Thursday, August 26, 2010

Yassos today

Pretty recovered from long run Monday, so some speedwork today..some Yasso intervals. 

I thought I'd run these about 7:50 pace (1:55 splits) but went a bit faster. I'd like to be able to do 10 of these by the Trailblazer 10k coming up.

5 x 800's with about 1:50 recovery between (walking until HR back to 105)

split       HR    Cadence
1:50.5   138   92
1:52.3   146   91

1:51.7   137   91
1:47.8   150   92
1:48.2   135   92
1:50.9   151   92

1:48.2   135   93
1:50.5   152   92

1:45.3   135   92
1:52.8   155   92

Each 800 is 3:40 or so

This is about 7:20 min/mile pace. Which is probably my 5k race pace...I think....this implies a 7:35-7:46 10k pace, which would be fantastic if true...

I was pretty tired by the 5th..checking the watch a lot to make sure I stop as soon as I hit the distance 8)

Ran these in my Nike Frees (of course!)  I credit them for a least a couple of seconds per 400m....they are so light.

Just for calibration...last year I ran the Trailblazer with an average cadence of 85 (garmin speed 7:56 min/mile, HR average 152) can see I've sped up my stride over that race here by about 7 steps per min (8%) and my pace by about 9%. 

In case you're wondering, "Yasso" intervals are named after Bart Yasso, a runner and writer for Runner's World magazine. He noticed that if you could run a 10x800's at say a 3min 40secs each (as I just did 5), you could probably do a 3hr 40 min marathon, assuming you did your long run training, etc. (It's just happens the numerology works out that way...nothing profound about physiology or anything).

Monday, August 23, 2010

What a difference a day makes...

pelicans at mile 9
As I mentioned in my last post, I took it easy on running, good nights sleep.

Monday morning dawned to full sun, no fog, and I hit the trails and got in another long (21.25) mile run. You can see my burry picture (sweat on cellphone lens ..oops) of the pelicans bathing and feeding along the way.

In complete contrast to Saturday, I felt really good during this (much longer) run and speed up from 10:15 pace gradually to a 9:30 - 9:20 pace...ending the run with a 9:45 average.  That's what happens when your body is recovered and ready for more training...makes all the difference in the world.

This run did get somewhat tough the last 5 miles....but that's more because the temperatures were already up to 80+(!) and full sun shining to boot (and no shade on the baylands trails). Usually I'm running during the foggy morning....

Sunday, August 22, 2010

2 laps.....1 minute, 41.09 seconds, a new WR! Me, not so much.

Today we have a new world record in the 800 meters (by .02 seconds)..not since 1997 has this record moved. (my source here).

The 800 is "just" two laps around your 400m track. I can't do one lap at that speed. That is fast.

I'm fascinated that since 1972 the record has dropped by 3 full seconds, but all the improvement has been in the first lap split only! What's up with that I wonder?


I hoped to run 10 + 22 this weekend, but started out on my 10 on Saturday and felt seriously bad and slow. Just couldn't shake it off.

It's not easy to listen to your body actually. Lots of times I think I'm feeling really bad for a mile or two and then I'm charging ok in a bit. Or I might feel a funny tightness in a muscle and think "should I stop?" and then it goes away never to return.

But when you go a whole run of 8.75 miles and never really get out of your funk it's  a clear sign I need a rest no running on Sunday at all...just a 4 mile walk.

I have been pushing it pretty hard the last few weeks with 40+ mile back to back weeks and with more speedwork than ever before. So it's not a bad idea to dial it back.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Real Men Kick your Face In?

I seem to have settled into a pattern of "Midweek", i.e. Tues-Wed-Thurs and "Weekend", i.e. Sat-Sun running, with the other days for resting or walking/biking.

This week I've again stepped up the speed-work a notch during the midweek 'sorta-long run': a 9-10 miler this week.

I ran at lunchtime with a co-worker, he's 29, but lucky for me had tired himself out the previous day in a tennis competition. Also, I let him talk as much as he wanted and kept asking him questions....heh heh...(I could not talk much...breathing much harder than him!).  

Together we did about 5 miles with about 3 of that at a sub 8:20 or so pace. Then I did another 4+ slower by myself.

