Sunday, October 24, 2010

Houston Half Marathon

A hot run today - weather underground showed downtown conditions were 75F with a 70F Dew Point (Very Humid) - that just sucks for racing. I forgot about the clock and I was just hoping to run for place. I figured Gerardo had Masters pretty well locked up, Tommy King seemed the favorite for 1st AG but not so out of reach I couldn't get him if I had a great race - he was ~20 seconds faster in the warmer USA 10 miler than I had at 10 for Texas 2 weeks ago so I'd have to speed up ~30-45 seconds equivalent to catch him - beating him became the stretch goal. Then there were a number of 40-44 I figured I should be able to beat but not comfortably so - within a minute in the 10 milers race - fending all them off was the "B" goal. So I figured I was racing for 1st or 2nd AG. At the start I learned Wilmer was also there but since he is in 45-49 - as long as Gerardo beat him (so he'd get Master's and not be in my AG) he didn't count for the AG award - and Gerardo's been beating him lately but Wilmer is a wildcard with major potential when he's good.

A couple experiments I'm doing for this race to improve my potential vs the 10 miler a couple weeks ago:

1) Thursday I did a heat acclimation run - 12 miles in sweats - I do this run before cold marathons too and it seems to give me an extra boost on race day - I wasn't sure what it would do for a hot run but figured some heat acclimation could only be a good thing.

2) MaxATP suppliment 1.5 hours before the race - never tried that before but thought for a B priority race I'd give it a try. A guy at work gave me some samples of the stuff - probably does nothing but what the heck.

Race plan was run ~6 mpm first mile then just stick like glue at 170 bpm until last ~5 miles then see if I can pick a few off speeding up if I can. This seemed like it would be a little conservative first 9, 170 bpm is only 1bpm more than I've done for 1/2 marathons in the past without the heat - the heat I figured I should be able to go a little higher HR. Course overall is pretty flat with some rollers here and there and there was a little wind first mile otherwise mostly cross wind.

Gun goes off - I really have a tough time guaging my speed off the start line - need to work on that - I was hoping to keep 6 mpm first mile - Garmin was worthless for pacing with tall buildings first mile - pace seemed suspect as I was ahead of Gerardo for a while - but the pace felt easy - I realized I was going fast about 3/4 through the mile and backed off but turns out mile one ended 5:50. (actually watch said 5:37 but when I fixed the GPS points because of the tall buildings it wasn't so fast).

Althouth that sounds fast - when I passed milemarker and the watch switched to showing HR's I was only at 162 HR so actually I sped back up and pulled through the 2nd mile about the same speed - 5:45/169 AHR - heat hadn't started working on me yet.

All I was watching was for constant HR and I tried to block out what was going on around me. I think several went by me by I was forcing myself to run my race and ignore them. Miles went
3 5:59/171
4 6:10/171
5 6:16/170
6 6:21/170
7 6:15/170 (According to split I was in 21st place across the ~midrace mat - Tommy was a few place up and to me he represented 1st AG)
8 6:23/170

Time to start moving up - I did a gatorade swish at an aid station and started feeling some energy - I start reeling people in - Tommy's 3 places ahead:
9 6:15/170
10 6:05/172 (Pass by Tommy - gotta keep him behind me for a few miles to secure 1st AG - once I pass Tommy I'm more in a maintain position mindset - a guy was ahead a bit but I wasn't pushing to catch him - just maintaining what I thought was 1st AG).
11 6:08/171
12 6:19/171
13 6:11/172
13.19 1:01/173

Finish 1:20:59 (Tommy ends up about a minute back although I felt like I was pushing the last 5k fending him off - sometimes the pressure from behind - real or imaginary - is enough to keep pushing).

Thinking for a long time I've got 1st AG and celebrating that - that was my stretch goal after all - once the results were posted I see a new name from Houston that was not on my radar at all as a threat for the AG competion - and he was the guy in front of me for the last 5k ending only 7 seconds ahead. Never heard of the guy. Turns out he was in the 10 mile race results from a couple weeks ago - almost even with me (6 seconds slower in USA 10) but he was 39 in that race....problem with those 39 year olds is sometimes they have birthdays - so he edges me out - happy birthday Andrew. Had I known that next guy was my competion I just may have run him down. Oh well. The AG medals all looked the same anyway (kinda big - cool):

I did a compare between the 10 mile races and this race - since the time is worthless as a benchmark because of the heat. I managed to edge out 3 guys that had faster times in the 10 mile races and one guy (the 39 yr old) I was faster than (by 6 seconds) beat me by 7 seconds. So I beat all but one of the guys behind me a couple weeks ago and 3 of the guys ahead of me I outraced. I'm good with that. And for the new guy in my AG - these are the kinda things rivals come from - I'll be watching for him in future races (once I figure out what he looks like:)).

