Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Time for a Tune-up

In my usual obsessive-compulsive way I have been a little concerned about my ongoing fatigue and some tightness and pain in my chest, so I made an appointment to see Dr. Boris. If a spring tune-up is good enough for my car, why not me?

Dr. Boris listened to me breathe for all of ten seconds before giving me a verbal slap upside my head. I thought he was going to take a swing at me with his stethoscope. "I have never heard your lungs sound this bad! Have you been using your inhalant?"

I explained that I used it before I ran (when I remember, that is...) so probably about once a day. The freaking stuff is over a hundred bucks a pop and I could easily go through two a month. And my asthma has been a little more pronounced with my higher mileage and with the speed workouts I have been doing of late. It never occurred to me that it would result in me feeling more tired. But less oxygen in the blood makes sense even to someone as obtuse as yours truly.

But Boris laid down the law on ther inhalant and I am to use it twice, twice a day. I guess I have to chalk it up to the price of doing business... Boris figures that my breathing, or lack thereof, is contributing to my fatigue so in the interests of recovering this week I am paying full attention for a change. But I also had a blood test just to be sure.

Hopefully this will get my supercharger working again. Now maybe I should get my oil changed and a lube job...

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Countdown Begins

The Countdown Begins!

Persistent rumours of my demise are greatly exaggerated, gentle readers, although I must confess it is nice to be missed. Aside from the many,’Where the hell is your Blog, Hemingson’, and ‘Have you died or something?’ and ‘Get with it you lazy Bastard!’, I also heard from a few people saying that they wanted less data and more “Vince”, whatever the hell that is, but I take it to mean fewer charts and graphs and more of the vintage whinging and moaning and bellyaching of old.

So here is my whinge. It is six days until the Vancouver International Marathon. My legs are tired, my ankles are stiff and my back is sore. Honestly? I just want the whole f**king thing to be over with. This will be my ninth marathon and my twelvth race of marathon or greater distance. I have never faced a race at this juncture in my life with greater trepidation. It reminds me of my youth where I used to get so nervous before athletic events that I would be nauseous, occasionally to the point of losing my breakfast, or lunch, or the meal of your choice. As a mature runner, you know, that lifestyle thingy, the races have been more like training runs with more hoopla and an excuse to drink and eat and revel when it was all over (as if I needed excuses). Now, with the Boston qualifying time hanging over the entire proceedings, it is an entirely different ball game.

This marathon clinic, my sixth, has been the best one yet by far. It is a combination of the people, my ‘Boston or Bust’ goal and the focus that I have been able to maintain for the full four months. I missed only two days of training, because of illness, when I had to take antibiotics for a bad case of bronchitis. Granted I did take a few extra days off for recovery, but that was after two long runs of 45K (27 miles) and 50K (30 miles) which was just two weeks ago, and after I ran a 1:44 in the Gibson’s Half Marathon three weeks ago. On the flip side, I did stretch out a few of my long runs for extra mileage and I did squeeze in a few extra speed workouts, so I consider this marathon’s training cycle an unqualified success. That being said, I have never entered a taper so in need of recovery as this one. I managed to average more miles of running per week than I ever have before, as many as 60-65 miles per week (over 90K) for almost two months. In short, I am beat up. Very close to used up.

I had great people to run with over the past four months, some old friends and some new faces that have become good friends. I'll cherish this coming marathon for that reason alone. My hill work was not particularly notable this session, but I noticed a vast improvement in my tempo runs and in my speed work. I ran the first 10K of the Gibson’s race with Rachel in 44:14. I ran a six-pack of 10Ks in the past two months in training between 45:00-47:00. My speed improved enough over the course of this training cycle for me to revise my goal to run a 3:45 to attempt to run a 3:30:59. And even if I fail, the exercise will prove useful in preparing me for the pace that I will have to run in Kelowna in October. A 3:30 is a 3:30 is a 3:30. I might as well get used to it now!

Still, my legs are weary, I can’t last much past 10:00pm in the evening without wanting to crawl into bed and after many months of being relatively pain-free, my back pain has returned with a vengeance. I noted in previously Blogs that I have been a real curmudgeon of late, cranky and quarrelsome. For me, that is a classic symptom of my back pain encroaching into the rest of my life. More troublesome perhaps, has been the reoccurring stiffness in my ankles, particularly the left ankle that I broke last spring. I was helping a friend paint a house last week and the ladder rung I was standing on broke beneath me, dumping me unceremoniously on the ground. As I landed I rolled over my ankle and crumpled to the ground. It was twenty minutes before I could weight-bear and the pain lingered for several more days.

