Saturday, June 29, 2013

HOT week: 14 miles running, 2 hours in the water

Strange weather early this week, warm and humid with rain for two days then HOT.

Yes, HOT. Well, for here....up to about 100+F by days end with bright sun. I only put in 14 miles of running, but that's plenty after the double marathon 10 days ago and with the swim training I'm doing.

The lessons are going well.  I learned one great thing about swimming: no matter how hot it is you don't get hot doing the swimming 8) You also get a nice all over feeling of tiredness rather than all just the legs.

I've had 3 lessons now of 1/2 hour each plus one 1/2 hour session by myself for a grand total of 2 hours. I'm pretty wiped at the end of each...but I can tell my upper body is adapting already.

Front Quadrant Swimming
I seem to have 'clicked' to some extent on the FQS (front quadrant swimming). I kind of get it now, although I don't have the upper body muscles to do it for more than a length at a time...then I rest a bit and do another.  My HR averages probably about 125bpm.  

Swimming is  all about laying down the right muscle memories and getting rid of natural tendencies that are at odds with best efficiency or best ergonomics. The teacher sees your problems and then tries to find ways (using physical drills or mental focus drills) to break out of the bad moves and get you to find the good ones. 

The first thing that was drilled into me was the high elbow return....imagine strings from the point of your elbow (like a puppet) pulling them higher than the rest of your arm on the return. 

Then we worked on some 'catch up' drills where you exaggerate the FQS by having both arms out in front with a tiny pause before stroking again. There was some one-arm swimming drills too...whoa..THEY ARE HARD!  I learned that I have a difficult time extending my left arm out and keeping it STRAIGHT and aimed straight ahead when I am breathing.

Then we worked on getting the hip extension into the stroke...this was all too much for me and hard to get the feel until the key suggestion of breathing every other stroke. That gave me a much better ability to do the stretch and glide part of the swim without the asymmetry of breathing wrecking the feel..and when it clicked it felt great! 

(BTW: In the endless pool last summer I had a hard time keeping my legs from sinking. However in the lap pool I have had no problems. I think this is due to the huge velocity gradient in the endless pool: just 18 inches down there is no current, so if your legs drop even a teeny bit you stall out and they sink further.)

My trainer counted my strokes during one lap (where I kept it together better than ever before).. and it was about 20 per 25 yds, She said this is pretty good for a beginner. Apparently being tall is good in have a longer waterline length...and hence a higher 'hull speed':

Vhull (knots)  ~  1.34 * sqrt(length in feet)

For me this works out to 3.7 mph or about a 16 min/mile:  a fast walking pace. I'm sure I can only hit that pace for about one body length right now 8/. Realistically,  being taller gives a teeny drag reduction that is swamped by flaws in technique and muscle / cardio limitations.

Speaking of cardio, I realized another interesting thing about swimming: once you get some upper body muscle you should be able to do incredible VO2 max intervals without any stress on your joints. That will be a nice compliment to running.

The only downside of swimming is that the view is boring: the bottom of the pool. 

However, like other technique heavy activities: playing a musical instrument, dancing, etc. just the act of nailing it and doing it well requires concentration and when achieved, is satisfying by itself.

Unlike swimming, running and biking can be done without any instruction at all...yes there is some technique to be learned but it's tiny compared to freestyle swimming. 

Open water swimming has it's own issues that require even more technique e.g. learning to sneak peak your target so you swim straight, learning to breath to either side so you can avoid wave chop and wind.

Add in all the other strokes you could learn if you cared to and it's VERY complex indeed.

Have a great July 4th weekend everybody!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Now What?

Ms Zippy  has a post about running or racing: which do you prefer? I'm a runner...if you follow my blog you know that I like racing but I actually don't do it that often compared to a
lot of people ...maybe 4-5 times a year.

And that's why they are mostly marathons..since I'm not doing that many, might as well make them more challenging.

