Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Things That Plagued Me Yesterday

Yesterday started out just like any other normal day. Wake up, get my foam roll on, do some stretches and get ready for work. What I did not anticipate, were a few things. Specifically, 2 bad things and 1 good thing.

Lets start with the BAD:

1) When I got home from work, I quickly changed from Clark Kent in my suit to Superman in my running gear. Except as I started on my way, I got the hiccups! So much for Superman. I highly doubt he ever got hiccups. Have you ever gotten hiccups while running? They suck. They come at the most inopportune times, like when a car pulls up right by you with their windows open to stop at a stop sign. HICCUP! Ooopps...and I just continue running and play it off. Eventually after about 20 minutes of running, they went away.

2) So remember my recent race report and how I noted that I was pouring water on my head to try and cool me down? Well here is a lesson that I learned, which I will share with you at no charge. Don't dump water on your head! Want to know why? Because all that nice cool water has to go somewhere. And where does it go? Into your shoes, making your feet wet, soggy, and very prone to blisters. Sure enough, when I took off my socks after the race, I had the nastiest of blood blisters. It progressively got worse over the next 24 hours until I finally sucked it up and tried to treat it. After a nice warm shower to soften the skin, I drained it. Disgusting? Yes, but very necessary. Well, I had put a band aid on it to help it heal. After another 24 hours (by yesterday morning), I went to take another look at how the healing was going to re-dress the blister. Well....my toenail kinda came off with the band aid. (It's ok for you to get nauseous now) At first, it hurt and was a shock. But as the day went on, it hurt less and actually felt better than any other time since the race. As a matter of fact, I ran 6 miles yesterday and all was good. So, we'll see what happens on the re-growth front in a little while. In the meantime, maybe its not so bad.

And now, the GOOD:

1) A few months ago, Rebecca and I went into DC to see a movie. We parked in a legal spot that was only zone parking during the day, which expired by the time we parked, thus no quarters or anything required (they are pretty rare in DC). When I got back to my car after the movie, there was a ticket for not having proper registration tags. Well, I knew this was wrong and filed a report to repeal the ticket. Of course, I realize that it doesn't happen very often that they overturn things, but I figured I legitimately had a case. I submitted evidence and nearly 3 months later, got a letter in the mail. Read the below for the results:

Onward and upward - temps are supposed to hit 90 this weekend, so maybe I'll be able to finally start adapting to higher humidity and stop suffering ;)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler Pictures

I have to give credit when credit is due. Not only were official results posted before the end of race day (Sunday), but race photos were available the NEXT day! This is actually the first time I have ever had this quick a turnaround. So kudos to both companies for the good work!

Despite the expectations of terrible pictures from my race report, I'm actually quite happy with a few of them (although I look like I am suffering). Unfortunately, I won't be buying them due to the outrageous prices, so you'll have to deal with the crop job of whats left of the logo on top of the pictures.

For your viewing pleasure:

Either really sweaty or drenched from water I was pouring on my head

Is it just me, or do I look BEAT?

So close...

Closer...

Almost there, and ready to be DONE!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Race Report: GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler

Where to start, where to start...

I last did this race in 2007, where I posted by fastest 10 mile time of 1:13:49. I've run a few other 10 milers, but was not in what I would consider good fitness to beat that time. As I stated previously, my expectations for this race were to handily beat my PR. This race is advertised as a "net downhill", which simply means that you finish at a lower elevation than you start. What it does NOT mean is that it is generally flat and downhill. Yes, I ran this race, but the mind tends to forget the bad over time and only remember the good. Someone should also have reminded me (besides Rebecca who was yelling my ear about it) that Rebecca ran this race last year, so maybe she would have a better idea of the course. Did I listen? Nope! Lesson learned - listen to your wife ;)

Sorry about that - back to the race report!

