Monday, November 22, 2010

Test Lab Results

Went up to TWU today were a grad student (Eric) offered to run a bunch of running tests on me hooked up to his machines at the university. I wish I'd taken a picture - Hooked up to an ECG via 10 probes spread around my chest (which now looks like a checkerboard from the shaved spots btw), a helmet that holds the snorkle I keep in my mouth and running on a treadmill while every 10 minutes getting pricks to my finger for blood - good times!

I love all the data - if I ever do this again I'm wearing my Garmin HRM and footpod to get cadence and a full HR trend instead of just at a few spots.

Test Description - After a baselining period taking readings at rest and a slow walk - the test goes 8 min at each speed, each row has the readings at the end of this 8 minutes, 2 minute rest then start next speed. At the end there were 1 minute intervals harder and harder until I was done to get to VO2max.

Min...Road Eq..vo2 ...HR ....Lactate... Breath/min...Notes
0................... 5.0 .... 47 .....0.9.... 25
8/2....9:55.... 29.7 .... 85 .....1.2.... 33.........50% mile Pace
8/2....8:20.... 36.2 .... 122 ....1.1.... 35.........60% mile Pace
8/2....7:11.... 44.2 .... 140 ....1.4.... 39.........70% mile Pace
8/2....6:20.... 49.8 .... 153 ....2.6.... 46.........80% mile Pace
8/2....5:58.... 54.2 .... 160 ....3.8.... 48.........85% mile Pace
8/2....5:38.... 59.4 .... 169 ....6.6.... 50.........90% mile Pace
1......5:58.... 42.6 .... 160 ........... 51
1......5:37.... 56.3 .... 167 ........... 51
1......5:19.... 62.4 .... 171 ........... 51
1......5:04.... 64.8 .... 174 ....9.3.... 55..........VO2max

My initial thoughts looking at it:
- VO2max ~65 seems about right - looking up my last (and only other) VO2max test (9/2007) my VO2max was measured to be 64 - max VE 126.7 l/m in 2007 vs 128.7 today so 1.5% more O2.

- 2:2 breathing pattern would be 45 breaths/minute assuming 90 cadence - that would sure be running slow - don't think I'll be using that as a speed indicator in racing. I find it interesting the breaths/minute changes very slight between 6:20 and 5:58 pace - not so precise an indicator at all.

- Using some benchmarks from Daniels Running Formula for Threshold speed:
Threshold Lactate ~4.0 = 5:56.
88% VO2max - 57 VO2 = 5:47.

- MP lactate I understand from Eric is typically in the 2.5 to 3.0 range which makes 6:12-6:21 mpm range for me (2:42.5-2:46.5) - short of my goal 2:40 marathon pace of 6:06.

- Heartrate data doesn't seem to correlate to my training heartrates. Big disconnects. The HR in the lab showed around what I see at Marathon Pace for what appears to be Threshold and what I use at Threshold (170ish) is far above Lactate 4.0. Guess I'm discounting the heartrate data as useful until I can find some explanation that makes sense why it is so different from what I see on the road.

- As I happenned to have the Daniels Running Formula open I'm noting "individuals show vast variation from this 4.0 threshold value. One runner might maintain a steady blood lactate concentration of 2.8 and feel same degre of stress as another runner who has a steady 7.2." So I'll take it all with a grain of salt. Still interesting stuff..

Error Analysis

- On scale after the ECG cable was hooked up - adds ~1 lb - so actual weight closer to 157 vs 158.
- On treadmill probably supporting 1/2 the ECG cable as well as a helmet tube holder - total together ~1 lbs extra weight.

Impact - pretty small - typically 1 lb ~ 2 sec/mile so MP potential 6:10-6:19. Also VO2max would be ~0.5 higher.

- Lab temperature was recorded on the test results to be 72°F. Per runworks/calculator (6th option down) at colder than 60°F the equivalent marathon speed would drop 6 sec/mile - so MP potential at less than 60°F would be 6:04-6:13.

- Each segment was 8 minutes. Looking at my most recent training run at ~Threshold pace (3x3 miles at ~170 bpm with 5 min rest between on 11/26) - the heartrate flattens out after about 1.5 miles or 7 minutes, about 1/4 mile quicker for the 2nd and 3rd intervals. Conclusion: taking the HR readings 8 minutes into a constant pace should be pretty representative.