For my experiments - I was very happy how fast the first few miles were before the heat effect settled in. Much faster for same HR than I was going just 2 weeks ago in cool weather so the hot run and maybe that MaxATP helped (I'm less convinced the latter did anything). I'm thinking on a cold day I just might have been sustaining 5:50ish for the half - definately good enough for a PR and a good indication I just may have a shot at the 2:40 marathon in 6 weeks - at least I'm hoping so. Note first few miles comparing the two races - definately had some extra speed today at a lower heartrate even with the heat until the heat effect caught up:

..half(75°F)...10 4 TX 2 wks ago(53°F)
1 5:50/153 5:54/xxx
2 5:45/169 5:56/170
3 5:59/171 6:06/170
4 6:08/171 5:59/170 <---heat effect greater than the speed improvement here on out.
5 6:16/170 6:00/171
6 6:21/170 5:49/172
7 6:15/170 5:48/172

Great race - I think the HR strategy protected me well from going for too much in the heat. I'm actually thinking running first few miles faster before the heat effect settled in might be a good strategy for hot races - as long as I slow down as the impact settles in. Final Results: 1:20:59, 5th Master including 1st Master, 1st in 40-44, 45-49 and 50-54 leaving 2nd in the 40-44 for me. 18th overall out of ~3000 (Results on the web incorrectly show the wheelchair winner as the Master's winner which knocks me down to 3rd AG - I'm ignoring that error I'm sure they will fix eventually). Great up the 25k in 3 weeks - probably a workout as that's 3 weeks before the CIM Marathon.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ten for Texas

Up at 4:15 for the 1 hour drive to The Woodlands. Stopped in a parking lot before I got far just to see if I could even run - a sore bum last couple days was worrying me a little and I woke up feeling it - some kinda deep muscle strain or something. The test run went OK but not great - decided to continue on to the race. At the race before paying my entry I did another test run just to be sure - seems OK - I'll give it a go - pay my entry and get my packet - a cool packet by the way including a sports bag backpack kinda packet useful for the gym, a light weight running hat and a long sleeve tech shirt - already feel like I got most of my money's worth from the race and haven't even run it yet. I kept checking the weather on my blackberry - such a perfect 53°F no wind.

Near the start I keep asking officials how the first few turns will go and I had to ask several before I got a straight answer - "just follow the crowd" I didn't find a good answer.

The Race plan - follow the alarms programmed into the Garmin which were:
First mile 5:50-6:05
2-9 168-172
10 no alarms - just empty the tank
I thought my 1 hour heartrate was around 170-171 from racing a couple years ago and workouts earlier in the week equated 170 to just under 6 mpm - adding the garmin effect (~1% slower) I figured I was just on the edge of 60 minute capable.

# Split HR
1 5:54 163 - Take off at the gun and don't really feel like I'm going fast but turn out to lead the first few turns (glad I found someone that told me what they were). Spend the first 1/2 mile slowing myself down to get into the alarm zone then I stick in there. About 5 ahead of me.
2 5:56 170 - I pass one and one passes me - still 6th. I feel a fleeting twinge in my bum and I'm feeling pretty sure I'm not making it 10 miles - but it goes away so I continue on thinking a good possibility I'm walking the last 1/2.
3 6:06 170 - running alone but drilling a hole in the back of the guy in front of me staring at it 100 yards away or so. Just staying in the zone - trying to keep my mind in the mile which didn't feel too bad at all as it shouldn't so early in the race - trying not to dread what was coming ahead. Had another bum twinge but it went away pretty quick.
4 6:00 170 - move up to pass and move into 5th. As I passed he didn't seem to make any effort to hang on.
5 6:00 171 - Just staying in the zone - I hear mile splits at the milemarkers but they are so far off the actual miles I can see on my watch I'm not really sure how fast I'm running but it seems I've banked very very little on the sub1hour goal. 4th is a good distance but not moving farther - maybe closer - not footsteps from behind...running my own race.
6 5:50 172 - John Walk comes up on a bike (a reporter in the pack of bikers at the lead of the race) and let's me know the guy behind me is a Master - I'm not too worried about him as he seemed to be going backwards but that did give me a little pressure to not let up - from the split it appears I actually pushed a little faster actually. It didn't feel like I needed to stay in the alarm HR zones so I went ahead and pushed the higher limits a bit.
7 5:49 172 - 4th seems to be getting closer and closer - I hook a line into his back and reel him in slowly - by end of the mile I'm easing by him and he's also not making a move to stay with me. 2nd and 3rd are about the same distance ahead as 4th was a mile before but they seem to be closer.
8 5:49 174 - About the same as last mile I hooked the two kids in 2nd and 3rd and reeled them in - took a while but as I came up on them I had a decision - hook onto them and "rest" a bit with them doing some of the work or ease on by them. I didn't much feel like slowing down to latch on so I just kept up my speed and eased on by them. They didn't seem to make a move but I didn't look around so I wasn't sure how far back they were.
9 5:42 175 - feeling like they could be right behind me I kept pushing. I listenned carefully as people cheered for me how long before the cheered for someone behind me and it seemed to be getting longer - but I kept pushing because it felt like I could.
10 5:41 177 - last mile - gotta empty the tank - 1st place is no where to be seen. Seem no one is behind me - but I want to pour it all out so I keep pushing counting off the minutes to the finish that seemed at times to tick away very slowly.
10.07 5:07 179 - see the finish and grab that little extra sprint in.

Total 59:09 5:55 pace

A PR by over a minute. Converts to 80.8% AG. 2nd overall which has no such award but I get 1st Masters anyway (which I could I got going a lot slower but that's OK). I get the heaviest award I've ever received - a full 3 lb granite award with the Texas Star and "First Male Master" on an engravement plate - plus about $100 in swag including free entry for next year. And I got a picture with the race maskot - an Armadillo. Post race party is excellent with full breakfast, band, the works.

Great race - really starting to feel like I've got my old speed nearly back again. I guess the HR is a little different - seems 170ish was a little low for this race - might be a good target for the 1/2 marathon. Hoping to keep the sub6 mpm trend going for the next race - Houston Half Marathon in 2 weeks - if weather is good.



btw - the bum at the end really didn't feel any worse than at the start - sometimes it goes that way - I'll keep the stretching/icing/rolling going to try and clear out the twing over the next week.