Saturday, April 29, 2006

I Feel the Need...

MudViewShoesThe need to avoid quoting Top Gun just to make up a catchy title for this entry. I became race director as well as first place finisher this morning for the Altru Cardiac Care 5k. If you are a regular reader, you remember we recently had a flood in the park hear my house, the same park the race was held in this morning. We took a family walk to scout the course last night and noticed the rain had turned the two inches of dry river dirt on about 400 meters of the course into some of the slickest mud on the planet. There were also some full-size trees and other scattered garbage on that part of the course. In short, there was no way I was wasting my time or money trying to run fast over that.

I showed up to the registration table at eight sharp to see if they had changed the course, and they had not. The last time the director had checked, the course was dry, and without looking, she figured that it couldn't be that bad. I went down to take a look with her and she quickly changed her mind. I thought it was incredibly thoughtful of her that rather than just blowing me off, she looks right at me and says, "Any suggestions?". We quickly figured out a course adjustment that would get back the quarter-mile that needed to be excised and I set out to bike the course. I was sure it wasn't accurate to 5k in the first place, so I figured as long as we are remapping I would just as well get it right. It turned out to be a good idea. The course would have been about 200m long if we had just run it as they laid it out after the initial adjustment.

Now we had an accurate 5k course. I just needed some competition. Initially I was worried the rain would keep everyone away and I would end up running a time trial by myself. That thought was dashed by the appearance of Paulie, a 31-flat 10000m guy in 2005, from the university. He's not in 31 shape right now, but that hardly matters. You don't exactly lose that capability overnight. Anyway, I wasn't racing to win, necessarily, but more to get a good time and a reading on the effort I am capable of right now. Paulie told me he was going for more of a 17-18 minute effort, and I was shooting for low 16s, so it looked like I was on my own.

MudViewRearOff we go. The plan was even split 5:10s, then try to bring the overall time under 16:00 over the last half-mile if I was feeling good. Within the first half-mile, my shins started to lock up. By one mile, they were fully rigid and painful and I could hear the slapping of my forefoot on the pavement as my lower leg made no effort to absorb the landing shock of each step. It was awful. Mile one in 5:12.

Mile two was just holding on. Systems were all good except for the total lack of efficiency from my lower legs. Early in mile two, Paulie pulled back the 20 meters I had put on him early, and settled in to help me out. It was good to have him there, because I was fading psychologically. He kept my mind off my shins and on the race, which was very helpful. Mile two went by in 5:28, and the race was on.

I was fighting pretty hard to maintain contact with Paulie a couple of times during the last mile, but I hung in. I could feel my shins either numbing or loosening. Not sure which, but the pain was less and I was finally able to focus. At 500m out, I surged a bit and Paulie stayed right there looking smooth and comfortable. I couldn't read any weakness, so I resigned myself to fighting hard until he took off on me. With 300m to go, there is a slight incline that lasts for about 100m. It was my last stand. I went strong to the 'hill', but Paulie stayed right there. Oh where, oh where is that college boy's kick? I think I gritted my teeth waiting to get my doors blown off, but it never happened. Somewhere in the next 50 meters, Paulie later told me, he about lost his Froot Loops and dropped back. Maybe it's rude of me, because I know Paulie is a very competitive guy, but I think he probably let me get the win. But, my wife tells me he looked like he just didn't have it over the last 200m. It's a mystery to me. Mile three in 5:19, and finish in 16:14. Paulie finished about 16:20.

Pace dataOverall, it was a solid effort and is very encouraging. If you hate it when people rationalise their race efforts to make themselves feel better, please turn off your browsers now. The course had two 180 degree turns, and was relatively slick with river mud. The footing was poorer than a wet road, but better than wet grass. Additionally, I did 7 on Tuesday with 3 miles at goal MP and a final mile of 5:16, 18 on Thursday with the final 5 in 29:44, and 90+ miles this week in the fastest average pace I've done since I started my build-up back in November 2005. What I'm getting at with this is I am very, very encouraged about my time today. Based on the way I felt, I know I could do 15:50-16:00 on the track right now.

I haven't run that fast in about ten years. The great thing is it only took me six months of really solid base to get back there. From this level of fitness thirteen years ago, it took me a further 18-24 months to run all of my other PRs. This is good stuff.

HRM infoI was able to get some really solid data from my Garmin 301 as well. The HRM is sometimes flaky, but it held up today, and I don't appear to have any dead spots in the collection. The Garmin came up with 3.06 miles for the course, which you'll see in the screenshots. Actually pretty accurate for GPS. However, I did measure the course to 3.10 miles with my bike computer, which is calibrated down to +/- millimeter tolerances. My max HR is up a bit, to at least 178, which suggests I am getting back some of my top end aerobic capacity, and the fact that I redlined my heart rate for the vast majority of the race confirms that I raced very near my best effort.

Alright, time to post this monster. Have a great weekend, readers! Both of you. Cheers.


Blogger Mike

I better comment before the other guy does. Nice work, you beat me by a minute, though I had the added 2oz. of weight from the headlamp. Seriously, it is very tough to win, as there's always "somebody" who shows up to make it interesting. You really have a crapload of data, and if your indicators are correct you should be in great shape by Twin Cities (and pretty good shape by Rock and Roll in June).

4/29/2006 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Love2Run

The other Mike (from Canada) here. Great report and good looking data, I've got a Garmin 301 but don't get these graphs, is it part of the software? All those miles and hard work is paying off, nice effort!

4/29/2006 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger Eric

Here we go with the mind games. I am actually thinking about running a June marathon now. There's no way I'm doing one, but you're getting inside my brain with your innuendo scheme. There is a marathon in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Father's Day that would be perfect, if I was running a June marathon, which I'm not. Aaaaggghhh!

The software is called SportTracks. It's a freely available logging program that works great with the Garmin products. It's updated quite often and the author is really good about adding features and fixing bugs. Unfortunately for hippies like Mike S., SportTracks is only for Windows.

Good to hear from the Mikes. Thanks, guys.

4/29/2006 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger Rob

Congrats on winning the race and even if Paulie did let you win, you never really now how much you have left in the tank until you get pushed. If he would have come up beside you at the last 50m you may still have been able to push yourself a little bit more.

You noted that the "shins lock up" in a couple of your blog entries. I have had some problems with my shins and I wonder if you have always had some sorreness in your shins. I am currently going through massage therapy, but it seems to them that any little sorreness is a bad thing. I am just not convinced.

4/30/2006 06:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Fatboy

Great race! It's interesting how uniform your heart rate is, even though your pace drops. It shows excellent aerobic strength and it also shows that you haven't been doing much anaerobic threshold training (which you shouldn't be doing much of right now). It also indicates a very impressive effort when things surely felt awkward at that pace.

Would love to see you target a late June/early July 1/2 marathon. 1:12 - 1:14 means you're well on the way to sub 2:30 at TC. 5:30 pace seems well within your capacity with 8 more weeks of base and a little more tempo work.

5/01/2006 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger Eric

Yes, very little AT work at this point and no speed...not even striders. I am planning on a half-marathon on July 4, which appears to fit with what you are thinking.

I'll probably give you a call sometime this week. I have some questions about aerobic power, tempo, and threshold. I can really feel the paces dropping across the board with what seems like very little stimulus. I don't know if it's simple neuromuscular efficiency kicking in, or if I'm truly shifting my 'power band'.

Wow. This comment would be right at home in a NASCAR forum...

5/01/2006 11:07:00 AM  

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