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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Last run before race.

I ran my last run before the marathon this morning. I had brought clothes to the gym earlier in the week so I was able to run straight. The training plan only called for an easy mile and then 2 miles at race pace.

I tried to play it safe but work is 6 miles from my house. I did an easy 2 mile warm up (about 8 minutes per mile) and then ran two miles at right 7 minutes per mile. This was about 7 seconds per mile faster than race pace. I wrapped up with another couple of 8 minutes per mile.

I felt pretty good other than the cold. When I left the house it was about 29 degrees. My feet were blocks of ice for about 1 ½ miles. They were very uncomfortable. I had run a half marathon in early January when the temperature was 23 degrees. It is funny how I do not remember the pain of the cold feet from that run but I am sure that my feet were frozen for much of the race.

The pace was not difficult but it was only for 2 miles. I cooled down for another 2 miles at 8 minutes per mile. My heart rates at speed have definitely dropped. 7 minute miles are in the mid to high 160’s BPM – I can maintain this cardio effort for a very long time while running (cycling is a different story). This race will be much more about muscular endurance!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Strength to weight bench marks!

I jumped back into P90X again and did the chest and back workout on Monday morning. As you know, it is a lot of body weight exercises. I really like the workout.

At lunch, to continue to rest the legs – I have no kick after all – I swam 3000 yards in the pool. This was an easy swim with just 2 x 1500. My times were a little off from my best (less than a minute) but the swim felt good. I need to get in the pool on a more regular basis and pick my swim up. I am ready to get in the open water!

Tuesday I did my last speed session before the marathon and I did it on the treadmill. I had done a similar workout a few weeks ago and this one seemed better. After an easy mile warm-up I did 6 repeats of quarter miles at a 5:42 minute per mile pace (10.5 MPH). Now, the treadmill takes a second or two to get up to speed and a second or two to come back down but it was a solid workout. The recovery consisted of quarter miles at an 8:00 minute per mile pace. The total was 5 miles in 40 minutes with 3 of those mile taking 20 minutes.

After the speed session I did my pull ups.

About 8 years ago I set a goal for myself. At the time I could not do ANY pull ups. I had just started to embrace fitness and a healthy lifestyle. I laid down the gauntlet and wanted to be able to do 30 pull ups (I quickly revised the goal to be 30 pull ups in 3 sets). I used to run around this park that had a jungle gym and I would stop on many of my laps and try to crank out as many as I could. I would then walk a short path for about a minute and crank out some more. I tried all variations of the number of repetitions. Once I was able to get 10 pull ups in a row I add a few more. Maybe a combination of 12 / 10 / 8 would be the secret or maybe 14 / 10 / 6. Nothing worked. I remember the first time I was able to get 20 reps and then 22. I was stuck for a long time.

About 3 years ago I finally achieved my goal. I got my 30 reps in 3 sets. Now that has become my bench mark for my strength to weight ratio. I started doing them again this past month. Eight pounds ago I was topping out in the high twenties.

Twice this past week I have had success -2 out of 2 actually. The first time was 15 / 9 / 6 and then yesterday after my speed work I got the 10 / 10 / 10 (and then added 5 more in a fourth set).

It might be time to try the 40 in 4 – I love a challenge!

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Chink in the armour?

I Saturday I woke up and volunteered at a new 5k race. This race was a brand new race in the community and I really like to support people taking the initiative. I would have like to have run the race and I think I could have PR’d but I thought better of it. I needed to get a last good tempo run in this weekend and I did not want to compromise my recovery. So instead I just showed up to see if I could help out. There were a lot of pacers at the event and it turned out to be a huge success!

After the race I was going to get a nice bike ride in – there were 2 scheduled. One was at 11AM and the next at 1PM. In my foolish mind I actually thought about doing both of them. I showed up at 11AM and although there were a lot of cars at Jackson Station there were no cyclist. Not to be discouraged I set out on my own. I made this a good tempo ride and pushed a little harder than I would have on a normal solo ride. My bike fitness has really suffered. On the way back I ran into Raland and Lance. They were getting a few extra miles prior to the 1PM group ride. I turned around and added 10 extra miles to my 20. I enjoyed catching up with the guys. At this point I knew better than to jump on the 1PM ride.