I thought I'd be paying for that speedy running today but instead I felt so good that rather than my normal 4-5 miles easy, I mixed in some intervals.

Did 3x300m 7:00min/mile sprints with the rest of the run at about 10:00 pace. 

Here's a sign Toni and I saw last night coming out of a new (and great) restaurant in Berkeley.....yikes. Notice that it's bolted to the city parking sign above.

I have to say that I don't think my fists work too well, but I could probably kick pretty hard with my current leg muscles. 

Of course if Toni wasn't with me I'd just run away like a bat out of someplace. 8)

Dance card is open for the weekend so we'll be trying for a 50+ mile week...i.e. a 10+22 mile weekend.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Good Long Run

We've got other fun things happening on Sunday, so out the door at 6am Saturday instead.

I decided to ignore distance and make the goal to run for 4 hours. I allowed myself to run the first 3 hours at any pace I wanted but I hoped to speed up to my marathon pace (<9:00) for the last hour. The whole goal of the run is to work on my running form in that last hour.

I have yet to crunch the garmin numbers but I think I basically did this. I saw 10:15 pace average for the first 2 hours. During this time I would stop and walk to eat my GUs and drink, take a pebble out of the shoe, etc. It was nice.

For the third hour I sped up such that my overall average came down some, I can't remember too well..
For much of the last hour I was on the Paly track and I cranked out a couple of miles at well under marathon pace...and didn't to too shabby on the 2 miles back home either. I felt like I kept my forefoot strike pretty well. 

Total time just under 4 hours, distance 24 miles, average pace 9:53min/mile. This is the longest, "long run", I've ever done in training. The garmin says my average cadence was 83, which is pretty good considering the slow pace for the first 2 hours.

The eating and drinking also went well: I ate one GU Roctane every 30 minutes, and filled my water bottles twice. When I got home I was the same weight as when I started, which is really good (means we hydrated well). It helped that it was foggy the entire morning and 60F.

This was the longest run without heel lifts I have done since my first marathon 3/09! I did feel a bit sore there after the run so I iced them just to be extra nice to them. 

Now I see how the recovery goes.... I'll probably give it two full days, with some big walking on monday.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tempo runs

I'm trying to make sure I get some more speedwork in before Long Beach, and so for my key run midweek I did a tempo run at the Paly Track (wearing my Nike Frees)

It's 2 miles there...and then I ran 3 miles at about an 8:14 pace (between 10k and half marathon pace). I felt pretty good although after 3 miles it was getting to be a bit more of an effort..then 2 miles back home.

It was interesting: a Paly coach was doing drills with a half-dozen kids (cream of the crop?) ..and they were doing sprints with big drogue parachutes strapped to them!  Hilarious...the things you have to do when there are no hills around, eh? (for resistance training I assume).

Then, he had them hopping up the spectator stands and walking back down..2 or 3 sets...made me tired just looking !

Schweizer SGS 2-33

Today I signed up for the Trailblazer 10k...I really love this race..small, well run, flat course, chip timed. I want to try to shave a minute an average pace of 7:50 min/mile(!). We'll seems doable...8 weeks away.

I'm still remembering the Yak flying....and ....remembering idyllic summer days flying our 2-33 sailplane with my dad so many years ago. I didn't fully realize how special it was but now I sure do. Sigh, do you ever really get over the loss of your parents?  Not really.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Flying in Frosty's Yak-52

Note: be sure to look at the full photo album after ready (see link at the bottom of this entry), or go there now..

I've often mentioned how running requires simultaneous mastery of the mental and the physical.

Yak 50, Yak 52 behind in hanger
Saturday, I got a chance to experience something really unique that requires the same: aerobatic flying in a Russian Yak-52!

It turns out there's a gaggle of Yak-flying aerobatic pilots at the San Martin airport. After meeting with some outside vendors related to work, I got to talking about flying with one of them, Mark (callsign "Schrek"), and he invited me down to fly in a Yak with one of his buddies, "Frosty".

The Yak is a radial engine trainer for aerobatic flight (descended from WWII vintage designs). Both Schrek and Frosty own both a Yak-50 (single place, super performance) and Yak-52 (two place, dual controls, somewhat less performance).

