Sunday, April 29, 2012

RUNDown: 2012 Eugene Marathon (#13)

This is my "lucky 13" marathon..who sez 13 is unlucky?


I flew to Eugene on Saturday morning and got there around noon. The expo was in the convention rooms of the Hilton which are pretty small compared to the other marathons I've done.

 I didn't mind this...the bib and t-shirt stuff was very well organized and not crowded and who really needs to see anything in these Expos after 13 marathons 8/ ? The shirt (long sleeve) is green with the logo below on the front. Nice. Also got a great dark blue headsweats hat with the logo on it .

I listened to a couple of talks including a talk by Meb Keflezighi. They were entertaining. My biggest take away was the statement "You should be happy every day you run or race for _whatever_ you can do." 

This is another way of saying "Any day you can run a marathon (or race any race really) is a GREAT day!". 

I laid out my kit in my usual fashion. I find I'm not very cogent in the morning and so I've learned to make it easy for me to do the right things. I also have a checklist when I think I'm done to check. (one time I left the hotel without my Garmin on and had to walk back 1/4 mile to get it(.

I went to the pasta feed which as a first for me. Nice to meet a bunch of other folks running. Not sure why people need a pasta feed for a half marathon, but hey probably cheaper than a restaurant and more fun hanging out with runners so why not?

I went to bed crazy early 9pm and actually fell asleep..woke up from time to time and back to sleep. Alarm off at 3pm, ate a bagel and banana and back to sleep.

Up at 5:30, put on my stuff and went down at 5:45...found some other maniacs and got the word that the group photo was at 6:15 in front of the Hayward field sign. Took the shuttle bus there and hung out with them until it was time to get in the corral. 

it was pretty good temps at that point, 48 F I would guess and overcast.

Maniacs, Eugene 2012. Me in back row way on the left.

Star-Spangled banner, and then the start. I was in corral B so we got walked to the start after the A's and then allowed to start. probably a minute later. I punched my watch when I hit the first mat.

I had hemmed and hawed about taking the camera on the run but you can see from the start pics that I had it and lucky for you and future me I took a few pics until I realized I wanted to conserve my energy.

This is not a huge marathon but it does have a half marathon, so the start was crowded. And as it turns out it runs on residential streets for a while that are not that wide...and there are cars parked on both sides...with mirrors sticking out. So it's not optimal.

The biggest hills on the course are in this section. My A-goal was a 3:55 and my pace band was cut for this. (of course!). My pacing plan plan was to run a 8:50 pace on the garmin but of course the real plan was an 8:55 m/m real pace so I would have a shot at 3:53. 

During the start things were a bit crazy and I got sucked into running a bit faster than I wanted..I justified this as banked time that I would give back on the hills and take it easy there. However, when I got to these hills I did slow up on the uphills but I was able to speed up on the downs (my knees and I get along just fine thankyouverymuch) and so I quickly racked up 30s of pad on the 3:55 pace.  This was good and I hoped to get about a minute by the half. My legs were feeling ok and I was having no problems.

Eventually we turned back north toward the start and then you cross the Willamette River. Shortly after you cross the halfers hook left and go back (they really don't get much river bank running at all..sad) and the fulls go right and head for Springfield.  Eugene and Springfield might have merged into one city if it was not for the fact that the I-5 cuts right through. So they never really did. Springfield is more of a working class town (used to be lots of logging and stuff around there) and Eugene has the U of O. 

It was at about mile 11 that I think the sun first broke through the clouds and I was not happy to see it at all. Having the sun on you is about the same as +10F on the thermometer if you ask me so I was hissing at it in my mind to go back into the clouds. It was in and out after that and it was a bit humid and hot with the sun on you...warmer than is optimal for a mono-temp runner like me.

Eventually we headed north, then west and worked our way out of Springfield. When you are all full runners you get to recognize a lot of people as you ebb and flow in your pace and even if you don't talk you feel like you have a bond. I did end up talking in this race way more than any other race. I met a couple of maniacs that weren't at the group shot and also spoke to a few other folks. 

