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.


Dale Lister (rundalel) said...

Nice Race Kayry,

Have you always focused so closely on the heart rate? I tend to just watch my breath pattern closely to gauge effort.

kayry said...

Hey it works for me. I have very little sense of "feel". I watch my breathing pattern too and how much effort - but without the objective indicator I'm prone to fool myself to go out too fast or to not push hard enough. I'm running such a variety of distances and speeds I don't have the feel of any of them programmed in - it's easier for me to figure out the HR I should be able to maintain for a given distance then just be a slave to that. Heat was a wildcard yesterday so I went for a conservative strategy only slightly adjusting the HR target for the heat. Seemed to pay off as I could stay strong and even inch it up a little while others were fading on the back end.

I was a concerned to not be beeping all the time with my alarms so I memorized the button sequence to turn the sound on and off (combination of 15! bottoms to just turn the sound off) - after 2nd mile I turned it on - even though the alarms were set pretty tight (168-172 bpm) the alarm only went off a couple times for the next 7-8 miles until I upped the pace a little to catch people - although I did glance from time to time to see where I was at. I try real hard to not know how fast I'm running - that would have been very discouraging on a day like yesterday especially. As I approached the finish I half expected to see something in the 1:19ish range - but I'm quite happy with my effort out there.