Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Treadmill Running and Relearning the Basics

I've had my new treadmill now for about 1 month - first run on 5/4. I resorted to this treadmill running to be able to continue training thru the hot/humid weather in Houston without having to slow significantly (outside running is about a minute per mile slower for same heartrate). I've logged 18 runs for a total of about 180 miles and I thought I'd take a look at the data of these 180 miles and see what I can learn. For the datasource - just about all those miles were run wearing my Garmin HRM and as the treadmill readouts shows a milemarker I manually hit the lap button on the Garmin to record mile times. After the first few runs I began to program the AC to knock the inside temperature down to 70°F for the run for increased speed. For the most part the mileage has been one of three types of mileage - Recovery (~140 bpm), Easy (~150 bpm), MP Pace (160-164 bpm) and a few faster miles. I put these on a x-y scatter plot for mileage vs heartrate taking out about 30 miles that were transitional (first miles in a run as heartrate is ramping up, first mile after a step change in pace up or down as the heartrate is ramping up or down) and also taking out the first few days that were before I lowered the AC. Here's what the data looks like:

In the Pink - I've separated out the last couple days of running as I am testing a new theory on why the day to day variation in speed - for example at 150 bpm there are points from 6:15 to 7:00 mpm for the same heartrate. So - what is the new theory that so far (2 days) is keeping me at the fastest end of the range?

Well - first I'll tell you how I got to it. In trying to figure out why the variation I was attempting to correlate things like days since last hard work or days since training outside in the heat. The heat acclimation one specifically I was focusing in on as I've seen some relationship between low heartrate and heat acclimation. Well the first stage of acclimating to the heat I've read is the blood plasma volume increases which reduces the viscosity of the blood (makes it thinner) and makes it easier to pump around so the heartrate goes down for the same effort with higher blood plasma. I figured the volume of blood plasma was probably the variable that was changing that made the heartrate higher one day vs the next. I did a few Google searches for how to impact the blood plasma - how to maximize the volume for greatest efficiency and I came to the most obvious answer in the world.........Drink more. Duhhhh. Of course while running the sweating which comes from the blood plasma reduces the blood volume so if it is not replenished adequately before the next workout I'm starting from a slightly dehydrated state (and have thicker blood). So Sunday and Monday I put extra focus on drinking lots of water at every opportunity - and there it is...low heartrate per pace - at least for two days so far. I'm also a bit of a coffee addict especially on weekdays so the caffeine is likely also blocking some of the needed hydration - I've been cutting back on that too.

Pfitzinger's book "Advanced Marathon" suggests hydration requirements at 4 pints (normal non-working out demand) + 1.5 times the fluid loss during training. For today's workout (10 miles ~150 bpm in 64 minutes - the pink points above 150) I took my weight before and after and found 2.7 lbs lost so I should be drinking ~8 pints per day. Of course I knew hydrating was important but I can't say I've ever put much focus into making SURE I do enough daily and those kinda volumes don't happen without some planning - so now I'm going to give that more focus and see if that keeps my mileage down more aligned with the Pink line of the graph. We'll see how it works.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Beach to Bay - Mind over Masters

That's our team name - Mind over Masters - just a bunch of old guys out running on a Saturday morning from the Beach to the Bay.

The race - 1636 Teams of 6 finished the marathon distance (9816 total). Race started 7am to an unseasonably cool and dry (for Corpus Christi this time of year) ~70°F and 60% humidity with a very nice overcast sky.

Our team captain (Lance) gave us each aggressive targets to hit pre-race hoping to bring us to victory in our division


Leg 1---Assynt--6:20--4.37
Leg 2---Lance---6:05--4.37
Leg 3---John(Me)5:35--4.37
Leg 4---Gene----5:15--4.74
Leg 5---Predrag-6:30--3.98
Leg 6---Doug----6:00--4.37

Pre-race for me was a 5 hour drive the night before to get to the hotel with my wife, kids and dog (golden retriever). With afterschool commitments we ended up in town around 9pm so missed the pre-race socials with the team and other Striders (my running club very well represented with at least a 1/2 dozen teams). Met up with Lance at the hotel and he tells me of the other Houston Team that looks to be tough to beat - he knew the runners and put them all right around 6 mpm potential on the race - so a close competitor team for us.

Morning drive out to the end of my 3rd leg and check it out around 6:45 - things looked growingly hecktic there so decided to just go ahead and grab a good parking place and leave my darling wife, kids and dog there and do the leg in reverse as a warm-up vs getting dropped off so I head off and jog the leg backwards getting to the start of my leg around 7:25. Most all my leg is run on essentially a freeway with the right emergency lane coned off for runners over water connecting Padre Island to the mainland - it is actually quite loud with the traffic - the start of the leg is a 100' climb to the top of a bridge for ships to go under than a decend down ~80' than flat until near the end for another 20' decend than the hand-off. With the projected times above I was expecting the handoff about 7:55 - That proved JUST enough time to get thru the portajohn line - as it turns out I had a few extra minutes as the handoff was a few minutes behind schedule.

Start my leg and I'm going for some roadkill. In the first 100' climb I try to take it pretty easy but still manage to pass two - by the top of the hill I glanced at my Garmin and noticed about a 6 mpm pace which felt about right targetting an easy climb - then I get to the top and turn on the afterburners to charge down the hill - pass 3 ladies and 1 guy on the downhill so my roadkill count is up to 6 and shortly after I get to the bottom of the hill is the first mile marker - 5:47 - not bad with the hill but I was hoping for faster.

Second mile I think I get another few roadkill working my way up - feeling reasonably strong but I'm not hitting anywhere near the 5:35 target pace Lance set for me. Finish the mile at 5:44.

