Sunday, October 30, 2011

Scoring Machine

When an individual or a team is referred to as a scoring machine, it usually implies that the person, or team, is capable of producing many points in a game. This could refer to a basketball player putting up 40 points in a game, or a football player scoring several touchdowns. It could refer to a team's "high octane" offense....nah, I won't go there. Especially since Penn State slogged to an ugly 10-7 win.

Anyway, Thursday was our District (WPIAL) Championship and both our boys and girls teams finished in 2nd place. Since the top four move on to the state meet next Saturday, we are packing our bags for Hershey. How both teams got to 2nd place and how the 2nd place was viewed by the team were certainly two different reactions.

Let's just say our boys were at least considered even favorites with our big rival, if not a slight favorite since we had won last week's invitational. End result is that we ended up 2nd by a margin of 50-115. On the girls' side, a team with 3 sisters was the heavy favorite and everybody else was gunning for second. We were probably a little behind another school and perhaps regarded as the third best team. However, our girls had a great day and we ended up 2nd.

Overall, though it was yet another muddy mess. Lots of slop (one of our runners even lost a shoe in the mud!!!!) and I'm sure this snow won't help the state meet course at all. However, the recap of the day at the district meet doesn't reflect back on the title or opening paragraph....or so it seems...

Last week at the previous Thursday's invitational, I decided to forgo my cheering in the final half mile and position myself in a spot to record places of the top boys and girls teams to get a feel for the scoring. The calculations were pretty close, so I decided to enlist the help of my lovely assistant (Beth) and see how well "Team Shutt" could perform counting places and scoring a large high-stakes district final.

The results - I think we're ready to take our show on the road!

Girls' results done by us in black; actual results in bold red

NH - 1-2-4-16-23 = 46
NH - 1-2-4-16-23 = 46

ML - 10-12-13-45-62 = 142
ML - 9-11-12-43-62 = 137

NA - 21-27-33-34-41 = 156
NA - 21-27-33-34-41 = 156

PR - 18-30-38-76-77 = 239
PR - 18-30-38-60-77 = 223

HA - 5-25-40-67-100 = 237
HA - 5-25-40-67-98 = 235

So, other than missing PR's #4, we were pretty much right on. Unless, you consider the fact that we had the wrong 4th place team, or the last team moving on to the state meet....and the fact that it was my alma mater and I told the coach that we scored them as being in (with the big disclaimer that we were just guessing) and they finished 5th.

On to the boys' race. We only scored us and NA because we figured it was only the two of us realistically fighting for the championship:

NA - 1-9-10-11-18 = 49
NA - 1-9-10-11-19 = 50

ML - 8-12-25-26-44 = 115
ML - 8-13-25-26-43 = 115

Not too bad again, but we were just having to keep track of two teams and only had to count up into the 40's (and it shouldn't have even been that high if things would've went better).

This brought me back to my Grad School Days when, as part of my Masters Thesis, I developed an application for the Palm PDA (remember those things?!?!?). The goal of the application was to capture what Industrial Engineers call "time studies." Here's a screen shot of my application:

Okay, so that's not really related to cross country, but since I was dating this gal on Penn State's cross country team (aka Beth), I decided to take a lot of the same code language and create a cross country scoring application that I called XC Score. I have to say it worked pretty well at a couple of the meets I tried it at. I couldn't dig up any screen shots and we gave away the PDA's so it's erased from existence other than I still have the code file from some archaic PDA programming language on my computer.

Just for the fun of it I googled "XC Score" and it turns out that Apple (and the Android) have an app for that.

I'm thinking about downloading and trying the Android app, but not sure how well it will work at the state meet with so many teams, plus I usually position myself out in the middle of the course and miss the finish of the top runners in the field. But, I think I may use it for next year's invitationals.

So, sorry for the boring running-computer post, but it was a fun trip down memory lane for me.

Two weeks until the Harrisburg Marathon! Starting to get a little more focused on that task as the cross country season is winding down.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


...and other happenings in the past few weeks.

First of all, a photo from my endeavor at the Great Race taken by Beth.

Since the Great Race, there was a little trip to Hawaii. However, before I got out there to join Beth in the 80-degree temps on the Big Island, I endured a 40's and rainy weekend, where we were at the Central Catholic Invitational. My pants and shoes are evidence of it.

Next, it was a few days of school and then across the Pacific to Hawaii.

Beth had an awesome race (as you can read about
on her blog). My day started with dropping Beth and her mom off at the start area and parking the car. Then, I met up with them and we said our good lucks and good byes to Beth and she went in for the swim start. We saw her come out of the water and then back past us 8 or so miles into the bike. We let her know she was in 5th place in her age group.

