Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Progressive Runs

December I started running progresive runs - I had not done them before so thought it would be a good replacement for some interval work I had on the schedule. I've found the data from these runs to be an interesting way to track my progress. The way I run these is starting with a 10 minute warm-up followed by 5 minutes incremental steps stretching from a recovery pace to a tempo pace. The increments and steps are all programmed into a Garmin Workout so it is done exactly the same each time with alarms telling me continually if I am too fast/slow for the zone I'm supposed to be in. The distance covered in the run is typically just short of 10 miles and the last couple miles are pretty challenging (It's a good workout).

From the chart you can see three pre-marathon progressive runs each showing slightly faster than the prior. Then the Marathon mph vs heartrate data plotted - significantly below the results seen in the progressive runs (for this I credit the Carb Depleat/Load strategy).

Since the race the speed has not yet returned to what is was in any of the progressive runs as can be seen by the partial progressive run about a week after the marathon and the MP miles done 2 weeks after.

Not that that concerns me except it makes a PR 5k this weekend (<5:38 pace) perhaps unlikely until the speed returns - but it is interesting to see how long it takes to recover from a marathon - 3-4 weeks seems needed to get back to pre-race to then start building extra speed. Supports the idea I should not run too many marathons as it will likely just slow me down over the long hall.

fwiw - I thought the data was interesting.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Reflections on Houston

Some time has passed since the race and I am still a bit stunned and a bit perplexed by what happen at the Houston Marathon.

16 minute PR from NYCM to Houston – where did it come from?

Here is my breakdown:

2 minutes – Houston is flatter than NYCM (McMillan calculator for hills).
0 minutes – slowed by crowded start/weather differences etc – I don’t think these much different.
1 minutes – Sandbag difference Houston I think I had 3 more minutes in me vs NYCM I think I had 4, maybe 5 – for NYC some was bad pacing - too fast first 5k.
6 minutes – Marathon pace Improvement from 10 weeks training between marathons (I could measure 10-15 seconds/mile extra speed in my training runs).

That leaves about 7 minutes I really have no logical explanation and came completely unexpected on race-day and I can only attribute to the benefits of the taper to Houston vs the taper to NYCM.

So Reflections fall into four categories:
1) Cutting the Sandbag factor from 3 minutes to 2 minutes – mental factor of the race.
2) 10 weeks of training to deliver 6 minutes faster running.
3) Taper differences that give 7 minutes.
4) Using a heartrate monitor to deliver the unanticipated on race day.

1) The Mental Factor – Although I’m only crediting 1 minute to this – I actually consider this a KEY ingredient to this race. I think the mental battle was also big in helping me accept the surprise speed I had on raceday. There were two principles that rang out in my head from Fitzgerald's book "Brain Training".

- Embrace the Pain - A mindset to welcome pain as an indication I'm doing something right. It's supposed to hurt.

- Run in the Zone
Pre-race - this getting in the Zone started for me days before the race - I would avoid thoughts of contingency plans - I would set goals that fired me up. I found certain words didn’t work in my thinking – like “Conservative” I would have to change to “Controlled” – I can get energized by take it to the edge in a controlled way – but conservative – not so much. I would avoid even thinking the negative side. I even corrected people around me that would start something like "if things don't go as planned" - I didn't what to hear what followed this start.

Race - This is forcing a concentration during the race, knowing I’m running at the edge of capability yet also know I can do it – I’m trained for it, staying in the moment – I was very strict on my mind to only focus one mile at a time – not think about mile 25 or 26 while I’m running mile 20 – just focus on staying strong to the next milemarker. Also I found it very helpful to eliminating distracting thinking like working out math problems or worrying about photo shots or whatever else distracts the mind from concentrating on the race.

2) 10 weeks of training to deliver 6 minutes faster running.

