Sunday, December 07, 2008 - the new search interface is in a recession

I used to use for searching for races. But over the past few months they've been migrating to a newer search interface. Problem is the new one isn't working half as well as the old one. Like the current economy, it seems to be in a recession. This is what has happened. First, they removed a link to the old interface which they used to call the "classic event search". This means you are forced to use the new one. However, the problem with the new one is that it doesn't do what you want it to do. I tried a search for races in San Diego, California in the time period from today (Dec 7, 2008) till Dec 31, 2008. This is what it gave me.

You'll notice two things wrong with the picture. One, there is no date listed next to the events and that means you have to click on each event to find that piece of information. Two, and more importantly, it shows events from Independence Day and Thanksgiving Day both of which are a few months out of the range I specified.

This is disappointing given that they do have all the information but just that it's not being displayed correctly. Hopefully, this is just a matter of time and they will resolve this issue soon.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How to become a wear tester for running shoes

Here's a simple two step process to becoming a wear tester for running shoes.

Step 1, you go to this site - - and sign up. This involves inputting some detailed information about your height, weight, foot widths, sizes, your running routines, etc.

Step 2, you wait. Patiently. Just because you signed up doesn't mean that they are going to start sending you shoes right away. It might be a few weeks, or even a few months. Their initial testing is primarily targeted at men's 9.5D and women's 7B and you have a better chance if you happen to be one of those.

The cool thing is you get to wear and test out shoes before they are available publicly. You get to keep them for a few days and run in them. At the end of the test, you return them, along with a detailed questionnaire about the shoes and your experience with them.

This is specifically for New Balance since that was my experience. I got to wear test the MR805. This is a lightweight trainer and meant primarily for interval training and speed work on the track. I liked the grip very much. Tested it on both the track and on wet roads and the grip was excellent. It's lightweight shoe and I'd definitely recommend it, based on my limited experience.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dragging myself to a new PR

This weekend, I ran a 5K. Finished in 19:49 - a new PR. My old one was 19:55, set way back in 2004. The race was a bit blah. Got there about two minutes after the scheduled start time. Saw some runners already on their way and figured I'd probably missed it. But, found out soon enough that it was the 10K start and that the 5K had been delayed by 10 minutes. That worked for me.

The race itself was tough - for me. At a couple of points after the half-way mark, I felt like stopping. Legs were quite beat up. A cup of water at mile 2 definitely made a big difference. Mile 1 was in 5:54, the next 1.1 mile in 7:04, and the last 1 mile in 6:47. Notice the gradual slowing down.

Even though it was a PR, I never really felt strong during the race. Part of it was probably the start where I thought I was late and part of it was probably to a 15-hour day on the day before the race when we went to the re-opening of the California Academy of Sciences, which, btw, is a great place to visit. I was on my feet for over 9 hours.

After mile 1, I could hear footsteps behind me. For some reason, mistaking myself to be Haile Gebreselassie (who had set a new world record in the marathon the same day in Berlin) I put in a little surge to break away from them. Needless to say, reality caught up with me and so did those footsteps, and pretty soon I was passed by them - one of whom was a heart-attack survivor. I didn't know if my mouth was agape from amazement or just from the lack of breath. There was even a little 11 year old kid that was always ahead of me and ultimately finished in 18:12 something. Very impressive.

Comparing it to my 2004 PR was interesting. Fours years older and four pounds heavier, yet the time remains the same (19:55 vs. 19:49). Weekly mileage is/was the same in both cases. However, back in 2004, my usual runs were around 3-4 miles and I used to do speedwork once a week. Now, my runs are usually 5-8 miles but with no speedwork. Some of them are hilly, which is "speedwork in disguise." I figure with a bit of speedwork I should be able to go sub-19. However, what I think is more important is to work on my lactate threshold which is what was responsible for entertaining my feeble mind with thoughts of stopping during the race. We'll see what the next race brings.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Prefontaine Classic 2008

Last weekend, I went to the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon. This year the meet started a bit early - at 9:30 a.m. with two specially arranged races. The men's 10,000m race where Kenenisa Bekele was to attempt to break his own world record. This was to be followed by another world record attempt, in the women's 5000m by Meserat Defar whose previous record had been broken by Tirunesh Dibaba only a couple of days before the meet.

That's Bekele in the pic above, with two of the guys that paced him. The race started off with great anticipation in the air. The meet commentator was great. He would tell us at the end of each lap what Bekele's current time was and compare it to his time in his world record run. Pretty much throughout he was behind by about 5-10 seconds.

In the end, he came close but didn't quite break it. 8 seconds was the difference. Nevertheless, the fastest time on American soil beating the previous best by 38 seconds. It was a great race. Lots of support from the crowd in general especially from a couple of Ethiopian contingents who showed up with their vibrant flags and colors and sounds. I think he might have made it if it were a bit cooler. Sitting there in the stands, I could feel the heat on my back.

