Friday, December 27, 2013

The BQ and Father Time.

Sitting and talking (and eating) with another older runner after running a 4:06 at the 2010 San Francisco Marathon,  I mentioned that it seemed pretty hopeless for me to run a 3:40 and qualify for Boston...his response was prophetic "You can age into it...".

Hmm. I looked and it turned out that for age 60-65, the time increased to a 3:55 which seemed much more doable.

Knowing that little fact later was one reason I was able to crank out a 3:54:54 at Eugene. (just barely). I was 56 at the time.

Fast-forward to "Now": I'm 58 and training for Surf City. Later in 2014 I plan to run CIM.

There, I would dearly like to duplicate my sub-3:55...I'll be 59 but I could run at  Boston in 2016 (November 2015 60th birthday) based on a sub 3:55 race after Sept 2014....that's how the BQ game works.

So, I need to duplicate my performance at age 56 when I'm 59 later this year. What do the statistics say?

The following table shows my PR time scaled back to 24 years old, and more germane, forward in time.

24,   3:19:06,   3:19:06  (ah youth!)
56,   3:54:54,     35:47   * April 2012 PR
57,   3:57:08,     02:14
58,   3:59:25,     02:16    
59,   4:01:44,     02:19   * Dec 2014
60,   4:04:08,     02:24
61,   4:06:33,     02:25
62,   4:09:01,     02:28
63,   4:11:32,     02:31
64,   4:14:07,     02:34
65,   4:16:46,     02:39  (BQ goes to 4:10 here)
66,   4:19:26,     02:40
67,   4:22:10,     02:43
68,   4:24:58,     02:47
69,   4:27:49,     02:51
70,   4:30:46,     02:57

The stats say that you slow down by about 2:15 min/year in this age range, so from April 2012 to Dec 2014 would be about 5:45 of slow down (2.5 years * 2:15 per year)

This is daunting. Fighting a 5:45 slowdown is like imagining I'd run a sub 3:50 back in 2012. Is it possible? Perhaps.

I have heard at least one person say (and you may remember him) that "anybody can BQ if they really want it".  Sorry, I don't agree. There is a huge range in innate ability..and some people even after optimal training will come up short.

For example, somebody may be born with all fast twitch fibers, or with crappy VO2 max ...and there some very unlucky people  that show NO improvement in VO2 max with training.  (Man, that has to really suck, but presumably they have some other advantages we don't know about.)

So, it's close .....working in my favor is that marathoners do improve for about 10 years and I'm only 6 years in. I've only cracked the code on how to train really hard in the last couple of years. Perhaps my improvement can cancel out my slowdown. Or, I may be lucky and slowdown less than the average person.

I won't know if I don't try. If it doesn't happen this year, I can keep trying, but my body will be getting older and the BQ times stay the same, so time is of the essence. There are some good signs: I sped up 3 minutes in the HM from 2009 to 2013. I should have slowed down by 4 minutes.

Come age 65 the BQ time ratchets down another 15 min which gives me another chance.

If I do BQ, I'll probably not be able to actually run at Boston.... it's so crowded and the fastest people in each age group are given first in line for sign up...but that's ok. Just knowing I did it would be good enough for me.

I have already made it clear to Toni that the boards need to be clear this fall:  I intend to run Chicago for fun, i.e. as a training run and then I plan to hit CIM with as much stacked in my favor as possible.  You can bet if it's a good day and I'm healthy I am going to put every last erg of energy on that course to stay sub-3:55.

(And I'll have a backup race a couple of months later in case the weather is a bust ;)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I'm not religious but I grew up in a very special town that treated Christmas very specially. I wrote about it previously here.

Have a great holiday and happy new year!

Monday, December 23, 2013

HRM wig-out explained....

On my long run you may recall my HRM wigged out and I shut it off.

I found out why. I had replaced the battery two days earlier and I neglected to install the tiny O-ring when I put the battery cover back on.

Apparently I sweated enough that the water caused the battery to short out (see the rust and corrosion that happened in just an hour on the battery).

I only realized this when I saw the O-ring on the rug in the bathroom, picked it up, and realized what it was!

