Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Baltimore 10 Miler Race Report

It was an excessively long and hot day for me but I am pleased with my results.

The Lead Up

Friday evening started with an ~2 hour drive to Artemas, PA for Wicker Man a burgeoning Burning Man Regional Burn and ended around 2am when I went to the tent to try and get a couple hours of sleep. C- came to bed about an hour later and my alarm was set for 3:55.

Around 4:10 I climbed out of the tent, made my way to the coffee dragon for a shot of joe, talked to a couple of guys who were sitting around and got in the car for the 2+ hour drive to Druid Hill Park in Baltimore. I needed to get there early for packet pickup and allow time for parking and warming up.

On the way to the race I talked to Karina and she confirmed that she would be able to pick up my race packet which was fortunate as I needed to make an emergency stop at a McDonald's to use the restroom, with that out of the way I was just about ready to race.

ProTip: Sheetz MTO with jalapenos (late lunch), high fat summer sausage, cheese, pickles and beer (late dinner) are all very tasty but they might leave you with a bit of gas and the fear that you will need to change your shorts.

Upon arrival at the park I called Karina again and just so happened to find a prime parking space right next to the group and fairly near the start, score! I strapped on the Nathan Triangle I had purchased for C- on Friday hoped it wouldn't be a problem on the run and headed down the hill to the start. At the start with ~35 minutes to go I realized I didn't have my Hat, HRM strap and I hadn't put on body glide. Went up the hill back to the car fixed my problems and headed back (Woo, Warmup!).

The Plan

I had various thoughts about the race. I know the course from last year and you could call at best 1.3 miles in the middle flat, knowing that I had debated going out for a PR thinking about trying to hit 1:30:00 knowing that I probably shouldn't put in that kind of effort. With the sleep the night before and heat I really wasn't feeling it and decided that a relatively easy run was the plan and I would revisit on the course.

Karina indicated that she did something around 10:15/mi at Survivor Harbor 7 the previous weekend and that she may try to do something similar here.

The Race

Karina and I started off just behind the 10 minute pace marker but on the first hill I found myself closer to 9:45 and feeling easy. Karina indicated that she was OK for now and led the pace a bit faster until almost mile 2 when she decided to back off on the hills and told me to go on.

Shortly after mile 2 the course was slightly different going around the south side of Wyman Park instead of Up Art Museum Dr. although my watch (and many around me beeping every mile) seemed to indicate that the early miles were about .1 mile off everything seemed to line up in the end. This year also removed the lollipop near mile 9 which was much appreciated!

Between miles 2 and 5 I found some nice people to chat with (and sweat on, I had sweat dripping off my elbows, sorry), I was trying to maintain a nice HR in the mid 140s to low 150s this worked early on but the hills and heat had me in the mid to high 150s instead.

I was feeling good at mile 5 and decided to pick up the effort a little and then maybe again at 7 miles with the plan of not walking any of the hills but feeling perfectly fine with slowing down on 33rd and East Dr. and making time on the downhills. On the return I also did my best to continue sticking to the shaded parts of the course so long as that didn't have me weaving about.

I picked up again at mile 7. The push kicked my average HR to 171 and shaved ~10s/mi on the back half of the course and the no walking plan resulted in passing a large number of people in the last two miles on the hills.

The final kick to the end over the last downhill .25 and in particular the last 10th of a mile to the finish pegged my HR at an anaerobic 182bpm with a spike after crossing the line to 185. Presumably this is why I was wondering if I might vomit, fortunately I recovered quickly.

My Finish: 1:34:41 is a new PR, Last year on this course was a 1:44:24 taking almost a minute a mile off my pace

After Care

The finish corral was well manned and stocked as I have come to expect from this race. The ReGen sports recovery drink was cold and a good rich chocolate, the watermelon was cool and refreshing, the iced towels were wonderful and the mist blowing fan was both misty and fan like.

Outside the corral the beer selection improved this year to include Yuengling a welcome addition to the standard light beer selection from last year. For the more calorie conscious I also noticed MGD 64.