So the question I have to keep asking myself is a simple one. Am I in good enough shape and quick enough to qualify for Boston in six days time? The scales keep tipping back and forth. I am close, but I suspect I am not quite there yet. And the reasons why are all within my control. It is exasperating but true. If I fail to run quicker than 3:30:59 it will probably be because of factors over which I ultimately have control but which I have failed to address. I am speaking about my weight of course. I will be running the marathon at around 198-200 pounds according to a medical balance scale I have switched to using. I should be around 185. The fact that I am not is a case of a lack of discipline on my part and because I focused more on other aspects of the training and somewhat naively hoped that if I ignored my weight it would go away. Having taken full responsibility for my grand rotundness, I am still pissed off that sixty freaking miles per week has not caused a few pounds to drop off in my slipstream along the way!

People keep telling me I look like I have lost a lot of weight and that I have leaned out, but the scales tell a different story. I shaved off my moustache and goatee this week in the hopes that becoming more aerodynamic would 'shave' another few seconds of my time.... :) Well, that and the job interview (no, I am emphatically NOT moving to Toronto!).

In the final analysis, I am fast enough to run a 3:30, so I have the speed. I have no doubts about my ability to handle the distance, so I have the endurance. The great question is this; do I have the strength and conditioning necessary to carry my weight, at speed, for the entire distance? Do I have the stamina? I wish I were running at Sunday at 180 pound instead of 200 pounds. There is at least a fifteen minute differential there in my estimation…

I have nine bets going, more than any other race to date, but still short of a case of wine. I hope to lure in a few more adventuresome souls before race day. I mean, who wouldn’t want to bet against an aging, battered and bruised old fat man? It would be like taking candy from a baby… It's just a little bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon... C'mon, you know you want to do it...

As interested as I am in how I fare, I am just as excited about how all my little running bunnies are going to do in the marathon, especially the first-timers. We had some wonderfully talented athletes enroll in this clinic and I am expecting most of them to reach their time goals. There are a number of returning marathoners who should easily make personal bests. It will be very exciting in the after party at the Pub afterwards.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

And the Beat Goes On!

Heart Beat Per Minute Graph Posted by Hello

Sometimes you just want to get lost in the minutia. God, after all, is in the details.

The graph shows that the vast majority of my endurance run was done with my heart rate within a few percentage points of 130 beats per minute, or 65% of my maximum heart rate of 200, give or take a beat or two...

My average heart rate for the run was 126 BPM, and my highest heart rate was 158 (I sprinted up the Prospect Point Hill off the Lion's Gate Bridge to get to the bathroom).

Heart Beats Per Minute Distribution Graph

Heart Beats Per Minute Distribution Graph Posted by Hello

This chart taken from the Polar S625X software shows a graph of my heart rate distribution on the Sunday 25K run.

I am going through a love-hate phase with my new Polar. It's like dating Cindy Crawford but she just happens to suffer from a case of serious bi- polar syndrome. The mood swings are driving me crazy. The S625X is such a fabulous source of data that you almost forget how difficult it to use at times. And when you are pulling your hair out by the handfuls in frustration the only thing that keeps you going is the thought of all that beautiful and amazing data downloaded onto your computer where you can then mull over it for hours at your leisure.

The data really allows you to tear apart your workouts and figure out what you are doing right, and more importantly, where you may be going wrong. The S625X is like having a coach along with you every workout. But this piece of equipment shouldn't be so tempermental and difficult to use. Case in point - sometimes it takes a dozen tries and up to fifteen minutes to download the exercise files using the infrared connection. What a pain in the ass. This should be a simple straightforward operation.

It would just be great if this Cindy Crawford of heart rate monitors wasn't quite so high maintenance. After all, for every beautiful woman out there, there's some guy who's tired of her s**t...

Winding Down the Sunday Long Runs

Sunday Long Run, 25K Posted by Hello

Went out very easy today. The Vancouver International Marathon is just two weeks away and I want to err on the side of caution.

