Breaking the Four-Minute Mile

Breaking the Four-Minute Mile

Man’s first conquest of the four-minute-mile barrier will soon be 64 years old. It’s about time somebody ran at a faster pace than 60 seconds for four laps around a Santa Barbara track. It’s also timely that it could happen six weeks after the death of Roger Bannister, whose 3:59.4 clocking made history on May 6, 1954.

Geiken Reflects Back on the 2017 Fall Season

Geiken Reflects Back on the 2017 Fall Season

By Will Geiken

It was quite the fall. Building off the spring that I had, I was hoping to drop some serious time in cross country, and I ended up surprising myself with some of the results. But it didn’t feel like it was going to go that way in August.

After starting back up with running in late July, I was a little too aggressive on getting into the hills and not aggressive enough on taking care of myself. As a result I developed plantar fasciitis and had to do some running with all the fun taken out of it, which is how I think of aqua jogging. Fortunately, my delayed proactivity worked, and I was free of pain after only a few weeks. But that wasn’t the hardest part of August.

During August, my aunt, Linda Gill, passed after battling with cancer for almost two years. Without getting too far into it, she is a remarkable person who I admire and love. In addition to being my caring aunt, she has also been one of my mentors in running, and I’ve learned a lot about competing through talking with her and observing the example that she set. After being diagnosed, she created wrist bands imprinted with the motto “Toughen the f*** up,” and proceeded to do everything from getting in daily runs to hiking Half Dome all while undergoing treatment. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to match her spirit, but I’m grateful to her, in addition to many other reasons, for showing me how hard a person can fight to live the life they want to.

So that was the start of my season: coming off injury and processing one of the hardest facts of life. Naturally I ran headfirst into everything with reckless intent. I’ll admit that part of what was driving me was finding escape in particularly draining efforts. But, on a more positive note, I was also enjoying running fast with my teammates and spending time doing what I love. I’ve been told that racing is a celebration of fitness, and those workouts are all little pre-games beforehand. 

I didn’t do a whole lot of pre-gaming though, and after just one workout I decided to run my first race at the Golden Gate meet. The result of this plan was that I ended up leading the first 800m and proceeded to be thoroughly clobbered by the field for the remainder of the race. The Aggies got the win though, so all was well. From there I had five days, which included one additional workout, before the next race in Sacramento. For that race I waited until after the first mile to lead. Shortly thereafter, three younger, and on that day, smarter runners proceeded to light me up and left me finishing a close, but not close enough, fourth.

Having done some learning, I made a point of sitting behind the leaders at the start of the next weekend’s meet at Garin Park. Unfortunately, the leaders slowed down going into the hills, which is a big no-no for me, and I was back to leading within the first mile. Fortunately, I had gained enough fitness at this point that hammering away at the hills left me alone at the front of the race all the way through to the finish.

I followed a similar plan for the Aggie Open several weeks later, and because there were no hills, it wasn’t until the halfway point that I lead. From there, Will Reyes and I went back and forth before I pulled away during the final mile. I was starting a bit of a streak, and all I was doing was putting my head down and running hard. And it was working out well for our team results too. Sweeping the meet that honors Matt Yeo is a nice, if small, celebration of a valued member of the Aggie family. 

A few weeks later my streak continued in Marin, where tight turns and aggressive front running helped me hold off Scott and provided us with a fifth and final regular season team win that helped clinch the season for the Aggies. However, all streaks must end, and PA’s was an entirely different race.

I’d like to think that had I not gotten sick on the Wednesday prior to the PA's, I would have been racing with the trio of Strava runners who finished just ahead of me. I do not think, though, that I would have been able to race with Scott on that day, under any circumstances. His win was a Tour de Force, and seeing a race like that lit a little fire that kept me focused for Nationals.

So, when the joyous occasion that is Club Nationals came, I was ready. On the pre-race jog Phil and I talked about what race strategies we were considering before Phil let me know what his final verdict was. Get out hard but behind the leaders, roll the stragglers up during the second lap, do your thing on the final lap. This wasn’t my exact strategy before our talk, but when Hank Aaron is telling you how to hit a baseball, you change your swing. Cheers to Phil for setting me up well, and although my pace was a good bit slower, the race plan worked for both of us. I was also aided by the fact that I was repeatedly reminding myself that running in snow is a lot easier that running with cancer.