It's been a long time since I've flown a small airplane. I have a sailplane pilots license (which I got before my drivers license at age 16). My feeling at the time was there are two uses for power planes:
  • towing sailplanes
  • doing aerobatics
 I unofficially flew power planes from time to time with my dad....nothing aerobatic!....  but I haven't done any flying in decades. 

But at least I know the basics.

After driving down to the airport and meeting up with Schrek (Mark) and Frosty (Keith) I got to see the Yaks for the first time. Any engineer would enjoy looking over these machines. They are beauties.

Like any beauties, they have their fussy aspects and with the Yaks it seems to be the big radial engines and the all-pneumatic systems. But a little extra attention is all it takes to keep them up to snuff. 

Frosty outfitted me in a flight suit, yes, you do need one because:
  • You don't want to be wearing a belt under your harness, it will get mashed into your belly
  • You need pockets on your lower leg to store your camera, etc. Normal pants pockets would be under the (7  point) harness.
  • You want look debonair at all times 8)
Then I'm outfitted with headgear that holds the earphones and boom mic that will let me talk with Frosty via intercom. He's quite far forward of me in the front set and the engine and air noise is loud.  To talk to him I have to push a button on the throttle (both seats have full controls for teaching)...of course it's not a good idea to move the throttle when I do this. But Frosty says not to worry, mostly we'll just be at full throttle. Hmmm.

Frosty and me wearing chute
Aerobatic pilots always wear parachutes and I'm helped by Frosty and Schrek to put mine's a 'seat chute' actually becomes your seat and back cushion when you sit in the cockpit. We then have a fairly involved discussion about when it's a good idea to leave the airplane (we hit another airplane, we catch on fire and can't get it to stop, etc.) and we also go over the best way to get out and clear of the airframe.

None of this bothers me, but I'm glad Toni is not around to hear all of this useful information.

We also had a good discussion about the G-forces we can expect to endure during the flight. I'm used to about 1.5 G max, which is about what you get doing 60 degree steep turns in sailplanes. Frosty says we could get up to 6-8 G's max. Gulp. Wow. But that's the worst and most things are less.

I've never been airsick before, but I've also never taken such large G's. Frosty tells about G-LOC (G force loss of consciousness, see this website)
He tells me how to do the "HOOK" breathing technique to avoid gray-out and G-LOC.  When we get to the aerobatic area (special area over Hollister they can use for this) he's going to let me know ahead of time, and then execute a 4 G turn to the left, then recover, then a 5 G turn to the right, just to get our hearts going (BP up) and practice this. Whoa. This physical element to flying is a new experience for me.

Ok, so we climb in and I'm strapped into the harnesses. Unlike sailplanes there's more stuff to hook up, and there's a rachet to tighten it up when you're ready for aerobatics. 

Frosty shows me how all the stuff works..specifically how to reach back, grab, and then close and lock the canopy ...and how to partially open it to a special ventilation position in flight. This turns out to be really useful...more on this later.

Before we can start the engine, Schrek pulls the prop through a few times to get the oil in the bottom cylinders out of there. She starts up right away with a big cloud of residual oil, and with that very distinctive sound of a radial engine.

engine cranking!
I smile when I hear that sound...I can hear it a mile way and I always look up when I hear it to see what's making it. It ain't going to be no flivvery Cessna 150...

Frosty starts taxiing out...the Yak does not have a steerable nosewheel but instead uses differential breaking on the main gear. I'm very impressed as Frosty taxiis like he's driving a problemo. (And lots of expensive airplanes to either side of us!)

We get to the end of the runway and have to wait for the oil temp to get up to 40C before we do the runup..this takes about 4 minutes and then we do the runup....heck..sounds pretty good to me..finally call into the local unicom , then line 'er up and he stuffs the throttle.

It's loud but not too bad..we pick up speed very quickly and I don't even notice Schrek by the side of the runway using my big camera to take shots of us....

high speed pass (me waving in back)
We start climbing and I'm looking around at the scenery ..traffic down on 101, etc. Then I notice Frosty is turning left, and then back downwind next to the airport...yes he is! Hmm. Something not quite right? Ah. then I figure out he's going to do a high-speed-pass in front of Schrek on the ground so he can take a few more airborn shots before we head down to Hollister.