Pre-race

Race morning came very early, because of the logistical issues of a point to point race. We had to be at the finish line in time to catch the bus that takes everyone 10 miles down to Mount Vernon to the start of the race. Well in order to get a decent parking spot (ie within stumbling distance from the finish line), you have to get there pretty early. The buses started making trips to the race start at 5:30 am. The race didn't start till 8 am. That is a long time. We boarded by 6 and made it to the start area by 6:20. And then it started to rain. Ugh. It was cool, but very humid (95% humidity) and the rain wasn't helping the situation. Fortunately, it stopped about 30 minutes before the race start, which was just enough to leave the roads slightly slick.

My race plan was to go out relatively slower for the first 2 miles, before upping the pace for the middle 6 and going with whatever else I had left for the last 2 miles. I knew that my recent race times would yield a very good time if I things went according to plan.

After a 15-20 minute warm up, I felt ready to go, so I kissed Rebecca good luck and made my way toward the front of the start line with about 5 minutes till the start. After a short hold, they sounded the horn and we were off.

Race

Elevation profile in brown, HR in red

Mile 1 - My plan was to start off with a 7:09 mile, but I did not take into account the HUGE downhill almost immediately after the start of the race. I found myself running relatively easy, but knew my time would reflect harder work. I came through Mile 1 in 6:48. Ouch. Was I working too hard? I think so. My HR was a bit higher than I was hoping for the first 2 miles, but I wasn't sure if it was from the excitement of the race or something else. I should have held back some more, because an alarm went off in my head after I saw the clock that today is going to be a long day if I don't slow down.

Mile 2 - As usual with a big downhill, it is followed by some up hills. In this case, it was a series of rollers. I forced myself to slow my pace to try and get into my goal pace, which I mostly achieved with a split of 7:06.

Mile 3 - My plan called for me to pick up my pace starting at Mile 3. Given that I busted out a goal pace mile in the first mile, I didn't want to big too deep a hole so early. So I told myself that if I also took Mile 3 at a similar pace, it would at least do some damage control. I held constant and began to slowly pick up the pace toward the end of the mile, which came through in 7:02

Mile 4 - It was around this time that I started noticing my HR creeping up a bit higher than I thought it should be. My paces were alright, but something wasn't right. I started getting very hot, but I was racing in (short) shorts and a light t-shirt, so there wasn't really anything different I would have done. I just knew that my body was starting to have issues dealing with the high humidity and keeping my core temperature down. When I hit the next aid station, I threw one of the cups on my head and it seemed to help a lot. I snapped out of my funk and pressed on, coming through in 7:01

Mile 5 - Based on my time at Mile 4, I knew my legs weren't going to fire up the goal paces I was targeting. I was still moving at a good pace and running strong, but I knew things were going to fall apart at some point, I just didn't know when. I hit a dark moment when I realized that I was only half way through, but could feel my body to start to revolt. My split was 7:04, which put my 5 mile time at 35:05, right at a 7:01/mile pace, which was slightly slower than my goal pace, but still well within where I had hoped to be.

Mile 6 - Aside from all the negative feelings I had, Mile 6 was largely downhill, which kept my spirits up and my hopes alive that maybe I was just feeling "off" because I was working so hard and that it should feel this way. I happily posted a 6:55 split.

Mile 7 - Mile 7 continued more of the same from Mile 6. It was one of the only flat miles on the course. I started struggling toward the end of this mile, but the realization that if I kept this pace up, it would all be over in less than 25 minutes kept my focus. However, my head started to feel woozy and I was starting to get blurry vision. I just kept telling myself to put one foot in front of the other and it would all be over soon. My pace from Mile 6 mostly continued through Mile 7, which was 6:59.

Mile 8 - I knew I had just under a 5k to go and mentally this also became a struggle. I was hurting and I knew the Mile 9 had two major hills that would wreak havoc on my situation. I tried to hold back a little to reserve enough energy to get through things, but my issues with my head started to get worse. I could only see right in front of me and did not know much else other than that. I couldn't care about anything other than getting to the finish line and being done. I was over heated, could not cool myself down, and was dumping 2 cups of water on my head at each water station. It felt good for about 30 seconds, but would go right back to blurry vision and woozy feelings. Mile 8 came through in 7:16.

