Sunday, July 26, 2009

SF Half Marathon

Ran the SF half this morning. Here's the story....

goal was to run a 1:25 (6:29 pace). The course climbs about 300' in miles 2-6 and then drops 300' in miles 7-8 and then is pretty flat. I had calculated mile paces based on the elevation changes. Basically it was going to be "get to the top of the hill, see what I can make up on the downhill and then take it from there".

Weather was perfect, low 50's, overcast, misty, very little wind. Start was well organized and I was just 2 rows back from the start. We joined the full marathoners when we started (8:15am) and the people we joined were on pace for 4:30 finish, so we were flying by. I'd worked out that a 1:25 finish would have me passing about 2,500 marathoners over the course, which I was hoping was not going to be a problem.

Start was fast as it was downhill for first 1/4 mile, out of the gate at 5:30 pace but got it back under control as we levelled off. First mile still quick overall at 6:09 (plan was 6:30).

Mile 2 and 3 were the 2 slowest according to my plan as they had the hills. Goal was 6:48, 6:51 - got thru them in 6:32 and 6:40 so I had banked 50+ seconds in just the first 3 miles.

Mile 4, 5 and 6 were up & down and plan was 6:39, 6:24 and 6:33 - ran them in 6:30, 6:16 and 6:29 so I was moving fast. Went thru 6 in 38:36, which was 1:06 ahead of plan. (according to Garmin, mile markers were no use as they were for the full, so we had a very helpful 5.9 mile mark...)

So the uphills hadn't been as bad as I had expected and I was feeling about how I expect to feel 6 miles into a half.

Then it was time for the downs of miles 7 and 8. I'd planned to hit these at 6:10 and 6:11, but mile 7 was not really down, it was flat/up with a steep down at the end, mile 8 was better with a more gradual drop so I went thru those in 6:15 and 6:02.

As the course flattened out I realised I was in with a shot at a breakout time if the wheels stayed on, and after a quick systems check figured I had enough left in my legs to hammer the next 5 miles adn gut it out. It was flat and I knew that 6:25 would get me comfortably under 1:25 but decided to just run hard and see what I could do. Quads were definitely feeling it from the fast downhills but I hoped to hang on for 30-35 more minutes.

Mile 9 and 10 were steady and I just reeled in more marathoners, they were in the 22-23 territory so they were having no fun, must have sucked to see people like me whizz by. Ran a 6:18 and then sped up to a 6:13.

At mile 10 I just decided to go for it and pay the price afterwards - 11 was at 6:13 and mile 12 was 6:10. Unless I crashed I was in for a fast time, but I was hurting and my quads were extremely unhappy with my decision.

With just over a mile to go I started picking out the half marathoners and chasing them down, it was pretty easy to tell who was in each race. Caught 3-4 in mile 13 as I did a 6:09.

The final 0.3 (garmin was long as usual) was a sprint thru the barriers and the crowd at 5:45 pace and I crossed the line in 1:23:47 feeling like I'd left most everything I had out there - I beat my 1:25 goal easily and a got PR of just about 2 minutes. Garmin pace was 6:17 and official pace 6:23.

From the preliminary results looks like I was 42nd overall out of thousands, and 4th in my age group (M40-49). I am very happy with the way things turned out and feel I ran a good race, with a very strong finish for once.

This shows splits: blue bars are mile splits, with the blue line showing the cumulative pace. Red shows heartrate, so you can see that I was working hard for those last 5 miles once we got down the hill!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chicago - Week 3 Training

An OK week this week. It was hot, and I got really busy at work which messed things up, but overall I think I got through it just about well enough.

Missed Friday's run, which was supposed to be my medium long run of 16, but after starting the day with a meeting at 7:30am and finishing my last call after 6pm I couldn't face a 2 hour run, so instead I swam in the pool and sat in the hot tub with the family and a beer - So instead of 90 for the week I was down at 72.