I remember to wave at him as we go by at 200 kph or so..then back up we go and at this point Frosty tells me to take the controls and hold 180 kpg (best-rate-of-climb speed) and the same heading and climb to 4500'.

I take the stick, (sailplanes have "sticks" too, rather than the stupid control wheel "modern" power planes have) and it feels very light and well balanced. There's no need for any trim changes at all. I can hold 180kph without any problem. 

Eventually we reach 4500' and Frosty takes the controls and asks if I ready for the warm up turns....Yup, lets do it.

Ok, first to the left....uurrrrrg ....crushing into seat...tensing abs and legs as much as I can....then the turns over and next we go to the right with a bit more G.....uurgggggggg ...Wow. A new record. I didn't like it much but it seemed ok. 

Now I'm forgetting the order of things but I think Frosty asked me if I wanted to try a loop. Well, who doesn't want to try a loop?! 

Frosty describes what will happen and where to look...I think we started with a dive to 300kph (180mph) and then he pulled back gradually on the stick and we go up...up ..up..looking out to the wing it's heading vertically to the horizon, then back past vertical and then Frosty says to make sure to look back behind and up.. and there's the bloody ground coming around over our heads!

THAT is a funny thing to see. The plastic canopy is all there is between you and the fine golden hills of Hollister. We're still pulling positive G's over the top of the loop, but less than 1 G, so I'm feeling a bit light in my seat...and staring at the ground straight "up"'s quite a brain teaser I think.

Now down the backside of the want to make a perfect circle so you can't rush it..and so you gather a bit more speed and then when we get to the bottom it's ...oh .uuggghggod>..not working...uhgg. I can see my vision graying out, can't see the g-meter anymore that's right in front of my. My tensed legs are quivering and it's not doing it, I can feel that a few more seconds and I'd be out like a light.

G-LOC is not dangerous as long as your not flying the plane, mind you. Once the G's end, your come right back out of it. I was really we pulled out the last few seconds I was thinking to myself,, "maybe doing a hard 10 mile run wasn't the greatest idea this morning?"...dunno.

Anyway, we survived the loop but then we needed to take a break. I told Frosty that I grayed out big time so he knew I was not taking it well (Darnit). Here's a video of me during a'll see me doing as Frosty suggested:  take the camera and put it out in front of me, aiming it backwards at myself and the horizon:

So then Frosty shows me how to do a roll. It's absurdly easy in the Yak: You do a gentle dive to 275 kph, then pull up (with alacrity but don't need to pull more than 2 Gs) and then when about 10degrees up-angle steady the climb angle and then....just bang the stick hard over left or right. Watch the world spin around and when you come back to rightside-uppy , center the stick. 

That's it. Easy peasy. Don't even think of messing with the'll just mess things up. (Guess how I found out ;)

Next we did something called a "Humpty Bump"...again, dive as for a loop, then ease back until headed straight up (look left or right at wing and make sure at right angle to ground)...then just before you slow to zero you pull back on the stick and the plane ends up basically falling down on it's back like a maple leaf. You've got no forward airspeed to speak of.

The view is the same as the top of a loop, but you're not pulling positive G's and so you are hanging in the straps and feeling very much more upside-down than in a loop. But its before the the view is amazing.

However, the pull out requires another gut-buster...thats the only flaw in this little party we have going. 

Next, we do the same thing, but when we get just to the top, Frosty kicks the rudder and we flip around in almost zero-G conditions and and up heading back straight down. This is called a "hammerhead stall", but it's not really a stall because a wing can't stall when it's not loaded with any weight. Again, another gut buster to recover and then we need to climb back up for a bit.

This is good because I tell Frosty I need a break. The canopy is a good greenhouse (and its a very sunny day one mile up) and I've cracked quite a sweat from the Gs. Now we find out why the canopies have a 6" open position..boy does that air feel good! I unzip my togs a bit at the neck and try to dry out.

I let Frosty know I'm feeling better but obviously the Gs are taking a toll, I'm getting more weak feeling each time...a bit of nausea but mostly just feeling hot and weak. I now remember reading a news story about a reporter that got a ride with one of the blue angels and how it knocked the snot out of him....and here I am grokking this really well now ;) After more cooling off I'm up for a few things more, perhaps with less G's and Frosty lets me do a bunch of rolls by myself and then he suggests a barrel roll. 

