Friday, September 4, 2009

Oaktown Runs

Oakland will put on a marathon next spring, which is very cool. A quick look at the rudimentary map revealed this week suggests it will be a course with some challenges, which got me thinking about the marketing considerations that go into drawing up a city marathon route. Obviously, organizers want to show off their community's best assets and the hills are certainly a large and beautiful part of Oakland. So it makes perfect sense that the course feature some significant ups and downs. At the same time, it has to be acknowledged that this will make the race less attractive to those runners (and there are many) in search of "flat and fast" for PR/PB and BQ purposes. The California International Marathon in Sacramento each December, for instance, has always leaned heavily on its runner-friendly elevation profile in promoting itself. And though I can't say definitively that it was a consideration when the Portland course was drawn up, I notice that my home-town race is pretty darn flat, despite the city's bumpy topography.

(And speaking of marketing, it would sure be nice if the Oakland Marathon made its map clickable to enlarge and put it on MapMyRun, GoogleEarth, etc. I mean, how hard could that be?)

UPDATE: Working with that lousy map, I drew the Oakland course on MapMyRun. It isn't perfect, as the fact that I was at 25.8 miles when I got to the apparent finish line attests. But it's very, very close, and captures the elevation profile damn well. Here's that profile (click to enlarge):

As you can see, that's a hefty bit of climbing in the first eight miles, from about 50 feet elevation at the start to some 600 feet around Mile 8. Especially noteworthy is the half-mile or so stretch just after Mile 5, where you climb maybe a couple hundred feet. Then comes the quad busting descent from Miles 9-13. Oh, yeah: Gonna be some fried quads on the second half of this marathon. All that said, the course looks like a blast. I bet I do it!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lost: One Runner's Mojo

After Tuesday's awful 14, I walked a bit and then jogged very slowly for three miles on Wednesday. Today I headed out with very modest ambitions, intending to do 10 miles in 90 minutes or thereabouts. It turned out to be 10 in 1:25, and it was pretty bad. Leaden legs, no energy ... and I was totaled afterward. Showered, fell asleep, woke with a start, barely in time to go get The Lad from his OMSI class. Lydiard warns about too much intensity, especially without a massive base. Should have read Lydiard a long time ago. Shoulda.

Strange thing, though: As afternoon turned to evening, the fog in my head began to burn off. I noticed, heading down to the basement to fetch some laundry, that my legs didn't feel quite so whipped. Mojo returning? We'll see. Tomorrow another very light effort, a slow jog. Saturday, a walk to the farmers' market. Sunday, a 10K.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Geb Tweets

Obviously his recent embrace of Twitter is in response to this blog and the rising profile of his hated rival.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Embrace the Taper

A guy on Slowtwitch referenced the workout function on his Garmin 305 the other day. This got stuck somewhere in my brain and today, just before I took off on what was intended to be my last long hard run before Berlin, it resurfaced. In four years of owning a GPS I never had tried the workout function—why not test it out on a key run less than three weeks before the race you've been pointing to for months? Surely nothing bad could come of that. (Obviously I was channeling Homer Simpson.)

I entered "15 miles" for the distance and "7:30" for the pace. And off I went.

With no warm-up at all.

Having entered this workout into the Garmin, I had no choice—one does not defy the Garmin—but to adhere to it. Right from the start. So from my first step—did I mention there was no warm-up?—I was revving up to that 7:30 pace. Now, 7:30 pace is not super-crazy-stupid fast in my book. Hell, I just ran a one-hour time trail at 6:41 a few days ago.

But if there's one thing I've learned while training for Berlin—and isn't this ironic—it's the value of warming up. Why, just yesterday while snacking after my bike ride I was patting myself on the back for being such a good warmer-upper. "Kudos to you, Pete, for your most excellent training-run preparations!" I said, cracking open a pistachio and popping it into my mouth (this is foreshadowing; yes, indeed, more on those pistachios later!).

Today, no preparations! Why? Don't know. Off I went.

I hit it hard, going from cold to one mile in 7:22. Didn't feel great but figured I'd settle in. Next mile: Another 7:22. Felt tight. Felt like I was working way too hard.

Well, shit, I'm not going to detail the whole grisly, grim, gruesome (what is it about these words starting with gr?) death march. It was a bad run. I didn't warm up, went out way too fast (especially given that I hadn't warmed up) and every step of the way the run felt like it was unraveling, becoming less and less tenable, unsustainable. Not only did I fall off the prescribed pace—forgive me, Garmin—I didn't even do the full 15.

After zigging and looping and zagging around the wider neighborhood—going up and down a lot of small, brutal hills, apparently in some fit of masochism—I was near my house for the final two miles. And they became a final one mile. I hit 14, a block from home, and said enough. Enough of this.

Fourteen miles at 7:36. I asked myself, walking that last block home: "Could this happen at Berlin? Could I completely suck?" It could; you could. It's always possible. Usually, though, the Race Day effort is good. There's a warm-up.

Later, too, this occurred to me: A hard 20-miler 10 days ago. Yasso 800s under three minutes a couple days after that. And the aforementioned one-hour TT on top of that. A little heavy on the intensity of late? I'd say so. My new mantra: Embrace the taper.

And lastly, as promised, a word on pistachios: The 1 lb. bag at Trader's Joes, the "50% Less Salt" one? Don't eat the whole thing in 24 hours. Just don't.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

There's Always Next Year

It won't make a bit of difference for Berlin, but I'm absorbing the Arthur Lydiard principles these days, courtesy Keith Livingstone's Healthy Intelligent Training. What I'm learning makes me want to rewind the clock to late-June 2008 when I decided to re-up for Ironman Coeur d'Alene. If only I'd spent the year leading up to IMCDA '09 building a huge aerobic running foundation instead of dicking around in swimming pools and in that blasted, neck-pain inducing aero position! Oh, well. The year after Berlin, I guess I can run my ass off then, Lydiard style, and get ready for … something.

Meanwhile, in the week just ended—the fourth-to-last week before the race—I took it really easy, except for that one-hour flight of fancy on Wednesday. This is my custom. Instead of a steady three-week taper, I like to do an easy fourth-to-last week to let the training sink in, then have a somewhat bigger week in order not to lose my edge, then taper full-on the final two weeks before the race.

Monday… 7.1 flat terrain, easy
Tuesday… 1 hour bike trainer
Wednesday… 12.3 (1-hour TT, 8.97 miles)
Thursday… 8.3 flat terrain, easy
Friday… 7.6 hills, easy
Saturday… 1 hour bike trainer
Sunday… 7 easy w/ hard last mile (5:50)
Total: 42.2 miles
Last four weeks: 208.3 miles