On that mixed note, it was a highly successful season, both for myself and the HOKA ONE ONE Aggies, and it was a joy to take part in. I’d also like to think that each of the races, in addition to being celebrations of fitness, were small celebrations of the impactful life that my aunt lead. I wouldn’t have had any of the races that I did without my supportive family, my excellent teammates, and the helpful advice and guidance of Joe and the many knowledgable people I’ve been lucky enough to know. I’m grateful to you all.

tc_2017_group_shot.jpg

Reid Wins Cal Fitness Super Sunday 10K

Reid Wins Cal Fitness Super Sunday 10K

By Phillip Reid

The Super Sunday 10K in Sacramento offered a new early season short course option to the legendary PA / USATF Grand Prix Circuit. I was a little unsure of my fitness, but wanted to support fielding a full scoring Aggies Open Men's squad and rep our awesome HOKA ONE ONE sponsor.  

The race itself was solid from the start, with Gordon Sturgess handling the majority of the pacing duties. The course led us through the Sac State campus, surrounding neighborhoods, and levy bike paths along the American River. With about 2 kilometers left in the race, I moved into first place. This was just before the lead bikes took us over the Guy West Bridge (which looks like a mini Golden Gate) as the path descended back on to campus. The raced finished with 200 meters around the track followed by a 100 yard stretch on the stadium's football field terminating in the end zone.

This event was a lot of fun!  My wife Krista and I made a nice weekend of it, connecting with friends in the Sacramento area.  

Go Aggies!  

Shoes: Tracer 2

Terry Recaps 2017, 3rd on PA Short Roads Circuit

Terry Recaps 2017, 3rd on PA Short Roads Circuit

By Darius Terry

I was fortunate to have quite a bit of success on the roads for the 2017 season. My road racing season began with a win at the Stow Lake 5k in late April, thanks to a strong last 800m. 

That performance was followed by another victory at the Los Gatos Bang Mile, my favorite of the short course races (due to the course’s gradual downhill). 

The Freedom Fest 5k was my final road race on the PA Short Road circuit for the 2017 season, and although I was unable to secure the victory at that event (finishing second) having the HOKA ONE ONE Aggies go 1-2-3 was just as satisfying. Also, the Freedom Fest 5k was the last race on the PA Short Course Circuit, and it secured me an overall third place finish for the circuit.
 
Shoe: Hoka One One Tracer

Byers 2nd On 2017 PA Open Men's Short Road Circuit

Byers 2nd On 2017 PA Open Men's Short Road Circuit

By Reesey Byers

I joined the HOKA ONE ONE Aggies training group and moved to San Luis Obispo on January 13th, 2017. I had no idea what to expect leading up to that spring of track and road racing. 

2017 was a very trying year with so many adaptations and changes in my life. It was the first time I had trained with a group of guys that were just as good me, as well as many who were better than me. I certainly was not used to that so it took me a little while to learn to train with the group. I also lost my mother in February, and that was the most difficult moment of my life. Luckily for me it helped a ton to be surrounded by so many loving and caring Aggies. Another way I thought I could keep my mind focused and off the recent tragedy was if I raced... a lot. 

I certainly was enjoying the freedom of racing whenever I wanted. Between road and track seasons, I think I raced almost every weekend last spring. Even though I was not running well, I was really enjoying myself. I knew Josh MacDonald (1st place on the 2017 PA Open Men's Short Road circuit) from many races in college, and I had started to notice his familiar presence at these PA races. I didn’t think much of it then, until I started to keep track of the scoring of each race. We would literally take turns beating each other in every PA race. By that time I had noticed he was in first and I was in second by just a few points, with one race left on the schedule: the 4th of July Freedom Fest 5K race in Morgan Hill. 

I was completely burned out at this point but I wanted to win the PA circuit. The gun goes off and Will Geiken goes out like a bat out of hell. I could tell right away my legs were not going to cooperate. But Josh was just a few spots ahead of me. I kept him in sight and prepared myself for the long drive home up the last hill. I kicked past a few fellow Aggies and a Strava guy. Being completely exhausted I swore up and down it was Josh that I had passed, even though the results had said he beat me. I even tried arguing with the race director and the people in charge of the results because I knew if I beat him I would win the circuit but vice versa if he beat me. It wasn’t until Stacey Geiken pulled up a finish photo at lunch a few hours later that I saw that indeed, Josh had just barely beaten me, and it was his teammate I had passed. It still burns a little bit to this day but I am certainly happy to get second place for 2017. I had the most fun I’ve had in a long time, competing and enjoying each race. But one thing is for sure: I definitely won’t let that happen ever again. 

