Monday, March 18, 2013

New Bedford HM RR (1:25:59)

New Bedford wasn't on my racing plan, but the Hampton half was cancelled due to poor weather. Even then, it wasn't necessarily the next half I would have chosen, but it turned out my parents were running it. And I love going to races with my parents. Also, they bribed me with promises of a St. Paddy's day dinner at their place afterwards, and who could say no to that?

In honor of it being St. Patrick's day and all, I decided to paint my nails, which only happens for particularly special can see the result over on the left. (As a side note, I honestly don't know how people can paint their nails all the time. I do it maybe three times a year, and every time I find it extremely annoying.)

Race day was great. I met my parents at their place, and then we went down to the race together. I found one of my best running friends from college, Amy, almost by accident and was able to run a warm up with her and her teammates from Whirlaway, which was awesome. I find running a warm up with a group to be relaxing before a race. Maybe it reminds me of college cross-country. We finished our 2 mile warm up about 10-15 minutes before the start. We dropped off our layers and only waited maybe 5 minutes before the race started. This was a fairly sizable race, and we couldn't quite push our way to the front, but after about 400 meters or so we were moving at a good clip. We passed the first mile at 6:12. Too fast. A race start like this is difficult though. Sometimes it's almost better to go out a little faster, rather than going out at your designated pace where you'll spend more energy weaving around people. Somewhere around here Amy had to drop over to the side to tie her shoe. She eventually caught up to me (and finished a minute ahead of me). The girl is like the energizer bunny! Anyway, the first mile wasn't my fastest, so I don't think I necessarily went out too fast.

I never quite felt in control of the race though. You can see my splits below, and they're all over the place. Some of that has to do with the hills. I'm sure if you looked at my splits against an elevation map you'd find that that the faster splits were downhill. During some miles the wind was irritating, but then the course would turn down a road and the the wind would be gone. So it wasn't constant. After mile 7, I was really having trouble hanging tough. I vurped a few times...going off track here, but have you ever seen "Wreck It Ralph"?

It's a cool ode to video games movie. There's a go-cart racer in the movie named Vanellope von Schweetz. At one point she's getting ready to race and she tells Ralph that she's "so nervous she's thinks she's going to vurp, you know when some vomit mixes with a burp and rises up."

Somewhere around mile 7, I started vurping my gel, which has never happened to me before. I decided against taking a second gel. Also, I didn't wear my hydration belt, but I still can't actually get water from a cup into my mouth while I run. I did attempt it at almost every water station, and failed miserably. It's sort of embarrassing, and borderline ridiculous. Around here, I also wound up with a side stitch, but nothing that I couldn't run through. I'm not sure if it was poor hydration or poor spirit, but by mile 10 I was starting to wane. The picture to the right is a fair depiction of how I felt...

When I crossed the 10 mile mark I was running an average pace of 6:28. The next 3 miles were tough, as they always are in a half marathon, but I don't usually slow down so much. My mile 11 and 12 splits were awful. 12-13 was awful too, but there was a fairly long hill there, so I can cut myself some slack for that.

The mile 10, 11, and 12 splits are bothering me. Something wasn't right there. Either I went out too fast, something wasn't right with the hydration stuff, or I let myself give in...I'd like to study my HR splits, but I wore the Polar HR strap and I can't get my HR splits unless I connect to their site and download the data from my watch. I haven't been able to do that yet. It's a little frustrating because you can view your HR splits on the Garmin without having to connect it to a computer. Anyway, I'd like to get that information and see if I glean something from it.

I did get my average heart rate from the Polar watch, which was 162. The watch is claiming that 162 is 87% of what it calculates my maximum HR should be. So now I'm wondering what percentage of your maximum HR is one suppose to be at when they run a half marathon? (Feel free to throw in your 2 cents if you train by heart rate. I'd love to know what others think on the subject.)

While my 10, 11, 12, and 13 mile splits were bad, my last 0.1 was fast. I saw the clock, and knew there was still a chance I could break 1:26 if I hauled it in. My official chip time wound up being 1:25:59, which is a ginormous PR for me. And so, it was a great day. Not to mention that I got to see so many running friends, and many of them ran well too. Another college friend, Justin, ran a PR. My co-worker, Rachel, ran a PR. And, of course, Amy, who wound up with an official chip time of 1:25:01! And she stopped to tie her shoe!

The rest of the day was awesome. I ran back to find my parents on course, and ran with them to the finish. I wound up with 19.5 miles for the day. I had wanted to run 20, but we also walked almost a mile to and from where we parked the car, and I was standing from 10:00 to 1:30, so good enough.