Keep them batteries dry!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

T-6 to Surf City, Solstice Run

Week 7 summary:

Date Miles Pace BPM WHR% Elev+ Elev- YPB
2013-12-17 Tue 4.8 8:45 130.8 69.5 16.9 18.4 1.556
2013-12-18 Wed 9.0 8:52 126.4 65.9 290.1 289.6 1.601
2013-12-19 Thu 4.8 9:36 113.9 55.7 37.2 39.2 1.616
2013-12-21 Sat 20.6 9:10 123.4 63.4 113.4 115.6 1.541
Summary 39.2 9:06 90.5 36.5 457.7 462.7 1.566

39 miles in only 4 runs due to time constraints this week.

The hilly 9 miler where I pushed on the ups and rolled fast on the downs was a good one:

2013-12-18 Wed
Split  Miles  Pace      HR% WHR  Elev+  Elev-    YPB

I felt fast and strong, ave HR close to MAF but that belies the 145+ on the uphills.  YPB awesomely good.

20 miler on Saturday due to constraints. Cool morning with bright bright sun, no wind.

At mile 11 the HRM totally pegged out at 240 bpm..I stopped and fussed with it but it would not come around..

.... so I turned it off. I just ran by feel and keep the breathing at 2:4 (until the last three miles or so).

2013-12-21 Sat  
SplitMilesPaceHR% WHRElev+Elev-YPB
   Saw the  Blue Heron hunting fish at       low tide..

A good solid 20+ miler...the fastest I've ever done, actually. I fantasize my MP is 8:50 on the garmin and so this is MP+20s/mile which is not totally crazy although a bit fast.

The proof in the pudding will be how fast I recover.

I have managed to lose 5-7lbs I gained on the S.E. Asia  about 171-2 lbs in the morning...and came back from this run at 169.  (drank a fair amount too and not much sweating since cool temps) .

Weather is still cool in mornings (upper 30's / low 40's) and no rain (we need it!) 
6 weeks to Surf City!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Surf City Week 8

Yes, been a while since a post. The weather has been still cool in the morning but not down to freezing. The HRM has been working properly without massively having to wet my shirt on the front which is nice.

Date   Miles   Pace    BPM WHR%   Elev+   Elev-     YPB
2013-12-10 Tue 5.8 9:24 126.1 65.7 19.1 23.4 1.528
2013-12-11 Wed 6.7 9:25 121.0 61.4 32.5 31.5 1.558
2013-12-12 Thu 4.0 8:43 126.9 66.3 20.3 18.4 1.563
2013-12-13 Fri 9.7 8:56 128.1 67.3 30.4 31.5 1.552
2013-12-15 Sun 18.0 9:19 126.2 65.7 94.9 96.3 1.506
Summary 44.2 9:12 125.8 65.4 197.1 201.1 1.532

A good solid week of 44 miles with  5x10s hill sprints on Tuesday,  4x800s on the track on Wednesday, a couple of miles at MP on Thursday and 4 miles at sub-8:30 pace on Friday.

Sunday's 18 miler was a 'gradual speedup' run, starting  at slow base pace and finishing
the last couple of miles at marathon pace.

2013-12-15 Sun
Split   Miles  Pace       HR% WHRElev+Elev-    YPB

I have flipped back to 4 days of running during the week and then bracketing my long run with rest days...this seems to be better for for me.  I used to swear by doing 'sandwich' runs on Sat / Sun but the long runs become quite difficult sometimes if I hit Saturday's run too hard.

And there is nothing that can influence your confidence like a good/bad long run!

I'm already in the middle of week 7, first 20 miler (of hopefully 3 total) happens this weekend.....wrap up this Sunday.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Out with the Cold, in with the New..

After the long run last Sunday I did not run until Thursday... in an attempt to shake off all the congestion I was still saddled with.  In retrospect the Sunday run was a bit of a mistake as it set me back. Sigh.

It drove me crazy not running Mon-Tue-Wed but my cold was just not going away fast I gritted my teeth and just toughed it out. A cold front with lots of dry air came in and that didn't help my windpipe either.

Finally, I snuck a little 3 mile  run on Thur and it didn't seem to hurt. The next day I went out during mid-day from work (morning too cold..bad for windpipe) and ran 9+ miles in the Baylands (which is also right behind where I work).