I went to a wine tasting on Saturday night and had a good time. I did not go overboard but it was definitely not in the race plan.

On Sunday I was going to run a comfortable 10 mile tempo run at marathon race pace. This would be at a 7:06-ish minutes per mile. I was not looking forward to the run. I dragged my feet for about an hour waiting to see if the rains were going to come. It was in the low 40’s and I did not want to be caught in the cold rain. The skies did open up and it poured for about an hour. I was glad I waited.

My enthusiasm did not increase but after the rains stopped I did venture forth. I was tired from the night before and overdressed for the run. The rains had brought much warmer temperatures and coupled with the humidity – I was burning up. That is a fear that I have been having – training in the cold and then the heat gets turned up. Fifty degrees and 100 percent humidity takes precious seconds away from my pace.

I started the GPS watch and lined up with my ‘virtual nemeses’. I have been running a lot faster than 7:0X and this show have been confidence boosting. The run was hard from the first mile. Not cardiovascular wise but muscle fatigue. I was getting worried. I completed the run the appropriate time span but all I could think about was 16 more miles… 16 more miles… I took some post run nutrition and relaxed. I did not want to take any chances and grabbed an afternoon power nap. I was tired and enjoyed the rest.

Five weeks ago I did a very similar run. 10 miles at 7:0X pace. It was a hard effort. It was challenging. It gave me so much confidence to be able to run a hard effort in training. This was the same run but this time it was demoralizing. Looking back at the data I actually ran this 10 mile tempo at an average heart rate that was 6 BPM lower (Jan 14 – 171 BPM / Feb 21 – 165 BPM). That is encouraging.

I don’t like to make excuses, however, I do like to analyze the data and make corrections. I believe that the harder than normal cycling played a large role in my legs feeling fatigued. I also think the night out and the alcohol played a factor. And last I believe the weather played a role. The good news is that I can completely control 2 of the 3 prior to race day.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Race ready!

After work I actually got on the bike trainer. The hour of power if you will – well the 45 minutes of warm up / cool down and 7 intervals. But the HOUR OF POWER sounds so much better. It is so hard for me to get motivated to do a session in the evening. It is something that I really need to work on – I would like to make some time for a few quality sessions in the evening. As always, I felt better for having done the workout.

On Thursday morning I went to the gym for a tempo run on the treadmill. Once again you have to take the treadmill with a grain of salt. I don’t really know how fast the belt is moving or the equivalent pace. I do, however, always try to use the same machine. My training plan, the FIRST plan that I have been roughly following, only called for a 6 mile run. It would be a good warm up / cool down with the working set being 3 miles at a 6:45 minute pace. If you remember I ran 8 miles on the treadmill last week with the working set consisting of 6 miles at a 6:40 minute pace. So today’s workout did not seem sufficient. I know that this is part of the taper but – come on – this is where I prefer to work harder. And just to justify my working harder - the FIRST workout plan that I am following is for a 3:15 marathon time – I am going to try to be quicker than that!

So I did my easy 1 mile warm up at 10 minutes per mile and then cranked the treadmill up to a 6:40 pace. The first mile was easy so I decided to increase the pace each mile for a total of 4 miles in this working set. I increased the speed by 0.2 MPH and the splits came out as follows (mile number / time / Ave HR):

Mile - 01 Time - 00:09:58 Ave HR - 129
Mile - 02 Time - 00:06:40 Ave HR - 158
Mile - 03 Time - 00:06:28 Ave HR - 168 
Mile - 04 Time - 00:06:20 Ave HR - 175
Mile - 05 Time - 00:06:13 Ave HR - 181
Mile - 06 Time - 00:09:51 Ave HR - 145

Although the paces did indeed quicken, I continued to feel strong. The 6:40 pace was as if I could go forever (forever being about 10 miles - maybe a little longer). The 6:28 wasn’t much harder. The 6:20 could have been a solid 5 mile effort. At the 6:13 pace it got harder although I could have pulled this off for a 5K – and who knows, with a kick at the end I might have had a new 5K PR’d. After the 4 working miles I shut it down. I think I could have held the 6:13 for another mile (but my average heart rate was creeping up – 181 was what I averaged for a 12K – 7.5 mile – run back on New Year’s day – so I know I have a little more top end). But I played it smart. I know that I will not gain any speed or physical fitness these last couple of days before the marathon. This is the time that you are more likely to mess something up!