I seem to be fully recovered from the speedwork on Wednesday and Saturday and the 45 miles (75 kilometres) I did last weekend.

Now it's just the taper and a few more speed workouts left to do. The die is cast and I am as fit as I am ever going to get for this marathon. Time will soon tell if it is enough...

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Monster Miles

I was re-reading my Jeff Galloway, and I had a revelation. Jeff wrote that runners with a target time of 3:30 or quicker in the marathon needed to do mile repeats.

So today, instead of doing a 10K, I went out and did six one-mile repeats. On Wednesday we did six one kilometre repeats at 4:20 per K, which is .62 of a mile. The next part is where you can see why I barely passed Grade 12 Math. I figured if I wanted to run the same pace for a mile to just multiply 4:20 times 1.4. 4:20 equals = 260 seconds, multiplied by 1.4 equals = 364 seconds, which is 6:04. Michael later told me that the correct pace was actually 6:50 and that while my math was good, my method of calculation was completely wrong! To make matters worse, I am still not sure how Michael arrived at his numbers, but Hey!, he's a mechanical engineer and all....

Anyways, I went out and did the following miles with a three to five minute recovery between each mile. I tried to keep my maximum heart rate to 168, although a few times I zoomed up to the 170 plus area, and I tried my best to stay around 166 and on pace. Mile four was the hardest (I was light-headed at the end) and there is no getting around the fact that this was a really hard push for me. Afterwards, I had a great thigh pump-up and I felt pretty good. Without further fanfare, here are the laps:

Mile One - 6:12
Mile Two - 6:14
Mile Three - 6:08
Mile Four - 6:02
Mile Five - 6:17
Mile Six - 6:09

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Overdistance Training, or Take the Long Way Home

What is overdistance training? I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve been asked that in the past few months, and especially in the past few weeks when I’ve racked up some big mileage weekends. Granted, many of the queries have come in the form of, "Damn it, Vince, why do you run so f***ing far...".

My last long slow distance run, three weeks before the Vancouver Marathon, was 50K (30 miles). I’ve also done a long run of 45K (27.5 miles), a couple of 42Ks (26 miles), a couple of 40Ks (24.5 miles) and a 37K and a 35K this marathon training session.

The seed was first planted in yours truly by Jeff Galloway, (a website you MUST visit) a few years ago, but I have since found many other endurance athletes and coaches who endorse the practice. In my early forties I found I could no longer train five or six days per week and recover adequately in time for my next training session. What to do?

I wanted to train fewer days per week, but not sacrifice any mileage. And I wanted to make sure I was progressing by continuing to stress my body and force adaptation, but still recover in time to do it all over again without the danger of overtraining. Overdistance training was the answer. Now I train four days a week religiously, with an occasional easy fifth day added to loosen up stiff or sore muscles. My weekly mileage has actually increased slightly, and last month, just before I began my taper, I was averaging 60-65 miles per week. The best part is that while I have pushed the edge of the envelope on occassion, I have not suffered any overtraining injuries in a couple of years and I basically train year round, doing two cycles in preparation for a spring marathon and a fall marathon.

The best definition of overdistance training I have come across has been in SERIOUS Training for Endurance Athletes by Rob Sleamaker and Ray Browning, p. 106,

“In every stage of the year, overdistance (OD) training comprises the greatest percentage of the total training volume. Overdistance does not mean overdoing it. Think of OD training as the foundation of your aerobic mansion; you want to build it so that it will last forever and support the expensive structure you’ll construct above it. OD sessions are long-duration, low-intensity sessions, usually lasting an hour and up to six to eight hours depending on your fitness and your plan.”

(paraphrasing the next part of the book here – the whole point of OD training is to facilitate the physiological changes that it incurs, mainly, increasing mitochondria at the cellular level and greatly increasing capilliarization – buy the book!)

“The intensity must be very low, about 55% to 65% of maximum, as described in Chapter 2. Any harder than this and you are not doing a OD workout. It is very common for endurance athletes to mistakenly train at intensities that average about 70% to 75% of maximum for the bulk of their training.”

(and the reasons NOT to do that, paraphrasing once again, is that it interferes with the very physiological changes that you want your body to make as it adapts to the OD training)

In his book, “Marathon, You can do it!”, Jeff Galloway dedicates Chapter 24 to older runners (and he calls any runners over the age of forty older) and the adaptations he feels they need to make in their training regimens.