That run was sweet:

2013-12-06 Fri
SplitMiles  Pace      HR% WHRElev+Elev-   YPB

Good numbers. I gradually sped up during miles 4, 5, 6, 7 for some threshold work. 

Thankfully this run didn't make my congestion worse! It's always very hard to guess whether resting or running will clean things up quicker: this run proved I was in the 'cleaning out' stage. FINALLY.

Decided to do a light 5 miles on Sat and then do a 13 miler on Sunday.
Sunday morning it was cool....36F, I looked up the Sacramento temps..BRRR 26F at the starting line of CIM!

My run went well except the heart rate monitor gave me problems the whole way. At first I had the usual cold wx problems of a pegged out high reading. I put a bunch more water on it and that helped.

However the entire run the readings were CRAZY low. So low that a few times I stopped and took my pulse to see if the darn thing was seemed to be.

2013-12-08 Sun
SplitMiles   Pace     HR% WHRElev+Elev-   YPB

Mile 9 it wigged out in pegged out high pulse mode (160+) again and I had to move it around a bit to get it to stop that.

Anyway, probably the best YPB run ever, but I'm not believing it. Cold temps DO help by keeping blood away from your skin, increasing the volume available for muscles, but this is a huge difference..the most efficient run I've ever done.

Summary for the week:

Date   Miles   Pace    BPM WHR% Elev+ Elev- YPB
2013-12-05 Thu 2.9 9:20 124.5 64.3 15.3 15.3 1.535
2013-12-06 Fri 9.2 8:51 128.8 67.8 26.3 28.0 1.563
2013-12-07 Sat 4.8 9:32 120.4 61.0 36.5 38.5 1.530
2013-12-08 Sun 13.1 9:13 115.3 56.8 43.4 42.9 1.670
Summary 30.0 9:10 121.0 61.5 121.5 124.7 1.601

30 miles a light week. But hopefully over the cold for GOOD and back on track.

T-8 weeks to Surf City!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

T-9 to Surf City

Back to our regularly scheduled program on marathon training for Surf City 2013...

The last two weeks (T-11, T-10) have been a bit muddled. After the bat mitzvah and birthday (mine) extended weekend I caught a bit of a was going around work. I got better enough to do the half marathon but the training in general has been adlibbed a bit.

Here's the last two weeks of runs:

Date    Miles    Pace    BPM    WHR%    Elev+     Elev-     YPB
2013-11-19 Tue 5.8 9:51 126.6 66.1 697.3 705.3 1.465
2013-11-20 Wed 10.1 9:24 124.8 64.6 82.8 85.5 1.504
2013-11-22 Fri 5.0 9:14 125.7 65.3 24.0 24.2 1.530
2013-11-26 Tue 4.8 9:27 121.4 61.8 34.4 36.0 1.536
2013-11-27 Wed 7.5 9:48 113.7 55.5 79.0 85.8 1.583
2013-11-28 Thu 13.1 8:33 139.7 76.8 172.1 169.0 1.481
2013-12-01 Sun 16.8 10:06 122.8 62.9 76.6 78.4 1.426
Summary 63.2 9:29 125.6 65.3 1166.2 1184.1 1.489

A good hilly run in Catalina and then some runs with improving YPB..including a 7.8 miler at 1.58. Those are good signs...

The half marathon came in at 1.48 which is not bad at all considering the amount of crud in my sinuses and that I had done all MAF running beforehand. My lactate threshold should be quite low, but my HR did not speed up that much in that race. Frankly, I didn't know what to expect running a non-peaked half in some random-ass condition but it worked out! I thank the half marathon gods for that you can bet.

I was still getting over my cold during that race...probably 5 lbs of crud packed into my sinuses slowing me down 8-}. All I can say is that it was good that it was not crowded at that race: I could do my "farmer's blow" and not be grossing anybody out.

Two full days off after the half... the day after I was overall whipped a bit and, of course,  tired in the legs and that is not good. So next day off too. 

Sunday (today) I was determined to get out and rack a long run in the BayLands. I carb-loaded Saturday night, got some good sleep (magic healing elixir for me) and hoped my
cold would not mind too much.

Perfect blissful weather: 50F, sunny, no wind and birds out feeding. Some pelicans and sandpipers pics taken with my cell phone camera.

