22 December 2009

15k solo tempo run in HK

In line with the festive holiday season, my running is virtually also on 'holiday' mood.

After averaging 300+ ks for the last 9 months or so, I only managed to do around 200k month-to-date due to a combination of family visits, holiday and work. After the SCSM half, I averaged out running every second day or so.

Week of 7-13 Dec: 5 off days, 2 runs, total 26k
Week of 14-20 Dec: 2 off days, 5 runs, total 65k
Week of 21-27 Dec: 3 off days, 4 short runs, total 35k

Had a good Christmas break in Hong Kong with wife and son: doing lots of shopping, eating good food, and visiting Disneyland. Had a major scare as Sling Jr vomited a few times one night and we had to rush him to the hospital. The doc said it was probably gastritis. Thankfully, he seemed to be recovering quickly and is on the mend.

Had a good run whilst in Disneyland. Weather was cool at sub-10c with some wind chill here and there. Ran along 1.8k stretch of road between Lake Inspiration and Disneyland Hotel for 4 return trips. The cool conditions at about 1/3 of usual Singapore temperature made running so damn easy and effortless. My original intent was to do 10k tempo run at 4:00 pace. I duly passed the 5k in 19:58 and 10k at 40:08 and still felt strong. Consequently, I decided to continue the run, picked up the ante, and passed the 15k mark in 59:50 and covered 15.06k in 1 hour flat.

An unofficial PB since my last 15k race in 2005 was around 61:40s. My 15k splits from Melbourne HM was 61:12 and Singapore HM was 61:16.

The route was flat and in a straight line (no corners, no turns), hence I think the GPS distance should be pretty close to accurate. I also ran another 60 meters extra just to make sure some compensation of the u-turns :p Hmm...can I claim this as a PB?

I felt that I could continue at this pace for another few ks since I still had some gas in the tank. The good thing about running in cool temperature is that I sweated less and do not have to re-hydrate. Even for allowing sole slow down to around 4:10-4:15 for the next 6k, I think I could end up doing a 86 minute half-marathon that day if I continued. Or even could be 85-ish if I didn't run solo (aka race conditions).

Putting the 60-minute 15k in Jack Daniels chart suggests that I am in 54 VDOT shape: 38:40 10k, 1h:25m HM, and 2h:59m marathon. While McMillan predicts 38:40 10k, 1h:26m HM, and 3:01:42 marathon. Whilst the actual results will depend on the training and the runner itself, at least, these prediction calculators will give me some pace guidelines to shoot for.

On the negative side, the tempo run results re-affirm my view that I am a crap hot weather racer. I really admire local runners like Ronnie, Vivian, Tatz, Steven etc who can run 80-85m HMs in hot weather countries like Singapore and Cambodia. Due to my excessive sweating, both my heart and working muscles simply have to work hard to compete with the skin for blood under warm conditions. Also due to my insanely high sweat loss, I can never be able to keep up with the optimal hydration needs without doing a lot of stops at water stations.

20 December 2009

Tune-up races 2010

Doing my own training this month due to a myriad of things such as post 1/2 marathon recovery, family visits, and Christmas holiday. Will resume SW’s coaching in January to prepare for GCM.

Will be off to Hong Kong with wife + son next week yay :)

Below is my indicative race plan for 2010. Have not registered any of these yet, but these are what I have in mind:

14 March: North East Run 16k
A new race, hence I don't know much about the race route and organization qualities. Anyway, it's a good distance to race since it is virtually a lactate threshold test. One bummer is that the race venue is far from my place (1 hour train ride) and I need to go there twice to pick up the race bib and then for the run itself :(

11 April: 2XU Compression Run 12k
Also, a new race and it will be held in Sentosa Island. Most likely 2 loops of the island with some undulations.

22 May: Saucony Passion Run 25k
I've done the 10k for this event in 2008 & 2009 and hated it due 'human wall' formed by slower 15k runners who started earlier and general public who used the running path.

This year, they replaced the 15k with 25k. My initial thought would be to do the 25k at goal marathon pace or slightly faster. One bummer is that the race will start at 4pm which is still a bit warm for my liking.

4 July --- Gold Coast Marathon
Most likely will take a long holiday in the land of Oz late June to early July since I need to extend my permanent residency. Hopefully the family can join me to Gold Coast.

Other races:
I might also do the JP Morgan Corporate 5.6k run around April if my company sponsors its staff this year again. Currently not tempted to run Adidas Sundown 21k since I am now getting slower to recover from races (the 25k race is a week before)

That's basically all. No common race distances such as 5k, 10k, or 21k leading up to the marathon. If my marathon fitness indicates that I have a shot at sub-3 in GC, I could toe the start line with the slowest 10k and 21k PB among all runners in the sub-3 pacing bus. Can a wet dream become a reality? :)

13 December 2009

Secret Weapons for 2010

A slack week :) only did two runs (10k ez @ 5:10 & 16k ez @ 4:48)

Due to little training, I have some time to think about next year plans. No prize for guessing the goal lol. But I am really excited about next year as it will be my first ever attempting a sub-3 (of course subject to actual fitness level closer to the race day).

Presently, I haven't done anything to deserve a sub 3. My recent half-marathon (87 mins) only indicate around 3:03 marathon potential, so in that sense I haven't really earned the right to try sub-3. While there are still 6+ months plus to train, I doubt that I will be able to run 85 half which is typically used as a benchmark for sub-3 readiness. It took me 3 years to lower my half PB by 1 minute, hence to cut 2-3mins within the next 5-6 months seems to be a stretch target.