I never got out of my hard comfort zone. The intensity was up but the recovery should be quick and easy. I am not going to push too hard this late in the game. I am ready for the race!

This weekend I am running 10 miles at race pace.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Speed work tapering

Giving the legs a break I did another P90X Chest and Back DVD on Monday morning. I decide to wear one of my racing unitards for the P90X session. You know what? I actually liked working out in this outfit. I hate doing pushups when your shirts dragging the ground. In addition, some of these workout sessions involve a lot of jumping around and such – the unitard works great.

During lunch I did an easy swim. I started with a warm up and then cranked out 10 x 100 yards. It felt pretty good. My first few repeats were quicker than average but quickly leveled off.

No workout on Tuesday morning.

During this taper I am trying to cut my volume substantially while maintaining my intensity. The idea is to have my body recover from all of the training during the last 2 months while also not losing any of my fitness. Therefore I continued speed work this week. Due to the Mardi Gras Track on Tap on Tuesday night I had to fit my speed work in during lunch. This was not a problem because there were no classes on Monday or Tuesday – that’s right, there are no college classes for Mardi Gras.

I did the indoor track at the Payne Center. It is an eighth of a mile track and the turns are pretty tight. I warmed up with 1 minute per lap (8 minute miles) for 1 mile and then did 800’s. I clicked off 6 of these 800’s – all less than 3:00 minutes. It was a good workout and I never left my comfort zone. There is only one conclusion. The track is short. These were too easy. I am going to borrow the distance wheel from the pacers and measure this track. I am not being modest – the track is short…

The track on tap was a lot of fun but there were no actives going on for Mardi Gras. The town was dead. We started at the Keg and Barrel and then hit downtown. We all had our masks on and were decked out in beads but there was no one to throw them to. There was a beer wagon and a stage for a band but nothing was going on at 7PM. We were not going to stand around in the cold for a couple of hours waiting. We ended up running only about 3 miles. Oh well, we all still had a good time.

I did a P90X abs workout on Wednesday morning and plan on doing the bike trainer thing tonight.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Snow Day?

Thursday, before I even left work, Friday was called as a snow day. Here in Mississippi people to not understand the concept of a snow day. The magical quality of the snow day is the anticipation. You still had to get up early and start getting ready for school. You did get up just a little bit earlier so that if the day was yours you would not waste any of it! You turned on the radio or the television and watched the scrolling ticker, waiting with enormous anxiety for your school name to scroll across. None of this knowing you had the day off – what is that – that is a holiday weekend – not a snow day. Now I lived in Indiana for about a dozen years and all of the kids would watch this ticker scroll across the bottom of their televisions – I lived in ‘Vigo’ county at the very end of the alphabet. It was excruciating watching all of the Clay, Daviess, Dubois, Fountain, Gibbson, Green, Own, Parke, Putnam counties go by not to mention all of the private schools. It would take forever and then when the child’s school came up they would hope and pray for the day off. These days off were super rare – the most likely outcome was simply a two hour delay. Nice but no cigar.

Back to my snow day. The campus was shut down on Friday. I knew it in advance but I still could not take full advantage of it. I was already planning on running long on Saturday and the roads and trails would be too wet and cold for the bike. I just took it easy. I took care of some school work and rode the trainer. I did not leave the house at all on the snow day – there was no need.