It got hotter by the time Meseret Defar began her WR attempt. You could tell before even halfway through that this wasn't meant to be it.

She was off by a huge margin. However, she did set a new Pre Classic record. That's Kara Goucher above with Defar's time in the background. Goucher had a lot of support especially from this one woman sitting a few rows ahead of me who cried herself hoarse cheering Kara with each lap. Goucher looked exhausted for more than a few minutes after she stopped running. Similarly for Abdi Abdirahman - the local crowd was very enthusiatic for him.

Next was the women's 400m race that Sanya Richards (below) won quite easily.

The men's 100m followed - won by Darrell Brown in a not so exciting 10.07. No Bolt, Gay, or Powell though. Asafa Powell was in the Nutrilite tent signing autographs however. Then came the women's 1500 meters which was won by Gelete Burka in a new Pre Classic record of 4:0.44. Alfred Yego of Kenya set a new Pre Classic and Hayward Field record in the men's 800m with a time of 1:44.01. That's Yego below, at the finish line.

This was followed by the women's 100m hurdles. (As an aside, does anyone know why it's only 100m in the hurdles for women whereas it's 110m for the men?) Joanna Hayes won this race inspite of tripping over the last hurdle. This is how she did it.

While the races were on, Adam Nelson was helping set a new Hayward Field record. Hayward Field now has the maximum number of 70+ foot shot-put throws in any single stadium. This tidbit was courtesy of the commentator. (Wish I knew what his name was. He was excellent.) That's Nelson below on one of his throws. He even did a little victory lap in the shot-put pit - probably the shortest victory lap in athletics ever.

In another field event, Brad Walker won the pole vault setting a new American record of 19 feet 9-3/4 inches. He then attempted to go for the world record. The display shows 20 feet 2.5 inches which would've broken Sergey Bubka's world record from 1994.

The crowd was filled with anticipation yet again. Alas, yet again, they were disappointed. Nevertheless, it was a great performance. There was even a minor accident in the event when someone's pole broke in mid-air after he had just lifted off the ground. Thankfully, he hadn't gained much altitude and was able to safely come back down to earth. No pic though since I wasn't anticipating a pole breaking.

Next up was the one of the highlight events - the men's 2 mile race boasting a field of Bernard Lagat, Craig Mottram, Alan Webb, Saif Shaheen, Paul Koech, Rachid Ramzi. That's the field below.

Bernard Lagat won the race. Look at his Happy smile at the finish.

Then came the men's 200m. Wallace Spearmon won in a new Pre Classic record of 20.14. Below is the field coming onto the final stretch.

Next up was another highlight event - the men's mile. Among the field were Alan Webb, Daniel Komen, and Nick Willis. Shedrack Korir won, with the entire field coming in under 4 minutes. According to the commentator, there have now been 208 sub-4 minute performances.

There was even a Prefontaine lookalike - lane 1 below. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to map his bib, or rather hip number, to his name.

This brought us to the grand finale - the 800m womens race starring the crowd favorite - Maria Mutola. That's her below lining up for the start. The commentator was cool - he started the introductions lane by lane but when he got to her lane number, he said he'd skip it for a moment and then went on to finish the rest of the introductions. Then he came back to introduce Mutola and what an ovation she got. You had to be there to experience it. This was her last appearance at the Pre Classic and she had won this 15 times before.

She didn't disappoint her fans and won comfortably beating off a challenge from the young phenom Chanelle Price who actually took the lead in the first lap.

Right afterwards, the commentator announced the inaugural Maria Mutola award. This one went to none other than Brad Walker - with his new American record in the pole vault. Check out the swarm of photographers around them.

At some point they even introduced Prefontaine's mom and sister who were in the stands. They got up and waved. The crowd gave them a nice round of applause.

Overall, this was a great experience. A world record or two would've made it even better :) But, hey, that's not something you get to see everyday. Next year perhaps. If you're interested, this is my report from last year's meet.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lineup for Prefontaine Classic 2008

What's the lineup for the Prefontaine Classic 2008? That's what I've been wondering too for the past couple of months. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to send an email to the organizers. I went to the main site - Prefontaine Classic and shot off an email to the id listed on that page. A week later I did get a response, telling me that they will be announcing the lineup this week. It also confirmed that Kenenisa Bekele will be running. If you look at their main page, it says Bekele as well as Meserat Defar will be attempting to break the men's and women's 5000 meter world record respectively. That's going to be something.

I was fortunate to get to go to the 2007 meet. Check out some pics here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Hitting the wall

This is from yesterday's Osaka marathon. The lady in the Youtube link above is Kayoko Fukushi who was making her marathon debut. She fell down thrice in that last lap inside the stadium before finishing in 2:40:54. Just incredible. The video says it all.

Just for perspective, her half marathon best is 1:07:26.