Saturday, March 29, 2008

Law Week Fun Run 8k

Law Week Fun Run 8k – Start 71F 90% humidity (yuck!) 483 finishers.

1 5:21 159 5th place – I went out a little too fast
2 5:44 173 couple guys pass me as I slow – 7th
3 5:54 174 couple more guys pass me – 9th
4 6:08 174 maintain position – 3 mile marker is at the bottom of a hill so this mile is slowed by the hill at the beginning.
4.97 5:50(6:00 pace) 177

Finish – 28:57 9th place overall 2nd for my age group. 38 second PR for the distance, 2:14 faster than same race 1 year ago (about the same weather).

Not a well executed race overall – I compared it to the same race a year ago and I kept my heartrate ~3-4 bpm higher last year which suggests I should have gone ~50-60 seconds faster for the race for the same guts as I put in last year. I was not at all excited about running the humid weather and as much as I wanted to be psyched to do my best – somewhere after mile 1 – I had difficulty maintaining the motivation. In hindsight I think I should have run by heartrate instead of targeting splits as I was just unsure how to adjust my pace for the weather – I seem to run faster by heartrate and ignoring the splits until the finish but for some reason I convinced myself to run this race targeting milemarker splits – didn’t work.

But the race was fun – met several fellow Striders – a running club I joined a month or so back but haven’t done much with as of yet. I find myself becoming known for the somewhat analytical blog :-) even by people I haven’t met before.

I did try heat acclimating for 2 days as prep for this race hoping for a colder race (ran in sweats 13 miles on Thurday and 7 on Friday), but with the heat of the race there is no way to tell if it did any good. Sure wish I could get a cold day to see the impact but I don’t see one in the forecast anytime before next weekend.

3 weeks to Boston - getting pretty excited!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lucky Seabrook Marathon – Training Run Report (TRR)

No – not a race report – just a training run for me on the road to Boston so it’s the TRR. Morning started with a 1.5 hour drive arriving at the race about 6:30 with both kids and my wife for a 7:15 start time. Weather was good – but not great – around 60-65F, dry (low humidity) with 20 mph winds from the east for the whole race. The wind factor was not big as most of the race was north-south and much of the course was protected from the wind by trees but there were a couple stretches straight into it and a couple sections with it right behind. For the N-S portions I think the wind actually helped cool making up a little for the somewhat warmer than perfect temps for running a marathon (perfect imho is 40-55). Race was 4 loops with about 500 marathoners & half marathoners (start 15 minutes after marathoners) and several relay teams all sharing a 4-5 foot loose dirt trail in many places trying to navigate past each other in two directions (can you say collision alert). I originally signed up just for the ½ marathon but I was persuaded it might be an easy marathon win even as a training run which I thought would be kinda cool so I decided to go ahead and make an extra long training run cautious to not jeopardize my training to Boston – I figured with the soft trails the risks were probably pretty low. The trails run on for all but the first 2/3rd mile are exactly the same trail surface on a 3 mile loop near my house that when I run on costs me about 10-15 seconds per mile for the same heartrate (4-6 minute impact on marathon time).

As a training run – my pre-“race” strategy was to start the race just as if a marathon and run at marathon pace for ~20 miles than jog the last 6.2 miles around 30-60 seconds off marathon pace. One of the main “experiments” of this race was to again see if I could find the elusive turbo-drive, I’ve come to call it, that appeared at Houston Marathon so I can be sure to replicate it come Boston. The theory I was experimenting with was that the surge in speed was caused by having a few days of running in warm/humid temperatures before the cool race. To test the theory I ran in sweats T, W, Th workouts – each about 10 miles with T/Th easy runs and W an attempted Tempo workout – all runs with a HRM and the pace of all runs was significantly impacted by the heat of running in sweats. Pre-race diet was 3 day carb-load and small morning breakfast (oatmeal/banana).