There were three or four groups running on Saturday morning. I did not really have a plan I just wanted to go out and be sociable. I met Steve (the postman) and Keith at Jackson at 6:30AM. Steve only ran a few miles with us but Keith and I continued on towards Epley. Charles would be running towards us. Keith and I chatted along while running mid 8 minute miles. The distance accumulated quickly and by the time we got to Charles I was at about 8 miles. We turned back towards Jackson. The fresh snow was beautiful but due to the ground down south being so warm there was almost no ice or snow on the trace. It was perfect running conditions. We were able to watch the sun rise as we ran along. As we neared Jackson I broke away from the guys. I needed to head by the house to grab a few gels – I had simply run out of the house without planning ahead. These three miles were the fastest of the day – I dropped down to 7 minutes per mile while trying to sprint ahead and then catch back up with the crew. Keith had his 12 miles in back at Jackson and Charles and I continued towards campus. Charles was having some knee issues and the pace had slowed to right at 9 minutes per mile. We turned around just before campus and we were going to meet another group back at Jackson. At Jackson I started running with Kim. She is also trying to Boston Qualify in two weeks. I was at mile 10 at this point and we started running 8 minute miles. This was solid. It was not intentional and probably not smart but I had a great day of running. All said and done I racked up the longest training run ever with 24 miles @ 9 minutes per mile pace.

That night I went to a birthday party extravaganza with smoked brisket, homebrew and tons of desserts. I did not go completely nuts but I did partake. I was in bed prior to midnight – I was tired.

On Sunday I decided to jump into the group ride for the first time this year. It was raining just prior to leaving the house and I was hesitant. I am so glad that I persevered. It was a same group due to the temperature and the wet weather but I had a good time. I accumulated the most miles of the year at 42 (I have not ridden outside much this year) and did notice my lack of cycling fitness. It is very true – cycling helps running but running certainly does not do much for running. When the ride was over I jumped off of the bike and had a quick meal (quinoa and grilled chicken) then showered. Within 30 minutes we were headed for Beer Club. Back to back bad food and good beer is tough on the weight.

I guess do to the volume my weight is down this Monday morning!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Confidence boosting tempos

The start of the taper is tough on me. I feel like I am not doing enough. I have said before that I use exercise not just for the physiological aspect but for the psychological as well. On top of all of this I am trying to maintain my weight and the reduced activity does not help.

I did a swim on Tuesday morning and then some treadmill intervals that evening. The intervals were not too hard – but I did cut them short. I was on the treadmill and I planned on doing 10 x ¼ miles at faster than 6 minute miles. I started the intervals with the treadmill set at 10.5 miles per hour (5:43 minutes per mile). I did five intervals and they were not a problem. However, my evening hard running gastrointestinal pain returned. Having a belly full of food (from eating throughout the day) really starts to jostle around. The discomfort was not unbearable but that was all that it took to call it a day. If someone would have been playing racquetball or another game I doubt I would have given up.

On Wednesday I only got a morning swim in – but it was a great swim. Not because it was terribly long or that it was astonishingly quick. It was just a solid swim that I enjoyed. It was a good pace and a good distance. I did a ladder up and down. It was not as structured as I have done in the past. The paces were about the same for all of the legs so I did not get the full benefit. I did 100 / 200 / 300 / 400 / 500 and then down back to 100. A total of 2500 yards – the longest since ironman. I was not over extended. Once again it felt solid.

That was it for the day. I had hoped to get some time on the bike trainer but it just did not happen.

Thursday morning brought a tempo run. It has turned cold here in Mississippi and I headed to the gym. Funny how a little bit of rest and the legs are no longer tired. I do not have the crazy legs that I sometimes get – my legs were just just there. Not roaring to go – not fatigued – just legs. That is a funny feeling.

Although I know that the treadmills are all over the place when I t comes to pace I have to believe that they are fairly close. I remember when I used to run with my Polar footpod that the treadmills were close. I do not remember the pluses and minuses but it was close. There is also no wind on the treadmill. I do however, always set the incline to 1 (whatever that means) to simulate the outside.