Third mile I recall specifically 2 guys off in the distance running together for a while - one drops off and I get him but the other guy just doesn't seem to be coming back to me so I have to make a move to catch him - finally I work the distance down and pass him - but for whatever reason the pace didn't feel like I could sustain - so he passes me back not too much later. Finish the mile at 5:54 pace.

Forth mile I'm watchin the guy that I caught up to creap slowly farther ahead - try to keep it strong but I'm just not winning the mental battle here - he is moving closer to the next two runners so by the end of the mile I've got 3 roadkill ready to be squashed just sitting right in front of me. Finish the mile at 5:58 pace.

I managed to get the final .4 miles (by my Garmin) up to a 5:25 pace to the screams of my family and others down the final stretch but that wasn't enough to catch these three and I am sitting here absolutely certain I could have taken them all three of them down AAARRRGGG (post race regrets - the ones that got away)....but at least I set them up for easy roadkill for Gene in Leg 4 - I'm betting he knocked them all down in the first 1/4 mile or so.

In the end - I scored 25:33 for my split averaging 5:50 (15 seconds off target) using the official 4.37 split distance. I figure temperature and the hill cost about 10 seconds/mile and I probably had the other 5 seconds per mile available that I didn't tap into so the 5:35 target was a reasonable target without heat/hills. I just had to hope it was enough.

We head back to the hotel where I catch a quick shower and we walk over to a Cracker Barrel for breakfast (food tastes so good after a race). Checked out and went to the finish line - pretty packed and have to park 1/2 mile away and walk but finally get there and happen across the finish boards.......

2:41:15 6:09 pace - :13 mpm off target (the rest did better than me) - good enough!!

2nd Master's Men (20th team overall)

1st place proved untouchable at 2:26 and 4th overall (that's a lot of fast old dudes!!!)
3rd (the other Houston team) finished just short of 2 minutes behind us.

Lots of post race festivities although I had to stick to the perimeter of the action as our dog was a bit excitable. I must say that beer tastes incredible at 10am post race. Striders had a great showing with at least 3 teams including us that scored some awards - there may have been more.

Stuck around for the awards then started the journey back to Houston - got to meet a couple fellow bloggers including Brett-Take it in stride (not the first time) and Sam-running for Gold and KevinR-Nukerunner. And got most of our team "Mind over Masters" photo (Gene-sorry you had to take off) - I'll post the photo once I get my hands (mouse) on it. Really had a good time.

Thanks for reading --- John.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Planning to Anchorage

Looking ahead - I've got 6.5 weeks until the Major's Anchorage Marathon. Guess I need to start thinking about training for this thing. Last week was mostly a rest week with 3 days of no running, 2 days of easy "recovery" days and a couple good weekend runs. I'm feeling about 100% recovered from Boston and ready to go climb the next mountain. I went out last weekend and got a new treadmill to enable working out thru the heat of Houston (paid 30% less than listed). As much as I hated running on the treadmill last summer - somehow enough time has gone by that I'm kinda enjoying it so far - give it a couple months and that should change.

Race events planned before Anchorage:

1) Beach to Bay Relay - 5/18 - I should get a little over 4 miles of that marathon (I'm thinking we have a very competetive team - probably top 2 for Masters)
2) Corporate Meet Duel with Chevron - 5/31 - a "practice" meet for the real one in a couple weeks - probably get to race a few relays - guessing 3k, 1-mile, 800m
3) USCAA Regional Corporate Track & Field Championship – 6/14 - again - probably get to race a few relays - guessing 3k, 1-mile, 800m.

I think those races alone should provide enough speed work on this mini-training cycle. Sketching out the rest of the training plan I make-up as I type (base, endurance, taper):

5/5 75 6 GA runs, 1LR15w3MP (Base)
5/12 75 1MLR12w3MP, 4 Mile Race, 1LR15w3MP(Endurance)
5/19 75 1Progressive,1MLR12w3MP, 1LR18w3MP_Tempo(Endurance)
5/26 75 1MLR12w3MP, Track Meet, 1LR20w5MP(Endurance)
6/2 70 1Progressive,1MLR12w3MP, 1LR18w5MP(Endurance)
6/9 45 1MLR12w3MP, Track Meet, daily MP(Taper)
6/16 30 Short daily MP(Taper - 5 days pre-race) Marathon Saturday

I haven't firmly decided my goals for this race - may not decide until race day. I've studied the course layout a bit and figure I should loose about 100 seconds from the hills (short sections as steep as 7% grades up and down) and 100 seconds from an 8 mile trail about 75% described as Loose Gravel tough on the feet (no racing flats for this race) and 25% Hard packed Dirt - so I'll call the handicap on this race about a 3 1/3 minutes vs a flat race + whatever weather factor.

Looking at past results - appears the race attracts ~1500 - I think it would have been tought to have placed last year with 3rd place at 2:40:51 but prior years I see 2:49/2:42/2:53 3rd places - so I might have a shot - I think I'm probably good for somewhere in the 2:40-2ish range if the stars are aligned on training/weather and I push it hard so I just might have a shot at placing depending on who shows up. Masters for this race starts at age 45 so I must compete for Open.

The plan was for this to be a fun race but the more I think about it...what's the fun in that :-).

This will be a fast stop in Anchorage - flying in midnight before the race and out again about 4-5 hours after the race is done. From here I will be spending the week fishing in Yakutat with my Dad, Brother and 2 Brother-in-laws among others.

A couple pictures from the last trip up about 2 years ago:

That icy cold water is gonna feel very good post marathon :-).