Among the vendors was Plow Gum (with a picture of a bull). This energy gum starts off tasting bad and gets worse, it was impressively horrid tasting to the point that I wondered if the bull in the logo contributed to the formulation. Maybe it just shouldn't follow beer but I don't think I will give it another shot.

Post Race

Before I got back on the road for PA Karina, John and I went to the City Cafe for brunch where I had a wonderful blackened catfish with andouille sausage and crawfish gravy and cheesy corn meal grits. The food and out waiter were both excellent.

In the end do to poor planning, scheduling changes and inattention I missed the Potomac River Running Twilight 4 Miler. I did however wear the shirt which was noticed before, during and after the race with questions and comment like. Wait, isn't that today? Are you running that race tonight? and I'll see you there!

A Personal Note

This weekend I also did not attend the funeral of Peter Theune, a good friend and father figure. We had not talked in quite a while, I am very bad at keeping in touch, but I have many fond memories of my younger adult hood hanging out at his house with him, his son Travis and our friends talking and shooting the shit into the wee hours of the morning. He was on my mind all weekend and I would like to believe that he would have appreciated my decision to spend quality time with my family doing things that I enjoy but I do feel some regrets for choosing not to attend the funeral.

Bib FName LName City State Div Age Sex ChipTime ClockTime Overall SexPl DivPl AgeGrade
1157 KARINA FERRY BALTIMORE MD F3034 32 F 1:49:24 1:51:03 2150 1052 244 45.5%
1158 SHAWN FERRY LEESBURG VA M3034 34 M 1:34:41 1:36:21 1123 695 134 47.2%

Friday, June 18, 2010

Timed Mile, I'm an analytics guy

I am always interested to see the speed and HR tracks post race and workout. This will be my third year participating in the AARC (Ashburn Area Running Club) DTP (Distance Training Program/Fall Marathon Training) and while I do listen to the coaches I know that I am commonly running too fast on slower days.

The premise of the timed mile, in the beginning of the year for the DTP, is to establish a baseline tempo/threshold (T) pace and a feeling for what that T effort should generally feel like. On the track last night Cathy Pugsley said "this is a comfortably hard run for some of you this will be 10k pace for some closer to 10 mile pace [if you have questions ask]" the pacing guidelines of 'comfortably hard' and 10K pace didn't mean much to me the last two years, this year I have a much better grasp on both.

  • Year 1: Started running about 6 months prior not only did I have no idea, I didn't even have a good guess. Ran ~7:38/mi
  • Year 2: I had only raced 5k, 4mi and Marathon and felt a bit more confident, eventually declaring that my T pace was ~8:30/mi. Ran ~7:37/mi
  • Year 3: Added 8k, 10k, 1/2 Marathon and Ultra (50k). 8:30 feels a bit easy so far this year. Ran ~7:38/mi

What does any of this have to do with numbers?

What we can see here is that even though I had no idea on pace at first and then when I did I ran relatively consistent times, the difference is in the numbers I get from using high tech running gadgets and how I feel during the run.

2008 - 2010, Bigger Image

All the miles are run on the same track and with the theory that each lap could be a little harder than the one before. What isn't shown as clearly is that I always start too fast and back off generally in the first 200m.

  • 2008 pacing is all over the place but most notably almost half the last lap is in Zone 5 effectively sprinting.
    • Better than 1/2 in Zone 3 seems good but I know this turned into a maximal effort and I was spent at the end.
    • 9/24/58% Zone 5/4/3
    • Max HR 185
  • 2009 pacing is a bit more consistent but still variable
    • I was OK at the end but comfortably hard would be a generous description
    • 0/54/37% in Zone 5/4/3
    • Max HR 179
  • 2010 Still started too fast. However, the remaining laps are within a few seconds.
    • Could I keep it up for an hour...maybe on a good day. However, for a mile I would call it comfortably hard.
    • 0/41/49% Zone 5/4/3
    • Max HR 174

Great, what do those numbers mean?

