Marathon Pace

on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 8:42 PM

I haven't posted at all about training this time around so here's an update.  Training so far has gone surprisingly well (touch wood). I think this may be the most mileage I've done during a training cycle.  I've done seven 20+ milers and had nine 50+ mile weeks so far and I still have more to come. Most of these miles, however have been on the slow side.  I started this training cycle about 10 pounds heavier than my racing weight has been in the past, so the hope that was doing a lot of slower runs would help shed the fat molecules without requiring me to crash diet. I believe I"m pretty close to where I should be in regards to weight, so the hope is now to build up some speed.

I have one last marathon pace type run this weekend and it's had me thinking quite a bit about where I might be in regards to my marathon fitness.  When I started this training cycle, 8 min/mile seemed reasonable considering that it's been a few years since I've run one, but I think that may be a bit conservative.  My training paces to date and progress seem very similar to what they were when I did Chicago back in 2006.  At the time, I was aiming for 3:20 in Chicago, but ending up finishing in 3:17. So 3:20 (7:38 pace) seems to be a reasonable goal for New York.  I've done three marathon pace long runs this time around, the 2nd of which was done at the beginning of August with 12 miles at 7:50 pace as part of a 20 mile long run.  The third marathon pace long done a few weeks ago was a bit of a disaster where I only managed 7 miles at 7:45 pace on a windy day, but I just considered that to be having a bad day and not carbo loading.  Who knows maybe I can pull of the 3:17 magic again.

Now the big wrinkle in all this is that my BQ time for 2015 is 3:15, so is 3:15 really that much different than 3:17?  My ego thinks that I could totally do 3:15, but the rest of me keeps reminding myself that I haven't raced a marathon in 4 years. In addition to that I'm 7 years older when I did Chicago and though 7 additional years of "experience" may be worth something, the truth of the  matter is there's a reason Boston gives you additional time as you get older.  In addition, New York is a tougher course than Chicago and I recently learned, I'm not very good at racing on hills, even though I've been trying to do my long runs on some hillier courses. 

Looking back to when I last did 3:15 which was in fall of 2009, I'm definitely not at the same level of fitness as I was back then. Back then I was doing my LT's at under 7 min/mile pace and I ended up doing a kinda hilly half marathon at a similar pace. Just recently, I struggled putting 7:15 pace down over a hilly 10k.  Looking at these numbers, 3:15 would be a pipe dream, but in reality back in 2009, I was training for an outside shot at 3:10 so I don't think I necessarily need the same fitness to do 3:15, but it would mean that I would have to race pretty close to my limit.

So the weekend has a 14 mile marathon pace run with 18 total miles.  My thinking was after a 2 mile warm up, to try to run 7 miles at 3:20 pace and then try to do the last 7 at 3:15 pace and see what I feel like after.  Still a few weeks of training left and at least one tune-up race so I should have a pretty good handle on my fitness after that. 

Hope training is going well for the rest of you!

Zoo Run 10K Race Report

on Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 5:13 PM

It's been a while since I've written a race report. Heck, it's been a while since I've actually raced.  Last race and report was the Acura 5k back in July of 2010.  I've run in other races since, but didn't really "race" them.  They've always been as a pacer or with some sort of training purpose in mind.  I did do a 10k back in the fall of 2010 in the 44 minute range and though I seem to recall running it pretty hard, it was done a week after pacing a marathon so I wouldn't count that.  Here is a picture postrace from that race with 4 Olympic medalists and also Reid Coolsaet before he became a somewhat famous marathoner in Canada.  

BTW, I beat both Reid Coolsaet and an Olympic medalist in that race. Okay, the medalist was a figure skater and Coolsaet decided to run with with one of the sponsors representatives, but it still counts.

Pfitz' plan has several tune-up races as part of his marathon training that are generally between 8k and 15k.  They are always on a Saturday and hard to rearrange since the plan still requires you to do a 17 mile long run on the Sunday.  This year, luck was on my side as there are a few races in the area that fall on the correct dates.

The first of these was the Oasis 10k Zoo Run.  I decided to do this 2 weeks ago and as it was sold out, ending up purchasing a bib from someone online. Going into this, even though the last time I raced a 10k was back in July of 2008, I figured with the LT training I'd been doing, it wouldn't be too bad trying to hold a sustainable tempo like pace.  I figured a reasonable goal would be around 4:20 min/km pace for a rough time of 43.5 minutes.

Bib 2013 in the year 2013. What are the chances?
 Alas, things didn't go according to plan.  Firstly, though we had been blessed recently with some nice fall temperatures, (sub 10C), today was 18C. Second, it was raining, a steady rain which didn't go too well for me, but enough with the excuses and on to the race.

I tried to do an extended 30 minute warmup leading up to race pace since I typically do my LT runs with a 2 mile warmup and my track workout with a 3 mile one.  The other thing for the extended warm-up was to try and prevent my HR from spiking. I've posted about this before and it is still a concern for me, though I've learned to mitigate it somewhat by gradually warming up. 