Mile,Split,HR (all per Garmin)
1 6:09 146 Target 6:05-6:20 first mile. A few guys joined the start-line that looked young and fast – I began to think the win was not to be today – but I’d still get a good workout in and finish my experiment. Two darted out way faster than me and one guy stayed on my heals I think trying to draft me in the windy parts. 3rd.
2 5:53 163 Target 162-166 HR until Mile 20. As I reached the end of the first mile I had my Garmin programmed to switched to heartrate target and I was VERY happy to see a heartrate after a mile of only 156-7 – My little experiment WORKED!!! I had around 20 seconds/mile I could speed up to be on target. I immediately hit the turbo-drive and create some separation to the guy drafting me – he’s going to have to fight the wind on his own like me. 3rd.
3 6:05 165 A couple very windy spots near the beach. 3rd.
4 5:59 164 3rd – mostly shielded or tailwind.
5 6:07 165 3rd – a U-turn on this mile and coming back I see 4th had not dropped back all that much.
6 6:05 166 3rd
7 6:03 165 3rd They have chip mat set up for the start of loop 2 and it reads 40 minutes so I’m thinking that is 1/4th of a marathon so I’m on pace for 4x40 2:40. Start lap #2
8 6:16 164 3rd
9 6:09 164 3rd 4th has caught up to me and using me to draft.
10 6:03 163 4th passes me at the windy beach so I get a little drafting time myself in this worst stretch. I let him know I was just running a training run so I’d be jogging at the end anyway (why did I tell him that – I don’t really know) – anyway a nice guy in the words we exchanged. I’m 4th.
11 6:11 162 4th.
12 5:59 162 4th.
13 6:04 163 4th. Start Lap 3 – my ½ split is 1:20.
14 6:12 162 4th.
15 6:27 160 4th. About ½ way into this mile I decide to bail on the plan to stay marathon pace until 20 and slow down to a long-run speed ~155 HR – this is a training run after all – why should I kill myself that hard. I lied to myself a couple times to justify this – first I said I would just slow down for a mile or two than speed back up.
16 6:37 156 4th
17 6:30 155 4th. Ok – I’ve finished that lie – now maybe I’ll just stay slow until I get to 20 and then I’ll get good practice on finishing strong.
18 6:33 154 4th
19 6:28 154 4th. Start Lap 4 – my ¾ split is 2:03 (only lost 3 minutes from 2:40 pace in my jogging)
20 6:30 155 4th. Ok – I’ve finished that lie up too – now I’m just thinking I’m going to hold 4th place and if someone comes to take it a way from me – I’ll put him down.
21 6:41 158 4th
22 6:46 N/A 4th (HR data went jumpy)
23 6:52 156 4th
24 6:41 154 4th
25 6:39 N/A 4th (HR data bad again)
26 6:22 N/A 4th
26.43 2:32 (5:53 pace) N/A 4th. I gotta make it look good to the family so I pick up the pace for the last little bit :-). A big cheering for me from my wife and daughter (I guess my son just wanted to sleep in the truck) and I cross the finishline.

Final official time 2:47:04. I believe that would be a course record if it was first place as the fastest prior time I've seen is 2:47:17.

Final Place 4th? Wait a minute here – I shake hands with a kid I recognize from the startline and a few passes on the trails as 2nd – he's pretty impressed especially by the guy in front of me that nearly matched what he and 3 friends did in the relay.....hmmmmmm...I forgot all about the relay in this race – turns out those two that darted off at the beginning were in the relay.

So – I got 2nd Overall, not 4th. (3rd finally came in about 10 minutes behind me). I'll mention they really give out some BIG finishing metals and big award plaques at this race.

1st place got 2:38 and he seemed a bit disappointed. Apparently he got a 2:35 at Houston Marathon and he was hoping to improve on that time but didn’t account for the running surface difference when he signed up for this race. Anyway I think his performance definitely does show better than 2:35 considering the difference.

I didn't directly colide with anyone but there were many close calls on the trails and lots of dodging this way and that. Lots of yelling "runner back" to get people to make way - usually worked except the occasional runner with an ipod blaring. One colision with Dixie Cup as all the people at a 2 way water station were looking the other way and handing drinks to runners from my side of the trail - dixie cup handed to a lady right in front of me which I run straight into and got wet - it actually felt good :-) but I'm glad it wasn't gatorade - they wised up next time through and handed water from both sides for the two directions.

Nice training run. To me it tells me I’m probably capable of a bit faster than 1:18 splits in a marathon on a hard surface with this TURBO-DRIVE regiment pre-race. Makes my Sub6 mpm goal at Boston look possible given the low probability that it ends up being good weather conditions - maybe.