In terms of workouts, the tempo on Tuesday was pretty good. It was a hot run in the late afternoon, so I decided to run the 6 miles at a more reasonable 6:30 pace, which turned out to be plenty fast in 90+ degree heat. The track workout on Thursday was another matter. Work screwed up the "run before it gets hot in the morning" plan, so it was about 5:45pm when I hit the track and it was still in the high 80s. The goal was 6 x 1,200 at 4:21-4:25. After hitting the first in 4:19 I decided to bail out half way thru #2. It was too hot to be pushing hard on the track so I just ran an easy 7. A little wimpy but there is a limit to what I can deal with.

Did a fairly brutal hill run yesterday climbing up to 1,600 feet in the sunshine, which trashed me quite successfully. Today was a mercifully flat 20 miler which felt really easy after my recent hilly long runs.

Next week is a cutback week, with just 55 on the schedule, although the last 13.1 of those are the SF half marathon. I'd like to get down to 1:25 (6:29 pace) but I'm not sure that I'm in that kind of shape just yet. I'll see how it is feeling after the first 5-6 miles and take it from there.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chicago - Week 2 Training

Week 2 is a wrap. Came in just under 84 miles and I am feeling good despite the second week of a big distance jump. Let's see how the jump to 90+ goes this week.

I am thinking that the addition of a hot tub in our back yard is helping. We got this a couple weeks back and I've been soaking 4-5 times/week. I was initially a little worried about this as I have heard a lot of stories about hot tubs making it harder to recover from long/hard runs - and that ice baths are much better. Not sure what the physiology is behind all that but it seems to be the general consensus among runner types. However, the family was not so keen on an ice tub in the back yard so I decided to risk it. And fortunately I've found that it is helping (at least so far!), so I will keep using it.

Like most training weeks I had three fun workouts this week, and a bunch of easy runs. Tempo on Tuesday was good, when I did 6 miles at 6:21 pace. This was the best tempo I've had, and I was happy to see it after the previous week's sloggy 5 mile effort. Thursday was my first trip back to the track, as documented in the previous post. And yesterday I did a 21 miler with a bunch of mid sized climbs. It was 9 runs overall and no days off.

This week is similar, but I will get another 7-10 miles in there somewhere, and will go a little longer in the tempo and do a few more reps at the track.

Then I get to cut back the mileage for a week (down to the mid 50's), with a day off and then a half marathon on July 26th.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Track Time #1

After last week's "track construction" incident, resulting in some enthusiastic, but probably ill advised, 100m and 200m sprints on the soccer field, it was time to get my first real track workout in.

It was an early morning start and I headed up to the local college track, which is just over 2 miles away. Did 3-4 laps with some 100m pace setting sections, just to get the feel for 5:55 pace (4:25 for 1,200 meters). I was all over the place, and way off pace on these 100m runs (5:14, 5:22, 5:25) so decided I was good to go. As it has been 2 months since I ran anything on the track I was only doing 4x1,200, with 90-120 seconds walk recovery in between.

Mentally, I break up the 1,200 into 4 chunks:
  • the first 200m. usually I start too fast and find I'm flying the first 100m, I try to get back on pace by 200. If I am still quick at this point I am usually in trouble. this is the fun chunk.
  • the next 400m (200-600). this is about running smooth and maintaining form, getting the breathing right and just hitting the pace. this is usually an ok chunk.
  • the next 400m (600-1,000) - this is all about holding it together. legs are starting to hurt and it's definitely an effort to keep on pace. real focus on keeping the form good. this is not a lot of fun, and often where I screw up.
  • the final 200m (1,000-1,200) - this depends a lot on the time at 1,000. if I am on pace this is a good solid 200m effort to the line and is pretty enjoyable - but if I am off pace this is where I try to make it up, and it becomes an all out, ugly ass, arm flailing 200m struggle to the line.
Here's how it went.
  1. Started fast (surprise!), but got under control by 200m, next 400m was smooth enough and it felt good to be running fast on the track again, then the next 400m was an effort but not too bad, final 200m was OK as I was on pace - 4:24
  2. Pretty much a repeat of Number 1, except I was feeling it a little more towards the end.
  3. Ok through 600, then lost focus in the next 400 and slowed down, so I had to haul ass the last 200m and still missed it with a 4:26. No fun on that one.
  4. Took a 2:00 rest before this, to give myself a fighting chance. Got through the first 600 slow in 3:14 (vs 3:12) so had to pick it up in the final 600. Clawed back some time in the next lap to get back on pace and then kicked the last 200 to come in at 4:23. A definite race effort to finish, but it felt good to hit the time goal and close with a 3:09 last 600.
Overall it was a 4:24 average, so I was happy, esepcially as it's the first time in a while. Next week I'll go up to 5 or 6 repetitions, but probably keep the goal time the same at 4:25.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Chicago - week 1 training