After the a new PR at the SC Half followed by Tacoma, which (was a complete blowup in the heat and hills) I needed a new goal, but something different than speed. Running a double was the perfect way of using all those Tacoma training miles but not beating myself up.

The double was a very interesting experience and I'm glad I did it. The day after I wondered if I could have done a triple, and I think the answer is, yes, but there would be a slowdown. Probably 5:30 or even slower...hard to know.

Running a 5:09 and then a 5:10 you may think I knew what I was doing. Not really..WELL perhaps my unconscious mind helped me out there and I listened to it? Both races I just went out and ran at a pace that seemed  "really easy". The second day I was surprised that pace ended up the same. (Of course the course was much less hilly the second day..if I had been asked to run the SFM course twice I would have added another 15 minutes both days)

Today is 5 days after the double and finally I went out and did 5 miles..slowly...I could have run at 3 days after but instead I took some 1-2 mile walks at midday to loosen up.

WIth this run I could tell I was still not back to full strength....back to slow MAF paces for me. I have broken my weekly mileage record: 26.2 + 26.2 + 5 = 57+ miles. In only 3 runs, ha ha..crazy!

So now what? Back to MAF paces and mileage buildup, drop some of the pounds gained in all the traveling and eating. Back to strength training after having turned to mush and ....
drum roll....BACK TO SWIMMING!

You may remember my attempts at this a year or so ago...I was using the Endless pools and they were ok but I really felt like I needed some instruction..couldn't find any place that was convenient for me.

Well lo and behold now I have a pool that is close by...AND the teacher that was previously highly recommended is teaching there! Perfect! It's a very nice 4 lane pool.

I had my first lesson Wednesday. My legs were still a bit tired but it was fine.This is a full 25m length pool, don't have to do many turns....64 lengths to the mile. 

Swimming requires  good technique more than any other triathlon event. More like dancing, or actually as I prefer to think of it: Swimming is really flying (in water)
I have a pilots license and flew models and  hang gliders quite a bit (years ago in my 20's) and there is an element of balance with body and aircraft position sensing. 

If you fall out of position with bad technique you can literally 'stall out' like an airplane: your legs drop,  speed drops and you degrade into messed up thrashing about. 

I watched a bunch of people practicing before my lesson and lets just say that there were some people that were beautiful to watch and some that where shockingly F'ed up. 

With runners you see some bad form yes, foot 'scuffers' being my biggest peeve. But OMG with swimming it's insane. Imagine runners that fling themselves down on the pavement, get back up, and then do it again and again. Yes, it really seems that bad.
I read books and your blogs and after taking several years  figured out how to run properly and how to keep my various body systems in order for running and not injured (knock wood). 

For swimming I decided some live instruction would be useful for laying down the correct muscle memories from the get-go.

My lesson went well. I was swimming too fast and having to rest after each length..and my previous swimming muscle memory is long gone (just as well), but there was a lot of thinking and explaining going on so the rests were fine.

I think the biggest revelation for me is the so called 'front quadrant'  technique combined with the return draw with the elbow UP. Long ago when I was a kid, the crawl was done with the arms windmilling around, each arm 180 degrees from the other. Bzzt! Wrong! 

Instead, imagine head down, both arms stretched out in front of you and then taking a stroke with one arm and returning it back out front, then stroking with the other arm and back out. That is exaggerating perhaps,  but contrasts it nicely with the windmilling method ;)

Having the arms out more of the time lengthens your waterline length (which means you glide faster)  and it also counterbalances the weight of your hips and keeps your legs flat to the water.

A lot to master all at the same time! (And more to come I'm sure). The trainer has lots of drills to break down the elements and get the right stuff going.... next lesson on Tuesday. 

Goals for Summer

  • Back to MAF (sub-125 bpm for me) running ~20-30 miles per week
  • Run a trail race or two if it works out...
  • Swim twice a week
  • Strength training twice a week.
  • Stretch goal: Swim one MILE without stopping.

