Monday, February 17, 2014

An Experiment.

I had a pretty easy recovery for this marathon considering how much was run at a fast pace. Of course the peak was Tuesday morning.. (DOMS). I didn't run until Thursday although I did make sure to do some brisk walking every day.

Date   Miles   Pace    BPM WHR%   Elev+   Elev-     YPB
2014-02-06 Thu 4.6 9:22 119.6 60.4 18.2 21.7 1.573
2014-02-07 Fri 7.4 9:10 122.0 62.3 81.6 81.0 1.581
2014-02-08 Sat 2.8 9:11 118.2 59.2 9.0 9.7 1.582
2014-02-09 Sun 9.2 8:55 125.7 65.3 286.8 286.2 1.591
Summary 24.0 9:07 122.5 62.7 395.5 398.5 1.583

Legs tighter than normal on the foam roller, but they were feeling ok when running. 

Sunday, I really pounded:...9 miles at MP+5s and 280' of hills. Monday a rest day


I felt a bit schizoid  with Surf City: had a great time for most of the race and amazingly ran my 3rd fastest marathon WALKING part of well as being annoyed: why couldn't I predict my fitness level better.

I spoke with coach Jill via email a bit...clearly I was lax in the strength training. My bad. Pressed for time I skimped on it.  As we get older it's even more important to keep the leg muscles built up. When you are young, it's easy..lots of HGF (growth hormone) so a small stimulus gets big you age this drops off so you need to work harder.

Another issue is that I've just not done many full marathons in the last year.....Jill suggested I take my current fitness level and run another marathon 2 weeks after...and then again 2 weeks after that.  Some people find they get stronger with each one a bit. 

That was an interesting experiment to try but due to time constraints I couldn't run a real race. I  decided to try to draft some pacer(s) to help me run a time trial long run at MP to see if I was still tired from the race or stronger or ??

I put out the call on a running forum and work and snagged my co-worker David and another fellow, Noel to help me with this project.. 

A few runners recommended against this idea: I was courting injury, it was all the wrong thing to do, etc, etc. So many opinions! 

I was going to do it despite the dire warnings, i'm a Maniac after all ;)

I have run 8 marathons in 322 days and I've run 2 in 2 days, with no ill effects so running 2-ish in 2 weeks doesn't seem like a big deal to me.

After deciding to do this long run experiment I only ran about 12 miles in the 2nd week after Surf in order to fully recover, i.e. a total of about 33 miles of running in the 2 weeks between. (too much?)

On Sunday morning I drove to our meeting point: the so-called 'barfing man' statue. (Not his real name but he does look like he's hurling out the window ;)

I had mapped out a 6.6 mile loop in Shoreline park.  I would run the first loop by myself starting at 8am, David would pace me for 2 loops and then Noel would take over for the last loop..the terra incognita loop.

The day started at 50F but it was full bright sun rather than the forecast cloud, by the time I was done it was 60F.  Full sun adds an equivalent of about 10F in my experience, so it was a bit too hot....but what can you do?

I tried to make the vibe as much like a real race as possible: I wanted to start exactly at 8am (also so Noel and David would know when I'd be coming by the loop start), not just heading out at random. Counted down the minutes and drank a bunch of water and had a GU 5 min before like I usually do in a race.

The first loop was no big deal..kept right on pace and enjoyed the morning runners and bikers out and about on the paths. I saw another guy almost my age out there with a wipro sf marathon shirt and a camel pack doing his long run. 

David was right there on time for the 2nd and 3rd loop...which was GREAT...I have been a pacer once but this is the first time I was the pacee and it really helped. After the second loop David had kept me to pace and we had done a lot of talking but it was getting harder. Not a good sign after only a half marathon. I told him I would be doing less talking from now on ;)

We got into a good mode: David ahead of me, with me dogging his heels. I was able to hold pace only because he was there. It was almost as good as a real race situation (Best would be race with pacer!). Sometimes i would start to lose contact, he would ease up a bit and then pull me back on pace.

Our watches disagreed terribly on the current lap pace. I had David reset his laps when my autolap chirped so that our watches would have autolaps at the same time, but they still disagreed quite a bit even late into the lap. His watch might say 9:05 pace and mine might say 8:50m/m ! I expect that early in the lap, but not at the 3/4 mile point!

But it didn't matter: David just kept to what was about the right pace and the total average pace I had was showing was 8:55 so we were doing fine. I was getting more and more toasted but was able to hold pace. 

At the end of the 3rd loop, we could see Noel was waiting, GREAT! I stopped and took a photo of the three of us before starting out again.

Noel, Me, David. (My normally clear photochromic glasses are super dark due to the clear skies and bright sun.)

Noel and i started out and it was very clear to me that i was not going to be holding pace. I told Noel just to try to drag me along and not lose contact. I was slipping pace.... realized that running the full 26.2 was going to be quite a slog and that i'd have to slow way down to avoid crashing. 

At mile 22 I decided I had enough..I could gut it out and walk run  but that's what i already did at Surf so why bother...that was plenty of running and i got what i needed.