Although this may seem remarkable – it is about in line with the improvement pace I’ve had all year which has been roughly 4.5 second per mile per month of training. That plus getting back a little of the speed I had a month or so prior to New York to me pretty well closes the gap.

I don’t think my training was particularly remarkable or unique from what others do although there were a couple things I’ll mention:

- Focused on improving my form – I really think I have developed a more efficient stride by eliminating a bad habit of overstriding. I’d credit the use of things from “Brain Training” by Fitzgerald around using mental cues while running. Its hard to say how much benefit I’ve got from that in going faster. I do credit the running form change with the elimination of my Plantar Fasciitis pain which I’ve struggled with in both feed since Boston and now has completely disappeared, also I didn’t loose toe-nails at Houston (first time for a marathon) – I think - but am not sure yet - that both of those issues came from overstriding.

- I shifted my focus away from 5k paced track workouts to Marathon Paced workouts. I had overemphasized the 5k workouts going to NYC somewhat inadvertently by blending Daniels Elite training and Pfitz 18/70 plans together without noticing the 5k speed work is in different times. My race times showed better results in shorter races than long so I figured I was good on speed anyway and needed to focus on Strength and Endurance so Longer runs and Faster running was where I decided to focus and not on the track workouts. I was a bit unstructured in my workouts for the 10 weeks sometimes making up the workout as I drive out but generally tried to get 3 hard workout in per week a Longrun weekly (18-23) with 5 MP miles at the end, a Tempo or Progressive run in usually ~10 miles and a Medium longrun around 13-15 with 5 MP miles at the end.

- I do like to use the HRM to check my paces especially for MP pace and Tempo Pace and complicated workouts like Progressives. Someone asked me what paces I use once and I posted so rather than repeating I’ll just link to it:

Heart Rate Targets

3) Taper differences that give 7 minutes.

This one still just makes no sense to me at all. I am just hoping someone else or a few others can repeat this and get similar results to convince me for sure the apparent magical benefits of this. If this is truly from the taper than I cannot expect to have this for tune-up races unless I do similar - I was kinda hoping to break 17 minute 5k next weekend as my Marathon time suggest I should be able to do but if this turbo-charge only comes from the taper - I won't have it because I'm not doing all this for a 5k.

Houston I followed the low end of a plan fat-pumpkin posted as his typical taper and found similar results on weight loss and difficult to maintain MP pace the second week:

Here's my [fat-pumpkin’s] usual "last 2-weeks"

Su - 8-12 medium
Mo - 8-12 easy
Tu - 8-10 easy w/ 4-5 @ MP
We - 8-10 easy w/ 6-10 easy double
Th - 8-12 easy w/ 4-5 @ MP
Fr - 8-12 easy
Sa - 8 mi w/ 7 at MP
------tot 55-70 mi

Su - 7 mi w/ 6 at MP
Mo - 6 mi w/ 5 at MP
Tu - 6 mi w/ 4 at MP
We - 5 mi w/ 3 at MP
Th - 4 mi w/ 2 at MP
Fr - off
Sa - 2-3 easy
------tot 30 mi


I usually follow the old-school depletion/load scheme & actually deplete for ~10- days before the 3-day load. I can usually lose 4-5 lbs net before the race. That makes it really hard to run some of the MP so I play it by ear and adjust to make sure I don't work it too hard = MP EFFORT rather than absolute pace.

Other Factors:

Fueling Pre-Race and during race was not remarkably different except that I carried 24 oz Accelerade with me at NYC vs just mainly used Gu and water at Houston.

Mileage for NYC was pretty much the 18/70 Pfitz taper mileage – a 3 week taper vs fat-pumpkin’s 2 week.

Both NYC and Houston I did 3 days carb loading prior to race – not remarkably different.

4) Using a heartrate monitor to deliver the unanticipated on race day.

For Marathon Pace – I have combined my experience in prior marathons, Daniel’s Running Formula and data from other runners off MotionBased to set my target at 164 and I still think I can maintain that, or near that if I run without sandbagging.