The long run pace

Run at a pace that is 3 minutes per mile slower than you could run the distance that day. Yes, this is a minute slower than younger runners, but it will give you the same endurance, based upon the mileage covered. I start my long runs 4 minutes slower than I could race the distance, and not only do I feel great at the end of the run, but also, in two or three days, I’m almost always recovered, even from a 26-miler.”


Increase the distance of the long run beyond 26 miles. The only purpose of the long run is build endurance. The slower you go the quicker you’ll recover. By having at least one run beyond 26 miles, you can boost your endurance limit, which will allow you to maintain a hard marathon pace for a longer time in the marathon itself. When you go the extra distance it is crucial to take the walk breaks and adhere to the pacing guidelines. For maximum performance, your longest run should be 28-29 miles. And I’ll say it again: you must go extra slowly on those extra-long runs.”

Long runs can improve your speed

By increasing beyond 26 miles, you’ll build reserve endurance that will boost your performance in several ways.

* You’ll push your fatigue “wall” past 26 miles.

* You’ll have the strength and stamina to maintain a hard pace during the last 3 to 6 miles, when most competitive folks slow down.

* With reserve endurance, you can often get away with a few small pacing mistakes.

* Those who increase their longest run from 20 to 26 miles show a range of improvement of 10 to 20 minutes.

* Those who increase their longest run from 26 miles to 29 miles show a range of improvement of 5 to 10 minutes.

There in a nutshell, are the reasons why I do long slow overdistance runs that can at times seem like forever to complete. Case in point, last Sunday’s 50K (30 miles) took Patrick, Justin, Laura and myself five hours and fourteen minutes to complete. The great thing about that run of course was that I had three great friends to share the experience with. And I even believe that it was the longest distance that any of them had ever run, sort of an informal mini ultra marathon!

It will be interesting to see how many of the participants in the marathon clinic reach their time goals this year in Vancouver. From personal anecdotal experience and from being involved in half a dozen clinics to date, I would say that while nearly 100% of marathon clinic participants finish their marathon, far fewer than 20% actually accomplish their time goal. I am expecting more than 50% of the participants in my pace group to meet their time goals, which would be a first. And should that happen, I think it would be fair to say that the overdistance training they have been doing will have been crucial to their success.

And it's pretty hard not to like Jeff Galloway's prediction of a range of improvement of 15-30 minutes for those who venture out to thirty miles!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Run Fast, Repeat

We did intervals tonight, one kilometre (.6214 of a mile) repeats.

The pace groups from the marathon clinic gathered together and ran laps according to their time goals. The plan for those of us wanting to run a 3:30 was to do five laps at 4:20. After a warm-up lap of 4:42, we did five one kilometre laps with a two to three minute period of recovery between repeats.

Lap 1 - 4:22
Lap 2 - 4:18
Lap 3 - 4:13
Lap 4 - 4:17
Lap 5 - 4:21

All in all, not too bad.

The 4:13 was a bit quick and the last two hundred metres of that lap became a bit of a foot race. It was actually quite easy to keep Rachel, Warren, Tory and Justin and myself together. But you could tell that everyone wanted to let the horses out to run tonight. My heart rate at the end of each lap was a managable 160-162. I felt that my feel for the pace was pretty steady. The legs felt great. First time I had any bounce in them for a while.

Michael was missing in action, which was a shame because I had a few calculations to run by him. I was curious to know how our 1k times would have have translated into 800 metre Yasso times. Let's see.... 80% of 4:20 is... Mhhhmmnnn... 4:20 has 260 seconds, (X) times .8 equals = 208 seconds, which equals = 3:28. Wow! If we had run ten 1Ks in 4:20, that must surely be as good or better than running ten Yasso 800s in 3:28. Don't you think? Old Anthony is trickier than he looks, I'd say... There is method behind the boys madness, I'd wager.

And what is a Yasso 800 you ask? Well, the theory is (according to Yasso) that if you run ten 800 intervals, the interval times you finish in will be a pretty good indicator of what kind of time you will actually finish your marathon in. So 4:20 1K repeats strikes me as being pretty damn close to the equivalent of running 3:28 Yasso 800s!!!! Or as Yasso would theorize, a 3:28:00 marathon time, all things being equal.