At this point the course started to suck a bit..we were running down a big avenue but the cars (and trucks and firetrucks and..) were using the other lane and the traffic was pretty nonstop. So there were some smoke and diesel fumes I didn't like much at all. 

We went by the fairly new (10 yrs?) stadium for UofO ..looked really nice and so I took a snap of it.

The sun was not in my eyes going west, so I took my hat off for more cooling which helped. Eventually we passed the half..for some reason my chip did not register there, but it did everwhere else 8/ ?

This race used a new chip technology that was not on the was on the back of the bib and you left it there. They warned you on the bib not to fold the bib. Alas, we aren't used to this but luckily I didn't do my sometime ultrarunner thing of folding it up to be just the number. (Raina  ended up folding hers a bit and the darn thing didn't register her AT ALL during the race. So she's got to hope they can look at the videos and give her an official time.)

Eventually we got on the river bike trails. These were not super wide, and even though the runners are thinner now there were several paces where people would jam up and you could not get through for a bit. No big deal but not optimal. Some people were also bothered by the different surfaces involved as you moved from park to park but that didn't bother me.

The bike paths were serpentine / curvy  and I did spend a lot of thought making the tangents (overall miles only 26.36 so good job there). 

The thing that did bother me was the rolling hills..not huge but 10-30 foot ups and downs pretty much the entire way along the river. I had go through the half with a 56 second pad but by mile 15 I was concerned. 

I had already blown off the 8:50 pacing and was trying to hold the 3:55 pace and not lose my pad. I could tell I was going to have tough going...I could feel it. I had been using my Garmin to keep me up to pace when I was dropping .

But then we hit a heavy tree lined section between 15 and 20 miles that caused the garmin to be much further off. The split timer was showing paces of 9:00 or worse and i felt the same effort so I was going ????. When we hit the splits things were ok, so I just figured it was more GPS noise due to the trees and that's that for the garmin.

So we used the pace band and and followed the other folks to keep us honest..lots of little ups and downs and I could tell I was getting toasted slowly but surely. We hit the footbridge that is at mile 20.5 were we turned back home and I was happy but I kept looking at my watch, and my pad and realized it was quite likely this was going to be an ugly war of attrition. 

The bike paths on the south side of the river were also beautiful and tree lined but they were even lumpier (it seemed) than the other side. Every up was a ' bad patch ' where I figured I was screwed and then on the downs for flats I would recover , breath a sigh of relief and keep trying to hold the pace.

The miles ticked by slowly and my splits times gradually were eating into my pad. I was down to less than 30 seconds with 4 miles to go I think and I was realizing that this was not a slam dunk just as I had been thinking. Sigh. Now the paces really were in the 9:xx's 

(NOTE: so funny that  during the race I was thinking "oh no not 9:0x paces!  That would have been a good pace for me before CIM).

It was at this point I started to have some calf spasms in my left calf when I was going up one of the small bump-ups. I tried to go even more mid-foot and I splayed my toes out a bit to change the muscles involved and eventually this worked but not before the right side gave me a few too. Eventually for whatever reason these stopped but I was very very worried there for a time that the race would drop to a walk-run at any moment.

But it didn't. I was really REALLY wanting to stop though. My split paces were staying in the 9s and my pad was eroding as I pushed and pushed as hard as I could. The tough spots and decent patches battled each other until I got used to it and just waited out the bad to regroup on the good.

I was hitting a "wall" but it was not a hard wall (like my beginner days) it was a "soft-shouldered" wall. But it got worse with every mile. The effort to hold pace went up and up. 

I wanted the freaking 3:55 though. I was thinking to myself:  "imagine this was  your BQ race (3:55 the BQ time for a 60 yr old) ..wouldn't you want to get it done?" 

So even though I was hurting I plowed on. At mile 25 I was doing the math (or trying to) on how many minutes I had left and what was the pad. It was so close the number were equal. I had to stop try to figure it out and just try my best not knowing if it was working or not. My vision collapsed to just focused straight ahead and my breathing was a hard 2:2 rhythm as it had been for the last 6 miles. 