Then, we had some time to kill, so back to the rental house with the rest of the crew. Somehow, it worked out that the PSU-Iowa game was the "regional" college football game on ABC, so I was able to catch the 2nd and 3rd quarters. (Side note: PSU is somehow 6-1. It's been ugly, but 6-1 nonetheless while Pitt's "High Octane" team mustered 100 yds of offense last week....hee, hee).

We went back down to position ourselves for the run before the pro's came through. We (Beth's mom and I) were around mile 2/9 (ish?) on the run and had a chance to see the pro race unfold. Then, some more waiting and random photos like this one to kill the time.

Beth came through and looked great. After a stop at McDonald's for a Mango-Pineapple McSmoothie, I went up on to the Queen K (around mile 24) to cheer everybody in.

By the time we got back to the house and also knowing that I was going to do a 19 mile run the next day, I opted to go to bed while the rest of the Kona crew headed back down for the midnight finish line.

So about my runs in Kona. Between Thursday and Monday, I got four runs in and totaled 39 miles (plus my running around on race day). Each time, I was too stubborn to drive anywhere, so I finished on a *little bit* of an up hill. It looks so innocent on a google map....

...however it just shoots up and up and up from the Queen K.

Here's the gate and the entrance looking back towards the Pacific.

Then, up to the first stop sign.

And you get to the first stop sign and go up more.

Up to the next little circle.

Through the circle and up some more.

Halfway up the "up some more."

Finally, make a left and get a little bit of flat relief.

Hang a right up the hill (Do you see the angle of the hill?????)

And then around the corner.

Make it to the driveway (which, of course, is uphill).

Make it to the front of the house (which, of course, you have to scale steps!!)

Whew. I'm tired reliving that!

One of the good things of being up on the hill was that we had an awesome view of the sunset each evening from our place.

We said goodbye to our gecko friend and packed up on Monday (in addition to an interesting day at the Kona hospital for Beth's blisters on her feet).

Our time in Hawaii wrapped up on Monday night with an 11pm red-eye flight through Phoenix, then back home. By 4 pm on Tuesday, we were back to the Pittsburgh International Airport. After a stop at Chipotle in Robinson with
Chad & Jen, we got home and started to get transitioned back to reality.

Back to school on Wendesday and all of the sleeping on the plane must have worked. It wasn't too bad getting up at 5am (or 11pm Hawaii) the next few days.

The one down side was the pile of homework and tests that needed to be graded since I left...

Saturday was the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon. I've run it twice before -
2009 and 2008. I was just getting into my long distance shape back in 2008 and was pumped with my sub-1:20. In 2009, I was in pretty good shape a month out from the Philly marathon and somehow averaged 5:50 miles. My goal for this year was to be in the neighborhood of 6:00-ish pace. However, as the race drew nearer (and I was feeling sluggish with an 8:30 pace run on Thursday) in my head it was becoming 6:10 pace....maybe 6:15 pace.....okay maybe just keep it under 6:30 pace...

You get the drift.

Fortunately, I ran into Beth's Ballou Skies teammate Jason Jacobs at the start line and he was shooting to run 6:00-ish pace, too. So, off we went and we ran the whole thing side by side as, what we termed, a really fast and hard partner tempo run.

Before getting to the splits, just like the Great Race, a disclaimer about the race being point-to-point and net downhill:

Here were the splits:
6:09 (11:53)
6:01 (17:54)
6:05 (23:59)
11:50 (35:49) - mile marker missing
5:49 (41:38)
6:02 (47:40)
6:09 (53:49)
6:07 (59:56)
6:13 (1:06:09)
6:08 (1:12:17)
6:42 for the final 1.1 for 1:18:59 and 6:02 pace.

I'll take it coming off of all the travel and everything. It was really great having Jason along. I don't think I could have kept going that fast for that long without having him push me. Thanks, Jason!

Check out what Jason's GPS said we did:

A 14.5 mile half marathon at 5:27 pace. Those GPS devices were always a little fishy out in the wilderness...

Five other Lebo friends came along and ran and had outstanding days as well, including a couple of first-time half marathon people (not pictured)

A BIG thanks to Beth who, during her Post-Kona recovery, got up early on a cold, blustery Saturday and was Team LEBO's driver, coach, equipment manager, cheeleader, and photographer!

Up next is the finish to the cross country season. We have the Tri-State Invitational Thursday (a preview for districts), then WPIAL's (districts) next Thursday. The top four teams then go on to the state meet on November 5th. We've had a good year on both the boys and girls side, so we shall see how things stack up at WPIAL's and states. Could this be our year?