Back at my parents place, Nick and the kids were waiting for us. We ate our corn-beef and cabbage, and whoopie pies, and just had a great time. Overall, a great day! Huge thanks to Nick for watching the kids all day, and to my parents for driving me to the race AND making dinner!

Now there's Boston to think about...

NB HM Splits
Mile 1: 6:12
Mile 2: 6:31
Mile 3: 6:44
Mile 4: 6:33
Mile 5: 6:17
Mile 6: 6:17
Mile 7: 6:08
Mile 8: 6:29
Mile 9: 6:30
Mile 10: 6:39
Mile 11: 6:47
Mile 12: 6:45
Mile 13: 6:54
Last .1: 5:40

Monday, March 11, 2013

A bone to pick with Hanson's Marathon Method

My thoughts on Hanson:

I've been hearing murmurings of this "training plan" that doesn't go above 16 miles for a long run. And hearing things like "Hanson doesn't believe in 20 milers" and "20 milers are excessive". Finally, one of my old high school assistant coaches started preaching the praises of the Hanson method, and I could no longer ignore all the hoopla. I went out last week and bought the Hanson Marathon Method book. .

I don't subscribe to any particular type of marathon training, but I will confess that 20 plus milers are my least favorite part of marathon training. Mostly because of the time requirement. When I have the opportunity to run with someone like AM, I find the actual run fun. But most of the time I'm relegated to running on my own, and being completely honest, I find it boring after 15-16 miles. The promise of only running 16 miles is appealing.

What's my problem with Hanson? First of all, Hanson believes that the 20 miler is an arbitrary distance chosen by many training plans with no evidence to support choosing that distance. The book points out that there is evidence to suggest that running longer than three hours doesn't provide additional physiological benefit to the long run (and it take many people longer than three hours to run 20 miles). The book also points out that when training for any other distances the general rule of thumb for a long run is 25-30% of a runner's total weekly mileage. So say you're running 40 miles a week, then a 20 miler is 50% of your weekly mileage...All of that sounds reasonable to me. And notice none of that focuses on only running a 16 mile long run. Except all I keep hearing about from other runners is how it's not necessary to run more than 16 miles for a long run! Of course, that could be because there are only two training plans in the book (beginner and advanced), and both only have three 16 mile long runs. The peak mileage for these plans is between 57 and 63 miles a week. It seems to me that there are enough runners out there that peak at 70-80 to miles a week that there could be another training plan in there, and THAT training plan would probably have 20 mile long runs, you know, because of that whole 25-30% of weekly mileage rule.

It could just be an issue of runners reading what they want out the book too. Hanson admits in the book that the elite runners in the Hanson project do run 20-22 milers, but they also run 100-130 miles a week, so it fits. I guess I'm more irritated that others have taken the program to mean that Hanson doesn't support runs longer than 16 miles, because it simply isn't true.

All that 16 miler business aside, I did like the book. The program focuses on cumulative fatigue. Basically when you run long the program is trying to simulate the last 16 miles of the marathon. As a result, you generally run your long runs harder than traditional plans and on tired legs. I like the idea. Though, I might like it because a lot of my training has been focused on the same idea. He outlines a number of different, but simple workouts, and has a chart for each workout to let you figure out what your pace should be based on what your goal marathon time should be. It's done well enough that you can create your own plan, which is what I like to do.

The biggest downside to the book (for me), is that it's focused on runners who run 3-4 days a week, and trying to get those runners to run 6 days a week. Essentially getting people who are running 35-40 miles a week to run 55-60 miles a week. Now I completely agree that getting runners to run 6 days a week and upping their 35-40 miles a week to 55+ will greatly improve their marathon times, but I've already done that. Since my body seems to be handling the slightly higher mileage of 70-80 miles, I don't think that I would decrease my mileage to follow his lower mileage plan (especially when he's not suggesting that one's overall weekly mileage should decrease, but increase).

Moving beyond Hanson, and jumping down the rabbit hole:

Deviating from the Hanson topic, I did notice something interesting when reading the book. I've run a number of workouts mentioned in the book (like the 6x1 mile repeats), and my paces are faster than suggested for my marathon goal time. This got me to thinking about how I have to train harder than suggested in many training plans to meet my goals...I really don't think I'm doing anything wrong. My workout paces simply have to be faster than suggested, or I won't be able to run my goal time for my race. I've noted this in the past, and have changed my training accordingly.