- For my experience – I was able to maintain 165 average thru ~23 miles in San Diego last year than crashed the last 5k – so figured that might be just a little too high. At Boston I averaged between 161-162 and finished remarkably strong – figured that might be a little too low – so answer between 162 and 165.
-From Daniel’s table 2.2 I can create a formula [0.822+0.09*(VDOT-30)/55] which works well in my vdot range so figuring my vdot potential was around 60 I calc 87% * 187 maxhr = ~163 – same ballpark.
- On MotionBased I filtered to races I knew to be good conditions and sorted out the runners that would post there heartrate data and found several strong race performances in the 87-88% max heartrate range.
- All that together – and me being an aggressive sort – I rounded up to 164 as the target heartrate – I may give 163 a try next race. Each 1bpm for me seems to represent ~3 seconds per mile pace difference so it’s worth nearly 1.5 minutes off the MP pace to me to run one faster if it can be sustained.
- Heat and Humidity factors are the big and not well understood wildcard to me. It should be conservative to use same targets for warm races but I don’t really know how much to adjust up and still be able to hold the distance.
- I’ve heard several talk about the heartrate drifting up at the end of the race – caused by dehydration – I have never been able to demonstrate this in a marathon – not sure why – but for whatever reason my heartrate does not seem to drift up even to the end of the race.

That's it for my reflections today. I'd really like to see someone repeat that fat-pumpkin taper plan and get a similar step change. If someone does it please let me know.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Boston is Next

In searching for the answer to the "What's Next" question. I grappled for a bit and finally just settled for - something would preset itself.

Within what seemed like just a few hours - something presented itself:

Press Release 1/17/2008:
Boston, Mass. – Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France champion, has entered the 2008 Boston Marathon, the Boston Athletic Association announced today. Armstrong qualified for the Boston Marathon with a 2:46:43 finish at the 2007 ING New York City Marathon. The Boston Marathon qualifying time for Armstrong's 35-39-year-old age group is 3 hours, 15 minutes.

I don't know what it is about Lance - he was a Target of mine at NYCM where he kicked my butt by 10 minutes. He was my Stretch virtual target at Houston - to get a sub-Lance time. And now he's going to Boston. It took me about 5 minutes after I saw this to decide - on 1/17/2008 - I signed up for the BOSTON MARATHON. With our qualifying times - we should both be lined up in corral 1 :).

I'm GOING TO BOSTON!!!! (look out Lance).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Houston Marathon Part 4 of 4: The Numbers

Ok - I had to go play with numbers - it's the engineer thing.

First - the Race Results:

2:40:46 Chip Time
2:40:49 Gun
27th Overall of 5564
23st of 3477 men
1st of 575 AG (40-44)
79.6% Age Grade (>80% is considered Nationally Rated)

Masters Crown for 1st place 40+ - Prize $1,500.
Local Masters 1st place - Prize $250
Local Mens 4th Place - Prize money to top 3.

Invited Local Runner for Houston 2009 with 1st place in age group (this was one of my stretch goals for 2008 - essentiall it means it will be free next year, I get to line up in front of everyone and I get personal waterbottles placed for me around the course).

1st Place on the Mileage Game PR List (I little competition I play with a hundred or so other runners).

And best of all - I really think I could have gone faster - by my read looking at the HR/Pace data - I think I had about another 3 minutes in me.

I thought I'd benchmark my time against the active.com Running Rankings and see how I stack up against the database of what appear to be all the major US races.

For 2008 races to date I am 4th for my age group (3 faster runners ran at Arizona R&R) so far.

For 2007 race time 2:40:46 has

87 faster times recorded by a 40-44 year old Male (out of ~40,000 finishers - this is the largest and on average the fastest age group for 2007).
-22 of those were repeats by the same person
-18 of are from athletes from another country.
Would be 47th Place in US if it was in 2007

Sub 2:35 would be top 20
Sub 2:30 would be top 10

I'm fishing for my go forward goals and wanted to see how I stacked up.