(Trust me on this, children, if my calculations are off by a hair, I will never hear the freaking end of it tomorrow!)

I felt better tonight than I had in the last 48 hours. But I will certainly sleep soundly this evening. And yes, Scooter, damn straight I hope the girls in my dreams are cute!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Trouble in Dreamland...

Trouble in Dreamland... Posted by Hello

Between running 75K (44 miles) this weekend and the Gibson's Half Marathon Race just last weekend, and fighting off a nagging case of the sniffles, either a cold or acute allergies, I was a little curious last night about what my resting heart rate was like. In fact I didn't want to wait until this morning to check it.

So I strapped on my Polar heart rate monitor to see what my pulse was and record a few minutes to establish a clear base line. Only Cactus Jack was having none of my lying around. He wanted to play catch, even if it was bedtime. Chasing his stuffed toy led to a game of tug of war which led to an epic battle royal among the sofa cushions. Before he was finished the little bastard had cranked me up to 120 BPM! And they say dogs have a short attention span...

I then decided to leave my Polar on record and go to bed and fall asleep while recording my heart rate. In the end, I ultimately ran out of memory or dislodged the heart rate strap and lost my signal, but I did get a long period of recorded heart rate while I was asleep (nearly two and a half hours). And to be completely honest, I was a little shocked by the results. I've worn my heart rate monitor to bed before (hey, I have already previously admitted to being an obsessive compulsive!), and I have seen my heart rate drop as low as 38 BPM, and lately I've been in the low 40s. Last night, however, my heart rate was not falling much below 60 and the lowest it got was 49 BPM.

Time to practise what I preach. One day of recovery is clearly not enough from the work load of the past eight days. Granted, I put in a lot of mileage so soon after going race pace for a half-marathon. I am going to take today off entirely. And if my heart rate is STILL significantly elevated tomorrow, I'll take it easy and do a light run instead of a hell-bent for leather set of intervals. Taper, taper, taper. Recover, recover, recover...

As for my heart rate while sleeping, I wonder what the spikes up to 90 BPM are all about... Hmmmmnnnn. I hope she was cute, because I don't remember a damn thing!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Monday Morning Musings

I got the blues... I was exchanging notes with a friend and realized that the subject matter was ripe for a Blog.

I have been quarreling with my temper for at least a week now. Like an arthritic crocodile I have been snappish and cranky, a distemper that has been directed haphazardly at the world around me and the people I interact with, too many of them the folks I care about and love, with little sense or meaning to the baring of my teeth. I have been all out of sorts, not really sure why, and battling a feeling of ennui and depression bordering on despair. It might just be a function of all my mileage and feeling run down (the suspected allergy is really a cold coming on and I sense it is digging in for a long fight with my battered immune system), but it doesn't really explain why I am so short-tempered and angry.

I am not sure what I have to feel quite so angry about and it is such a negative and debilitating response to stress that I am sifting about for the root causes. Perhaps I am frustrated at the lack of clear goals and objectives in my life outside of running. The running and the attempt to qualify for Boston is keeping me sane, if on edge, and I could certainly use and would appreciate that kind of focus in the rest of my life.

I went for a couple of job interviews last week and they were universally disappointing. I am still holding out for something that might have potential to turn into a career but I am not holding my breath. I have many irons in the fire, but any forward movement is dependent on the decisions to be made by other people, so in essence, my future is in the hands of other people. Not really a place comfortable to be in for someone who likes to have the initiative. There is no denying that I much prefer to be at the helm.

So I will work on the virtues of patience and let the universe unfold as it will...

On a more positive note, if you get a chance, go see this film. You will be inspired. Saint Ralph is the story of a 14 year old who is determined to run the Boston Marathon. The film is an above average Canadian film, but with a great, no, make that a fabulous story. If you are a runner, you will identify with Ralph and love the arc of his progression as an endurance athlete. And I defy any runner to tell me that they haven't at one time or another entertained this very same fantasy...

Afterwards, a few of us were so inspired we rented and watched, Without Limits, the film biography of Steve Prefontaine.

That led to another evening of watching Chariots of Fire.

