It remains a mystery. It happens that my last post was about a run in the Rockies and perhaps I find inspiration in such efforts. More likely it’s a want of inspiration, but this is not the mystery. I rarely wear my Garmin, but often do up there. When I run alone my pace is significantly faster than when I’m in a group although they seem as difficult one-to-the-other.

I’ve noticed it before, but I’ve no answer. Perhaps it’s my yapping that’s a drain, although with Paul and Bobby listening is more the order of the day.

As winter deepens, there comes a time when the Rockies becomes unrunnable (and someone noted that it was unrunnable at this point in 2011) so we wanted to take advantage of our nice weather. It was not as warm as yesterday. Warm enough for compression shorts and one long-sleeve shirt and gloves, with the latter being taken off about half-way through. 1:36, over 12 miles.

I found a new map by the Friends of the Rockefeller, and Paul and Bobby had us go onto trails I’ve run on only once. I’ve learned that with these guys the best strategy is to get ahead as we approach a hill, which allows me to control (i.e., keep reasonable) the pace since they could easily leave me in the dust and if I fell off the back there’d be no catching back up (although I know they’d wait for me, even if I don’t want them to).

One topic: drugs. It started on the subject of the extent to which we think elites use them, and for many the idea that they don’t is, like a second marriage, the triumph of hope over experience. More to the point, I wondered about Masters. I’ve seen articles and LetsRun threads on the prevalence of drug use among Masters runners, particularly following USATF’s announcement that it will be drug-testing at Masters Championships.

I can only speak for me and the people I (think I) know, and it seems to me that the “elite” of the 50+ men’s crowd in the NYC-area aren’t. Why? Two reasons. First, we all seem to be aging (and slowing) together. It’s not as though someone who ran a 34-flat 10K at 45 is running a 34-flat 10K at 52. And no one is suddenly blowing the rest of us away.

Second, seriously as we all take it, in the immediate post-race conversations no one seems particularly upset about a sub-par performance or overly ecstatic about an above-par one. I would think that a cheat would be animated about a bad showing and obnoxious about a good one. Or at least more animated/obnoxious than normal.

The other thing I find strange is something that was said in a LetsRun thread. Men over 50 have to take certain stuff just to be functional so barring them from taking PEDs means that they can’t function properly. I have no idea where this idea arose since I have no idea why a male over 50 has to take, say, human-growth hormones. We get old and maybe I’m lucky, but I don’t see it.

It happened that as we neared the finish we were passed by three guys I know from Westchester Track Club (and we went to the Horseman’s Diner with two), including perhaps the top 50+ in the area. The consensus was that it’s, well, cheating and what’s the point. He pointed out that USATF has a link to a site where you plug in a drug and learn whether it’s on the banned list. Athletes are responsible for confirming the legality of what they take, but he pointed out that he always checks the active ingredients of stuff he takes. “How would you feel if you medaled in the 1500 and were DQed because of an ingredient in a prescription”.

My guess is that if any Masters are taking stuff, it is a sub-elite, guys trying not to slow down.

Anyway, my Friday night tempo-run experiment continues. This past Friday saw me doing 10 laps — I’m increasing it one lap a week. The running is otherwise going pretty well, and I am enjoying it, without particular concern about time. Steve Lastoe is putting on a 5K (there’s a 10K too) in Riverside Park on February 4, so I think that’ll be my next race.