30 November 2010

Retiro Park

Have been slacking since returning from Madrid. It seems the 10k race took a lot out of me. My mileage nowadays is around 40k per week, and when you run 25% of it at 10k race pace, recovery was always an issue. Also, after running 3x in 5-10c temperature and in a beautiful park (see photos below), it's hard to motivate myself to pound the pavement in 30c + 90% rh condition :p

I will be running a HM this weekend, and my longest run in the last 3 weeks is 12k !!!

Anyway, some pictures from running in Retiro Park Madrid, a former retreat park for the royal family

Entrance to the Park, Madrid's answer to Central Park

Beautiful statues and landscaped gardens

Water fountains

A lake inside the park

Gravel surface + some hills, perfect for running

23 November 2010

Madrid 10K

Had a good trip to Madrid :)

Met the world's costliest soccer player, Ronaldo and got jerseys for me and Sling Jr autographed. Also watched Real Madrid trashed Bilbao 5-1 among 80,000 fans in Santiago Bernabeu stadium and did some sightseeing.

The least enjoyable thing is the customary Spanish 2-3 hour big lunch (four types of appetizers, main, dessert, copious amount of vino) and due to the group activities, we can't do siesta !

Running wise, had a reasonably good 10k race in 38:51 - more or less in line with what I expected

The Madrid Derby 10k was my first race post-injury and I only had 10 days to prepare for the race (previous 2 weeks was low key jogging, while the previous month was almost zero running). Did 4 workouts within that period, consisting of 10*400, 2x10mins tempo, 6*1k, and Mona fartlek. Based on these sessions, I'd rate myself about 40-41 minute 10k in local conditions.

Madrid morning temperature is about 6-8c which I think is worth at least 1 minute. The course is Boston-esque with downhill in early parts, some hills between 6-8k and a downhill last 2k. The course dropped over 100m for the 10k (10m per k average). But given the strategic placement of the hills (after legs got beat up with the downhills), I'd say it is worth around 1 minute on net basis. Overall, I set myself a target between 38-39 minutes.

Km 1 - out and back, up 500m and down 500m. crowded start --- 3:52 (163 bpm)
Km 2 - all downhill, running at 5k PB pace --- 3:42 (173)
Km 3 - still downhill, still feeling good --- 3:47 (176)
Km 4 - lactate flooding, never did more than 3k of continuous fast running in last 2 months --- 3:58 (177)
Km 5 - legs became hamburger from the downhill --- 4:00 (177)
Km 6 - upslope after a while, walked 10secs or so to catch breath --- 3:59 (177)
Km 7 - one good long hill --- 4:08 (178)
Km 8 - uphill then steep downhill --- 4:00 (175)
Km 9 - all downhill, running harder --- 3:42 (174)
Km 10 - a slight rise to the finish at Vicente Clarderon --- 3:43 (179)

Total 38:51 (5k splits 19:20/19:31) versus target 38-39

Did not go sub 38 or low 38 because
1) no downhill training, legs became hamburger and climbing hills in the 2nd half was a struggle (Boston-esque)
2) lack of training leads to inefficient biomechanics - couldn't get the legs turning over quick enough on the downhill
3) fitness loss - not used to running at this intensity post-rehab
4) maybe a bit of altitude impact (~750m), only ran 2 x 30mins in Madrid due to jetlag and activities
5) A couple of extra kgs from long Spanish lunches and dinners
6) bad mddle miles (km 4-7), pace slowed to 4:00s, HR 'stuck' at 177s

All things considered, I am relatively pleased with finishing about 30secs slower than my 10k PB despite very limited training. Course, weather, and the field were great on the day. We ran on wide road most of the way, passing the city centre and some of Madrid's landmarks (Puerta de Sol, Neptufe fountain, Bernabeu stadium etc). Pretty sure I'd break my PB on this course and temperature if I was fully fit :)

Some pictures from the run:

Race between Real madrid and Athletico Madrid supporters, A 10k race starting from Real's Bernabeu stadium and finishing at Athletico's Vicente Calderon

Carnival atmosphere between rival clubs supporters

Start point, different gantry for each supporters

Go !!

Full road closure, wide lanes

Passing some sights, such as fountains

13 November 2010

Just Can't Resist

Will be heading to Madrid next week - a prize from the fantasy football competition that I won in July. Will have a training session with Ronaldo, the world's most expensive soccer player and watch a La Liga game between Madrid and Bilbao. It's nice to win a an all-expense paid trip, although I am not looking forward to spend 16 hours flying there :p

Running wise, I have been sticking rigidly to the 'Road to Nowhere' training plan. Doing 30 minutes jog almost every day as part of my comeback trail from injury. My legs also seem to enjoy the natural healing process and the injury began to improve gradually. It's a different feeling running without any goals/races in the foreseeable future (actually I have a HM on 5 Dec but I don't really care about the result). No pressure to run hard, I don't have to think about workouts yada yada yada. Just put on the ipod, shoes, then run and watch the world go by.


One day I was browsing the internet for running places in Madrid and accidentally found a race calendar (oops !!). There is a 10k race during that weekend called 'el derbi de las aficiones - ­corre por tu equipo', translated as The Derby of Affection - Run for Your Team. Madrid has two soccer teams - Real and Atletico and there is intense rivalry between them (similar to AFL's West Coast vs Freo or Adelaide vs Port Adelaide) and the race is themed around that. Participants will get a shirt upon registration, either in Real or Atletico's colors and then race with their supported team shirts. The run will start from Real's home stadium - Santiago Bernabeu and finish at Atletico's stadium - Vicente Calderon.

Temperature in late November is around 10c, the course also has a net drop in elevation….Should be a great race to attempt a PB. The problem is right now I AM NOT FIT :(

But what the heck! I've never raced in Europe before and it will be a great experience :)

Therefore, I've upped the ante this week in order to get me half-fit for the race. Not sure it is the wisest thing to do given I just came back from injury.. My sessions this week indicated I lost a lot of fitness from 2 months month layoff. On Tuesday, I ran 10mins tempo at 4:10 pace and found it freaking hard (when I was fit, I used to run 40-50mins tempo week-in week-out). While on Thursday, I did 6x1k reps with 2mins walking breaks and I was dying (usually I could do them off 60-90secs jog)

Anyways, my 2-week training to get myself half-fit for the Madrid 10k race:

Week 1 (this week)
Mon: 7k recovery (5:40)
Tue: 13k run (av 4:50), incl 2 x 10mins tempo @ 4:10 min/km + 10x 30secs on/off
Wed: 7k recovery (5:40)
Thu: 11.5k run (4:50) incl 6 x 1k @ 3:50s with 2mins walking recovery
Fri: 6.5k recovery (5:30)
Sat: 21k run (5:00), first hour easy, last 40mins moderate at 4:40s
Sun: off

Total 66k for the week

Week 2 (taper)
Mon: easy run
Tue: fartlek
Wed: easy run, fly to Madrid via London on red eye
Thu: Jetlagged
Fri: easy run
Sat: easy run
Sun: 10k race

I think I should be ok running at 800m altitude, but interestingly, the chart below shows that running performance is negated even at moderate altitude. Time to exhaustion decreases by 20% with an increase in altitude from 300m to 800. So assuming I am in low 40s shape right now and coming from 0m altitude (sea-level), then maybe I should expect a 50minute 10k LOL