So we try that, it's like a cross between a loop and a roll..actually it's like you are flying the plane in a big corkscrew path through the air. The G's aren't as bad as the loop.

I try one and get partway around and somehow don't get all the way around right and make what they call more of a split-S. Oh well, it was still fun!

After that, I needed a break again and  we popped the canopies an I did more just flying around looking at the scenery. There was the usual fog trying to make it's way over the hills...but not quite making it (yet) ;)

Time to go back....can't really take anymore G's now ..I've used up my allocation for the day. So Frosty tells me to head back up the valley and start a gradual descent to be at about 1500' when we get next to the airport.

I pick a descent angle that seems about right. Pretty much heading right up 101. After about 10 minutes we are about there and Frosty tells me to do  a 45 degree left to get over to the downwind leg. Oh so he's going to let me fly the pattern? Well that's fun. Been a long time. In a sailplane I'd be too high but in this thing I know it's not a problem..we get about at the right distance and Frosty tells me to head parallel to the runway. I notice the runway intersects the wing about halfway..which reminds me that in the 2-33 sailplane the rule was 'halfway' up the wing strut . 

Frosty tells me to raise the nose (slow down) so he can drop the gear. That makes a clunk and works as advertised...we cruise downwind and end up at around were I'm thinkin' we should turn left onto base and then Frosty says to do just this. 

Tried to make a crisp turn onto want to get it done quick so you can see how to adjust your base leg...schooch left if your low, loop a bit right if your high. I kind of muff this and don't quite do it quickly enough, but at least I'm sorted before the leg is over. Just before the turn to final, Frosty announces he's dropping the can feel the deceleration..he reminds me to lower the nose to keep the speed about the same.

Then Frosty tells me to line it up...and warns me I won't be able to see very well since he's in the way up front. That's the truth...but I can sort of see...I ask him if he can see the windsock and if there's still a right-to-left crosswind. He says about down the runway at this moment...I can't really feel much of an crosswind.

This rate of descent seems just peachy...I can see we're pretty much headed for a good spot to touch down. I'm so reminded of the days of flying with my dad at this moment..landing was always really fun. You can tell your touchdown point by watching where things are moving as you approach..if your vision is gradually lowering as you look at point on the runway, you are going to land past that point. You have to watch the runway and see which point is not moving up or down..that's were you are headed and you adjust you rate of descent accordingly. 

Of course you don't really consciously do any of this.. you just look at the runway and feel it. That's what makes it cool. The runway is there like a big deck of an aircraft carrier and you can see the whole thing develop and know what to do without a lot of fuss. (Once you've done it a few times). It's really not that hard in steady winds.

About 50' off the deck Frosty takes control....I'm surprised he's let me fly it down this low, actually. We squeak the tires, roll it out and taxi back to Frosty's hanger.

Shut down the engine, Schreck helps me undo all the straps (the chute stays in the plane) and I step out...oooch a bit stiff from being crammed in (and also from my run earlier in the day no doubt). Frosty offers me a cold 7-Up (the classic drink for post-nausea treatment) and I gladly accept and suck most it down pretty quickly....after texting Toni to let her know I'm on terra firma again.

After experiencing the sheer physicality of aerobatics I have a new appreciation for the conditioning to G forces that pilots and astronauts need to develop to be effective. I'll never watch an airshow again and not think about it.

It's one thing to be fuzzy-brained in the last 6 miles of a marathon, but it's much more critical at hundreds or thousands of mph. And perhaps being shot at or re-entering the earth's atmosphere at the same time....whoa.

I reached a max of about 5.75 Gs in that flight, but I'd need a lot more exposure to G's and practice of the hook maneuver to really do aerobatics. I'm impressed how easy and responsive the Yak is to fly...hard to imagine a plane even better but I'll be the Yak-50 feels even more responsive.

I speak with Toni about the flight later and start talking about the aerobatics and she's like "YOU WERE DOING AEROBATICS?", and I realize I never mentioned this...oops!