I did an easy warm up for a mile and then I decided to run the tempo. I was not sure of the pace I wanted to go. I did not want a super hard work out where I might blow up – I did not want the frustration. At the same time I wanted a challenging workout. I turned the treadmill to a 6:40 minute per mile pace. This is the pace that I ran the Steam Whistle 12K at the beginning of the year. That was a hard 7.45 miles. That was the ‘hardest’ race that I had run up to that point. I was pleased with the results. My heart rate averaged 181 beats per minute. I remember pushing hard for most of the race.

So this should be a solid workout – pushing hard. I did the warm up nice and easy and just set the treadmill and motored though. The workout felt easy for the first few miles. Well, not easy but definitely not hard. I was able to click off 6 miles at the 6:40 minute per mile pace without ever having to push to redline. This was a real boost to my confidence (which had deteriorated the last couple of days). I also cooled down for a mile and finished the 8 mile run in just under an hour. The average pace for the working set was 6 miles in 39:48 @ 6:38 pace with an average heart rate of 168 beats per minute. I have really increased my LT level these past 2 months!

Summary 0:59:33 @ 156 beats per minute

- - - - Time- - HR Ave
01 - 0:09:49 115
02  - 0:06:40 154
03  - 0:06:38 165
04  - 0:06:37 168
05 - 0:06:37 172
06 - 0:06:37 174
07 - 0:06:39 175
08 - 0:09:52 149

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Swimming and biking - break throughs

Let me just say that my weight fluctuates – a lot. I hit my race weight over the weekend – and then I did the Super Bowl thing. I have come to the conclusion; everyone says that they eat pretty good most of the time. What does this mean? I’ll tell you, I know the answer because I eat REALLY, REALLY good most of the time – it means that sometimes I eat like crap. I mean that sometimes I REALLY, REALLY eat like crap. So that being said, I went from my race day goal weight (I weighed in at 154.8 this weekend) to a Monday morning weight of 163.0. Yes, that is right an overnight weight gain of 8.2 pounds. That is about a 5 percent change in weight over night. Now I am not in the weight range of the biggest losers’ – I am pretty lean (meaning I have some body fat to lose) – 5+ % overnight. I do realize that it is mostly water weight (I am down 2 pounds today) but I am still amazed at how my body fluctuates. It did this last summer on long training days and it still does it today.

Anyway, my upper body is sore from the P90X from Sunday morning – a little tender. It was especially noticeable in the pool at lunch on Monday. I could really fell my arms and back from all of the pushups and chin-ups. Speaking of the pool – it is coming around. I did an easy warm up and then for some intensity I did 10 x 100 yards with 30 seconds rest. I know that is a lot of rest but … I was pushing semi-tough and my times were a few seconds lower than last week. I was about 5 seconds per 100 quicker than my last years 500 and 1000 averages. And then it happened. It has happened before and I am always awe struck. I decided to slow down my stroke and really stick the arm out there. Stick it out and hold it out there for a long pause. I was holding it out there long enough for my other arm to start entering the water. Total Immersion calls this ‘front quadrant’ swimming. I have such a difficult time with this whole counter-intuitive swimming thing. Slow down to go faster. For the last 3 100’s my times were 2 – 3 seconds faster and I was swimming easier. I know that I am not a speed demon in the water but I’ll take these little victories.

Strangely, my legs were tired on Tuesday morning. I did no running on Sunday or Monday. Why were they tired? I don’t know (accumulated fatigue – probably ready for a taper or maybe I am just being a wuss). I jumped on the trainer for more intervals and the legs came around. It was comfortably hard. I did not get off the trainer and need to lie down or anything – just a solid session. I am doing speed work tonight after work – not too much just 10 quarters.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ready to taper?

That last race (the 30K) took a more out of me than all of the previous races. Last year it seemed as if it took me forever to recover. My first half marathon in November of 2008 – I think it took me a full 2 weeks to bounce back. I was sore and did not have a top gear. Well, I have raced much harder and at greater distances these past two months and I have bounced back week after week. In fact, on the weekends that I did not race I picked up the volume – I had several 3 day blocks of forty plus miles and even a 3 day block of 50 miles. However, this last race was different. I am not sure if it was the distance (18.6 miles), the intensity (6:55 minutes per mile) or the building fatigue of racing. This had me worried.

