Thursday, March 17, 2011
The New York Times once ran a column called “The Mile Is a Mockery”. The author, Red Smith was regarded as one of the greatest sportswriters who ever lived. He wrote: “If god had intended man to run, he would have given him four legs, or at least made him late for a bus”. He goes on to add “Speed afoot may have been useful to some of the young ladies pursued by Jack the Ripper, but unnecessary running is a crime against nature. This goes for the joggers who clutter our country roads and infest our parks”. True, voluntarily subjecting your legs and lungs to anything other than a stroll to and from the kitchen is questionable. While there is certainly some logic there, it is plain to see that running has always had its allure.
The first Olympic Games featured just a single event: a sprint from one end of the stadium in Olympia, Greece, to the other. The stadia is no longer a standard running distance, but the mile has taken its place. Accurate times for the mile run have been recorded since the 1850's, when the first precisely measured running tracks were built in England. The 1500m is great for Olympic years, but the appeal of a standard mile race is unmatched. For the same reason no one except Max and Carl can give you their weight in kilograms more readily than in pounds. Comparing kilometer times is just not the same. Four laps makes for a great race and unlike the 1500, it finishes just about where it starts, great for lethargic spectators.
While passing the Winter Sports Center on the way to the track there was some discussion over how many laps of Thunderbird hockey rink would equal a mile. A debate arose over whether the near frictionless ice would help or hinder performance. In the end, all agreed that the track would be the faster surface for today and the hockey rink would be a great venue to hold Saturday’s Brick.
Ben had many questions before the start of the race “Is Budweiser in cans OK?, Is the first beer to be drunk before or after the first lap?...” I had to inform him that only the date for the mile had been changed to March 16th, the beer mile is still in April. Ben had wholeheartedly been training and preparing for the wrong event. All of his home brew was used to pre-drink for training runs. Hopefully his efforts will pay off in a few weeks time. I will buy him an oversized, novelty wall calendar with little reminder notes to avoid such confusion in the future.
The excitement of the mile seems to always draw many competitors, 33 tonight is just shy of the 36 who turned out last semester. 23 competed in both the spring and fall, and 17 ran faster tonight. The top 9 men all improved on their times since October. Winston ruined the trend by running 3 seconds slower today. He blamed his slower pace on the three pole vaulters who stepped into his lane, and a half dozen shot putters out for a warm-up up jog who boxed him in on the last corner. Also, he claims he had to swerve into the long jump pit to avoid a stray discus and lost precious seconds. No other competitors saw any signs of these obstacles, leading some to believe Winston may be fabricating excuses.
But there is some reason to celebrate for Liam, Kellen and Brendan who all finished ahead of Winston today. Last semester all three finished just behind the benchmark. No one could tell if Liam’s vigorous fist pump at the finish line was to express his excitement over beating Winston, or setting a new PB.
Winston was so frazzled from his run-in with the stray discus and the pole vaulters that he tried to use his UBC tri club membership card to board the bus home. Subsequent attempts to use the card to buy a Slurpee at 7 Eleven and as ID to get into Burnaby’s hottest strip club also failed.
The three fastest times of the day for the girls were 5:31 (Kaley), 5:55 (Victoria) and 5:56 (Naiely). Kaley had already put in a 5:36 as a trial run in February, so she knew exactly what pace to be looking for today. Seanna was next in 6:02, the six minute mile barrier surely within reach if we were to run the race again.
Max and I finished just a second apart, in 4:47 and 4:48. Barry was close behind in 4:54, all three times below the previous club record.
A generally good looking guy could not quite compete with the ghost of Matt Reeve. As Matt again receives a DNS today, Vince can only compare himself to Matt’s 5:03 from October. He will have to be content with his new PB of 5:05.
Drew condensed all of his training into several treadmill sessions of 5 minute mile pace over the last 2 weeks. He chose the basement of the Aquatic Center to avoid having any competitors able to witness his training and because Thursdays at 2:30 there is a cute girl on the Elliptical. With the treadmill unable to simulate air resistance, he ended up with a 5:01 today. If he were to ever get three solid weeks of training under his belt, there is no telling what he could do.
A finish photo is currently being consulted to determine the winner between Brendan and Kellen, both running 5:12's. Brendan’s width around the upper chest may give him the edge. Dissapointed with his VO2 max, a paltry 57 mg/kg/min, Brendan resorted to desperate measures. He has recovered remarkably quickly from a double lung transplant and is now the proud owner of a pair of lungs that can get 74 ml of oxygen to his muscles every minute. He needed the transplant anyway, years of smoking two packs a day and working in a law office adjacent to a Swiss coal mine left Brendan gasping for air at the best of times. He and Kellen now have the highest V02’s in the club. The 5:12 tie will have to be broken with a game of “rock, paper scissors”, should the results of the photo finish prove inconclusive. Kellen swears he would have won had we run the race clockwise, as he does the majority of his training that way.
The Aquathon and Brick are quickly approaching, 4 events in 8 days. Half of the Spring Fling is to be contested in a single week. The 20 day gap in the Point Series is a forgotten memory of February. Ice baths, foam rollers and long naps are surely the best tools for much needed quick recovery. And whoever writes the blogs deserves a medal and a cookie. No ordinary man could be expected to write 4 entries in such a short time span without seriously compromising his scholastic performance. But Storm the Wall is already going to do that.
James M 5:26
Matt R 6:09
Stephanie F 6:26
Stepahnie U 5:54