When I think about it - I think what I've discovered is a way to run same pace at ~7 bpm slower heartrate (or ~20 seconds faster for same heartrate) - I still have to demonstrate I can hold for a whole race at the prior heartrate target in this post heat-treated state to really be able to say it makes me run faster although I do believe it does - I suspect I will find I can't capture it all - maybe I have to reduce the HR target a bpm or two. What I really need is a short race to test if I can capture all the speed but I'm running out of time to experiment - Boston only 5 weeks away and I wasn't planning any more races until Boston. Guess it depends how recovery goes - there is a 33 1/3rd minute race coming up (race is how far you can run in the fixed time) I've had my eye on thinking of racing - I'll wait and see how recovery from this one goes.

Thanks for reading.


Galveston Newspaper

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Bayou City Classic 10k - Race Report

A crisp morning mid 40s with winds 8-10 mph - 8 am start, 1560 runners total, my wife joined me for the drive and wait around at the startline getting there about an hour early. It was pretty entertaining watching the different costumes as many dress up for this event.

I had talked in a previous report about this turbo-drive I seemed to have on Tuesday in a workout - I had pretty much seen this go away in my Thursday/Friday workouts before the race so I wasn't really expecting it would still be there although I was kinda hoping it was still there.

I wasn't really sure what pace to go for because of the uncertainty around this turbo-drive thing - somewhere between 5:38 pace based on what I thought I could have done at the 1/2 marathon couple weeks back or 5:20 pace based on a workout done on Tuesday. So I set my race plan basis heartrate which is a bit tricky for a short anaerobic race like a 10k because the heartrate tends to be rising most of the race instead of quickly getting to a lower steadystate in a longer race. Alarms I programmed into my Garmin: mile 1, 5:25-5:35, Mile 2-3 HR 172-176, Mile 4-5 HR 174-178, Mile 6,6.2 HR 174-Max. So here is how it played out:

Mile Pace HR
Race Start - Sean Wade joins the front line - I introduce myself and shake hands - ok it might be a couple years until he needs to watch out for me but I figured he should start knowing who I am :-).

1 5:32 159 Started out in the buildings - first quarter mile was right with the front pack which didn't feel too fast but I figured it must be so I backed off a bit - about this time the garmin started being more accurate on my pace and I found I was pretty much on target. Finished the mile about where I wanted to be.
2 5:20 173 Switched to targetting a 174 heartrate which proved to be too early to do this - I'm thinking now it takes a good 2 miles to get the heartrate up to target on a 10k so trying to do it after the 1 mile marker was too early - ended up running mile 2 a bit too fast - passed a couple guys but then seemed to be slightly slowing down.
3 5:41 175 I could tell I was slowing and pushed just a little harder than the 174 target. I was definately not gaining on anyone in fact there seemed a steady stream of guys passing me - seemed about 1-2 people per mile.
4 5:48 176 I was feeling some pain - just kept focussing on the next mile marker - stay strong to the next one - It seemed there was a slight headwind for 4,5,6 but I checked the wind direction and it was from the North and the race ran out West and back East so should have only been crosswind - probably my imagination - I think I'm still loosing 1 to 2 places per mile.
5 5:48 175 Really just like mile 4 but more painful.
6 5:48 176 I'm going back and forth with a guy this mile - he passes me kinda half-hearted - then I pass him back - then he passes me back - then there is an overpass near the end of the mile - we stay steady going up the hill and I blow by him going down the other side. At the milemarker the next guy is just at that point of - maybe if I push REAL hard I can catch him.
6.2 1:11 178 (5:08 pace) I try to keep the speed going off the hill - I'm pushing hard but not quite REAL hard - not sure if I even had that in me as I was pretty beat - but I did close a little on the next guy - but not quite enough and I finished a few seconds behind him.

Final time 35:11 - 5:40 pace.

- First time getting a VDOT >60 except the Houston marathon (VDOT 60.4).
- PR by exactly 1:00 minute over the Turkey Trot in November.
- CR by 4:43 over this same race last year
- Unofficial PR in the first 5k - 17:13 vs my PR is 17:28.
- At the split I was in 14th and ended in 17th overall so I gave up ONE place per mile on the slower 17:58 2nd 5k.
- 3th place in my age group not counting Sean Wade since I think he won the Open and Jon Butler since he's actually 45 so in the next age group. Turns out 2nd place 3 seconds in front of me - had I known I'll bet I could have found 3 more seconds somewhere in me - but not much more. The results they had posted after the race showed me 4th place for my age group and I didn't stick around for the awards - we wanted to get home for some kid activities - when I looked up the official results later it showed me 3rd. I found my award on my chair at work Monday (Thanks Al).