- Another time-lag issue I heard discussed while I was on the treadmill - there is a 2 minute lag between lactate levels from the muscles to lactate levels in the finger where the blood is drawn - I think this explains the very last Lactate datapoint - although taken after VO2max - the lactate level probably corresponds to a couple minutes earlier or 2 data points to the left - then it kinda lines up with the rest of the curve.

Still the HR levels are a mystery. I can hold 170 HR for 10-13 miles in races so that heartrate should be around threshhold pace (by the 1 hour race pace definition approximation of threshhold pace) - but this test shows 7+ lactate at that HR and the 4.0 lactate points is far lower than this - closer to 160 HR. Makes the heartrate data suspect - but I don't know how to get better HR data than an ECG. It could be that I run my marathon pace with lactate levels in the 3.5-4.0 range - that would be a bit of an outlier but not unheard of - as mentioned above Daniels has seen 7.2 for Lactate Threshold - could be I'm THAT guy.
Eric's anaysis:
I went back and looked at your data, and the only thing I can think of why the data was off is that possibly the machines were not properly calibrated. The information just doesn't make sense to me. I have attached your VO2/CO2 data and the cross over point is known as your ventilatory threshold. This with lactates can give a good estimate on lactate threshold. But your lactates correlated with the metabolic data so I don't know why they seemed so low. The treadmill also has a calibration which we did not do prior to testing but found out later. VO2 max was found similar to your previous testing so I am confident that we got that correct.

Based on the lactates I would have predicted from 2.5-3.0mM for marathon pace. That had you at around 6:40ish pace. What I found interesting, knowing the at least the VO2 data was correct, was that your cross over data of fuel usage was on the low end for an experienced endurance runner. Maybe heat stress you do improves CHO metabolism? I don't know. But the information tells that you were using less fats as fuel at lower and higher intensities. This seemed to correlate well with the metabolic data and lactate samples. I have included someone that is an average female runner. Highly trained runners show a cross over point shift further to the right.

My only other explanation is that that you were not fully recovered from any previous training. I do think you must have done really well with carbo-loading and fueling during the marathon to keep pace with the increase in carbohydrates at the 6 min pace. Someone did tell me that the CIM course is downhill, do you think that it's that much of an aided course?
If you are in the area and want to get tested again let me know and we can set something up.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

HMSA Classical 25k

First time running the event and with only 3 weeks to go to my goal marathon I didn't want to burn myself out in it. Coach (Sean Wade) said to think twice about doing it as the prior week I was struggling with a few minor injuries - but by race day the pain seemed to have left completely so I thought I'd give it a go. I planned to run a workout in much the same way I planned the marathon in 3 weeks - keep the effort right about the same and just finish the marathon effort run after 15.5 miles instead of 26.2. At the same time I had my eye on a particular prize - local elite status at the Houston Marathon. This prize goes to the fastest in 10 year age groups in each of the HARRA warm-up series to the races. Since many of the fast guys already had their entries (Sean, Gerardo, Wilmer, Jon) I figured the probables for getting it were Tommy or Andrew or me and in a head to head all out race I figured any one of us could get it. So in an workout effort I figure I've got no shot but I'll keep an eye on these guys and if they give it to me - I'll take it.

I'd tested my marathon effort pace about a week ago at 6:13 mpm (ran 10 miles maintaining 164 HR and that was the average pace). I figured if I did my hot sweats run (12 miles in sweats) a few days before the race I just might be able to knock that down maybe 5-10 sec/mile or more if it works but I'm not always confident it will work. Figured at least if it didn't work I could maintain the marathon pace effort and at 6:13 mpm that was just enough to get a qualifying time then if I got very very lucky (like Tommy and Andrew no-show) it was mine.

Before the race I run into Tommy and mention I was just running an MP run - gotta marathon in 3 weeks - probably around 6:13 pace - which is really what I was making myself expect, the 5-10 sec/mile improvement was more of a hope but not an expectation.

Course is an out-n-back x3 going pretty much East-West and as it turns out the wind ended up be a pretty steady ENE around 5 mph. As Houston streets go this one had some hills on it - rollers. Temps were perfect right around 50F. I set the watch up to record laps base on when I pushed the lap button and I planned to push it at each turnaround which was about 2.65 miles each - also had alarms set at 160 and 164 bpm to stay in marathon pace zone:

Lap 1 West - 6:01 pace/157 AHR tailwind. A bit faster than I expected but feeling good, HR staying in check, Tommy up ahead of me as expected.

