Friday, October 28, 2011

Getting Back Down To Business

Well, it took about a week and a half after the marathon for my legs to finally start feeling normal when I ran.  Last weekend I went for a 13 mile long run as I build back up to doing 20 milers.  Afterwards, I took the family out to lunch at a local burger joint.  We sat by the kitchen where a couple guys were sweating over the grill trying to keep up with demand. 

Out of the blue, my wife Lora says to me, "You know what I really like?  Watching a guy in the kitchen, cooking."  That, by the way, was a little lighthearted dig at me for not doing more meal preparation around the house. 

I thought, two can play at that game.  So I said, "You know what I really like?  A woman who knows her place, and gets the laundry done on time."  That was probably the best comeback I could come up with on the spot, but it was at least true that she hates doing laundry and had been putting if off. 

I think a few other little meaningless things were said before she was all like, "Why do you always have to be right?"  So I was all like, "Well how do you think it makes me feel knowing that my wife is always wrong?"

It was kinda quiet at the lunch table after that which I didn't mind cause usually my wife talks a lot and it gives me a headache.  At least, that's how I remember the conversation, and if it's on the internet, it must be verbatim.  OK, I better stop there since she reads my blog, and if I keep going, she will probably cease to see the humor in my highbrow writing skills.

My lovely wife, Lora, who might be regretting about now
asking me to mention her more in my blog.

That story was a bit out of place for my running blog, but worth telling I think.  Now back to my regularly scheduled, and overly analytical post.

I have never done more than 2 marathons in a calender year before, but thanks to the previous marathon leaving a bad taste in my mouth, I have signed up for a third.   I just registered for the Dallas White Rock Marathon on December 4th.  Anyone know someone who's running it too?  Any bloggers?

This also means I haven't done 2 marathons this close together before now.  Not that it's a big deal, but by the time I get back to running 70 - 80 miles/week, it will be about time to start tapering again, and I do want to race it with a PR in mind.

Here are my workouts from the last 7 days as I prepare to run another 26.2 in a little over a month:

5 miles @ 8:30 avg.
13 miles @ 8:12 avg.
10 tempo miles @ 7:54 avg.;  10.15 miles on stationary bike in 30 minutes.
7 miles recovery @ 9:00
12 miles @ 8:30 avg.
12 Lactate Threshold miles @ 7:18 avg.;  6.85 miles on stationary bike in 20 minutes.

Total running miles = 59
Total biking miles = 17

Next week I'll start back in on intervals for the first time since the marathon.  Hope everyone is running some good races this fall.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wichita Prairie Fire Marathon Race Report

My final marathon as a non-master didn't turn out the way I envisioned.  I trained pretty hard, set some impressive PRs leading up to the race, but in the end, I can't help but feel disappointed.  The irony is that I ran faster than I have ever run a marathon in my life.

Feeling good at the start.
My 3 year old, Lacey, waiting for something, anything,
to happen at the start.

Before I get into how my race went, I'll mention a little bit of background on the marathon.  The Wichita Prairie Fire Marathon is in it's second year.  They announced about 4,000 participants who chose between a 5k, half marathon, or full marathon.  On the 5k, the pace bicyclist took a wrong turn and all the runners followed him.  When all was said and done, they ended up running about 3.8 miles, and no prizes were given for various reasons.  Of course some runner's were pissed.  I think it's inexcusable (and kinda funny) not to know where you're going when you're responsible for about 1,000 paying runners following you like the pied piper.

The marathon itself is a dual loop course, kinda like a figure 8, but the loops are separated by several miles.  It's mostly flat and fast.  Even though there was the snafu with the 5k, everything went well with the marathon.   The events in general were well organized with more free food afterward than what you'll find at most big city marathons.  I partook in some post-race pizza, beer, donuts, and hot chocolate.

Going off road around mile 10.
Let me start out with the good.  I finished the 26.2 miler in 3:34:18; over a minute and a half faster than the PR I set last year, and I did so in a little less than optimal conditions.  That comes out to an 8:11 average pace, and 15 of my splits were under 8 minutes.  I've never broke the 8 minute mile in a marathon before.  The other positive from my race was taking 3rd place in my division.  I had never won any award in any race over 4 miles.  More on that later...