My only hope for an upside is that it will come from doing the right workouts during the marathon prep. In general, I am a better trainer than a racer. So doing the right workouts (long runs, long goal MP run etc), hitting targetted paces/effort, and training consistently will be key, and let's just hope everything will come together on race day and who knows I might be lucky :p

Anyway, I've identified 5 areas that can to help me to achieve my goal. They are not genetic-driven, so regardless of my limited talent, achieving these should contribute to running faster:

1) Lower weight

At 168cm and 68kg, my BMI is 24 which is a bit high. Earlier this week, I went to the gym and they measured my body fat percentage at 14% (not sure if accurate). Using an accepted rule of thumb that every extra pound of non-productive body weight (body fat) decreases running performance by around 1%, if I can reduce my (fat) weight by 3kg, in theory it can improve my peformance by around 5%.

This can come from better dietary regime, such as targeting low GI food and less fatty food items.

2) Upping the pace of easy runs and long runs

In the last few weeks, my average training pace (average of all sessions) is 4:50s, mainly due to doing long runs at moderate pace (around 4:40-4:50). If my average weekly training pace was 5:00 during GC prep could get me 3:04+, presumably a slightly faster average pace should get me somewhere close to 3 hour. I don't think this is not that hard to attain.

In addition, running at moderate pace also will lead to more fat burning. I read in a book that at low intensity (walking) of 25% VO2max, you burn 85% fat, 15% carb. At 65% VO2max, you burn 60% fat, 40% carb while at 85% VO2max (tempo pace) the mix is 30% fat, 70% carb. While these are percentages of fuel mix, but the key to reduce body fat is to actually lose the fat itself as TOTAL FAT CALORIES. At 25% VO2max, the fat burnt is only 0.8 kcal/kg/min (you burn 0.8 calories of fat per 1 kg of body weight every minute). But at 65% VO2max, you will actually burn fat at a rate of 1.2 kcal/kg/min. At 85% VO2max, the fat burnt is reduced again to 0.8 since the fat component is lower at 30%. Hence, upping the pace of aerobic runs to moderate level should assist in losing a couple of excess fat kgs.

3) Minimizing stoppages during runs

Last week Epi advised me to run continuously without a break in order to develop mental toughness and improve pace concentration. Some things that I can start to adopt in the next marathon prep include a) bringing fuel belt during long runs (avoid going to 7/11 to get drinks which could take 5 minutes); b) let the watch run while drinking or resting to give me incentive to ensure the break will be a quick one; and c) jogging during intervals breaks (even at 8-9 min/km) rather than standing breaks. I think a jog say at 130-140 bpm before starting the next interval should yield better fitness than starting the next one at HR of 100 bpm with standing break.

Anyway, these are just my random thoughts on a few scopes for upside improvement which are independent of my limited talent. Anyone has other ideas?

Quote of the week:
"you can run a good half marathon off of marathon training, but you can’t run a good marathon off of half marathon training" - Renato Canova

06 December 2009

Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon and 1/2 Marathon 2009

87:34 chip time..

Distance was 21.3k by GPS, passing 21.1k in 86:5x. Quite sure the race distance is close to accurate since normally GPS overstates by 100-200m as runners will not take the shortest pathway as envisaged by the race measurer.

Not sure whether the result is better than my current PB in Melbourne which is 87:05. Today's timing is 30 seconds slower. Temperature was 24c with 95% humidity, while the race in Melbourne was around 10c and relatively dry conditions. Also I did a couple more drink stops to re-hydrate which cost 5-10 seconds each (sadly, I couldn’t drink on the run, hence I walked in order to drink properly). The course was also harder than Melbourne which included 500m-long steep hill (ECP).

But who knows…

But again self-conviction was probably the main culprit. I felt strong but just didn’t have the guts to push. Splits for 5k were: 19:48, 20:36, 20:52, 21:13, and 5:05 for the last 1.3k of whatever. (10k splits were 40:24, 42:05). The first 5k was probably a tad too fast in hindsight but there were 2 pretty long gradual downhill (av 3:58 for the 5k). Next 5k included a 500m hill and it broke me down, but pace wise was still okay averaging 4:07s for this segment. After that I was basically ‘locked’ into a cruising pace for the second half. Although, I wasn’t struggling but I just couldn’t find the guts to shift to a higher gear. Since the 21k was a side-event to the marathon, there were not many runners and I was virtually running alone the whole way. Ran the next 10k at around 4:10+ pace and was simply cruising until I picked it up a bit in the last k. As can be seen in the km splits below, my HR was hovering at 170s between km 3 – 20. I was simply locked into a twilight zone and felt afraid to fail. I felt that I still had a lot left in the tank at the finish, but what the heck, the race is already over.

All in all, I am pretty okay with the result, only 30secs slower than Melbourne (I am only good at cool weather runs) and beat my Singapore best timing for the distance by a full minute. So, I feel that I am on the improve fitness wise. Habing said that, I still need to work hard next year to do sub-3.

My lingering issue is just poor race execution. Probably started too fast (albeit downhill start), but the main problem is simply too much aversion towards pain. Perhaps I should do more races during the build-up to GCM in order to practice pacing, drinking on the run, and more importantly, to increase pain tolerance and the will to push myself.

On the elite level, today’s cool weather for Singapore standard (24c, 90+% humidity, wind) resulted in course record to be broken. Luke Kibet, defending champ and 2007 World Championship gold medalist (2:08 PB) won it in 2:11 and brought home US$35k + appearance fees.

Km splits according to GPS and HR:

3 50 158
4 0 167
3 47 170
4 1 171
4 10 169
4 3 170
4 12 170
4 5 170
4 7 171
4 9 171
4 9 172
4 14 171
4 7 173
4 11 174
4 11 173
4 14 175
4 16 174
4 16 176
4 12 177
4 15 177
4 6 181
59 183

Chip time: 87:34
Position: 19th overall out of 9794, 17th Men out of 6371, 7th AG 35-39 out of 1122

Results link