The most frequently asked question of all:

What is Next?

I don't know. It probably sounds arrogant but I have a little bit of a sense of "I've concurred the marathon" which makes me lean to go find something else - I don't expect that sense will last long as I already seem to be focusing on the 50 or so Masters in my age group ahead of me. But I haven't signed up for another marathon yet. For now I'm just going to enjoy the moment - the next challenge will present itself. Ideas for new challenges are welcome.

To finish this race report - a single word - you must listen for it just after I leave the screen.....Bib 1564 hit "RIGHT" button to see marathoner coming in:

Finish Video

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Houston Marathon: Part 3 of 4: Kudos Questions and Answers

I find these comments to be hugely encouraging and know I will love looking back on these in the future to draw encouragement. Thanks to many for your contrubutions and encouragement both here and over the last year or so.

RT Threads

kayry putting down the hammer!
Houston Marathon Race Report
Comments on Kayry'se Training - Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Runango Thread
Houston Marathon Race Report

Letsrun Thread
HRM Training = 16-minute Marathon PR

Monday, January 14, 2008

Houston Marathon Part 2 of 4 - FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions (some from others - some from myself).

What was the indication that you COULD run this fast?

I had no indication whatsoever from any race or any training that I could run as fast as I ran yesterday. The fastest any race calculator predicted was 2:47ish and near all my race times aligned to that - 5k, 10k and 30k race performances all predicted 2:47ish. I had programmed into my thinking 164 bpm was my marathon heartrate no mater what the pace. At New York I ran to 164 bpm for about 18 miles and averaged 6:30ish then gave into weakness to give up 5+ minutes in the rest of the race. I went out thinking I'm going to do the same as NYC and push thru that mile 18 weakness - but yesterday the 164 bpm was 6:0X pace - I figured from training I had got maybe 10-15 seconds faster since NYC but I didn't think 20-25 seconds was in the cards - that was not available in ANY of my training runs - it was ONLY there on race day. Only thing I can think of was the taper delivered - I did a 2 week taper - not huge reduction in mileage - still several quality runs - and I went on a 10 day crash diet (minimal carbs - Atkins style) followed by a 3 day carb loading. Netted about 4-5 lbs reduction in weight by the time I raced and I think that gave me the extra speed - I think the rule of thumb is 1 lb = 2 seconds/mile so that seems to be the only explanation that makes any sense to me.

What was my training strategy leading up to this?

I stole shamelessly from what fast runners have done. Several 2:4x marathoners shared minimal emphasis on Speed Work - especially near the race which was counter to what I had been doing following Pfitz who puts the Speed training in the last 6 weeks before the race - I had over emphasized it leading up to New York in November so I figured I'd cut it out completely in training to Houston. All my race performance showed I had better performance at the shorter distances so I figured speed was good - I needed to work on strength and endurance - meaning Tempo/MP and Long runs. Most longruns or medium longruns were ended with ~5 miles at Marathon Pace. Someone asked me what training program I was using between New York and Houston and this was my response:

------------ Training plan 11/25
Training plan to Houston - I am mixing and matching everything and making quite the mishmash of training. Started with the Pfitz multi-marathon training plan - 10 wks between marathons - ramped thru the 3 week recovery period MUCH faster than it advised - as my legs felt I could add mileage. Gave up the day off - typically - making Monday's "Optional" and will probably do mostly as an easy lunch time run. Tailored to add some races I really want to do - two 30k's on 12/1 & 12/9 (first mostly MP pace, second racing). Added a couple miles to the long runs to max at 22. Then adding some fine-tuning type things - no HR Monitor - learning to run by "feel", perceptive queue's from Matt Fitzgerald's book (I get a message/theme per week to focus on to help improve running form - next week is "pounding ground" which is supposed to help me spring off the ground into the next step). Then changing some of the Strides to 400 Repeats - also to help running form - and adding a couple MP miles at the end of every LR/MLR. Also adding "Power Triad" strength training a couple/few times per week. Get all that .