Mile 9 - The one thing I DID remember from my last time doing this race was that Mile 9 would not be kind to my legs or my body. And given the issues I was already having, I knew it would not feel good. First it was a longer 1/2 mile climb, followed by a short break, which led to the beginning of a short (2 blocks long) but very steep hill. I knew it would be slower and I contemplated just walking it in from there, because I was basically running blind, with tunnel vision. I had to start slowing my pace, because I didn't feel comfortable in my body's coordination at the time and feared I would just collapse if I went faster. You can see that my HR went gradually downhill from Mile 8 to the finish, except for when pushing hard going up hill. Mile 9 came through in 7:28.

Mile 10 - At just the foot of the steepest hill, I started Mile 10 and was not sure whether I would make it up it. I honestly did not know if I would make it to the finish line. I have zero recollection, but I made the climb and headed for the last mile straight, which led all the way to the finish. In some ways, this is the worst mile of them all. Nearly a mile out, you can see the finish line. But, what normally seems like a flat road on any day when you drive through the area, becomes a false flat up hill the whole way to the finish. I don't remember seeing anyone, though I know the streets were lined with people. My tunnel vision got worse and worse and I continued to slow until I finally headed toward the finish line. I heard 2 people (1 male one female) yell my name, but honestly had no clue who it was, because I couldn't see. If anyone saw me, I'm afraid to know what I looked like. I crossed the line with a split of 7:35. Ouch. Not exactly bring it home strong.

Final time: 1:11:17, a PR of 2:32
Avg pace: 7:07/mile
Avg HR: 179
Place: 138/3995
AG Place: 27/366

Post Race:

After I crossed the line, I stumbled out of the finishers area. I couldn't walk straight and I felt the urge to use a porto-potty (that should mean I was drinking enough, right?). I also knew that I needed to get help in the medical tent. As I started thinking (or trying to), I realized that if I made it all the way to the porto-potties, I probably would not make it to the medical tent and collapse somewhere along the way. It was at this point that I made the executive decision to go straight to the medical tent. I collapsed into a cot and they immediately began to take my vitals. My core temperature was over 100 degrees, my blood pressure was a bit high (and I tend to have very low blood pressure, which means it was probably very high for me), and my face was apparently ghost white. They placed a number of ice packs on my head and on my body to try and cool me down, which seemed to start helping after a bit. Shortly after I was feeling a bit better, my hamstrings and calves started to cramp. I immediately popped up to apply pressure to my hamstring and prevent worse cramping. That seemed to do the trick and after 5 minutes of self massage, it sort of went away. Since I was already sitting up, they took my vitals again and I was much improved. My temperature was down to normal and my blood pressure was within a good range. I was finally able to take in some fluids and over the next 20 or so minutes took in about 80 oz of Powerade, which seemed to help bring me back to life. It was after I was completely coherent again and talking to the medical staff that they told me how pale white my face looked when I stumbled in and how glad they were that I was able to feel better so quickly. Shortly after, Rebecca and our friend jokingly thought that I would be in the medical tent, when it was long after the race and they hadn't found me. Sure enough, there I was!

In all, several things may have contributed to this. Most importantly, was that my body was not used to the humid conditions and this created big problems when I asked it to function at a high level. Secondly, I'm pretty sure that first mile didn't help the case. It felt easy, but I should have known to go even slower and start off stupid conservatively, given the not ideal racing conditions. In other words, I may have burned too many matches in my matchbook too soon.

Despite the poor race experience, I still managed to PR by 2:32! Not too shabby if I do say so, once again, given my training methods thus far. It says a lot about the potential I am reaching for.

And once again, Rebecca proved to be the all star of the day, rocking a 13 minute PR over the same course a year ago!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Adaptations

Now that I got that last baseline test out of the way, I was really interested in seeing what a true test would show. Despite pushing it off in favor of more solid training over the past few weeks, I managed to squeeze another test in this past weekend, in the hopes of getting some idea of whether or not I can run what I'd like to run at my next upcoming race.

