This informal workout occurred at a high school, but will not be found in any textbook.
Scott Mindel and some of his nuclear submarine engineering buddies from General Dynamics Electric Boat decided it would be a fun idea to run a “Milk Mile” consisting of two-man teams alternately chugging half-liters of milk and running a quarter-mile on the track, in four installments totaling two liters of milk and one mile of running per man.
Not for the lactic acid-intolerant.
Mindel, a former star for Shenendehowa and the University of Cincinnati, performed admirably, especially considering he had just run a marathon a week and a half earlier.
But . . .
“My stomach did not agree with it,” Mindel said. “In a moment of weakness, I took a TUMS, but adding calcium to two liters of milk isn’t a good idea.”
Anyway, Mindel managed a 5:36, with splits of 66, 66, 63 and 63 seconds, so what seemed like a goofy idea among friends still served as an indication that he has the intestinal fortitude to win the 36th annual Gazette Stockade-athon 15k on Sunday.
It won’t be easy, though. It never is, and the Stockade-athon has drawn a solid half-dozen or so contenders who could finish within a minute of each other.
Mindel, who helped the Plainsmen win the 2002 cross country AA state championship, finished third in the Stockade-athon last year behind Andy Allstadt and Tim Chichester.
Allstadt isn’t running the Stockade-athon this year, and Chichester isn’t registered, but it wouldn’t be a big surprise if he wound up on the starting line at 9 a.m. on Sunday.
Last-chance sign-ups will be held 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at the Health Expo at Proctors Theater; there is no day-of-race registration.
Whether Chichester shows up or not, it looks like anybody’s race, and the 24-year-old Mindel, who lives in New London, Conn., expects to be right, there despite having run a 2:30:19 at the Hartford Marathon four weeks ago.
“I wanted to try to break 2:25, and I’m not sure what happened,” he said. “It remains to be seen. I think my legs are coming back, but I won’t be sure until the race.”
The Milk Mile certainly didn’t discourage him.
Mindel said he expected to run 70-second quarter-mile splits, but felt recovered enough from Hartford to push it a little harder.
“I was actually surprised, especially how relaxed I felt.,” Mindel said. “I was really sore the next day, because I didn’t do a warmdown.
“That was within 10 days of the marathon. Running that fast that comfortably, I didn’t think my legs would respond that quickly.”
Another good indicator for Mindel was the Sept. 18 Run for Dunkin in Albany, which could serve as a bit of a key race for the Stockade-athon, especially if Chichester runs.
Chichester rolled to a 14:49.1, followed by Justin Wood (15:10.6), who is entered in the Stockade-athon and could be the controlling speed early.
Mindel was third, just over two seconds behind Wood.
“The day before Dunkin, I did a five-miler at 15k pace, and ended up doing a 5k PR the next day in the Dunkin Run, so that was a good sign,” Mindel said.
He made his marathon debut with a snappy 2:24:47 at the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach on March 20, but wasn’t thrilled with the 2:30 at Hartford last month.
“I was not exactly what I wanted,” Mindel said. “At the half, I was exactly where I wanted to be, and then I started to feel my hamstrings start to tighten at about 16, then I had some cramps, and after that I was just trying to survive the rest of the race. It wasn’t awful, but it was 5 1/2 minutes slower than what I ran in March.”
The Stockade-athon has a strong personal attachment to Mindel, because his father, Mark, won it three of the first four years the race was held.
When Scott Mindel was in high school, he jogged along with his father, the only person to finish all 35 Stockade-athons, and he waited until he was fit and fast enough to be in the top echelon of finishers.
That came in 2009, when Scott Mindel was sixth behind Fernando Cabada in 48:38.8. He took 26.8 seconds off that time when he was third last year.
“I always wanted to win this race, even before I started running in it,” Scott Mindel said. “I didn’t really want to run in it until I had a chance to be up there.”
Other top runners in the field include Chuck Terry, who is coming off a 2:32 victory in the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon; Aaron Robertson of Voorheesville, who was fourth in 2009 in 48:31.0; Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons and Notre Dame University graduate Kieran O’Connor, who won the Flying Pig Marathon (2:28:02) in Cincinnati in May; and Mark Andrews, who was fifth last year in 49:08.2 and is one of the best masters runners in the country.
Andrews should be challenged in the masters division by four-time open champion Kevin Collins.
Robertson, a music teacher at Bethlehem High School who was sixth behind Allstadt last year, is coming off a 1:10:15 victory in the Mohawk Hudson River Half Marathon.
He followed that up with a 25:36 for 8k at the Boston Mayor’s Cup.
“I feel like I’m not in my best shape, but I’m in pretty good shape,” Robertson said. “It’ll be a really good race. All of us are really close.
“Last year, I was in good shape. I went out a little too fast and bonked in the second half. I usually like to hang and wait, sit back and pick them off. But on this course, you can’t do that, because it’s hard to make up time in the second half.”
Robertson is married to one of the top contenders in the women’s field, Jodie Robertson, who has qualified for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
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