So my question is this; what is everyone's favorite film about running? I'd love to put together a list of Top Ten Running Films of All Time.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

For Your Amusement...

For your amusement.... Posted by Hello

The Burnco Calgary Marathon, Summer of 2004.

Vince in a, I mean kilt, yeah, that's it, a kilt! Don't ever say I don't give you anything... A picture made even better by the signage overhead.

Sunday Bliss

50K (29.7 miles) of Sunday Bliss Posted by Hello

Here is what 50K of ten and ones look like on the Polar S625X. My average heart rate for the five hours (yikes!) of running was 131. The valleys in the midst of the Dolmite Range of peaks, are the recovery walks between the periods of running. The really wide open valleys are where we took water and bathroom breaks and at three hours where we returned to the Running Room and then resumed on a 18K add on.

I thought today was an excellent tribute to Jeff Galloway and his training concept of "Overdistance Training". It has not only worked for me, but I think it has had immense benefits for a number of participants in my pace group. I am expecting some excellent times to come out of my group, and I wouldn't be the slightest bit shocked to see a number of personal bests. I will be astonished if the bulk of my runners don't make their target goal times in the Vancouver Marathon.

From the Mountain Top

I was hoping to post my training data from my new Polar S625X that I accrued on today's 50K (29.7 miles) long distance run. Unfortuantely, the infrared reader - a Polar product- hooked up to my PC's brand-new USB port that I just shelled out fifty bucks for is not communicating with the Polar watch. I have been trying for twenty minutes. I am actually missing watching Tiger Woods destroy poor Chris de Marco in the last few holes of the Masters.

So why is this happening? Did the watch and sensor have a fight? Has the watch been witholding sex? What were the product development guys at Polar thinking? This downloading of data stuff should be easy. The watch has fabulous capabilities. I am just not sure yet whether or not the engineers who designed and built it live in the real world with the rest of us. And I am beginning to doubt if they are runners. The hours spent ramping up to learn how to use this are really beginning to add up. And once again the Help menu on the Polar software and the Polar website are woefully short of specific information and suggestions for dealing with these real world issues.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

From the Frontlines of Fatigue

I ran 24K today (14 or so miles). I was only going to go 10K but old habits die hard. My usual route is an out and back, and honestly, I felt pretty good. So when I got to where I had intended to turn back I just kept going. I kept thinking about Scooter questioning me about my base this week. Base? You want base? I'll show the world some base. But I am still a little tired from last Sunday's race and I can tell I'm either fighting off a cold or an allergy attack. One nostril is draining like a leaky faucet.

I got home in two hours and twenty minutes and died harder than old habits. Talk about crash and burn. Waves of fatigue washed over me. Exhaustion, pure and simple. I had to force myself, yes, ME! of all people, to eat some carbs and protein after the run. Choked down a can of tuna, some sprouted wholewheat toast and some vegetarian chile. Gaaaaag! Then stumbled to bed.

All I wanted to do was sleep. So I napped for an hour in the midst of a beautiful sunny day. Put off doing laundry. Screw it. I'll find something to wear tomorrow that brings out the, I don't know what, in my eyes... Besides, I got hit with the spring cleaning bug this week and cleaned up my apartment, top to bottom. Threw out a ton of old garbage and flotsam and jetsom that had been floating about my life, unused for decades. Tossed out boxes of stuff. I paid my nap dues. So I slept the sleep of the just. Or the just plain old tired. Or maybe the just old.

Gotta go blow my nose...

Friday, April 08, 2005

March Madness Redux

Can't believe it took this long to get around to the March summary. The month certainly had it's highs and lows and it's ups and downs, both personally and in training. But I can see light at the end of the tunnel. Vancouver is now less than four weeks away...

Bottom line for the Month of March -

Mileage - 339.4 Kilometres or 210 Miles

Hours Training - 35 Hours Running

Weight - 196 pounds...

Highlight - The Gibson's Half Marathon in 1:44, the first 10K in 44:14 (Okay, technically it was April 3rd, but it felt like the finale of March Madness!).

Vince and Michael's Heart Rate Data Comparison Posted by Hello

Vince and Michael's HR Comparison

Vince and Michael's Gibson's HR Data Comparison Posted by Hello

There's nothing like repetition to improve performance, hence my posting of another screen shot showing the Heart Rate Charts of Michael and myself from the Gibson's Half Marathon Race on April 3rd. Finally getting the hang of the technology.