So here are the results compared to January's test (my last real test):

January
- 140 bpm: 9:20/pace
- 150 bpm: 8:20/pace
- 160 bpm: 7:35/pace
- 170 bpm: 6:28/pace

April
- 140 bpm: 8:58/pace
- 150 bpm: 8:03/pace
- 160 bpm: 7:06/pace
- 170 bpm: 6:20/pace

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with some of the higher HR stuff.

But my numbers at 140 are a bit lower than I'd describe for where I am at. I recently wrote about a problem I have when running at easy paces. This proved to force a tricky testing environment for me at the 140 test. You see - it's at the lower intensity stuff that my mind has a chance to think. And as we all know, I like to visualize. More specifically, I caught myself visualizing about this upcoming race. I also get just as excited for these baseline tests as I do for races. And since the lower HR stuff allows the mind to wander a bit more, I found my HR holding me back a bit. Lately, no matter what the distance (anywhere from 4 - 10 miles), I've been averaging around 8:48/mile at a HR of 140 or lower. So, I was hoping for a better number there, but oh well.

In any case, my recent race experience has led me to believe I should be able to hold a pretty fast pace (by my standards). I've been putting a ton of miles out there in training. In fact, the last 2 weeks have been more miles than any 2 consecutive weeks during marathon training.

Am I fully rested for this race? No. I'm not training specifically for this race. Bottom line - this race is gonna hurt! I'm going to run my hardest that my legs will give me on Sunday, just like I have for every other race. Though I don't like putting specific goal numbers out there, I expect to handily beat my previous 10 mile PR. Its been a little while since I've raced a 10 miler and the GW Parkway Classic is a fast course.

So I can make only one prediction: PAIN. LOTS. OF. PAIN.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How to Not Conduct a Baseline Test

I meant to post this a little ways back, but it got lost in my drafts...

What are things they say that you are NOT supposed to do in order to ensure consistent testing environments? Drink? Stay up late? Get no sleep? Sudden change in weather? Those sound about right.

You may remember this post a while back. Well I can now confirm that it is true and you can add another sample to the study (n = 2). But let me go back to the start before I get ahead of myself.

It had been a solid 6 weeks since my first baseline test and I wanted to get some numbers figured out before my 10k race down in Richmond. I had been planning to conduct my 2nd baseline run test, but it just kept getting pushed off for random reasons. Since it had been so nice out, compared to the much colder weather we had been getting, I didn't want to spend a nice opportunity to put in good miles out on the road at the track running circles for an hour (not that I don't enjoy that too).

Because my first test was essentially estimated due to some technical difficulties with my HRM (I took my HR as I crossed the finish line of each run, but had generally knew how hard to push for each one so it didn't end up being too far off). I had some rough numbers to go by, but I've been putting in some good miles lately and I wanted to know where I stood, just a week before that first race of the year.

Several factors contributed to this epic baseline testing fail:

1) Drinking and staying up late: Enter March Madness and the fact that Syracuse was a 1 seed (no complaints there). Well the top seeds typically get prime time airtime, which means that their 1st round game tipped off at 9:55 pm. You know I'm not going to miss the game. And while we're at it, let's watch the game at a bar with some friends. Needless to say, Rebecca drove us home.

2) Lack of sleep: We didn't get home until about 12 am, but we still had a bunch of stuff to do at home to get ready for the next day, because we were volunteering at the National Marathon. Anyone who is familiar with the course, knows that most of the roads in DC are closed because of the race. Well that meant we'd have to metro in from some point. This also meant that we'd have to factor in more time. We were staffed at Mile 1 and were to report there by 6 am. We woke up at 4:30, which means we got a total of about 3 or so hours of sleep. Yikes!

3) Weather: Though I am not complaining, at the time, we hadn't had many warm days so far. So when the temperatures hit the upper 70s combined with sun, my body was in for a shock.