Money Shot

Now for the bad which I plan on spending most of my time on.  While I should be happier about my PR, my planned finish time was a sub 3:25:00 under ideal conditions.  Reaching that time would mean I'm making good progress on my BQ goal as I need a 3:15:00.  I have set the bar high, and not performing up to my expectations is depressing.  Striving for certain time goals is what drives my training.  I guess it's just the way my brain is wired.  I think I have a decent excuse for not running better, but I'm having problems coming to terms with forces beyond my control.  Yes, I'm talking about the weather.  At first glance, the conditions were near ideal; low 60s with cloudy skies and intermittent light rain.  The problem is those aren't perfect conditions.  With all the rain before and during the race, the humidity was around 97%.  Also, the temps remained a constant 64º, about 10 degrees above optimal.  Let's explore temperatures for a second.  Here is an excerpt from Jeff Galloway's webpage about how temps affect running.

Most runners begin to slow down at 55 degrees and start suffering at 65 degrees. Of course, the body can adapt to heat stress and push the threshold up a bit, but you usually can't run as fast on a 75 degee day as on a 45 degree one. High humidity is also a major problem. It's like a wet blanket; it doesn't allow much evaporation or perspiration and your body heat builds up.
If you try to run too hard in hot or humid conditions you'll hit "the wall" sooner than expected. Trying to maintain a goal pace in heat is like going out too fast early in the race. Temperatures generally increase hour by hour; therefore you must adjust your pace for the temperature expected at the end of the race.
Adjusting Race Pace for Heat: Estimated temperature at finish - Slower than goal pace - 8 min mile becomes...
55-60 degrees - 1% - 8:05
60-65 degrees - 3% - 8:15
65-70 degrees - 5% - 8:25
70-75 degrees - 7% - 8:35
75-80 degrees - 12% - 8:58
80-85 degrees - 20% - 9:35
Above 85 degrees - Forget it... run for fun
* Note: This chart is based upon my own experience in the heat and talking to other runners. It has no scientific verification.

His assertion makes sense to me.  Based on the above chart, my race pace should have been a good 3% (15 seconds) slower solely based on the temperature.  I didn't take Jeff's chart into consideration and hence, started out too fast for the conditions.  That came back to haunt me about mile 20.  What I haven't figured out yet is how much the weather gets the blame, and what blame if any goes to my process of nutrition, tapering, and starting out too fast.

To illustrate how the weather affected my performance, I've included some Garmin data I collected.  On the left is an 18 miler I did 2 weeks before the marathon to cap off a 63 mile week in sunny 55º weather.  The chart on the right is my first 18 miles from the PF marathon done in 64º cloudy weather with 97% humidity:

Training Run 9/24/11
PF Marathon 10/9/11

The moral of these 2 charts is that my 55º training run averaged a 7:49 pace with an average heart rate of 168.  For comparison, The first 18 marathon miles averaged a 7:52 but with a heart rate of 178.  In a good example of over analysis, that works out to 1,631 extra heartbeats worth of oxygen my blood had to try and deliver to my muscles over those 18 miles.

Based on my own experience and some research, I estimate my lactate threshold to be around 175 bpm.  This further illustrates why hitting the wall was only a matter of time in the marathon.

Remember I mentioned earlier I took 3rd place in my division?  Well what if I told you my division was the Clydesdale division?  I'm not so bad-ass anymore, huh.  I know most people think of me as a typical skinny runner, but according to the entry form, if I'm over 170 lbs, I've got a handicap.  When I signed up I was 171 lbs in case you were wondering.  The only positive thing I can say about being in the Clydesdale class is that I had to beat out all my plus sized peers from across all age groups (assuming they declared their fatness).  I was a good 20 minutes away from placing in my age group.  By the way, race morning I weighted in at 167 lbs since I was very diligent about my diet that week, so I don't know if I should be feeling any guilt, but ethically, I'm in the clear because what happens after signing up is kinda like what happens after boxers or wrestlers weigh in:  They are locked in the weight class no matter how much their weight fluctuates.  (I am back up over 170 now)

Back to the race...  The last 6 miles I hit the proverbial wall.  I was saddened to look down at my watch and see that mile 24 was a 9:20 split, but in my defense my legs were really burning the last 4 or 5 miles.  Despite the burn, they weren't trying to cramp.  Any lesser man might have given into the urge to walk, but I forced myself to keep the legs churning and actually got faster the last couple miles.  The way my legs felt after hitting the wall, I was actually impressed I ran as fast as I did.

Prairie Fire Marathon, Final Hit the Wall 10k

Currently, I'm still in my marathon hangover.  The muscle soreness left after 3 or 4 days, but most days running 5 miles is a struggle even at recovery pace.  I have yet to get back into any kind of speed work.  I know this is nothing out of the ordinary.

I'll leave you with a couple bullet points:

  • This post represents my one year anniversary of blogging.
  • Did everyone hear about that 100 year old guy who finished the Toronto Marathon in 8 hours and change?  WOW