My chart is slightly obscured, but you can get a clear shot of it in my preceding Blog post. Michael's chart is amazing, in that it was his first Half and a personal best in the first 10K for him (41 minutes). But the HR chart clearly shows the price he paid, his heart rate in the second half of the race never approachs the levels he maintained for the first 10K . Yet he toughed it out and finished the race. An excellent learning experience for Michael and one that I am sure will help him enormously in preparing for the Vancouver Marathon May 1st. He learned all about his Lactate Threshold and his ability to run through lactic acid build-up!

If you go to my chart you can see that my HR is more even for the race, but two points stand out. When I approach 172 BPM, my speed falls off afterwards, as I think I am going slightly anaerobic. I should have backed off more on the hills and kept my HR under 165. I would have been faster in the end. The Lactate Threshold will hammer you if you give it a chance.

When Michael and I train together, our heart rates are not that far apart, despite the 16 year age difference. However, Michael has a much higher workload capacity and recovers more quickly. Any edge, if I even have one that is, is possibly a slightly greater degree of endurance based on weekly mileage, running history and experience. He clearly has a greater tolerance for lactic acid and his lactate threshold is probably higher.

Will have to keep hounding Michael to get his MAX VO2 tested!

Gibson's Half Marathon Race Heart Rate Data

Gibson's Half Marathon Race Heart Rate Data Posted by Hello

Geeeeezzz! This little exercise not only took three hours, but the downloading of not one, not two, BUT THREE SEPERATE PIECES OF SOFTWARE!

I had to get Screen Capture software to secure an image of the Polar Data, Picassa to export pictures and BlogBot to post pictures on my Blog!

If I don't qualify for Boston I'm going to throw myself on my PC...

Data Delivery

Arrrggghhhh! Technology! I'm suffering from information overload. In the past two weeks I've added immeasurably to the complexity of my life by acquiring a new DVD system that I have attempted to integrate into my home entertainment centre and my new Polar S625X, which while a delight, is causing me no shortage of fits as I attempt to integrate it into my training and, more importantly for you dear reader, my Blog. It's not that I can't learn how to do it. I just question the reasons why I have to devote twenty or thirty hours to learning how to do something from scratch (that I will NEVER use again) when a set of simple straightforward directions would suffice.

I love Polar products, but what a pain in the ass to use. And the company website? Help is NOT that helpful. This stuff should be a n0-brainer for the folks in the marketing department to figure out. So why haven't they?

My repeated use of both attempted and integrated is purposeful. So far I have been successful at neither. Here we go again...

Well... twenty open f****king windows, dragging s****t all over Hell's Half Acre and nothing happening!

Just once you wish the geeks who dream up this stuff would figure out a way to make it's use simple and straight forward. My God, I wish these guys would grow up and move out of their parents basement. Or at least get a date once in a while.

And by the way, my television is not working either!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Great Gibson's Debate!


Just out of idle curiousity, do you actually read a word of what I write?

You have both my heart rate and Michael's heart rate for the entire Gibson's half marathon race for comparison. However, and as I pointed out about ten times, Michael and I had two very different strategies for using the Gibson's race in preparation for Vancouver.

Michael had never run a race longer than a 10K. He was very interested (some might say obsessed) in putting some of his pacing data to the test. Hence, he went out like a house on fire. A very impressive debut to say the least. He would be the first to say he could not have held the pace he did for another 21K. He did a 41 minute 10K after all!

I, on the other hand, am fully cognizant of what it is like to go out and race for 40K or 50K or 70K. I was interested in finding out if I could hold a 3:30 pace at my MARATHON RACE PACE for the 21.1K of the Gibson's Race If you look at the chart of my heart rate, you can see that I had a 5-7% cushion in the entire Gibson's race. And I did not hit 160 until 28 minutes into the race. (I love all these colours!)

Despite that, Rachel and I still did the first 10K in 44:14.

See Data:

Based on our calculations, you could perform at these times over these distances. If you are in much better shape than expected in our theoretical model, then your times will be less spread out. Conversely, if you are in worse shape then your times may be more dispersed.