Really I don't know, I'm not an exercise physiologist. I haven't actually done a lab or field Lactate Threshold test. There is probably some heart rate reserve analysis that could be done based on my maximal heart rate (observed at 195bpm at mile 17 of the '09 Frederick Marathon) and resting HR 54bpm (I should recheck). Instead I think I will do a LT lab test and let someone who knows what they are doing figure that out more specifically for me.

  • Lower Max HR at the end of each run seems to indicate progressively better aerobic fitness
  • Time in HR zones moving lower seems to indicate progressively better aerobic fitness
  • Lower perceived effort and faster recovery seems to indicate progressively better aerobic fitness

For now this means that for now I will be targeting ~8:00/mi as a tempo pace, which is probably to fast, ~8:30mi or maybe a bit slower is probably more accurate but we will see what we get.

What are you doing with those numbers?

Hopefully I am properly setting my expectations and getting the most out of my training. After my first marathon I was briefly despondent because I didn't hit my goal time of 4:45:00 (or maybe that and postmarathon blues). I got over it and realized that as a self-declared non-runner I had trained and finished a marathon and I missed my arbitrary time goal by 2.5 minutes. In subsequent marathons I haven't had those problems even when my performance has been much worse.

I would love to reach a sub 4-hour marathon but I think that is an overly ambitious improvement last years 00:20:53 is huge and an additional 27 minutes in a year seems quite a big year-over-year improvement. I'll keep sub-4 as a massive stretch goal for now but (hopefully) more realistically I would like to complete the 35th Marine Corps Marathon in less than 4:20 and it would be awesome to do it in less than 4:15. Time will tell and goals for the year should be adjusted as we go.

  • Baltimore 2008: 04:47:30 (First Marathon)
  • Frederick 2009: 04:59:50 (Weather kicked my ass, started at an optimistic pace for my level of preparation)
  • Baltimore 2009: 05:21:08 (Stubbornly started with a fever ran out of gas at the half)
  • Space Coast 2009: 04:26:55 (Fourth Marathon)
  • Baltimore 2010: ??? (Will be an overly long training run for marathon training, maybe I need a fall ultra)
  • Marine Corps Marathon 2010: ???

Tempo/Threshold Pace: A pace that you could theoretically maintain for an hour if you had to. Theoretically this can also be determined with Lactate Threshold testing.

"It's what I call 'comfortably hard, You know you're working, but you're not racing. At the same time, you'd be happy if you could slow down." -- Bill Pierce

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cascades Firechase 10K

Cascades Firechase 10K (May 29, 2010) race report (Belated)

I had been waiting to see if the finish line photographers had a picture of me finishing with my mimosa but I can't figure out who they were and just forgot.

I hadn't been planning on running this race a week before North Face but I decided on Friday that since I was going to be running anyway I may as well have a supported run with friends. Little did I know that not only was it going to be hot and humid but this race is know for hills. OTOH I got a couple Chik-Fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwiches out of it as post race food.

In brief, it was hot in the low 90s and a bit humid. I got to the start just as the group was going out for a warmup run. I ended up behind everyone warming up slow planning on racing at maybe 11:00/mi which in the end was not to be.

Immediately prior to the start I let myself get dragged to the front by Mandana and Atle when I tried to go towards the back the group wouldn't let me so I started the first 100m at 8 something then moved to the side after the first corner and slowed down. On and off I ran with various members of the Ashburn Area Running Club watching them slowly pull away from me while my pace slowly increased until Maureen caught up with me on the way out of a pit stop. Allowing for hills we were running around 9:40/mi and I pulled ahead a bit after on the hill around mile 5. At 5.9 I stopped for a mimosa took a gulp and Maureen caught me up moments later.

Crossing the line with a little kick I was holding the mimosa (finding that the nice rigid plastic cup was hard to drink from on the run), which I finished a moment later. Much amused by the questioning looks and "What are you drinking?" I kept the cup next year I may run with it.