2014-02-16 Sun
SplitMiles  Pace      HR% WHR  Elev+Elev-    YPB

Noel and I talked about running and ironmans etc while getting back to our cars.  It was nice to talk to another runner on the way back...

I do feel I should be pushing myself a bit harder than i have been if I want to get to the next level with others is probably good for me to do that as well as more fun.

.... later in the day Toni and i attended a Jonathon Biss piano concert, and then after that a dinner party with friends. A great (and eclectic) set of activities on this day!


1) I don't think I was stronger after 2 weeks and I don't think I was weaker either..the sun was hot and I have done most of my running in very cool (40-50F) temps so far this year so that hit me a bit.  I think this run showed about the same level of fitness as Surf...not enough to hold 8:55 m/m ..perhaps 9:05-9:10 is my proper pace right now?

I think 3 week spacing would also work pretty well...perhaps better.

2) So, running 2 week back to backs is doable, and useful in order to deal with some races being a bust due to weather etc even if you don't get stronger.

Even though I'm having problems reaching my goal pace I am not getting injured and recovering normally.  I have run a lot of years and miles and found a happy place (knock wood!)

3) Being paced makes it possible to train harder. I should join a group to keep me motivated to train properly. I should cultivate more running friends that can pace me at a hard pace (at a pace that is easy for them ;)

4) More muscle fibers
         more lower body strength training, drills, one legged hopping, box jumps, squats.
         hill sprints hill sprints HILL SPRINTS at least once a week.
5) too much same pace MP running? I should do more quality workouts and then slow down to slow base pace on easy days. Result: much stronger runner. 
i.e. I have not  been doing the hard/easy thing with enough modulation!

Other thoughts out there?

Monday, February 03, 2014

RUNDOWN: 2014 Surf City Marathon (#20)

Marathon #20

Back in mid-November I started looking for a hotel room....a bit late in the game...they were all full. Not only that, I forgot that they all require a 2 night stay there. 

I'm only a one hour flight away, so I just wanted to fly in, sleep, run the race and fly out. 

As I was pondering this, Toni suggested I try AirBnB. This is social networking sight that lets people rent out rooms or whole apartments to people.

I checked it out and found a little beach bungalow that was only 10 minutes walk from the Expo and start/finish on 2nd street. I got an AirBnB account and made an offer for my dates which was accepted by the host. A week before arrival, he sent me the info on how I find his place and get in.

I have to say that this worked out really really well...when I arrived via taxi I dropped my bag off there. (see photo of bed area) and then went off to the Expo. I slept like a rock the night before, going to bed at 8:30pm and sleeping  8 hours no problem ;)

But I get ahead of myself. At the Expo I picked up my bib and shirt. See "selfie" below. 

They always do nice shirts at SC as well as nice medals. (it's actually a much brighter yellow/green than the photo) 

Check out the lacquered wood for the surf board medal too. Very nice.

I met up with Arthur and his brother, Edwin and we hung out and the expo and then went to have some smoothies on the beach. There was a nice bright blue sky but cool temps (good) and quite a spanking breeze. It was late afternoon so I didn't think much about the breeze.

Next morning I left the bungalow at about 40 minutes to start time (6:30am) in the dark. It was 41F so I had a throwaway T-shirt as well as a stylish garbage bag to keep off any wind.

There was almost nobody standing in the corrals when I got there but soon enough I filled up. The sun was just coming up behind up the clouds above a bright red. (Sorry, phone was packet away so no photo).

After the wheelchairs and elites our turn next! We set off  and I settled into a nice pace. I noticed the PCH (pacific coast highway) was newly paved and nice and soft asphalt. The full width of the road (two lates plus shoulder) made it easy to find a space so no crowding after the first 200 yds or so.

Eventually we leave the PCH and head up toward the park at miles 4,5 is the one hill we go over twice. I slowed up for the uphill (9:01) and then rocked the downhill (8:20!) Oops. maybe too fast.

In the park you run on small paths but it's not crowded..we're all pretty spread out. I had no trouble running the tangents here and you can see below this race totalled up 26.3 miles for me which is the shortest marathon I've done so far.

The water stops where plentiful and well staffed by the armies of school kids that volunteer at this race each year. They came by crazy often if you wanted them. I was using most of them because I found I could slip in, do the pinch, suck down a bit and throw the cup and not lose any time. In fact at one water stop I picked up a second.

There was the usual California Surf bands playing out on the course and this is one of my favorites so I enjoyed that too.

As we go back down to the PCH we are over the next hill (miles 9-11), not much too it and then down to PCH. Now we settle into the meat of the race. We go back and forth on the PCH and then do the same on the beach boardwalk. Some people complain it's too boring and flat. Hmpf. I find the ocean and surf plenty pleasing to look at and you can see there are some gentle rollers in the road if you look at the elevation data.

Along here a young guy struck up a conversation with me that went on for about 5 miles. This caused me to drop to 8:55 pace or so but I didn't worry about it...actually that turned out to probably help me from crashing earlier. Eventually he surged on ahead of me.