That was the "plan" but than a little later I learned that many of the faster runners didn't do speed work - or so it seemed - so decided to cut out all the track workouts and whenever I got to a day with one of those workouts in the plan - I replaced it with a Tempo Workout or a Progressive Workout or a Marathon Pace workout instead. I did work on my form a bit although not as diligent as I planned - I got to the point where I looked for a certain feeling in my feet from the impact on the ground - if I could feel any impact in the heal area than I knew I was over striding and I would tilt forward a little to get the impact feeling back to the front of the foot. I did not do the "Power Triad" except once or twice - just never developed the habit. So in summary - dropped the Speed Work completely and focused on Marathon Pace and Tempo Pace and fast long runs.

What was my nutrition/fueling strategy?

For Nutrition during the Taper - I followed what I perceived to be the fat-pumpkin plan posted in a Sub3 thread on tapering. Two week taper with 10 days of minimal Carbs followed by 3 days of minimal Fat/Protien. Night before I had Italian Dinner at 6ish and no solid foods from there to the race. I also took multi-vitamin almost daily and airborne for the last couple days and race morning to avoid the after race sickness I sometimes get.

For the Morning I followed what I'll call the jwd1113(Wally) plan which I learned from him before Boston last year and have been doing for most every race. Morning I woke at 3am (T-4hours) and started downing UltraFuel - I made it thru about 250 g of carbs in that by about 5:00(T-2hours) and I could take no more - the plan was for 300 g + 2 power bars but I just could do no more so stopped at what I got. I also had a cup of coffee about T-45 minutes.

For the race I decided to "live off the course" a line from Waterdog66 - all prior races I had carried fluid with me but none on this race. I had Gatorade or Water at every station which seemed like every couple miles - I think the first couple I took Gatorade then all the remaining were water to help with the Gu. I took a Gu shots at 5,10,15 and double espresso Gu at 20 - someone mentioned the caffeine impact late in the race is better if you don't have in too regular before so I for the last couple days of carb loading I avoided Caffeine except my morning coffee on race day. I planned to do an Electrolyte S-Caps every 5 miles but only ended up taking one just before the race and none during. I also took a couple ibuprofen before the race to help with whatever pain would be coming.

How did the Taper go?

I did a 2 week taper - Mileage dropped from mid 70s typical prior month to mid-50s first week to mid 20s pre-race week. For the whole taper up until last few days I was "depleting" i.e. minimal carbs - I really think of it as dieting Atkin's style (I allowed post run chocolate milk after the hard runs) - all my runs were single digits except one 10 miler which I felt pretty weak by the end. I did two progressive workouts the first week and planned a Marathon Paced run but I bailed on the MP run when I was struggling to maintain 7 mpm pace. I did 3 more short MP runs the last week - first two were at the end of the depleting and were 7 mpm pace - than one after a days carb loading and the pace dropped to where I was used to seeing marathon pace - 6:15ish. Overall I netted about 4-5 lbs reduction from this ending the depletion ~147 - by race time I think I was up to ~150 with the carb loading/hydrating.

How do you feel after the race?

Other than shocked/amazed/in awe and all that. I actually feel surprisingly fresh. I ran 5 miles this morning and it was the easiest post marathon run I've ever had. After every previous marathon - if I ran the next day - it was more of a 2-3 mile shuffle - hardly could be called running - but today - I worked out a few sore spots on the Foam Roller then went for a run - went 5.4 miles at about 7:30 pace.

Do you feel like you gave it your all?