Run Washington has a non-Shawn focused write up as well :)

Result: 61:41

I'm sure I could do better, maybe next year I should opt for the bloody mary.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The North Face Endurance Challenge 50k Race Report

It was my first 50k and I finished!
I went into the race with a hydration plan and no real idea when/if I would finish. I knew my training was mostly solid I wasn't trying anything new it was going to be hot and humid. In training particularly on trails I found that I was overestimating how much I was drinking. With a solution in hand and regrets that I might be heartily annoying to those around me I wore a timex with two 10 minute interval timers set.
The Plan
  • I would run at some comfortable/reasonable pace that kept my HR down on the flats. Walk uphills and go quickly with control on the downhills.
  • 10min I would drink ~4-5oz Hammer Perpetum mixed to ~250/cal 25oz
  • 30min I would take 1 possibly 2 Hammer Endurolyte capsules
  • 60 min I would take an 1 maybe 2 Hammer Endurance Amino capsules
  • As needed/desired I would take Hammer Gel, Cliff Shot Bloks or some Hammer Bar. The Hammer bar as a last resort as I hadn't trained with them.
  • Aid 2/4 (Great Falls) and Aid 5 (Frasier) would get longer stops to mix fuel. Everything else would get a gulp of water.
  • At the finish I would mix a double strength Recoverite drink about half relatively quickly and nurse the rest for a little while

