotage the day. A Big April followed by an injured May can work wonders for WS success. Just ask Tim and Ann. Don't be afraid to go hard now.

6. Specificity -- This is important in late-May and early June (especially this year with a June 28th date) but don't bother with it now. Get in the miles that build strength and speed and let the rest take care of itself. It doesn't take much to teach the body waht it needs to learn. Too much now wil make you complacent, bored, burned out, ot, worst of all, overtrained.

5. Nutrition -- The heat, hills, pressure and general mystique of WS take their toll on even the most hardy souls. If you don't have your nutrition plan worked out by now you should probably just do the "Fun Run" because stomachs will turn everywhere.

4. Thinking about the other people -- Nobody has ever won WS running the other guys' race. In fact, those who do, rarely finish. Figure out your own plan and stick to it. If it works great, if not, sign up for Rio.

3. The Marathon Myth -- Again, look it up, but the odds favor the 2:35-2:50 marathoners over the super fast road guys. With the exception of Tom Johnson the race is not kind to those speedsters. My advice, slow down and enjoy the view.

2. Not enough downhills -- Everybody works hard on the climbing and the fear of the canyons and the heat but the true essence of the race finds its home in the downhills. If you're not pounding out downhill repaeats at this time of year your screwing yourself and, I mean, literally, screwing yourself.

1. Disrespecting experience -- Just look at the results. If you've been there before and proven you have what it takes you can win. If not, it's tough. Not impossible, but downright tough. As much as I'm thrilled to see Wardian, Braje, Krupicka, Meltzer and many other first timers at the Big Dance my "fear list" still starts with Koerner, Skaden and Cooper. Look it up!

Now, let me have it!