Friday, January 22, 2010

Let's get analytical!

Last Sunday I ran the Cascade 1/2 Marathon. My goal was 1:35. My outcome was 1:36:49. I know it's only 1:49 slow but I was pretty confident I should be able to pull off a 7:15 pace. Instead I was only able to run a 7:22 pace. It's taken me a bit of time to over analyze my race because of course I am going to over analyze it. No doubt I have been pondering why I missed. I don't have a ton of experience chasing marathon PR's. I have run a bunch of them (32) but most of them have been simply to run. I think I have chased PR's in about 8 of them. I have followed a strict training plan for 1. I should re-phrase that. I have always had a plan but only one other time have I had expert help. The rest were Rooster Plans! Last Sunday was a mixed bag. There was some good news and some bad news.

Starting with the bad news. Last year at about this exact same time I ran the Vancouver Lake 1/2 at a 7:16 pace. At that time I was training for the Muir Beach 50K. At that time I was building my speed and mileage. Since Muir Beach is held in March I wasn't booking a lot of miles in January but was doing a fair amount of quality workouts. I was rested for Vancouver. I was looking to establish a VDOT for the upcoming training so I went into Vancouver with fresh legs. I am in better shape right now or at least I feel like I am. I wasn't well rested for Sunday's run but I wasn't beat up either. I was ready and anxious to give it a good test. The weather was absolutely perfect for the Cascade 1/2 marathon. Only a bit of rain fell, it was warm and I was wearing shorts and tank for most of the race. Of course mile 1 was fast at 6:52 pace. I throttled it back a bit and found my pace for mile 2. I felt like I stayed there but mile 3 was 7:2???. Wondering if the mile markers were a bit off I felt no stress and forged on. The next mile was another 7:2???. Okay, I need to move it! Uh, guess not. My legs simply wouldn't spin any faster. I looked at my heart rate and see 168. That's way to low. I should be near threshold at 174 or at least knocking on the door at 172. I tried to pump my arms. Again, 7:20. At the turn around I tried to push harder. Wasn't happening. The legs were simply only going to spin fast enough to get me near 7:20. I did have a 7:13 but I think the wind worked in my favor because for the life of me I wasn't going to go faster.

There is good news! I think I could have run many more miles at that pace. After finishing we did a cool down run for about 4 miles. While running the race I was in full control, not overly taxed but the wheels were just not there. How many more miles could I have run at that pace? I don't know but would say at least 8-10.

Why did I miss my mark? After much thought and looking at training diaries I think I might have an answer. However smart I think I am I will qualify this by saying I have no idea if I am right. Here it goes. Since I train using the Daniel's method there are some key workouts. I have talked about them on this blog at nauseum! The M-Pace workout, the T-Pace workout and track workout are key elements. I have been doing them all. My lack of long true T-Pace work might be playing a roll. This method of training makes adjustments to the pace of a "Long Continuous T-Pace" run. When you do T-Pace workouts where you run continuously for more than 30 minutes Daniel's will adjust the pace. Since I am running so many long M-Pace workouts it made no sense to do long T-Pace workouts too. Why? Because my T-Pace would be adjusted and be very close to my M-Pace. Instead I have been doing my T-Pace efforts in the form of "Cruise Intervals" keeping my tempo work at true T-Pace (7:10). The intervals have been 10-15 minutes each and the total time of the T-Pace effort portion 40-60 minutes. Obviously I have trained my body to hold M-Pace for a long duration. My M-Pace is 7:32. On both workouts I have been hitting better numbers but not good enough to move them up a notch. The ultimate goal for race day is to have both workouts play a roll in hitting the PR. I should be able to run faster than 7:32 but not 7:10. I should be able to hit somewhere in the middle. Well, that's exactly what I did! However, I don't know if I will be able to hold a 7:25 pace for the full 26.2.

I am sure most of you have left the room by now. This is way over the top when it comes to numbers but it's important to what I am trying to do right now. What I have learned is I might have benefited from doing some longer Continuous T-Pace efforts. I might have gotten more spin out of my legs by pushing that limit. Swapping a week here and there may have been a good idea. Last year leading up to Vancouver I wasn't doing M-Pace workouts of 12-16 miles at a pop so I had some gruelling long T-Pace sessions. My T-Pace was adjusted down based on the length of session but it was still a bit faster than my M-Pace. I have not done any of that. The real question for the marathon is it a benefit to have more long M-Pace work and less T-Pace. Will I be able to dump lactic acid out my body super efficiently and just race in the strong controlled fashion I did last Sunday? I've got myself so curious now.
I only have one more big workout. Sunday is a 22-24 mile run with 16 at M-Pace. After that's it taper time. I won't have be curious for to much longer!


  1. I am sure most of you have left the room by now.
    LOL ya I almost left :-)

    I am bad with pace numbers ... well maybe more afraid if I did focus on it realizing how slow I am OR maybe why am I slacking and need to pony up a bit more :-)

    well at least like always your focus and determination is there...Congrats on a smoking fast half.

    PS: I might attempt Cascades Crest this year (yikes) never been to that part of the country so might as well slog through it all day, night and yes day - lol

  2. That's not so bad - I just did a post involving cube roots! That 1:49 was just due to bad weather and the fact that it's hard to keep steady just before the taper. You'll be fine at the next race.

  3. I think you did great! It's possible you are overreacting, and like you said, the slower pace is just from how you've trained. It's also possible you've got a little bit of hypothyroidism going on- I read about Devon's observations about it on her blog. It's associated with loss of muscle mass and lower heart rates and is not uncommon among runners. It's an easy thing to get checked if you have any concerns.

  4. I haven't ;eft the room, neither first, nor second time. In fact, while I long stopped doing such a detailed prescribed workouts, I read yours for the wealth of knowledge (did I mention thanks for the BCAA? I think it helped me get through this week in great shape!), and do implement some of it into training, hoping to use more with time as I gain some base back, and simply to learn more and give advice to others (Larry loves all this stuff, but letting me guide him:)).
    So, back to "why" 0 obviously, nobody but you would know, but personally, without being analytical, I think a minute and half just simply happens. The number you were shooting for could have been as if you had your half-marathon as a single goal. This for you was a bump to a marathon (which we all know is a bump to an ultra), so there is gotta be some bulk training you're doing not quite as the number would have you.
    Ha...didn't I just said what you said, come to think about it? :)