Actually I do not feel like I gave it my all. Around mile 16 I justified to myself a bit of a "settling" compromise. I had run the first 16 scary fast and even though I was looking at my heartrate and KNEW I had run at that EFFORT for at least that long at New York marathon - the pace I was flying scared me a little - although I resisted the temptation to think of a bombing at the end - it was still in the back of my mind. I had what felt like a slow mile (looking back it was 6:20) and after that "recovery" mile - a certain amount of strength returned. It helped a little that a couple people were bouncing ahead/behind/ahead/behind me as I was going thru the internal confusion of how fast to run (a lady going for her olympic qualify time and a guy pacing/helping her). Felling a little refreshed from the recovery mile - I started to push in a measured way - I didn't push it up to where I believed I could run (164 bpm) but settled for a Strong pace - if not Strongest - that mode pretty much continued for the last 10 miles - strong - but not strongest. So post race I look back on the last 10 miles a bit mixed - like I could have done better - a slight amount of regret at that - but combined with increased shock that I could do that well and still feel I had gas left in the tank. When I look at the data - in Boston my heartrate average was 162 and in Houston it was only 160 - I think I pushed harder for my 3:01:01 in Boston in April than I did for the 2:40:46 in Houston.

I've heard mixed reviews about using a heartrate monitor in a race - why did you?

I have not developed a good "feel" for the right pace to run. I still consider myself pretty new to the sport having only run my first marathon 2 years ago and basically got off the couch 30 lbs overweight just a few months prior to that. Every time I try to run by "feel" I find my tendency is to run slower - not believe I can run faster. The heartrate monitor reading gives me factual unbiased data that tells me - "yes you can run this fast". Without it - for me - when I try to "feel" - I seem to convince myself that a slower pace is the right pace for whatever reason.

That's all for now - Not sure what Part 3 will be but there will be one....

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Houston Marathon Part 1 of 4

Wow - I am sitting in shock looking at 2:40:46 finish time.

Race milestones I was striving for - sub2:50, Stretch goal subLance(2:46:43).

Race Strategy - I just wanted to see what I could do. I figured I may be able to maintain a 164 bpm heartrate so I set my garmin after mile one to alarm 162 and 166 and displayed only the heartrate on the Garmin and countdown to next milemarker - nothing else.

First mile I targeted a 6:15-6:25 but actually ended around 6:30 - the mile ended with a fair amount of up hill so I figured I hit the target effort level.

Rest of the mileage I only had heartrate to watch on my watch. A side note - I've had a lot of problems with the strap slipping on me in prior runs and races and figured a solution to that issue a few days ago - I pin the strap to my shirt - worked great.

Anyway after mile two I focused on keeping my heartrate steady at around 164 bpm. At mile markers I would get pace info and mile by mile I kept hearing a lower numbers - averages steadily dropped from the first 6:30 finally down to a low of 6:05 somewhere around the half. I started getting nervous about my strategy because 6:05 average pace so far into the race was insane - but I tried to trust my strategy of sticking to 164 bpm and run whatever speed it would deliver.

Maintaining the HR slowly started slipping - I hit the low 162 bpm pretty regular and had a hard time maintaining. Around 16 or so I stopped trying to maintain and resolved to just maintain whatever I could - I kept seeing lower and lower numbers - down to 155 at one point - I think that reduction helped to give me a second wind and I sped up a little - got up to the 158ish range which I seemed to be able to hold. I passed up the last couple of people near me and I was running alone.