On Saturday I ran an easy 15 miles with the guys. It was at a comfortable pace for me (9 minutes per mile – that has become low zone 1). I really enjoyed chewing the fat and just getting outside. The “training plan” had called for something more substantial (20 miles @ 7:41). I am sure that I could have gutted that out but I don’t think that it would have done much for my overall run fitness. I stuck with the easy, fun run. I took about an hour break after the run and grabbed something to eat (toast and oatmeal). I then met some other guys for a bike ride.

There had been a ‘fast’ bike ride at 7AM on Saturday but I knew that I probably would not have been able to hang – well maybe… But I wanted the running miles.

So I met up with the late Saturday ride. There were only 3 of us. I am not sure if it is due to the lack of bike fitness, the 15 mile run, or the strength of Dan – but I could not hang with him. I am sure it is a combination of all three. I did try to hold his wheel for a few miles but my heart rate (as well as perceived exertion) were topping out. I dialed it back and just rode my 20 miles. Dan is going to be tough to beat. He also happens to be in my age group.

I was going to run on Sunday morning but the legs were tired again. Not wanting to skip a day I put in a P90X DVD. I have not done any of these since October. I was able to hammer out disc 1 without any problems. The sessions are solid and tough! I will feel this in the chest and back!

At a super bowl get together I was talking with some more knowledgeable runners and asked them about my recovery from this last race. They were reassuring. They said that going into a taper you should be spent – that the training was coming together and time for the body to rebuild. I looked at my training schedule for the next 3 weeks – yep just 3 weeks away – and they are indeed much reduced. The intensity is still there but the mileage is dwindling.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pulling the swim back in

Friday was another good swim. I swam 1000 x 2 and recorded my times. They are, of course, a good deal slower than last year when I was swimming a lot. But I am feeling good about the swim. So far, it has come back easy. I do not fight the water. The 1000 yard times were off by about 45 seconds. That is nearly 5 seconds pet 100. I have some work to do but on the bright side I was not pushing anything hard. It was not like I treated these as time trials. They were just 1000 yard swims. If I swam these hard I think that I would be pretty close to my TT times.

Right now it is Saturday morning and it is 45 degrees in Mississippi. I will be heading out the door for a long run. I hope to be able to get on the bike a little bit later in the day (easy group ride – not too fast)!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Swim, Bike, Run, Recovery

I went to the track on Tuesday evening – just as I have for the past 6 weeks. My training plan called for 10 x quarter miles at 1:27. I am faster than this but the 10 seemed daunting. I started warming up by myself and my legs were tired. My legs have been tired every track night. After the first interval they loosen up some. I am sure that this would have been the case. As more pacers started to show up I walked, ran and talked with them. Charles showed up and he said no speed work for him!

It was easy to talk me out of the speed session. I decided to let the legs recoup. Charles and I ran a couple of miles on and around the track. Low and behold, Jim showed up. He ran with us for a couple of more miles. It was a fun run and I am very glad that I did not blow off the entire night just because I was not feeling speed work. I ended up with about 7 and half miles of easy running finishing the run at an all out sprint with Jim. We decided to do one last lap hard – well I decided to do one last lap hard. Jim came with me – he is quicker than me and had fresher legs. I increased the speed three times during the sprint. Jim was on my shoulder the entire time. I think he could have overtaken me but just let me run. At the last push to the finish line we were deep in the 5’s (the watch had deep in the 4’s – but you know how that current pace thing works on the GPS). The last 100 yards was all out and it felt great.

Wednesday would be early swim work. I am getting back into the groove of the pool and I actually extended my planned workout some. My nose was all stopped up and, I know this is gross, but the swim always clears me out – if you know what I mean. I alternated sets of 250 yards with and without paddles. With the paddles I can really feel the muscles in my back. This is so different from when I first started swimming. My arms used to get so tired with the swim. Anyway, I only swam 1750 yards but it felt good. I still would like to do the masters swim thing but I may have missed my winter window. Before too long I will be back on the bike in the mornings.