Lap 1 East - 6:14 pace/162 AHR headwind. According to the timing mat Tommy's about 6 seconds ahead. Little did I know these two were stalking me from behind - Francisco on the left and Andrew (guy who beat me by 6 seconds at the 1/2 marathon 3 weeks ago) on the right. Francisco passes me just before the timing mat. I cross the mat in 17th place overall.

So - we've got a race - Tommy 6 seconds ahead of us, and the three of us here who all record within a couple seconds at the mat - and all four of us are after the local elite status....there can be only one....I'm a bit amazed I'm even in this race as I'm just running a workout.

Lap 2 West - tailwind again. 6:03 average 160 AHR - right on my target HR or even a little low. Tommy is moving off into the distance - I'm figuring he's gone. Andrew has passed by me near the start of this Lap and went on ahead of Francisco - not that I was keeping track of him - I didn't even know who he was I just putting it together from hindsight. I'm back about 20 yards from Francisco.

Lap 2 East - headwind. 6:06/161AHR After counting to myself 26 ~seconds between Tommy and I passing a mark in the road - I get this bright idea after about a 1/4 mile of headwind - why not close the gap to Francisco and let him do the work against the wind. I do that (with high alarm chirping at me until I silence it) - close the gap and sit right on him. He's a little short to be a great windshield but much better than going it alone. He's trying to drop me by different tactics, weaving, speeding up - but to no avail - I'm sticking right behind him drafting and the lap goes much better than the last I did on my own. As he's trying to shake me with speed - he closes the entire gap on Tommy who is himself leading a pack of three guys into the wind and working hard doing it - Francisco powers me right by the whole pack of them. That appears to break Tommy as he falls back a whole minute by the time we get to the next turnaround. Towards the end of the lap there's a downhill and I figure I'm ready to move on ahead so I pass by Francisco. Here's the shot just near the end of that lap - and look who's just ahead. I'm pretty sure Andrew got there without any drafting so he's gotta be hurt'n - I'm feeling good and fresh - still just a workout for me:

Cross the mat in 14th place and on to the last lap.

Lap 3 West - Tailwind. 5:57/160AHR. The blue shirt guy is going about my pace so I stick with him. I figure he'd be real convenient to draft behind on the East side of the loop so I kinda keep him just in front of me. As we pass an aid station someone yells out - "Go Andrew" and I finally know who the this guy is - he's the guy that was in front of me for 5k of the last half marathon I ran and takes the 1st AG award, he's a contender for the local elite status - with Tommy and Francisco out and now I know THIS is Andrew - and I'm still only at a workout level of effort - he's going down and I'm taking the golden ticket.

Lap 3 East Part 1 - Headwind. 5:52/161AHR - first 1.2 miles. Just as planned - I'm letting Andrew do the work. He tries to shake me a couple times - even slows way down at one point but I'm not ready to take the lead so I stay behind and keep drafting. Figuring I'm fresh and he's gotta be feeling like 80% of the way into a race - I'm just trying to pick my place to make a move. Finally a little after the 14 mile marker I sprint by Andrew so he's got no chance to link on and I start making some space.

Part 2 - 5:43/165AHR - final 1.5 miles. Redemption for that 1/2 marathon - something very sweet about being at my limits with a guy one race then 3 weeks later just running away from him. I race it in hard - no idea how far back Andrew is. With all the slower runners getting lapped looking back was useless to spot him so I just kept charging it in. Got over the last hill and charged down the last hill to the finishline where Susie's there taking pictures and clapping up a storm. Gerardo (1st Master) points me out to the guy taking names and numbers for the local elite and with a shacky hand - I fill in my info for him.

Everything and more than I could ask for in this "workout".

Final results:
11th Overall out of 1241 with a time of 1:33:55, 2nd Masters ($75 prize) (Andrew +40 sec, Fransisco 3:31, Tommy +5:50) and a cool looking award:

After the race as I explain my race tactics to my wife - she riddles me with questions aimed at determining if I was cheating. No - drafting is not cheating in road racing - it is in triathelons but not road racing - a normal race tactic. I do feel a little bad telling Tommy I'd be doing 6:13s and actually ending up 6:03s - 6:13s really was all I let myself expect so I wasn't lying but as I passed by him I kinda felt like he might think I was lying - I suppose pre race lying is a race tactic too but I didn't actually intend that. As for the drafting - that's just the kinda thing competitive jerks like me do. It's all good racing.