A few weeks ago, my co-worker's husband ran a 3:11 marathon. It was a significant PR for him. He's a recreational runner, and he's been running for at least 10 years. His training peaked at maybe 50 miles. He ran his long runs at MP, but didn't really run any structured schedule. He didn't do tempo runs or interval runs. When I ran 3:11, I peaked at 76 miles, ran tempo, interval, and MP runs. I know, I know, guys run faster than girls, BUT now I'm wondering about all these training plans out there. If you have a guy and a girl who have the same time goal, would you give them the same training plan down to the same paces for the workouts? Are most of these training plans actually designed for men? Should it not matter? Obviously in this case it mattered. There's no way I would have run 3:11 on his plan, and if he had run my schedule he would have certainly run faster. Maybe it's not necessarily a difference between men and women, but a difference in running potential? In either case, it brings up some interesting questions about training. It seems to me that cookie cutter training plans are probably only good for your first few marathons when you're trying to figure out what works for you. After that, you probably need to create your own plan or get a coach...

Any thoughts? Am I completely crazy?

On the homestead:

We went sledding this weekend in our backyard. It's funny we have two sledding tubes. Kaylee sleds the whole time, and Emily fills her tube with snow. She's quite happy just filling it with snow. And there she is doing just that...two year olds...they're so weird. ;)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Preparing a Ride to Boston

With 39 days until Boston, which is practically right around the corner, it's time to start figuring out how I'm getting to and from the race. I live relatively close by, but I don't want to drive myself, and I don't really want Nick to have to drop me off either. He would, but he'll be watching the kids, we don't know that specific area (that we'd be driving to) super well, and I know I'll be nervous. That combo will probably just lead to more stress for everyone involved. I'd rather take a team bus, where I can drive to a close by location and have them take care of the rest. It's much more care free (for me). Of course, that means I have to be a club member. In theory, picking a club/team should be easy. There's a running club in Lowell (GLRR), which is closest to me. I don't know anyone in the club though, so I have no particular allegiance to the group, but they're convenient. (And I'm sure once I meet them I'll feel some comradely.)

But there were two other possibilities as well. There's the Gate City Striders, which isn't much further than Lowell. I not only have a running friend from college in that club, but I met a number of club members at Derry, and of course everyone was great. Then there's the Whirlaway team. One of my best friends from college runs for Whirlaway, which makes it the most appealing option (because I hardly ever get to see her anymore). Also, if I was serious about getting faster, these ladies would push me there. I'd probably be the 6th runner on the team. That means when we raced, say a half marathon, I would probably be the 6th member of the team to finish (5 other ladies on my team and in my age group would be ahead of me). In my mind, the biggest downside to that is my stress level. I'm sure it would make me faster, but I'm comfortable right now doing my own thing, and not worrying about where I finish on a team, or if I'm letting people down because I didn't run fast enough. I think if I didn't have some specific marathon goals right now, then I would find the Whirlaway team too good to pass up, which probably sounds odd.

Let me explain. Right now I'm very focused on the marathon distance. I see that changing after October, but my racing right now is centered around my marathon training. And the marathon is such a mental suck, that I'm concerned a serious team will play games with my mind. When I let go of the marathon stress, I think team running will become more appealing, fun, and interesting. And it would be so much fun to run with my college friend again!

So I promised my friend that I wouldn't join any team without talking to her first, but I had already joined the GLRR club. Here's the deal though, you can join a club, but not necessarily the team. To score for the team you have to be registered with that team under the USATF. I'm not registered with the GLRR team, just the club, but I have this funny feeling that might change...I just received an email from the club asking which of us are running Boston. They want to select who will be registered to score for the team, but they also need to keep track for the whole bus thing. Given that I'm not a member of any team (at this point), it's probably going to be difficult not to join (since I'm in the club) if they ask. I'd be okay with that though. I'd love to run with my college friend, but I feel a lot less stressed about the seriousness of the GLRR team (hopefully no one gets offended by that statement). And it might be fun to be on a team that doesn't stress me out. Of course, I haven't mentioned my times to anyone and no one knows me, so there's also a good chance that I'll slip through without notice.

Thinking about running with and being a part of a running group is exciting! I don't see myself being able to commit to very many group runs right now, but after Boston I could see myself running long runs with the group. They often run on the BayState course. Of course, if AM decides to run BayState and wants to do some on course runs, I could be easily convinced to stray from the group. ;)

And just for fun here are a couple of phone pics:

 My little kindergartner. She'll be testing for her yellow belt in Kenpo in a couple weeks, which is sort of new and interesting for us. 

Do NOT be fooled. This one is crazy. Lately, she's been running around screaming, "Rawwr, I'm a headless horse! I have no head!" Really, I couldn't make this up if I tried. The other thing she does is chase Kaylee around screaming, "WOOOOoooo, I'm the ghost of the forest!!!" Which, for whatever reason, really freaks Kaylee out...