(..but why would I get in a small power plane otherwise..8)

UPDATE: Reading about G-LOC...I found this:

"While a reasonable level of aerobic fitness is desirable for effective aircrew performance there is some evidence that those people who are extremely fit, with a low resting pulse, may actually have a slightly reduced G-tolerance."

My resting pulse sitting at my workstation ranges 46-54. Perhaps being a marathoner actually hurts G tolerance?

Full photos here

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The whole "Barefoot Running" thang....

Today I ran in my Nike Frees:  jogged 2 miles to the Paly track and did about 3 miles of progressively faster a max of a 7 min/mile 1/4 mile, then back home.

Wow..such fun! I really like them. A Lot.

Previously, running fast like that would have meant icing the heels to keep from having sore tendons. That worked,  but it's not a good situation.

As I've alluded to in previous postings, recently I figured out that my Nike Vomeros (which I've been running in for quite a while..over two years) were probably the worst possible shoe....for me, anyway.

They are way way too stiff: grab the toe and heel of your shoe and bend: it should bend at the ball of your foot.  The harder it is to bend, the harder it will be for your foot to bend in the shoe. And the consequence of that is that you'll probably not be striking the ground with your forefoot. Guess how we found out?

The Pegasus (and the Frees even more so), are very flexible. You can wrap the Frees soles up into an armadillo-looking ball if you care to. 

The Vomeros also have a plastic heel cup that's built like a piece of body armor. It has no give, and if your heel moves up in the shoe, it's going to scrape on the cup where it cups back in at the top of your heel. This will make your tendon sore from rubbing, rather than actual running stress, but confuse the heck out of you. Guess how we found out?

The Vomeros also weigh more than the other two shoes by quite a bit...perhaps 4 ounces. They do have cushioning, but, since when did I ever notice a problem with foot soreness from lack of that? Never. I bought them assuming more cushioning is good...sigh.

I now firmly believe, with every fiber of my Achilles tendons, that a consistent forefoot strike is VERY IMPORTANT to running injury free. Research has shown that the maximum force your foot experiences is the same, independent of the shoe cushioning.

How can this be? Because your brain changes how you land when you have less cushioning: it actually tenses the muscles a few milliseconds before impact to absorb the energy to use for the toe-off later. If you have soft, STIFF, shoes, your brain doesn't orchestrate the strike the same way .. yes, the cushioning means you don't hit any harder, but when you do hit you don't have a springy muscle to take up the tension on your tendons.  So, they get actually get more stress.

For me this isn't theory any more. I've actually felt it happen and it only took one run to show me things were pretty massively screwed with the Vomeros. I learned that my calves were not doomed to be always tight and stiff...they were weak.

Now I know I need to do exercises to keep them strong (and make up for 2 years of laziness in the Vomeros).  Example: stand on the edge of a stair on your toes with the rest of your feet hanging out. Lower and raise 20 times.  Emphasis (and the crucial eccentric strengthening) should be on the slow, controlled lowering, not the raising!  When you can do this easily, do it with all your weight on one foot at a time. (Careful the first time!)

BUT, I'm not completely sucking the kool-aid of the Barefoot crowd. While the maximum impact is less with barefoot-style running, the actual total integrated stress transmitted to the bones of your foot is probably higher barefoot than with the Frees (or any other light, flexible shoe).

And let's not even talk about stones, glass, sticks, and just hard broken concrete.

I think barefoot running might be good to do on grass from time to time, but for the bulk of your training and racing, a minimalist shoe is just the ticket.

So, as I said, I really like the Frees so far. My stride feels so light and easy that my breathing is all messed up..I do 3/3, sometimes 3/4, 2/3, all sorts of patterns I've never used (previously it was pretty much 2/2 unless I was going really slow, then 3/3).

I'm not sure why this is.....obviously the hope is that I'm more efficient, but that's not proven just yet.  I'm thinking it's more of a "master reset" on my running stride and my brain is figuring out new patterns of breathing to go with the new stride.

Imagine you learned how to juggle baseballs wearing heavy leather gardening gloves, and then you were asked to juggle beanbags wearing light silk gloves. Obviously your brain would have some adjusting to do... I think that's what's happening.

And no, I haven't read "Born to Run".  I'm waiting for the paperback version.