As I approached each mile marker I kept expecting the average pace to increase and it did drift up slightly - but not as bad as I expected - heard several 6:06s and 6:07 and I think one 6:08 so even though my HR was slipping - I was apparently still pulling down some good mile splits - at least a few times I got no split at the markers as two split callers were assigned to each milemarker and sometimes I would hear the splits as-if I was in wave 2. It was ridiculous to me that they were calling out splits for those slower runners that started 10 minutes later as if they had caught up to me - like a second waver runner is going to be running a 5:40 pace. Once in a while they would call out the time but there were no digital displays at the milemarkers with the time so since I didn't SEE the time - I never quite comprehended the time - there wasn't even a 1/2 marathon split time and apparently the mat didn't record it - somebody said it was 1:19:50 although I have no idea what that came from. I did not allow myself to do math while running - focus was one mile at a time - once in a while I would start wondering what a 6:0x marathon finishing time was and my mind would start to calculate and I would force it back to business at hand of getting to the next milemarker strong. I knew Lance's time was 6:21 pace so I knew if I could keep it together I had that but I tried hard not to add up the seconds per mile difference to project my finish - one mile at a time.

I passed the last person anywhere near me between mile 18-19 - afterwhich there was no one within sight ahead - and no one came from behind to challenge me all the way to the finish so the last 7-8 miles of the race was all on my own.

I generally had the feeling I was not pushing enough - I was settling for heartrates in the high 150s and still believed I could maintain higher. Finally around 24 or so I resolved to at least push into the 160s so I pushed the pace a little - especially final mile.

At the finish - it was very important to me and my wife that she is involved in the finish. She waits right near the finish at every race from near the start of the race just to maintain a good spot that could be easily seen. I knew to look right near the finish and I would find her - the problem was the half marathoners were finishing right and I was running down the left side of the street. I was determined to not miss her so I held back the final sprint until I found her - kept scanning, kept scanning - finally with maybe 100 yards remaining I spot her and she blows me a few excited kisses than I charge to the finish. She told me later she just happened to start looking not expecting me for another 5 minutes or so - the text messaging from my split times didn't hit her cellphone so she didn't know how I was doing.

Anyway - after I stopped looking intently at the sideline and accepted my blown kisses - I looked up to the finish - I saw the clock - it was ticking with a 2:40:xx - I was floored - I charged to the finish and took too steps past the finish and just had to yell out my excitement - I was in total shock.

So - 2:40:46 finish time - I've been thinking about that ever sense I got it and I'm just in shock. Apparently I set a 10 mile PR, TWO half marathon PRs (I guess the second doesn't count since it was slower than the first), a 30k PR and the best of all - nearly a 16 minute Marathon PR - holy smokes - where did that come from.

And to top it all off - I'm pretty sure I WON the race for 40+ runners which has a $1,500 prize - results aren't final yet. I would not be surprised to learn it is the slowest Master's winning time ever recorded :) for the Houston Marathon - but better lucky than good. Sean Wade didn't run - 2:20 marathon last year at age 40 - and where the heck are the older Kenyans. This would also give me local elite status in next years Houston Marathon - one of my 2008 (stretch) goals.

I downloaded all the split and biometric info but haven't looked at it much but if your currious feel free to dig in and give me your take.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

What a difference a day makes.

I've been in the fine tuning mode for this marathon vs others. With prior marathons I pretty much just blindly followed a book or only changed a little. With this marathon I have been combining what sounds good from many sources. One of the ideas was to deplete before carb loading. I really think of it as crash diet - atkins style - during the taper up until the last three days than start the typical carb loading last three days. So this is what I've been doing - essentially no Carbs for 10 days up until today, than today was the switch to minimal fat/proteins. My running started dropping off significantly last couple of days:

Tuesday Run - 6 miles with 5 @ MP heartrate - average MP Pace was 7:01 minutes per mile.

Wednesday Run -Same 6 miles with 5 @ MP heartrate - average MP Pace 6:54

Today (Thursday) I carb loaded with OJ/Bagel for breakfast, Pasta lunch at Olive Garden for lunch and a Pasta Party with my running club for dinner. Went for a run after dinner:

Thursday Run - 5 miles with 4 @ MP heartrate - average MP Pace 6:16 (and HR was actually only 163 vs target 164) - now THAT'S what I'm talking about.

I was getting little jittery seeing those high pace numbers last couple days - Love the CARBS!!