I'm on jury duty call this week, ugh. Hopefully I don't get picked.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

RunDown: Tracy's Fat Ass Marathon 2013 (#19)

Double Marathon part II

Note: Full Album of photos here

When i got home after the SFM I showered, foam rollered and spent a lot of time with my legs up. I napped from 3pm to 6pm and slept soundly from 9pm to 5am. From what I have heard from other runners, this rest as well as eating a bunch is key to doing doubles, triples, etc.

When I got up to prep to go up to SF my legs felt pretty good. Tired but not hopelessly so. I didn't know if I could run on them but it seemed I might be able to.

I drove up the 280 to  Lake Merced. ...this lake is a cachement  basin for the city I's a beautiful lake but fenced off and not for public use. (SF gets all its drinking water from the Hetch Hechy lake in Yosemite valley (as does the city where I live) and this is sierra snow melt water..can't be I'm not sure what the lake is for.)

But it makes a dandy thing to run around for a marathon: the course is to run around the lake 4 times (about 4.5 miles each) and then run around 2 times taking a short cut over a bridge at the far end which shortens the distance and make the total a marathon.

I got there about 45 minutes before race time and there were a few cars with runners in them. Eventually more and more people showed up until we had maybe 20-30 runners and then Tracy herself showed up and set up and off we went. She suggested we reverse directions on each lap so we'd see other runners more often and so we would get different views. 

What a contrast to the hullabaloo of SFM! 20 runners instead of 20,000. $20 instead of $150. I'm very grateful that people like Tracy give us options besides all this big commercial races.

The rigid thinkers amongst us couldn't grok the reversing each lap idea...but I found it a great idea and most folks did that. We all ended up at the same place (i.e where we started) so dunno why the others didn't want to do it ;)

The  person I met at the wave 8 corral the previous day, Mei Chan, showed up with two of her U.K. friends in tow. They were now embarking on the last run of  A TRIPLE marathon. Yow. 

Himself, Mr. Marathon Man,  showed up in full regalia which was fun, and Tony, aka Endorphin Dude also showed up ..this race was in his honor: He had completed his 100th marathon at the SFM on the previous day. He was not running and just basking in his accomplishment and was therefore delegated to be the official timer keeping track of our laps and times. 

(Tony is pretty amazing. Not only has he run 100 marathons but he's also full of energy and attention to others in a way that is pretty special. He remembered that he had spoken to me on the bus at the Tacoma marathon. He's also a very funny guy and generally fun to be around. )

I think just about all the people running were maniacs or half fanatics (the race had a marathon, half marathon, and 5k).

Anyway, Tracy called the start: "GO" and we all set off at a crazy fast 10:xx pace...I didn't that that was a good idea at first but hey, I was amazed I felt as good as I did.

The fog was still thick but it broke up on the first lap and then we had sun...which made for some good pictures..luckily it came back and kept us from getting too hot.  The course was mostly flat but had rolling hills that were pretty optimal for using different muscles.

I basically ran the first 4 laps (to mile 18 or so) at a pretty steady pace ..walking the steeper ups more and more as the miles piled up. It was fun to see the other Maniacs on the course..we all gave encouragement and high fives as we passed in opposite lap directions to each other which was pretty cool. 

It really helped with pushing yourself to do more and not just walk when you really didn't have to (obviously there comes a time when it's just too hard but before that time....some good works help you keep going).

The locals were out in force doing their walks and runs around the lake. I have no idea what they made of us but they looked us over pretty well.

My most interesting interaction with the locals was at mile 18 or so. There was a big guy running with his 12-14 yr old son. They were both running pretty slowly...scuffing their sneakers...just really sad. Very very slow leg turnover. The dad was yelling "encouragement" at his kid, who seemed to be taking it without complaint. Both were way way overdressed in sweats. (Maybe training for wrestling or something?)

