Friday, October 4, 2013

CSU Track-Bagging: "TNT" Tuesday Night Track

CSU's Jack Christiansen Track is a great facility in Fort Collins that's open to the public when not being used collegiately, and thus has been the hometown track for all of us. It's particularly aesthetic mornings and evenings, when low light highlights the track and the western foothills, and picks up the scent of the wet grass. If you're visiting, it is most certainly worth "bagging" this track. 

Of course, there are some brutally windy days as well. But I'll take them all!

This week, another "Tuesday Night Track" series, led by the incomparable Jane Welzel, came to a close for the season.

Many runners, perhaps especially trail and "ultra" runners, whatever that means, disdain the track for being too boring and too flat, and thus aren't interested in track workouts. But I feel sorry for those that miss out on the dynamics of a well-matched group workout, and the brutal honesty of the distance and the clock.

With Jane's workouts, we end up staggered by differing ability levels, fitting dozens of people on a 400m track. I absolutely love the energy, fun, and hard work from everyone that shows up. One lap at a time, the sum of the whole is most definitely greater than its parts.

Among peers, I really enjoy having guys that are faster than me, as I try to hang on and observe their subtly different approaches and strengths...and some of the women, too, with a local sprint specialist that absolutely runs on rails for the 400m. Then there are guys right behind me as well, keeping me honest. We end up with a nice group pushing each other, sometimes nipping at heels
and bumping elbows. This week, I brought a camera:

CSU Track Clip.

That video isn't as good as it gets when we're really tight...and unfortunately the memory got filled up before our "Relay Carnival" started, which had a ridiculously memorable moment for a workout. 


The relay is a great way to match everyone, as we form teams of 4 and run various workouts. On our 800 relay, I was left to run anchor. Justin Liddle was far ahead running at righteous clip; Nick was somewhere near the beginning of the backstretch; Lee took off some 20 or 30m ahead of me.

Off our team went with the handoff, and I focused on Lee. Lee ran an aggressive first lap, so I tried to maintain pace. As I saw him glancing behind, I pushed hard on the beginning of the 2nd lap, and reeled him in on the backstretch. I hadn't planned on catching Nick, but I could see he was running at a "maintain position" pace more than racing, so I took off and caught him on the final turn. Instead of passing around him, though, I sat on his shoulder, just to goof around a bit and see what he'd do. As I thought and hoped, he put a bit of life into it and started picking it up, leaving us a fun sprint dual down the frontstretch.

I kicked ahead so he was out of sight next to me. We had a bit of cheering, so I couldn't hear footsteps or breathing, and I made the mistake of taking my foot off the gas a bit...I had no idea that he was still right there, until catching a glimpse of shoulder on the outside right at the line. He leaned, and then I did, but too late: the consensus was that Nick won by a beard hair. We both tumbled and collapsed on the track, just like Serious Track Runners(TM) are supposed to do!  It was nice to see Nick push himself and be competitive for once. What a workout!

Too bad we had a painful 400m, 200m, and 100m to go after that.
Not as much drama, and I was disappointed that the camera didn't get to pick any of this up. But anyway, those are the sort of fun times you can only have on the track.  Thanks to Jane and everyone in the TNT group for pushing me and each other around the oval!

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