Continued 2007 Charting

First I thought I would chart my mileage and average pace for 2007. Total 2688 miles at an average 7:43 pace. I had a little fun with a map and 2688 miles - that is the distance from Disneyland (LA) to Disneyworld (Orlando) + a little extra:

I really like the steady decline in average pace from mid year ~8 miles per minute to end of year around 7 miles per minute. Some of that is the types of workouts. Leading up to Houston I put much higher emphasis on Marathon Paced running and much less on VO2max, it also appears I did less recovery mileage. Then I thought I'd chart the breakdown of the types of workouts I did leading up to NYC marathon and to Houston marathons. Below shows the percentage breakdown by week in the 19 weeks to NYC and 10 weeks to Houston:

Table Summary
Training Mileage to NYC Houston
Mileage................1190 581
Weeks....................19 10
Recovery Pace.........35% 29% *Includes Recovery/slow running after previous race
Long Run Pace.........43% 44%
Marathon Pace........10% 18%
Tempo Pace.............8% 8%
VO2max Pace...........3% 0%

Guess we will see Sunday if the strategy worked but as of now I feel very ready for this race. We'll see what happens on race day.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Pre Race Assessment

Training mostly done - all indications are I'm right at my peak. Longest was a strong 23 miler. Cut out all speed work since NYCM except for a 10k race and a 10k paced workout once. Other than that all workouts were Tempo pace or slower - but I racked up a lot of mileage at Tempo/MP pace/LR pace(MP+30sec).

Fueling - Trying a 10 day Atkin's type depletion/dieting followed by a 3 day carb loading. I'm really not much of a believer in the depletion as a key to not fading at the end although it might help - I've had strong to the finish races before at a heavier weight so I think I can achieve without that. I'm really going after the concept of reducing the energy REQUIRED to finish the race. Started ~152 last weekend and I'm down ~5 lbs since then - of course I will add back much of that thru carb/hydrating last three days and I feel certain I can get the energy back in to run the race but I will still net I think ~5 lbs less that I would have without it:

5/152=3.2% less weight to carry 26.2 miles = about that much less energy it takes to finish the race.

Mental - I've considered several strategies but for now I am thinking of walking the razor's edge - I figure I don't have anything to loose - I want to run to my limits. I'll use a HRM to keep me in control especially first half but this race will be run hard to the finish. Focus is

Weather - has consistantly looked great - forecast ~40s - thank you marathon gods!

Support - Wife is always biggest cheerleader. Kids kinda want to cheer virtual - I guess after 5 marathons as spectator that can get a little old. Running Club Supporters - Pasta Party Thursday. Formites interested and encouraging - Runago FE planned.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Updated Marathon Pace Trend

I found some old data on my training up to Houston last year so I thought I'd put that on the chart as well. I used the same 3 seconds per bpm adjustment factor that I can measure off my performance today which is less and less appropriate farther back I go. The races (high effort runs) all falling below the other data from weekend long runs suggests the long runs are not corrected down enough in 4Q06 but I'll call it good enough - makes a pretty graph.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Marathon Pace Improvements over 2007

I had fun analyzing a years Garmin data today - in a geeky engineer kinda way. Results show an average 4.5 second per mile per month improvement in my marathon pace.

Here's how I looked at the data. Runs were selected from the year of running that were steady fast paced - not too fast - from ~10 mile race pace to a little slwer than Marathon Pace'd runs. Only runs with good heartrate data were used - remove unrepresentative miles like the first mile or two. All runs were normalized based on data from my progressive runs - i.e. 3 seconds adjustement per 1 bpm off my target marathon heartrate (164).

Of course the trend cannot be expected to continue at the same rate - but what if it did:

Houston 2008 - 6:14 mpm (2:43)
Boston Marathon 2008 - 6:00 mpm (2:37)
Houston 2009 - 5:20 mpm (2:30)
World Record Achieved - September 2009 4:45 mpm (2:04)