 I puttered by them ..not that I was going fast but I was going faster than them...wearing this 'marathon' garb that made it clear I wasn't out for a fun run.

In about 5 minutes I stopped running to walk up the biggest uphill on the course and eventually they caught up to me and passed me..but not without the dad really yelling at his kid right when they got to me.. Yikes. When I got to the top in another minutes I felt really really bad but I started puttering along again and blew by them again...and never saw them again.

I wanted to tell that kid: Just keep at it and soon you'll be able to outrun your dad and can start giving him "encouragement". ;) Not a great Father's day for that kid.

I was amazed at how well everybody was doing. Nobody had any "dropout issues" AFAIK. I was happy to not have any cramping or other issues that would force me to stop. 

When I got to the last two laps (8 miles) I knew I was getting pretty toasted, but I knew that I'd be very close to my previous day's time and this was a happy thing. I didn't really pay much attention to the detailed pace and ended up just one minute slower (5:10) than the previous day. 

Perhaps if I had paid attention I could have beaten my previous day by a few seconds but I considered completing the double with basically identical times a satisfying success.

After the race I hung around to see Mei and her friends finish their Triple. Mei surprised herself by running something around a 5:17 which was faster than the first two marathons she'd done! Kind of amazing actually since these guys are jet lagged and not at home with
all their normal support systems. 

A lot of group pictures were taken which will be in the Maniac newsletter as well as on Tracy's site  I'm sure. We also all got to share in Tony's 100 marathon cake. Yum! Perfect after 26.2.

I found the experience challenging, fun and call it a success! 

I'm not sure how relavent it is to doing a 50 miler though. That 20 hours of time in between marathons makes a HUGE difference. I just don't know how anybody can keep running at all after 26 miles..and walking 26 miles is a good 8 hours if you are tired.

I'm now a "Iridium level" 4-star Maniac. 8)  


Below are the Marathon results, I did pretty good for my age.
Not everybody was doing the double so kinda hard to compare
people here.

2013-06-17 Mon

RunDown: San Francisco Marathon 2013 (#18)

Marathon Double part I

SFM was strangely early this year (usually it's in July) and I found out from reading the local news that it's because of the America's Cup happening then. No matter, both months are pretty similar for weather. I also read that the attendance was down from 25,000 to about 20,000 due to the date change. 

SFM also starts early, waves going from 5:30 to 6:22am. I drove up to the 5th and Mission garage at 5am and then snoozed in my car until it was time to walk over to the Embarcadero.

I got to the wave 8 corral about 30 minutes ahead of the start. Right away I saw a Maniac and said hello. Her name was Mei Chan, was from the U.K. and turned out she was doing a TRIPLE: Crissy field marathon, SFM and then Tracy's Fat Ass Marathon! It was nice to talk about various places we'd run and compare notes as we waited for the start.

We both noticed that none of the pacers for the wave 8 people were visible. Oh well. The temps were cool but the skies were pretty clear of fog, which means it might be a bit warmer during the finish up the back stretch.

I did have to use the bathroom to pee, but it was hopeless to get through the huge lines and so I just hoped I'd find one before too long on the course. I also knew of a stand of trees after the bridge and in the wooded section that I had seen used by guys in 2010..but that was way out at mile 11. Oh well..

Eventually we got walked up to the start and were let go! Off! Originally I was going to run at 10:30 pace or so and then sprinkle in walks to drop my pace back into the 11's. However, I got caught up with running the same way as everybody else and so I ended up not doing that
until much later in the race.

I ran near Mei until we hit the first water stop at around 2 miles in Fort Mason and then we got separated as I was doing H2O only...probably just as well as she need to go slowly to do her third tomorrow and I might drag her along faster than she should go. I checked out the lines at the eco-cans and they were huge. 