First week of Chicago training is over, 14 to go. This is the combination speed and higher mileage plan, which is going to result in a sub 3 hour marathon, an ugly crash caused by overtraining or injury. I am hoping for #1 and after week 1 feel pretty good. Today's long run was great and I finished feeling pretty fresh.
  • Monday - easy 5 miles (no rest day anymore....)
  • Tuesday - 5 miles tempo (6:43), 7 overall - it was hot and I was sluggish - not great
  • Wednesday - AM easy 7.5, PM easy 5 - my first double in ages
  • Thursday - crazy speed workout (see previous post)
  • Friday - easy 14 miler on some hilly trails
  • Saturday - easy 7.5
  • Sunday - 19 miles with the last 3 at marathon pace - in SF (Golden Gate Park)
  • Total - 72 miles
Next week should be around 80, and I will probably skip the 100 meter sprints this time.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Fast Times at Los Altos High

Today was my first planned speed workout since Ottawa. I was going to ease back into it, so had only planned to do 2x1,200 somewhere between 4:21 and 4:29 depending on how it felt (5:50-6:00 pace). Ran down to the local high school after work - it was still pretty warm out, around 80 degrees.

Well I get to the school and the track is being resurfaced, and is shut until the end of July. Didn't feel like running fast on the roads, so went to the soccer field at the school and decided I'd run there instead. After a warmup mile I figured I try running some shorter stuff, for a change.

Started with a couple of 100m-ish strides at a reasonable clip, followed by 200m jog recovery. Ran three, at 5:06, 5:03 and 5:01 pace, just to get the legs warmed up.

Then I decided to do some 200m sprints, with 400m jog recoveries. Ran four of those, at 5:01, 5:09, 5:16 and 5:10 pace.

Then I did about a mile of easy barefoot running, figuring it would be good to take advantage of running on the soft grass.

Then I put the shoes back on and decided to do some faster, shorter runs. Did 120m sprints, pretty much flat out, with 400m jog recoveries. Did four of these at 4:34, 4:18, 4:07 and 4:11 pace. I have never run that fast before and it felt great to really push it, lifting the legs high. I decided to see if I could go sub 4 minute pace on one, so did 800m jog recovery and then went for it. I managed a 4:02 and decided to call it a day before I tore something. With a bit more focus on form I am pretty sure I could dip under 4.

So the good news is that I have the physical capability to run at 4 minute mile pace. The bad news is that after 120m I was toast. No way was I going for another 1489.4 meters anywhere near that pace. So any crazy dreams of running a 4 minute mile have been soundly squashed. I will set my sights on running a 4-something minute mile (i.e. 4:59) which seems far more achievable.

So the fastest one equates to a 15.07 100m, which would put about 50% behind the elite runners. It's about the same with marathons where my 3:03 is 50% behind the elites. I guess I am consistent if nothing else. Now, I have to say that distances weren't exact (garmin), and I had a running start, so who knows for sure. Next time I am at a track I will do some certified 100m sprints to see what I can do.

And tomorrow I will see what sort of damage I have done to myself running that fast.