The turnaround back toward town was at about mile 12 and you can see my HR go from 130 to 135 around there. My legs were still strong though and so I didn't notice it too much. I did some drafting off of a guy that was a good pace match for a while. Mile 15 was the worse..I was waiting for the turn pace dropped to 8:59.

At mile 16 we turn downwind again and I noted at the time I was hitting 8:45s with the same effort as heading upwind at 8:59. In retrospect I should have slowed down by 10-15s per mile at least at this point. As the effect of that wind on the last leg back into the wind after mile 21 should have been scaring the heck out of me.

However, at the time I felt pretty good (going downwind) and so I figured yes I would lose some time in the last 6 but I would still break 4 hours. 

Alas, when i turned around at mile 21 I knew in just 15 seconds or so how badly I misjudged the effect the wind would have. Instantly instead of sweating I was cold from the wind evaporating all the accumulated sweat off of me from the downwind run. I felt like a bungee cord was attached to me pulling at my back.

I had also failed to take into account that the boardwalk was more exposed to the winds than the PCH so  the winds were a bit stronger than the previous run toward town.

I could not hold pace without a monumental effort (that was not going to last for 5 miles)...I really had to push hard... I let the pace drop to 9:05, then 9:30's and then at mile 24 I just could not hold any more and had to walk. 

(In retrospect I should have dropped to a 10:00 or 11:00 pace at the turnaround....having to walk is a real killer for the pace and so the longer you can put that off and run at any pace,  the better. Probably could have run a 4:03 doing that. However, this is hard to do mentally...)

At that moment I started walking knew I was going to rack up more minutes and so finish at  more like 4:05 or so.  Disappointing after such a good early run but my legs were pretty burnt and there is no arguing with the body at point.. I did trot it in the last mile and my legs were very close to cramping.

2014-02-02 Sun
SplitMiles Pace      HR% WHR Elev+ Elev-    YPB

22 is the first split after turning back into the wind. HR jumps up 5 bpm and pace starts dropping.

Here are the stats...not too bad considering hitting the walking. This is my third fastest marathon out of 20. 

Runner DetailsRace Results
Name:Paul Rodman
Hometown:Silicon Valley, CA
Overall:793 out of 2332
Men:571 out of 1411
M 55-59:41 out of 117
Age/Grade:61.05% Place: 447
Finish:4:06:05 Pace: 9:24
Tag Time:4:06:05
Gun Time:4:06:54
Split Times
3 Mi:26:38 Pace: 8:53
6 Mi:53:10 Pace: 8:52
9 Mi:1:19:51 Pace: 8:53
10 Mi:1:29:51 Pace: 9:00
13 Mi:1:55:17 Pace: 8:53
15.4 Mi:Pace:
16 Mi:2:21:53 Pace: 8:53
20.9 Mi:3:05:14 Pace: 8:52

How can I prevent this from happening? I think Jill hit the nail on the head in her previous post comment she left me.

You need extra muscle for special strength needs during the run like hills and wind, especially as you get older and are losing muscle mass. You can be just fine on the flat but get tired and throw in some extra loading and it pushes you over a threshold that forces you to slow down and eventually walk. 

 I admit I have not done enough lower body strength training on this buildup. Yes I did some hills in the middle section  of my buildup but that's not enough. I need 2x per week of drills, hill sprints,  and lower body strength training. You can bet I won't ignore that again.

Despite the ending I did enjoy this marathon a lot.  They hydration was excellent and the GUs all consumed with no problems...The pacing was good, the tangents running was good, form was good (No problems afterward except soreness).

On to the next! (Still figuring that out)

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Surf City quick note..

Note: full race report is now up here

Won't have time to write up the complete report until Tuesday but here's the executive summary:

Weather cool and some clouds and sun. Held pace of 8:53 or so on the Garmin....I was getting more tired gradually but not too bad... I figured could still go  PR or for sure sub 4 hours gutting it out the last 5 miles .... until mile 21, that's were you turn back for the final run to the finish which was smack into a 10mph headwind on the beach boardwalk. 

The energy output for keeping pace went up by about 10%...about 2 miles of this and I was into "Wall' in a big way and I crashed and had to do run-walk. Finished in about 4:06:30...   

Nevertheless, I'm happy to have done my 20th marathon in what was probably my forth fastest time. It was a beautiful day and I had some interesting conversation during the race.

 But I'm annoyed that I couldn't have run the race smarter. It's not easy to optimize pacing to 10 min in a 240 min event I guess.  

Obviously I should have gone out slower, but not sure how I could have known that. Perhaps I should just subtract 10 minutes from my current methods and then do negative splits if conditions and the stats look good? I will have to ponder this. 

I can't complain about this: it's why I like the marathon...much more difficult to optimize than shorter races. I'm just puzzled.

Once again I come away really liking the Surf City Marathon...the support is awesome and the setup is very  good for marathoners.. the half looks a bit too crowded for my taste. 

I also used AirBnB to find a place to stay for one night (hotels have mandatory 2 night)...worked out really well.

More later...