PAUSATF 2017 Road Circuit - Men's Open Short: https://www.pausatf.org/data/2017/RRMensStand2017.html#OPENShort

 

reesey_and_friends.jpeg

Reyes Wins 2017 PA Open Men's Long Road Circuit

Reyes Wins 2017 PA Open Men's Long Road Circuit

By Sergio Reyes

If You Can't Beat 'em, Show Up More Often

I take every race one at a time, so when we started off the 2107 PA road circuit with the Redding 10-miler in an alternate location under colder conditions, it felt like it was going to be a long year. Due to flooding at Redding, the race moved to the Shasta Dam. That Dam course was dam wet, dam windy, and dam cold, which made for dam slow times. However, I was reminded seeing so many folks show up, ready to race, that runners are a resilient bunch and are dedicated to getting their race effort in, rain or shine. That, or some are cheap and don't like to waste their entry fee. In any case, it was a benefit to get matched up against a competitive group so early in the year and to get things going in the PA. It was also exciting to be a part of the first ever HOKA ONE ONE Aggies Running Club team race, a bragging point that I can hold over other Aggies at social gatherings (including El Presidente and Coach Rubio). 

From Redding, there were ups and downs, from races getting more and more competitive to abnormal circumstances cancelling PA events. It was definitely a weird year and one that didn't turn out anything like I'd planned at the beginning. Still, I found that if you do everything to stay consistent and put in the work, you can be happy with the result and not fret over the things that are out of your control. It's rare that you only run four events and you end up winning the circuit, but seeing as how the long series guys race more distance than the entire short series and XC series distances combined, I'd say I'm fine with that.

Props to our new road captain for getting us to field teams where we could last year. With the 2018 PA Series starting up in a few weeks, I'm looking forward to another year of travel, team comraderie, friendly PA competition, developing our HOKA sponsor relationship, and the usual Aggie shenanigans. And yeah, if I'm not winning these upcoming races, I'll be the guy just sneaking in to get race comped next year.

PAUSATF 2017 Road Circuit - Men's Open Long Standings: https://www.pausatf.org/data/2017/RRMensStand2017.html#OPENLong

Sturgess Delivers at Christmas Relays

Sturgess Delivers at Christmas Relays

By Gordon Sturgess

When I agreed to run the 2017 Christmas Relays, I didn't have any clue what shape I was in, but I wanted to do it for the team. When I woke up the day of the race I felt like crap, so I was really scared I would have to scratch the race. But I told myself, "Let's see how I feel during the warm up." I still felt like crap.

Now, my thoughts turned to, "I can't bail now." I got on the line, got the invisible baton and got out hard the first 400, then chilled into 4:56. Then I told myself, "I have got to try to catch the 1st place guy." So I started to grind the next 3 miles. When I thought I saw the 1st place guy, I said, "I can get him in the last half mile." I caught him, but unfortunately it wasn't the 1st place guy.

"Well, I can't slow down now." So our team got 2nd and I finished in a time of 21:52 (average of 4:53 pace for 4.5 miles). I will take it for the first race back. I can't wait for the spring season to start! It's been a pleasure racing for the HOKA ONE ONE Aggies! ! love this team!!! Plow Plow Plow!!!!

Pannu Gets OT Qualifier at CIM

Pannu Gets OT Qualifier at CIM

By Rajpaul Pannu

Within the two minute count-down to the start of the race, I readily toed the starting line behind some big name runners (including Parker Stinson and former CIM champ Daniel Tapia). Within those two minutes, plenty of emotions ran through me. First was anxiety (dunno if that’s an emotion). I was anxious, like a homemaker who has meticulously prepped the house before a big party. My big party was the marathon, and the preparation was my training. However, like many homemakers, you can fret over spots that you can’t remove. Although my training was smooth and "clean" for the most part, there were a couple of spots that raised my concern. A week and a half prior, I had lost several pounds due to an illness. The last workout was supposed to be a 15 mile progression run, but I barely managed 7 miles at 5:20 pace before calling it off. 

After anxiety, the next emotion to arrive was fear. Fear of running 26.2 miles when the longest run I had done before was barely over 20, which I performed only once throughout my training cycle. Also, I had the peculiar fear of crapping my pants in the midst of 26.2. I mean, running two hours plus is a long time, especially when you’ve consumed approximately 1,000 calories 12 hours prior. That fear was accentuated when I encountered an image on the internet the night prior, of a marathoner who had, well, moved a bowel in the midst of his marathon. I did not want to forever be immortalized via Google Images in exchange for a Huggies sponsorship. 

After fear, calmness draped me like Superman’s protective cape (I know, I know, that was corny). I was calm because I knew who I was running for and why I was running this race. Several weeks prior, my grandfather had passed away, and I decided that I could either mope around, or I could honor him and everyone else who has influenced me one way or another through my work on this planet. With that being said, I looked up into the sky... Well actually, it was the CIM banner, because it blocked the sky. I said a Sikh mantra, took a deep breath, and bam! The gun went off. 