A final down and under the bridges and we were back on the streets headed for the track. I had stopped looking at the watch and focused on my form (such as it was). One good thing was that the Brooks were really protecting my feet and AT and they were fine. Aside from the calf spasms my legs were also fine,  just tired.

FINALLY I saw the light poles of the track and eventually passed through the entrance gate were the maniacs had taken the pictures 4 hrs earlier. At that point I was so focused on getting to the finish I didn't see anything except the finish like. I ran strong but didn't sprint (too scared after reading that most deaths occur when you do such stupid things). (Later a maniac that was on the final approach came up to me and said I blew by him like no tomorrow..I didn't see him or anything. Didn't see myself on the jumbotron. Did do a fist pump on the last 50 meters and got the crowed to response. Hit the mat and punched the button.

Looked at the time and it said 3:54:59 on my watch.

That was close. Now the question was what would the official time be? I lucked out there and they reported a chip time off 5 seconds faster. 3:54:54  


I had the A goal of 3:55, I met it (barely, but hey)
I had the goal of leaving nothing on the course. I did that.

The *instant* I was done, I was so happy. Got my medal asnd just enjoyed walking around and eating, drinking and talking to other runners. I drank three small bottles of water with no problem in 20 minutes.

Eugene is a much prettier course but I would have to say I much prefer the CIM course to the Eugene course for running a PR. Some pluses for CIM:

- roadways are bigger
- no halfers crowding things.
- more reliable chip technology: Eugene had new bib /chip technology that doesn't seem like such a win yet (where's my half split?).
- net downhill with rolling hills
- after mile 21.5, there are NO hills...dead flat.
- No sharing narrow roads with cars and their smog ( for a little ways)
- cooler time of year (can be huge storms though at CIM time )
- expo hotel is 2 miles from the start, so you have to take shuttle to/from.
- aid station people are not consistant with water vs gatorade location (and this is a complaint from last year too!) They do a great job otherwise! Plenty of water stops!

But these are really nits.  I did PR so I'm not unhappy with the course. The support staff for this race is super nice and hardworking (Both CIM and Eug are very special in that way) and both are at the top of my list for fast courses (that are not pathologically downhill).


Split Dist Pace HR % WHR Cad Elev+ Elev- YPB
1 1.00 8:45 132 70.5 90 37 23 1.523
2 1.00 8:51 133 71.3 89 17 38 1.495
3 1.00 8:53 134 72.1 89 10 0 1.480
4 1.00 8:57 135 73.0 88 21 0 1.456
5 1.00 8:38 136 73.8 88 77 71 1.500
6 1.00 8:51 131 69.7 87 0 26 1.516
7 1.00 8:52 131 69.7 87 0 10 1.515
8 1.00 8:53 130 68.9 87 0 13 1.523
9 1.00 8:55 135 73.0 87 60 41 1.463
10 1.00 9:00 133 71.3 86 19 16 1.472
11 1.00 8:54 135 73.0 87 17 21 1.463
12 1.00 8:55 134 72.1 87 26 12 1.474
13 1.00 8:51 137 74.6 87 8 9 1.453
14 1.00 8:51 138 75.4 87 0 8 1.440
15 1.00 8:52 139 76.2 87 0 11 1.427
16 1.00 8:47 141 77.9 87 0 19 1.421
17 1.00 8:49 142 78.7 87 8 14 1.407
18 1.00 8:58 143 79.5 87 7 9 1.372
19 1.00 8:53 145 81.1 87 0 11 1.366
20 1.00 8:58 146 82.0 87 0 0 1.345
21 1.00 8:57 148 83.6 87 0 6 1.328
22 1.00 8:57 149 84.4 88 20 16 1.319
23 1.00 9:10 151 86.1 87 9 5 1.272
24 1.00 9:04 153 87.7 88 19 13 1.268
25 1.00 9:16 155 89.3 87 16 17 1.225
26 1.00 9:04 158 91.8 87 40 14 1.228
27 0.36 8:34 163 95.9 88 10 0 1.245
Sum 26.36 8:54 140.5 77.5 87.4 421 420 1.405

The heart rates were high but you never know day to day what they'll do.  I'm pretty pleased with how I ran the last 4.36 miles :  HRs  pretty high and still not fading too badly. You can see all the irritating up-downs in the elevation numbers in the last miles...ROUGH! The last .3 was within 4.1% of my max working heart range (WHR)...I did not sprint but I did kick it in.