I had planned on hitting the trainer after work on Wednesday but I was under the weather. The nose was stopped up again and I was going through tissues like it was nobody’s business. I scrapped the trainer ride.

If you remember my trainer ride was also compromised on Tuesday due to a flat tire. Well, I did change that tire when I discovered it so the bike was ready to go on Thursday morning. I loaded the new interval training plan. Last week the intervals were 1 on / 2 off times 7. I changed the ratio some so that it is now 1:15 on / 1:45 off – a small change – increasing the working set by 25 percent. This was a solid workout. I was drenched when I completed it! The trainer is a solid workout but I am ready to get back outside.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Flat tires and calculators

After the race on Sunday I attended a running club meeting. Shortly after the meeting I went to bed. I was dog tired after the race. It was a combination of getting up at 3:30AM and running a solid 30K.

Monday I let the legs rest and slept in a little bit. At lunch I had a swim. An easy 250 warm up followed by 10 x 100 alternating using paddles. I could really feel my back muscles during the swim.

After the swim I did a quick circuit training round. Nothing much.

On Tuesday morning I was going to jump on the bike and extend the intervals that I started last week. I want my get my bike back in shape – I have been concentrating on the running for the past few months. I programmed the trainer – the intensities would be the same but instead of 1 minute on / 2 minutes off I was increasing the on and decrease the off. The new intervals would be 1:15 on / 1:45 off. I was excited. When I did the intervals last week they were comfortably hard – it felt solid. When I got on the trainer the tire was flat. Don’t get me wrong, I would rather have a flat indoors at home than out on the road – but it did put a damper on the training session. I changed the tire quickly even though I had to remove some of the trainer attachments (cadence sensor, etc.) but there was just not enough time to complete the session. I made a mistake and tried to do a much harder, shorter workout. This was not to be. I am still planning on hitting the track after work. I will get my running intervals. Maybe I can get an easy ride tomorrow.

I have talked about the “McMillan Running Calculator” before (turn your volume down), but this thing continues to impress me. When I first started looking at it a couple of years ago I would input my 5K times and it would spit out fantasy half and full marathon time. I mean they were nowhere even close to what was possible. My real half marathon times would equate to a 5K time a minute slower than actual. Well, as I have updated my time the calculator, it is coming into line – perfectly. Updating the tool with my latest 30K time – my 5K time is now ‘projected’ to within 2 seconds of actual and my 25k time is within seconds. This calculator projects my marathon time to be 3:06:19 at a 7:07 minute per mile pace. It also says that I have been sand bagging my half marathon time – it wants me a minute faster. I will try to prove the calculator correct.

Monday, February 1, 2010

"THE WALL" 30k Race Report

What is hard? As these races have increased in distance, my average heart rate has degreased appropriately. Over the past two months I have made a dramatic shift from running / racing by heart rate to running / racing by pace. In the short distance races I have seen average heart rates that would have had me holding back – scared to blow up. In these longer distance races I am trying to stay at a pre-defined average pace, never looking at my heart rate. For these longer races it is the muscles in the legs that fatigue well before the cardiovascular system is tapped. So, in all of these races over the past 2 months I have walked away from each of them thinking that each one was the hardest race I had ever run. I chalk that up to racing smarter and racing better. My average heart rate for the various distances is as follows:
7.45 - 6:39 - 181
13.1 - 6:50 - 178
15.5 - 6:53 - 172
18.6 - 6:55 - 168
This was a hard race but not as hard as the previous races. This makes me think that I could have raced harder – should have racer harder. But, I believe that I was racing the correct pace. I slowed a little bit during the 2nd quarter of the race and that cost me a few seconds. This was, however, running directly into the wind. I think it is becoming easier to race at distance. Maybe I am just better suited for running further.

On to the race report.