It is about 5 minutes to 7:00, humidity is high, the temps are in the high 70s only going up. We would never look quite so fresh the rest of the day. At the start of the race I took off at a quite comfortable ~10:30/mi. The first couple of miles are flat grass, golf cart path and crushed gravel road. I ran with Matt Lancaster from around 2.5 - 5.7 and we talked about his tips for ultras. I breezed through Aid 1 (5.7), as planned, slowing only to check in and for a cup of water. About 2 miles before Aid 2 I heard "why was there no water (at River Bend Park)?" "Does anyone know how much further until the next aid station?"
At Aid 2 (12.4) Great Falls I was feeling pretty good. However, was already concerned about hydration. I was hot and had started to get goosebumps around 11 miles and had been drinking on plan. On arrival I had ~5oz remaining in the pack having used up almost all of my reserve placing me ~2oz shy of 25oz/hr. It was at this time that I started icing everything ice hat, ice pocket, ice in the bladder and pack. Remixing was mostly painless but 60-65oz instead of the planned 50oz, this would be a theme for the rest of the race with my fuel tasting a bit thin. Dee and Ron rolled out and I decided to pause and change socks I had been thinking about saving them for the return leg but my feet were swimming.
Total Consumption ~65+oz
From Aid 2 (Great Falls) back to Aid 4 (19.27, Great Falls) I caught up to Matt who had passed me in on his way through. He told me that he was feeling a bit dry and that he was going to take the loop easy to see if he could recover. In Great Falls my pace dropped dramatically. My feet already soaked again and were sliding a bit in my shoes. I didn't want them any tighter but my big toes were slamming the front of the toe box on the steeper descents. Partway through the loop everything started to sound distant (which continued for the next 5 hours or so,  about an hour after the race the pressure in my ears normalized) and look a bit grey which seems odd as my HR was not abnormally elevated, it may have just been hazy. I backed off a bit more and tried hydrating at a slightly higher rate concerned that I was heading towards major problems. Matt came into Aid 3 (15.08) as I was leaving (with another ice hat!). The swamp trail wasn't fun at all, the rocky terrain had my feet at all angles and sliding again. Just off the swamp trail I caught up with Ron who indicated that he was feeling cooked and might drop at mile 20. At Aid 4 I paused to mix more fuel finding ~10oz and C- got me an ice rag for my neck.
Total Consumption ~115+oz
From Aid 4 - Aid 5 (26) I was struggling with a bit of nausea every 10 minutes I would drink then feel a little nauseous, if I tried to push the pace I got goose bumps and felt off. My hill climbing walks slowed substantially and my flats were walked as much as run. In River Bend Park I met Bob and Beth who had adopted each other as race partners encouraging people along the way. We chatted in a group ranging in size from 3-10 as we walked the uphills, ran the downhills and ran on and off on the flats. After a few miles I stopped to get a rock out of my shoe and lost them until Aid 5. About a mile from Aid 5 I stopped to try and get a Marathon runner who was staggering and clearly disoriented heading the right direction. He was non-coperative and I asked a group of passing 50mi runners to send back help as they would reach aid before I did. Not long after aid was tearing down the path with a gallon of water.
Total consumption ~160+oz
Aid 5 - Aid 6 (29.28) Aside from a few steep climbs this section is mostly flat fun and fast until you get to the golf course when it is sort of boring. Unfortunately I was not feeling particularly fast but I picked up a ridiculous run/walk from blaze to blaze that sometimes had me running/walking only a dozen or so steps at a time and my average speed picked back up to slightly faster than a snails pace. I entered Aid 6 with Bob, Beth, Carol and the guy with a camelback but apparently not the hydration part. Had a couple cups of water, more ice hat and dumped ice down the back of my shirt.
Aid 6 - Finish (My Garmin says 32.2) The last officially 1.7 miles are flat on gravel, golf cart path and a touch of grass. After each aid station I felt refreshed with ice in my hat, pockets, pack and actually maintained a quickish (sort of) pace and ran in the last .5 with a ridiculous grin on my face at 08:19:04 ... I had a good 40 minutes to spare.
Total consumption ~210+oz
Post race, cheered Bob and Beth through the finish. Hit the ice bath, the pain was exquisite, for about 60s before I got out. Got a massage drank about 80oz of Recoverite and water and had a burrito before heading home chilling out and heading across the street for a margarita party.
The Good:
  • The next day I felt fine (I slept until 1pm but I didn't get back from the party until 1am)
  • Three days later and I feel great and mostly normal (compared to my first marathon, it took over a week)
  • No major injuries, a couple of small blisters and sore but recovered big toe nails
  • I am ready for the next one (Theoretically, not actually)
  • No cramping
  • No swelling
  • Nathan HPL #20 with replacement HydraPak bite valve and magnetic clip
  • Halo Hat, I like halo hats/headbands etc.
  • Hammer Tri top/bottom. No chafing fast wicking
  • Perpetum added dry to a partially full bladder mixes up just fine with a blender ball (in testing also without a blender ball but not as fast).
The Could have been Better:
  • I should have started icing at Aid 1
  • I should have mixed my fuel stronger and added ice just before the start
  • Maybe I should have changed shoes at Aid 2 and damn the rocks
  • Gore-Tex shoes sounded like such a good idea in the winter when it was wet and I started training
    • They are a bit hot now and don't dry so quickly
    • I think I want something cooler, lighter and much faster drying
  • Maybe I should have mixed stronger fuel or eaten (a little) more on the run
    • I didn't feel like a bonk was coming I just trained with a higher concentration
  • Hydration, Maybe ~13lbs in 8 hours is normal but that is roughly 5.9% dehydration
    • Maybe I should have gone with a slightly higher intake rate the whole race
    • Maybe it was too high late, my math says close to 27oz/hr
  • I need to adjust my hat for pictures, Ice Hat is awesome but it doesn't look as nice
  • Light nausea after drinking lasting a minute or two (too much fluid?)
  • Holy crap the music was loud in the finish area. Too loud to talk so we went home.
  • Late Discoveries* 
    • Blister under the nail of my left big toe. Which explains why descending was so painful
    • A couple of small spots of poison ivy around my ankles
The Bad:
  • People started without any way to carry water
  • The distance from Aid 1-2/4-5 was theoretically 6.7 miles I got a little longer. People with water were having problems running out.
  • It was hot and humid, more than I had trained in more than I was ready for.
Overall I am very happy with the race itself, my performance and the experience in general. I am thankful to C- who would much rather have been staining her new bookshelves or sewing rather than sitting around waiting for me all day and taking pictures. The next one will be better.

* Edit: Newly discovered injuries/ailments