In retrospect the  first miles were too fast and that probably made me have to work it in. But I wanted to try this to see if I could hold it (ans: no, not yet). But it was still useful to learn how tough I have become and that I can push through difficult running to reach a goal. And I have now gone solidly faster than mach 1 (i.e. sub 4:00 8) twice.

Official Results

Age graded: 3:19:06

Post race I feel pretty good. I think the Brooks Launches stood me well. They are heavy though. SInce I keep my shoes permanently tied and just slip them on and off I think it would be  great if I could run miles 0-20 in my Kinvaras, and then have somebody give my the Brooks from 20-26.2. You need the extra cush when your stride degrades but otherwise you want the lightness to keep your running economy as low as possible. 2oz == 1%. That's 2.4 minutes in a  4 hour marathon (in theory).

After the race I took the shuttle, got cleaned up, road the free shuttle to the airport and them took a taxi the short distance to  to Pappy's Pizza to meet with Raina and some of her friends and family. 

Amanda took this picture when I was feeling no pain anymore 8)

Full album of photos here.

New PR: 3:54:59

On my watch 8)
Tough race...more anon...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Last update

Wifi not working for my laptop here but a quick note. i did get to Eugene, flight eas easy-peasy. I picked up bib 1781..had the pasta feed and have the gear laid out.

12 hours from now I'll be running !

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Detailed analysis of CIM vs Eugene buildup

Good day possums! 

If you are a running nerd, there is nothing more fun after you've done all the training than analyzing the results to see if you can learn anything. You sit back with your gradually tapering tired legs in your cushy chair with a nice drink and hack away. 
Since I recently completed my second coached training cycle for a marathon, I thought it would be cool to compare various data from my Garmin watch and heart rate monitor to see if we can see anything interesting.
In the last months I've been adding to my python library that lets me crunch the *.tcx files and do various extractions, filtering and plotting (btw: using pylab/matplotlib for the also nerdy) 
For a lot of you your eyes may just glaze over about now, but hang in there and let me see if I can walk you through all the results.
The first thing you need to now is what does the initial data look like? For  each run I have the data for every 'lap'. My watch is set to auto-lap for each mile, so I have at lots of 1 mile laps. Sometimes, e.g. on the track I'll push the lap button and get shorter laps.

For each lap I have the time, distance, ave heart rate and from these I can obviously calculate pace as well.

I decided to look at two sets of runs for each marathon buildup: a 90 day set of runs and a 42 day set. The 90 days results will pretty much show the average of all the training during each cycle and 42 day is the last 7 weeks of the cycle when you are focusing on more tempo work. Hopefully, we'll see the fruits of our labors in that 42 day set.
So, you'll see references to: cim 42d, cim 90d, eug 42d and eug 90d, the 4 data sets.


The first two graphs are histograms that record the total  time spent running at various paces. In these graphs the cim and eug data are displayed on the same graph in different colors. 

On the first graph we have the 90 day set, we can see the green color (eugene) has a peak at 9.25 min/miles (aka 9:15-9:30m/m), where as the blue (cim) is at 9.00 min/miles). A lot of my base miles were a touch faster during the CIM buildup. I also didn't have as much time at 8.5 m/m paces for eug (blue bar has another 100 minutes of that). 

On the other hand, at paces above 8.25, there is more green: about 90 min of 8:00 pace and 50 min of 7.5 m/m. So instead of 8.5 m/m stuff Jill had me do some long intervals at various faster paces. 

This next graph shows the same type of data, but for the 42 day set. Looks pretty much the same except, you can see that now I spend less time at slower recovery paces (10 ++) than I did during the cim buildup.

Now we move to a different data set: this is a histogram of miles spent at various heart rates from 100 to 150. I also have some overall stats on the title line...miles about the same, HRs too, but pace a touch faster average for eug.