I did walk *all* uphills of any steepness. I feel this is really key if you want to finish a marathon with fresh legs and you are running slower paces. (ok, 'freshER' legs) . Many people in this wave were not doing this..they would grind up the hills then they would pad slowly down the hill whereas I would power walk up....lose some ground ..but then open up my stride and do my normal thing and catch right back up to them. 

Of course I say all this but we'll see if I know what I'm talking about tomorrow!

The weather was clear over the bay and the bridge was beautiful. Of my 3 SFMs this was the best  for that.   As we went by a spot with a particularly nice view around Crissy field a guy pulled up to me after I took a shot and said "right here is where I proposed to my wife". A nice thought.

Climbing (walking) up the road to the bridge level I noticed there were no more of the signs with SF trivia on them as in years past. Boo! I liked them. They would have a question on one telephone pole (up high so would not get vandalized the night before) and then the answer would come 1/2 mile later on another pole.  They had probably 20 of them. Oh well.

Once I got up on the bridge I noticed they had dispensed with the cones and ropes to separate the out-and-back lanes of runners. This was a really good idea! It allowed the
runners to trade off the width in a way that worked out a lot better and had no tripping hazards. At wave 8 time, the outbound stream is pretty thin and so the coming back stream had more room.

As usual I noticed the bridge deck Cal Trans workers (in there huge orange full body rubber suits) had put nice rubber mats on the expansion joints. Still some other hazards but didn't see anybody trip on them. I got some really nice shots on the bridge. The workers were enjoying the race and high five-ing the runners. 

At the turn around I heard the music of a California Guitar Trio piece (are old enough to remember the piece "Classical Gas?, that was the CGT). I stopped to take a picture of the group and give them a thumbs up..they were pretty darn good and they looked the part as
well 8)

Finally some eco-cans that were not a huge line. Even better was that one of the cans was , erm, not usable if you wanted to sit down..i.e. men only. It was the most disgusting potty visit I have ever had in my LIFE. And I've been all over the world using squat toilets, etc.  It must be pretty tough if you are a lady, your legs are sore and you have to hover. I could not do that.

Anyway, on my way quickly and back over the bridge the other way. Once we got into the wooded area of the Presidio it was cloudy over that part, which was actually very nice at
keeping me cool. 

Up and down rollers here. I had a nice chat with a guy running in full anti-sun gear (thin hazmat like suit, big hat and bandana around face) I think his name was Jeff. He was not a Maniac but from his history it sounded like he should be one.

Eventually we hit GG park and split off the first half of the nice things starting in wave 8 is that it was never as crowded as it gets up in waves 4 and 5. I will remember that next time I run for a time at SF..I may ALWAYS start in the back!

We headed west toward the ocean, passing the Bison paddock (they are always at the far
left back corner when I run through here 8/)

Running through the half in about 2:33 I was definitely feeling the race more than I had hoped I would. Not running much since May 5th and eating a ton of food on my trip didn't help I guess 8/

 I noticed my HRs also showed I was in pretty miserable condition compared to my Tacoma buildup. How quickly the sharpening goes away! But for the double it's all about the legs....cardio shmardio!

Soon we turned back east to climb back through the park up to the Haight and I realized that because we were so back-of-the-pack that 2nd halfer waves at pretty much all started! So only a few of them around too. No screaming hordes of fresh faces making is realize how tired we were compared to them. Nice!

Up we went ...the full length of the park now (plus some dithers around Stow lake etc) and here we do some climbing: from sea level up to the Haight is about 250 feet. I think a lot of people get fried on this part because the hills are not that steep but they go and go. In 2010 I was one of them....gradually losing the 4:00 pace group and finishing in 4:06.

We passed the finish chutes for the first halfers..(mostly all done by now) and some nice support folks were giving out sweet rolls over the fencing to the full marathoners. 

It's a long way out of the park but finally we emerged onto city streets. I noticed a person with a "PACER" orange shirt was ahead and he seemed to be exactly on my pace, which was just slower than 5 hours still. Eventually I caught him and asked him and he said he was the 5:10 pacer. 