I've been using a Polar GPS recently and this was the first time I've used it in a race.  Though I ran with the HR monitor, I turned off the HR display so it wouldn't cause me concern in the race if the HR did spike. In fact, I only ran with the lap split times being displayed, because I was hoping to run purely based on effort and feel.  After warming up, got into the corral with about 5minutes to start and was hopping up and down and running in place to try and keep the HR up and so the race starts.

During the first km, I tried to run a comfortable pace and gradually move up and pass people when space made itself available. The first little bit is in the zoo parking lot where the path is narrow in spots due to the fencing, but I think this helps to control one from going out too fast. After about 700m, it moves onto the road where things open up. Pass the first km in 4:20. Right on pace.

The 2nd km involves an out and back on the road with the out portion being downhill and the back portion being uphill. Still feeling quite good and the breathing is getting a bit labored on the hill climb part. Hit 2nd km at 4:25. A little slow, but okay.

The 3rd km continues uphill and according to the GPS altitude data, involves a 50 ft climb.  It was here about half way through the KM that my HR spiked going from mid 180's to over 210. I didn't know it at the time though.  Hit 3rd km at 4:23 which considering that this was almost all uphill probably means I was overly exerting myself on this, which caused the HR spike.

Typically, when the HR does this, it doesn't come back down on its own and I either have to stop or start walking where it eventually returns down to normal.  It's easy to do this in training, but obviously harder to do in a race, thus the reason for turning off the HR display.

About half way during km number 4, the route goes semi off-road onto an un-paved portion with packed dirt. Remember that it was raining so a little messy and trying to dodge puddles and such, while also trying to recover from the hill climb in the previous km.  I also notice here that my HR monitor is starting to slip down from my chest and I'm doing the pull it up thing, which I ultimately would have to do several more times in the race.  Km 4 is in 4:29. I'm slowing down. 

Km 5 continues off-road for a bit then rejoins a paved path.  By this point, I've been running with a few guys and we're jocking back and forth for position.  Breathing still feels a little labored, though the effort level is there. Hit the 5km marker in 4:28 for a split time of 22:05. 

Towards the end of km 6, there is a bit of an incline and out and back and this is where it starts to fall apart.  The first little bit is downhill, but then it runs through a foresty part which has a steep incline. Hit km 6 at 4:32.

Trying to recover from the previous incline and due to the fact that km 7 and 8 are undulating, I missed the 7 km marker as I spent most of the time looking at the ground trying to keep my breathing in check and trying to recover during the downhill portions from the uphill portions. I hit km 8 at 9:25 for a 4:43 average.

During km 9, I try to gain some speed, but my breathing is severly labouring at this point and I'm breathing in a one-one breathing pattern. Speed's not going up. Km 9 in 4:34.

As I pass km 9, I try and kick for the finish line and try to bump up the pace, but quickly realize that it ain't sustainable since it's almost all uphill. 50 ft climb over the last km.  Slow down where required, cursing whoever thought that having an incline at the end of a 10k was a good idea.  The HR strap  also ended up slipping down and I ended up having to catch it as it became unlatched.  Ended up crossing the finish line at 45:15 with HR monitor strap in hand.  Last km in 4:38.

Overall pace was 4:31/km (7:17/mile), a far cry from the 4:20/km (6:58/mile )pace and 43.5 time I was hoping for.

Obviously, not too happy with my race.  I did a 7 mile LT run two weeks ago where I averaged 7:15/mile pace and I ran a 6 mile LT run almost a month ago at 7:04/mile pace. Yes, this route was technically more difficult and the rain didn't help, nor did the HR spiking so perhaps I should just chalk it up to having a bad day.

BTW, Reid Coolsaet also ran in this race and had a time of 29:50. No beating him this time.

Here is the HR info showing the HR spike which apparently lasted through the entire race.  It only appears to drop off towards the end when the HR strap slipped down.   Up until the HR spike, I think I was doing okay as it appears to have been leveling off at the mid to low 180's even when climbing a hill. If the HR hadn't spiked, would I have been faster? I'd like to think so though I don't really know. I didn't feel too great towards the end of the race, but that could have been just because it was a race; it's supposed to get tough towards the end. 

 If you're interested in any other details of my race or the course (mile splits, route, elevation), you can get more info here.

As for what's next?   Next tune-up race is scheduled for 2 weeks from now and there is a 10k and 15k option at a race that is about a 45 minute drive east of here. I ran this race back in 2006, where I was robbed of a first place finish.  I originally thought that I would do the 15k, but with today's lackluster performance, I'm thinking maybe another crack at the 10k would be better. Will see how the training goes over the next two weeks and will probably make a last second decision. Hopefully, the race won't sell out.

Normally, I would never pass up a chance to take some pictures of animals at the zoo, but the miserable weather and the crappy race made me want to get out of there as quickly as possible, so I'll leave you some images that I've previously taken.