Looking at the plot of my HR vs Pace - the turbo-drive from Tuesday definately was completely gone today - I plotted 4 of the miles (two ended up being on top of each other) as the first 2 miles the HR had not go up to a steady state yet so I didn't include them.

As I've already mentioned the easy runs Thursday/Friday (blue datapoints) pretty much told me not to expect it on race day but I was kinda hoping anyway. The 10k points (Pink) pretty much align with the 2/17 speed level.

Next race (actually a long workout as I won't be racing) is the Seabrook Marathon next Sunday. I'm planning to see if I can replecate the March 4th turbo-drive with some heat training Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday - if it happens to be hot/humid those days - great - if not I'll wear sweats while running or something to make it hot - we'll see how it goes - I'm really hoping I can learn this trick before Boston.

Thanks for reading - John.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Wow - what a workout!

I did a normal progressive run this morning. My workout plan from Sean Wade's logs leading to Houston 07 had something called a Kenyan Run 4 days before a 10k that looked just like my normal progressive run so I did mine instead - 4 days before a 10k I'm planning for Saturday.

Anyway - I am absolutely astonished at the difference in this run vs the exact same run 2 weeks ago. I run these all by heartrate targets then look at the speeds after I am done. After the prior one 2 weeks ago I picked off the graph below the 169 bpm point to find 5:52 pace and figured that was about what I could do the 1/2 marathon at the coming Sunday - which is exactly what I would have done - maybe a little better - if not for some wind and hills. So this week - for the same 169 bpm point I am getting closer to a 5:35 pace - 17 seconds/mile faster - WOW - I'm scratching my head wondering what the heck happen. Today's workout was 37F average and the one a couple weeks back was 43F average - shouldn't make much difference. I'm eating perfectly normal - nothing special.

I did get a bit heat acclimated over the weekend with ~30+ miles run in 2 runs: 11 Easy Saturday (62°F 95% humid), 20 very hard Sunday (73°F muggy) - Sunday's was a Daniels Workout 2E+5T+5minCD+4T+4minCD+3T+3minCD+2T+2E in which I got very dehydrated and ended up walking much of that last 2 in total exhaustion. I can't say today's workout felt any harder than the one two weeks ago - both were hard to complete as this workout is always. If this turbo-drive is related to heat acclimation - I am now wondering if this is what happen at Houston and maybe the carb/deplete thing was just coincidence - since there was warm weather for several days a few days before the marathon....hmmmm. Anyway here is the graph:

So now I am thinking toward this 10k coming up on Saturday - if my 1/2 marathon pace is really 5:35 - my 10k pace should be 5:20 - we'll see what I can do on Saturday.

So many mysterious variables in this marathoning thing....keeps my engineering mind working

On the topic of Heat Acclimation - I went back and looked up an interesting study done on this subject and I note these words:

"Complete heat acclimatization requires up to 14 days, but the systems of the body adapt to heat exposure at varying rates. The early adaptations (initial 1-5 days) involve an improved control of cardiovascular function, including expanded plasma volume, reduced heart rate, and autonomic nervous system habituation which redirects cardiac output to skin capillary beds and active muscle."

So maybe the whole key to this turbo-charge I've been trying to figure out at Houston is this early adaptation in the initial 1-5 days of Heat Adaptation........hmmmm....very interesting stuff.

3/5 Addition

I was thinking about this more in my run today and I recalled three other times last year where I seemed to get surprizing speed out of the blue - and it so happens all three came from a period of Cool - Warm - Cool training. I am not talking about the obvious benefit of running cooler weather - I'm taling about running in cooler weather, a few days in warm weather, then back to cool weather again and finding more speed than I had initially. Two of these were when traveling away in the summer to cooler locations then running there and one when I was doing some base-building after the San Diego Marathon running all on the treadmill - I decided to try to get better runs in by cranking down the airconditioning - the benefit was initally very pronounced but then went away over the next several days.

Anyway - I'm really starting to think there is something to this theory - looking forward to testing it out.