I knew my legs were still pretty beat up from the race, so a perfect time to work on a slow LSD pace with good form to build up that fat burning. 

I had intended to run 18 but at about mile 13 I had some coughing and other crud happening and so I decided to shave a few miles off. I did some gargling of water every few minutes to get the crap out of my bronchial area and that seemed to stop it and I finished the run without any more coughing fits. Blech!

Terrible YBP numbers for the run but I guess to be expected considering. A decent job with 10:06 pace and taking it easy. It's not a confidence builder to do long runs and have them be so feel that running 16@10:00 should be a piece of cake if you are thinking of running 26.2 at 9:00. BUT when you do 'em on tired legs it can feel pretty demoralizing.  

It's always amazing to me how being fresh and rested you can feel like superman, and then three days later you can feel like a 90 year old ;). 

On to week 9! 

7 non-taper weeks ahead and time to start doing some tempo runs etc to push up the LT and build some leg strength and speed. The MAF numbers are not fully where I would like them yet but I think the fitness is there....the numbers just don't show it yet. We'll see for sure in the weeks ahead.

I got my flights booked for Surf City and have a place to stay for Saturday night. The one flaw with this race is that it's a beach town and so the hotels require a 2 day minimum.... as well as being fairly pricey.  I decided to try out this AirBnB thing and managed to snag a small bugalow that is very close to the start (and all to myself) for $129 a night. I'll let you know how it works out in practice.

It's time to line up some other marathons for 2013 too!

Friday, November 29, 2013

RunDown: Zoom Turkey Trot Half Marathon 2013 (and a SNAKE later)

I enjoy running Coastal Trail runs..and a couple of years ago they started another set of events under the Zoom logo.  Zoom races are focused on fast, mostly flat road courses (i.e. not hilly  trail runs) . 

A nice  website feature : you can add their event calendar into your google cal (and I had done this a while back). Early this week I saw that there was a Zoom Turkey Trot and I realized that I'd be in town for Thanksgiving and it would work out. Hmm. I was coming off of a cold that had kept me from running over last weekend and was itching to do something.

The course looked like a good one: the Coyote Creek trail South of San Jose. It's got tree cover and small rolling dips and bumps here and there but not big hills. The weather was going to be great: cool (50F ) at the start and mild sun with clouds. Let's do it!

The online preregistration was close, but they always do day-of registration. Turkey Day  morning I got up at 6:15 am, pulled together my stuff without waking Toni, and headed down the 25 minute drive on highway 101 to be there when the registration opened at 7 am. 

When I got there it was already hopping. Big problem: the bathrooms at the park where the race starts were not working! The power lines had been cut by vandals and the power company was working to fix. (the toilets in the park need power to work...probably a pump to help with the water pressure out there). Lots of bushes and trees around though so not really a problem and if you needed you could drive 2 min back to the other side of the park.

At 7:50 am we got the call by Wendell on the megaphone to follow him to the start. Gave us the usual little talk on how the course was marked...this was NOT a problem I can tell you. A very simple course and not much confusing about it: a big out and back along the trail.

Off we go and I had been mulling over the pacing..I have some good base miles but not any lactate work or much speed work so I figured a slow 8:40-ish might work. For about the first 4 miles I kept to that pace and was holding a nice 2:4 breathing.

At about mile 5 I felt better and got a kind of second wind and clocked it 20s faster. My breathing popped to a 2:2 which is where it stayed for the rest of the race. Besides just being raw fun to get out there and bang out a fast run it is also good to practice eating and and drinking, pacing, running tangents and holding good form and pressing on hard  even when hurting.

BTW: I'm always amazed how lazy people are about running tangents, it was very easy in this race: In the beginning the HM and 10k people are together (i.e. a bit more crowded) but nobody is coming back on this out and back course so you can run them perfectly. Later, the halfers are along and so by the time you turn around to come back you are spread out so much that you can still run them...being careful if somebody coming the other way NOT part of the race...bicycles especially.

I did a good job with the tangents, reading exactly 13.12 on the Garmin at the finish. I was shocked by this as the turn around was at about 6.7 but I had forgot we do a loop around the small pond at the start but not on the way back.

Just before the turnaround I reflected on things to be thankful for...mostly that everybody we know is doing well and here I am having a wonderful run in super weather in a great place! 