You can see the green peak bars at 120 to 125 BPM...they correspond roughly to all that base pace running at 9:15 to 9:30 m/m. You can also see more blue color at the very low recovery HRs (110 or so)..that's that cim recovery running I'll bet.
Same data again but now 42 looks similar but the average pace for this period is 9:11 (eug) vs 9:38 (cim). Give the ave HRs are about the same you can see I have gotten fitter than cim. I like to convert the pace/HR data into something called yards-per-beat, as you know...a measure of overall running economy. It's 1.51 vs 1.45 during CIM which is a pretty whopping 4% better. 
 Now a very colorful graph showing each run for the last 42d for cim (newer runs on the right, older on the left). The HR mix during the run is show by the color stack in each bar. You can see my last three long runs (19, 20, 22 miles) clearly sticking up. Between the last two long runs is a 14 mile run which is almost all orange (80% working heart rate). This is my 13.1 mile time trial run.
 Same graph for eug, fewer runs (but 3 during my taper are not entered yet). Less red/black going on here...(never hit the really high HRs as not doing many hill sprints on this cycle)
Now the same two graphs again but for 90 day periods. You can see the total mileage is higher for eugene (and about 14 miles is not entered to boot). The long runs for eugene have more green and less higher HRs it seems to me.
Now we get into some really interesting stuff. AFAIK, I'm the only person that tracks this stuff and I find it very interesting. Here I am plotting the yards-per-beat for all runs that were better then 1.45 (weeds out the hilly runs). Same as the above graphs, new runs to the right) For cim it's pretty flat over time:
For eugene, you can see it has improved during the last 42 days. We already knew that my y-p-b was getting better from the graphs above but here you can see a best-fit line plotted against the run samples.
Ok same data again, but now for the whole 90 days. And look at this!? During CIM i seemed to get less efficient overall. I'm not sure why this is, perhaps because I was extremely tired or because of my developing AT.
This eugene cycle shows a clear trend of getting more efficient. 4 runs that are better than 1.55 on the right side are dragging up the average I'm sure. This seems to have started around 30 days ago. It could be due to my training mix, shoe lift fixing leg strength imbalance or ???

 And now another graph I like, this plots averae pace vs HR for each run with a best-fit line. I print the slope of the line in the bottom comment.
13.1 means that it takes a 13.1 bpm increase in my HR to speed up my pace by 1:00 min/mile. Amazingly this function  is always linear in the 'normal' running paces. The intercept number says what HR would be required to run infinitely fast 8) 8). Actually this number lets you compare to graphs to see if the line has an up-or-down offset...lower is better.

 You can see this data is pretty consistently saying the slope is about 12-13 bpm per m/m. The intercept is lowest for the 42day eugene data. i.e. now.

Kudos to you if you've gotten this far! If you spent more then 5 minutes looking at this stuff you are a nerd for SURE 8-P

Objectively, it looks I am in better shape on this buildup than I was for CIM. I already new this, but being a nerd I like to see the facts tell me so. I also like having the data for future training comparisons.

So, instead of 9:02 average pace I will attempt 8:55.  (8:50-ish on the Garmin)...this would be about a 3:53 marathon.

Weather still looking good for race day!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

4 days to Eugene....

Weather is still looking and both say pretty similar things (...with the latter forecasting more cloud and less their hourly forecast option!)

 Pretty awesomely perfect wx!

Ran 4 miles Tuesday at base pace and did 5+ miles today with 3 at MP. A little bit of running on Friday and we are done!

Finally went to the Dr. to get my prescription for Flovent inhaler renewed. I tend to get this reactive airway thing (aka really irritated upper throat) after a cold and it takes fooorever to go away. This stuff hammers it down STAT!

So, I am feeling more like 100% already...should be totally gone in a couple of days. YES.


Partly Cloudy


Wind:From NNW at 9 mph
UV Index:7 High
Sunrise:6:06 AM PT
Avg. High:64°F
Record High:86°F (1957)

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Wind:From NNW at 6 mph
Sunset:8:14 PM PT
Avg. Low:41°F
Record Low:28°F (1954)
Last Updated Wednesday, Apr 25, 8:16 AM Pacific Daylight Time

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