His name was Jon Tucker and I pretty much ended up running the rest of the race with him, which has never happened before. His pace happened to be exactly what I could do that day...and also walking all the hills and through the aid stations. We matched up pretty well.

He was a Maniac too as it turned out (SEVEN stars for doing 13 marathons in 13 weeks!)
and had done many races as a pacer. 

We wound our way through Southeast SF and eventually turned North...the miles racking up as we chatted and saw the sights of the city. The fog overhead was long gone once we got out of the park so it was a bit warm on your skin but the air was nice a cold so it kind of canceled out. 

I had been eating a GU every 5 miles since the start and during this part from miles 20 to the end I was dumping some water on my head as well as well as drinking. Generally SFM is extremely well run but I do object to the teeny cups they have for drinks...luckily you could just ask for two (or more). No problem. 

The volunteers were plentiful and working like mad the entire race. The spectators are never plentiful in SFM and this year they were really down I seemed to me, or perhaps being at the back-of-pack they had just left after the person they were cheering had moved on.

Many volunteers during the race would wish people (like me that were older) a happy father's day. I didn't mind because it reminded me to think about my Dad.

This part of the race was now dead flat but I was pretty tired and so *just* able to hold my pace without straining. Eventually we came around the ball park and could see that there was only a mile to go.

Of course then you get some energy but I did not sprint or anything..just picked up the pace a bit the last 1/4 mile. At the finish I didn't even look at my watch or the clock but knew it was around 5:10 as Jon had been tracking us to precision.

The food was ok, but no smoothies DARNIT. DId have the fresh baked scones though and some chocolate milk. The beer looked like a good idea but then I found out you had to wait in a humongous line to get a wrist band (proof of age) and THEN you could get your beer. 

Sigh. Wishing I was at the Copenhagen marathon finish with beer stands around with no lines and no crazy worrying about checking ID.

I was pretty stiff walking back to my car (about .8 mile) and when I got OUT of the car, even stiffer, but after a shower and some extensive foam rollering I felt a lot better. I went to "The counter" for a burger etc and a couple of pints of good beer and wow did that go down easy.

No idea how it will go tomorrow but I kept on my back with my legs up a lot of the time so hopefully. Right now I think my hopes of negative splitting are impossible. I will be slower than today for sure and I'm not sure going even slower (5:30? 6:00?) would change that much. 

I predict I will do about 6 hours-ish.

Official results

I went faster than I thought I should be (5:25) but didn't fret about being slower than 5 hours, which was type A thinking!  Pacing pretty even...the bridge hill dropped my average pace to 12:02 but then I gradual drove it back to 11:36 by mile 15. Then I lost some time from 15 to 17 climbing out of the golden gate park and dropped to 11:50m/m.

Once out of the park (always a good moment in the SFM as then you are free of huge hills ) I kept right on 11:50 pace to the finish (about 9 more miles)

A new PW! (Personal worst) YAY! 8).
Look at that Bib number..btw 70989.....a new record there 8/.

Next day's Tracy's Fat Ass Marathon Race report HERE.

Runner DetailsRace Results
Name:Paul Rodman
Hometown:Palo Alto, CA
Overall:4402 out of 5763
Men:3128 out of 3867
M 55-59:130 out of 174
Age/Grade:48.03% Place: 3308
Finish:5:09:47 Pace: 11:49
Tag Time:5:09:47
Gun Time:6:12:51
Split Times
2.1 Mi:23:55 Pace: 11:23
5.5 Mi:1:04:52 Pace: 11:48
7.4 Mi:1:28:56 Pace: 12:02
Half:2:33:51 Pace: 11:45
15.2 Mi:2:56:08 Pace: 11:36
17.1 Mi:3:22:11 Pace: 11:50
23.5 Mi:Pace:

2013-06-16 Sun
SplitTimeMiles   Pace      HR  Elev+    Elev-   YPB