So what was the end result? I took down the numbers to record them, but they were so far off, it is almost embarrassing for me to post them, compared to my normal numbers, which I will be sharing in a future post. Here they are compared to my 1st baseline test, which was conducted in January:

January
- 140 bpm: 9:20/pace
- 150 bpm: 8:20/pace
- 160 bpm: 7:35/pace
- 170 bpm: 6:28/pace

March (influenced by all of the above factors)
- 140 bpm: 9:58/pace
- 150 bpm: 8:54/pace
- 160 bpm: 7:41/pace
- 170 bpm: 6:51/pace

Needless to say, the March numbers were not accurate. As evidenced by my numbers I've shared from other posts around the same time, my 140 bpm average was hanging just under 9:00/mile for nearly 14 miles, let alone a 1.5 mile jog, as was conducted in the baseline test.

What was funny to me was the fact that I felt so much better toward the end of the day (the feeling that I was no longer hung over), that I went out for an easy 4 mile jaunt just to shake things out. And guess what? My pace was 8:48 with a HR of 139. My body just needed about 12 hours to process and get rid of the alcohol. Lessons learned: Don't run hungover!

Stay tuned for a follow up post on my latest numbers which I took last weekend. With another race coming up on Sunday, this test will hopefully shed some light on what I hope to run.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Visualizing Too Much?

Visualization is something that almost all successful athletes do. Whether it is visualizing hitting the game winning shot, picking it up the last 10k of a marathon, or just remaining steady throughout a long day of training, visualization helps to mentally prepare for the battle ahead.

Whenever I am out on runs, more specifically longer runs, my mind tends to wander into the realm of visualization. However, I have noticed this has caused an unexpected reaction - higher heart rates.

Let's take a test - take your heart rate right now. Recorded it? Good. Now think about your next upcoming race and start visualizing all the keys to success in achieving your ideal goal for that race. Think about hitting the last mile and really picking up the pace to bring it on home. Once the picture in your head is crystal clear, take your heart rate again. Notice a difference?

For me, just visualizing these kinds of things can cause my resting heart rate to jump a solid 10 bpm! Well, when you are out on a training run and trying to hit a specific heart rate, this can prove quite troubling. Often times, I find my mind wandering into visualization territory, only to look down at my watch and find that my hear rate is WAY high for my effort. Then I remember to stop visualizing and it goes back down.

Just a fun little quirk I noticed...maybe I should keep the visualizations limited to when I am at home and not working out.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Chased By The Good Humor Man

It's not often you can title a post in this manner. I hope it got your attention. This isn't as bad as it sounds though, because I was not hunted down by some angry Good Humor man. But that would sure make for a good story, huh? It just so happened that his route followed my route. For 2 miles. Let me explain the impact of that last sentence by a series of bullets that were my thought process along the way:

- Oh look, the Good Humor man...I used to LOVE when he came by when I was a kid, this is awesome
- Haha, it's playing "All Around the Mullberry Bush", I used to like that too, this is still cool
- Wow, he's moving pretty slowly to try and get customers...too bad nobody is around!
- It's now been 1 mile of hearing the same song over, and over, and over again - starting to get annoying
- Oh, thank goodness he's gone. I was seriously starting to get sick of that song...too bad it's stuck in my head now!
.
.
.
. 30 seconds later
- Damn, it - he's back and that SAME stupid song!
- I'm hungry - I could really go for a Bubble-o-Bill, remember those? Mmmm...
- Why is he following me! Is this some kind of sick joke?
- It's been 2 miles of this same song! Why can't they have a rotation of songs? I'm never getting this stupid song out of my head!

And just about when I was ready to give up hope, we departed each other's paths and went out separate ways.

Then, 2 hours later - he came through our neighborhood and I heard the same song AGAIN! And it stuck in my head for the next day. Stupid Good Humor Man.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Ukrop's Monument Ave 10k Race Pictures

One of the benefits of being in the 1st wave of a large race is that the photographers are all focused on the few runners coming through at that time, versus later in the race when it is just a wave of people. They snapped quite a few pictures of me, though only a few are worthy of being displayed below:

Moving along those pesky cobblestones

Cruisin

Not sure what is going on with my left hand here

A bit blurry, but I like the form

I couldn't believe that kid was running so fast - he's so little!
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