Into the dark abyss we went, toes frozen and all. The first mile came and went. Beep: 5:17. "Perfect, I’m right on pace," I thought to myself. I was the only "non-elite" in a pack of runners aiming for the Olympic Trials Qualifier (OTQ). What befuddled me in the early miles was that some of these runners were having a conversation during the race! One conversation in particular stood out:

    Annoying Runner #1: "Settle in, this is going to be a long race!"
    Annoying Runner #2: [Laughs] "Yeah, plenty of people are gonna fall off."

As much as I wanted to punch Annoying Runner #2 in the face, I made sure that I did not use any excessive energy. I also questioned why elite level runners would put useless energy into motion when it can be transferred towards running the next 25 miles (that’s for another tale). After the first three miles run at 5:16 pace, my left hamstring tightened up. "Crap, it’s way too early for this," I thought to myself. Regardless, I did a body check, relaxed my shoulders, and took a deep breath before plunging further into the great unknown. 

At mile six I ripped a GU Energy Gel off of my sleeve and took a quarter of it while running. It’s worth restating that my longest training run was a 20 mile progression run, during which I took a small dose of an energy gel. Aside from that, I had never experimented with it before, but was told by my coach that electrolytes and water are crucial to marathoning success. During this time, I was still settling in, relaxing my shoulders, and managing my breathing. Miles 7-10 were run just like the first six: even pace in spite of a slight incline at mile 8. 

At mile 11 my stomach dropped. "Ohh... crap!" I suddenly realized that all of the runners within my pack had bibs attached to the back of their singlets. I immediately thought that I had forgotten to put my back singlet on. (Disclaimer: I only found out after the race that I was not registered as an elite, and so I was not given a back singlet.) Miles 11 and 12 were spent convincing myself that I did not receive a back singlet and that the good folks at SRA would iron everything out if needed. That time was also spent convincing myself that blistering up is inherent to marathoning and that it will all be worth it in the end, right? 

Finally, 13.1 arrived: 1:08:35. 2:17:10 pace, huh? Despite wrestling within the great unknown (and I ain't talkin’ bout Chris Jericho), one thing was for certain: I was not fatigued. The breathing felt as if I was performing a progression run: comfortable. I was in a state of bliss. See, the thing is, my ability in mathematics peaked in the fifth grade, and I knew that even if I ran the next 13.1 at 5:23 pace, I’d get an OTQ. With that positive thought in my back pocket, I ran joyfully from that point until mile 17. Also, during that time I had slipped from 36th place into "50-somethingth" place, which gave my coach Marty Kinsey great concern. Regardless of place, I had a game-plan to execute: even splitting. 

The last of my anxiety came during mile 18. My quads had suddenly tightened up and I felt a minor cramp in my stomach. However, my breathing was still intact, and honestly I felt the same as if I were running the 2nd mile of an 8 mile threshold run. A couple of miles passed, and then came mile 20. From there, runners started to fall off, terribly, as if a black hole had emerged on the course and sucked them away into another dimension. Or maybe just off the back of the pack. One thought in particular that came to mind then was about Runner #2 (who had claimed that people would fall off). Well, he was right, and he did (gotta respect 26.2). 

From there, I made one big surge and left the second pack as I began to imagine how I would cross the finish line. At that point, nothing hurt, and everything was bliss. I even managed to catch a handful of elites during this span. At this point, I was certain that I was going to cross the line at 2:17:30-ish. But when I saw the clock from afar, gleaming 2:16, I went for it. I made one last dash to try to claim for myself the title of "2:16 Marathoner". Although that didn’t happen, I couldn’t have been happier as I crossed the finish line in 2:17:05, good for 19th place. Not bad for a "non-elite". The first person I saw was my college coach, and we shared some sentiments, along with the emotions that we have accumulated from the past few years together. Although I ran my first marathon conservatively, I take solace in the fact that I chose to stick with running despite having a few setbacks and life changes. I took these setbacks in stride, and used them as learning lessons. In return, I had learned to be very patient with my body, and "let it do its thing" rightfully throughout the CIM training cycle. 

“You’re either winning, or you’re learning.” - Nelson Mandela

The Shoes: HOKA ONE ONE Tracer 2

There Were no Pop-Tarts

There Were no Pop-Tarts

It was really only a few miles into The City to the Sea Half Marathon that I reconsidered the wisdom of my decision to race just a few weeks after a tough trail marathon. I was excited for my first official race as a HOKA ONE ONE Aggie. I was also excited to kick some rust off my road-legs and try something a little different from mountain-goating to the finish line. I was quickly reminded that road racing is a very different animal.