5K 0:21:07
5M 0:34:51
10K 0:44:14 - Yes, we did it!
10M 1:13:01
Half Marathon 1:38:05
Marathon 3:25:25 - Dear God, let it Happen!

And if you want to make your own race prediction, go here -

In fact Michael went out SO FAST (he deliberately wanted to see how long he could hold a 10K pace), that I suspect that if he had paced himself for a half marathon, he might have broken 1:30, and certainly would on a flatter course.

So Seymour, I am begging you, please bet a bottle of wine on Michael to beat me in Vancouver by more than 12 minutes. I am working on my wine cellar.

Last night, in celebration of his debut performance in an endurance race, Michael had his first bottle of beer in 5 months. We also killed a couple of bottles of Bailey's in our coffees at the post-race buffet...

But I digress. In our eagerness to do well a group of us have sworn off alcohol until after the Vancouver Marathon. So Rachel, Michael and I won't be consuming another drop until after the race.

It's getting serious now!

The Gibson's Gallop

I have been so busy I regret to say I have been neglecting my Blog. Probably in part because of the huge number of e-mails that I’ve sending pre and post the Gibson’s half marathon race on Sunday.

Once I suggested the Gibson’s race as a tuning tool for the Vancouver Marathon I felt somewhat duty bound to make sure we had adequate travel arrangements for everyone. In the end at least a dozen people from the marathon clinic made the trek to the Sunshine Coast.

My strategy on Sunday was to run the Gibson's half as if it was the first half of my Vancouver Marathon. And this was my first race using my new Polar S625X (more about that later). I have, many thanks to Michael Loehr for his technical expertise, been able to post the graph of the race (and Michael’s) showing my heart rate, pace, and the topography of the course.

As you can see I did not get my heart rate up to 160 (see chart) for a good half hour. I then tried to stay at 162-164 for the rest of the way. The fluctuations you see almost perfectly mimic the topography of the course, so I am quite pleased with my pacing. I am less pleased with the lack of discipline on the hills, as I spiked to 172 a few times.

My finishing time was 1:44 (I forgot to turn off my Polar after the race until Michael reminded me) and I felt I could stay very close to that pace for another 13K. Usually in my marathons I go 164-168 from the halfway point on and do the last few K at 168-172 (it was very hard to let some people pass, and VERY hard to let Rachel go).

Michael shot out of the barn from the start line and disappeared. We never saw him again. Look at his heart rate! And check out those hills! He ran a 41:00 10K! A personal best for him. Not too bad for his FIRST HALF MARATHON!

Rachel and I also went out a little quick, but my heart rate was fine and we covered the first 10K in 44:14. This was a personal best 10K for Rachel! She was running so well that I urged her to take off and leave me in the rain, and she took off at about seven miles. And kept going! Rachel finished in 1:39 and was fourth in her division. Almost a podium position! She was incredibly strong and easily could have shaved another three or four minutes off of her time, possibly more.

Justin and Ron ran strong marathon pace half marathons, which bodes well for Vancouver, both around 1:50. Warren and Kirsten had comfortable, easy training runs and breezed in around 1:56 and 2:00 respectively. Laura came in at around 1:56 and looked very comfortable at the end, and with excellent running form. Carmen came in around 2:00 and looked great. She had on a fresh coat of lipstick in two minutes and looked, FABULOUS!

Now for some real speedsters. Jerry Kroll ran an amazing 1:25 and finished first in his Division. And Steve and Noah and Abraham, WOW!, what can you say. Abraham won the overall race in 1:10. Also the fifteen-year-old teenager from Gibson's, who ran in 1:25, looked amazingly fresh at the Buffet. As Ron said, he probably had a soccer practice later in the afternoon!

The weather was awful but the people and volunteers were great. The temperature went from freezing cold in the rain (about 4 degrees), to far too hot for the way most of us were dressed by midway (about 14 degrees). I wanted to ditch my hat AND my rain jacket at the halfway point!

Immediately after the race we took some group photos and Rachel remarked that the perfect way to end the race would be with a drink. Or at least to have something with which to dress up our cups of coffee. This suggestion was met with hearty approval by all within earshot. Off in search of a liquor store we went.

At the after-race Buffet a small group of us polished of two bottles of Bailey’s Irish Cream and Michael, ever true to his Germanic roots, brown-bagged a couple of beers.
It was a great run and a good time was had by all.