I awoke at 3:30 AM and it was in the high 20’s low 30’s. That is damn cold for Mississippi – the spring like temperatures left us on Friday. In fact, I went for a brief walk on Saturday and the wind plus the cold made the outside miserable. I know I am soft when it comes to the weather but I did live in the Midwest for a dozen or so years so I do understand miserable. I had several layers of clothes picked out for the race. The last race that I did in New Orleans was two weeks ago and it was windy but the temperature was a good 10 to 15 degrees warmer. In that race I wore shorts and a short sleeved shirt. At the Mobile half I wore shorts and a short sleeved shirt with a long sleeved shirt on top (with gloves) – that race was 23 degrees. For ‘The Wall’ 30K it felt colder than Mobile. I know that is not possible but we were chilled to the bone. I wore the same outfit that I wore in Mobile and that proved to be about perfect.

I arrived at Charles’s house at 4:40AM and Terry met us there a few minutes later. He joked that he had brought a propane heater for the trip. Charles and I were laughing until he pulled one out of his car. The drive to New Orleans was uneventful and we talked race strategies and what not. Terry had been ill the past couple of weeks and was using this as a training run (Terry PR’d the half marathon last month with a 1:23: XX). Charles and I would be running the race hard – in part to test the paces and, just as important, to build the confidence required for our marathon goals.

We arrived an hour early and checked in. We stayed in the car and kept warm. Terry fired up the heater and kept warm outside. It was cold and windy. This would be a tough race. Terry donned a disposable poncho while we waited for the race start.

I had set my ‘virtual nemesis’ for a fast pace. In fact, I was hoping to improve upon my 25k time. I wanted to run somewhere between my half marathon PR (6:50) and my 25K pace (6:53). I set the pace at 6:50. I started out near the front and tried to run an evenly paced race. The first mile clocked in at 6:49 – I really have learned about going out too fast. There were a ton of people in front of me at the start of the race but I knew that they would come back to me. I was cold and I could not feel the asphalt. My feet were like blocks of ice. This was uncomfortable. The wind was also alternating between blowing right in my face or on my left side. The levy that we were running on follows the Mississippi and sways back and forth – causing the wind to have the effect of an oscillating fan. A fan in a deep freeze that is.

During mile 2 I had to speed up a little bit to get out of ‘no man’s land’ There was no wind block and I did not want to be all alone. I sped up some and caught a shoulder of a runner. I think this was much more psychological than physiological. The wind was from my front left and I did not get much of a drafting effect. However, holding this shoulder cost me some time – it is hard to tell whether it was the wind or me just slacking off but mile 4 – 7 were some of the slowest of the race. It was during these miles that Terry passed me. Terry asked me jokingly if “I would be pushing the second half of the race?” He was insinuating that I was running easy. I passed a couple of people and caught someone running close to my goal pace. I hung with him for the rest of the race. I always say that I am too chatty during these races but the intensity is such that I can maintain most of a conversation. Mike and I talked for the rest of the race. We tried to gain on Terry and tried to keep any would be attackers at bay.

The leader of the race passed us on the out and back course. The leader had covered 10 miles in about 59 minutes. I was pleased to see the turnaround coming up and hoped for some relief from the wind. Terry was still just ahead of me. The rest of the race I would watch Terry pull away and he eventually passed the next racer in the last few miles. After the race he told me that he ran the race completely even and that I must have slowed down some. I did not feel like I had slowed but looking at my splits post-race he was correct. My pace crept up by a few seconds per mile even though the wind was not as tough. The cross wind was still brutal but it was not in your face. At the end of the race the next competitor was just out of striking distance but the guy that I was running with put in an attack. He would not even remotely catch the next guy but he did gain the position from me. I did not have much of anything to kick with – I thought I did and for a few seconds I managed a 6:30 pace. Terry finished in 7th place with at 2:06:xx with an average pace of 6:46. Charles had one of the best races that he has ever had - his confidence is running high. I finished the race in 9th place with at 2:09:21 for a 6:56 pace. I wanted to be a couple of seconds per mile faster but this was a tough race. With 4 weeks until the Mardi Gras Marathon my confidence is high. Now time to determine my pacing for the best possible marathon I can run.