At the turnaround I stopped for a tiny cup of water. I had eaten a GU at about mile 3 (and had some cliff blocks before the start). The stop slowed me down a bit and I had my slowest mile at 8:49. I resolved no more stops and I ate my 2nd GU on the run at mile 7 without water.

It had seemed on the way out we were going up more than down on the little rollers and so I deduced that the river must flow south to north here because we are climbing very very slightly. After the turn around for whatever reason I did feel things were a bit easier so my paces crept down to the 8:30 ranges.

We were pretty spread out now, the only people I saw coming the other way were walk-runners and people that had blown their about mile 8.5 I came from behind  upon a tall  fellow that seemed to slowed down pacing a bit or was having trouble.... as I was coming up on him.

When I passed him ..after I sent by he said "oh! There goes my AG award!", he had jet black hair still so I asked him back "How old are you?" and he said "52" I said "58" and he said, "see, there you go"....BUT little did we both know because of the higher turnout this year (172) Wendell had decided to do 5 year age groups not the usual small race 10 year groups, so we were NOT in the same AG...I will check if he got one. (Ans: His name is Nik Tehrani and he did get third (of 5) too  in M50-54 with a 1:56:00! I feel better having not stolen his 3rd. ;)
Nik Tehrani

He got me thinking that there might be low enough turnout in my A.G. that I could place. In trail marathons I have placed a number of times in 2,3...(out of 5-6 people ;) never get 1st b.c. there's always some amazing guy that runs like a bat out of hell. Your only hope for 1st is that guy staying in bed...Or getting lost on the way to the race or during the race 8)

I keep going and I pass a couple of younger folks...always good for the aging ego ;). Then I see a young guy that passed me early on in the race way ahead. I decide to make it my goal to stick to him like glue and try to pass him.

I dog him the next 4 miles to the finish. I can tell he is working it too..he's leaning forward a lot more now than earlier. He stops at the water stop at mile 11 and I gain on..I know I can probably beat him...but in any case he's making a great rabbit for me.

There are some bigger hilly bumps now and I am dialing back a bit on the ups and then trying to rock the downhills and my rabbit stubbornly stays about 50-60 feet ahead of me. 

A young guy with his dog passes both of us going a lot faster..he must have been socializing or sandbagging the first half. The dog looks like he's out for a slow trot...not working at all ;)

Finally, I see landmarks that say it's the last 1/2 mile. I pour on the coal gradually..once I'm around the corner and can see the finish that's all I need..I am sprinting at a 6:30 min/mile pace. About 50 yards from the finish I pass my rabbit going like a rabbit myself and cross the line showing 1:52:09 / 8:33 pace...not bad!

I turn around and high five my rabbit and thank him for dragging me along for the last 4 miles. He had no idea I was there of course and was amused. His name is Frederico Garcia and he came in just 2s behind me. He was in the 45-50 AG and alas, came in 4th, so no medal.

2013-11-28 Thu Zoom Turkey Trot
SplitMiles  Pace      HR% WHR  Elev+  Elev-   YPB

Time 1:52:09
Place 51/172
AG place 3/5 (I would have to run a 7:39 pace to beat the 2nd place runner in my AG !)

My third fastest HM: 40s slower than my old PR of 1:51:30/8:30 pace which stood from 2009 (until April of this year when I knocked it down to 1:48:xx/8:16 pace). Not bad considering my complete lack of speedwork so far this cycle.

Here's how the negative splitting looked:

This graph shows that after the first mile I was already 12s off my eventual final pace. That got worse until mile 8. Then I decided I could pick the pace and took  the 45s seconds off before the finish. The last 12 secs came off so fast the graph barely shows's all in that final sprint.

Some good negative splitting which is always nice. Could I have gone faster. Hmm I don't think much if any. I was working pretty hard.


After a shower and some eating Toni and I went to Russian Ridge to do our favorite 4 mile  hike up Borel hill for views of the bay and the pacific ocean (and the mostly wild area between us and the ocean) as well as the Ancient Oaks trail.

Ancient Oaks

Finally the SNAKE the title promises 8)
Pacific Gopher Snake (I think) found by a family we met on the trail.

View toward pacific ocean 

deer leg. Many coyotes around..we heard a pack of them howling in the woods