Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Race Analysis

Mark asked a couple good questions in my last entry. Instead of answering them in the comment section, I've decided to do a post answering his questions with some additional analysis on my training and racing leading to Hamburg Marathon.

(Mark) Did you happen to run the calculator on your predicted marathon? I checked a couple of your PRs and think that Hamburg is a breakthrough.
I did not use a running calculator, but I did refer to the Daniel's Running Formula chart (VDOT values with times raced over popular distances) a few times. I didn't pay much attention to the predictions from my recent results though (1:14:30 half and 33:54 10K), because I knew that I should be running much faster.

I personally don't think Hamburg was a breakthrough marathon for me. My fitness was about the same as Amsterdam by the comparison of some of the same workouts, or maybe slightly better. I had a good chance of running sub-2:35 in Amsterdam, but I made a rookie mistake. In Amsterdam, I felt extremely good at 20K/Half and picked up the pace. My 10K split between 20K-30K in Amsterdam was 36:11 - 5:49 pace (see Amsterdam Race Report). I ended up paying for it in the last 5-7Ks of that race. I certainly wasn't going to make the same mistake of getting over-excited too early. I'd say I applied this lesson-learned very well in Hamburg.

(Mark) Were you going into the race with an expeceted per K\mile pace>?
Yes. The goal pace I had in mind coming into the race was 3:39-40/Km or 5:53-54/mile, basically sub-2:35 marathon. I had practiced this pace in an 8M marathon pace (MP) workout mid-March, a 10M MP workout 3 weeks before and in a half-marathon race the following week. I think the pace was dialed into the legs and body.

On Nutrition
I want to touch on this topic because I believe it was one of the reasons to my success last Sunday. I've learned over the past few marathons that my body needs to take in 4 energy gels instead of 3. More importantly, it matters when (time or distance) I take it in. In Amsterdam I took in 4 gels (10K, 20K, 30K, and somewhere around 38-39K). In that race I ran out of energy in the last 5-7K and by the time I took in my last gel it was a bit too late. In Hamburg I altered my fuel plan where I'd take in my first 2 gels at 10K intervals and then the remaining 2 at 7.5K intervals (10K, 20K, 27.5K, 35K). This turned out perfectly as I never cramped up or felt like I was going to hit the wall. Also, I should mention that I took in fluids at every refreshment station (water and powerade).

On Training
I think my training went fairly well considering the setback (Achilles Tendinitis) I had back in Dec/Jan. Looking back, the training that really carried me along were the races, long MP workouts, and long runs. One of the long runs was too long though; 26 miles in 2:49 (equivalent of a 2:50 marathon - 6:30 pace) instead of 23 miles or 2hr 35min. That run took something out of me, but I recovered from it by cancelling the key workouts and doing easy running. The run also gave me some confidence on my fitness.

More Racing
Comparing the amount of races leading to Amsterdam, this time around I raced more. During Amsterdam train-up I only ran one race (Rotterdam 1/2), which I think was probably my breakthrough race leading to a 2:35 in Amsterdam. Before Hamburg I ran 5 races (3 x 10Ks and 2 x half-marathons). I just wanted to race more. I felt like I had to reward myself from all the training by running more races. The problem was that my races were subpar, even the new 10K PR. I thought I was ready to run low to sub-1:13 for the half and mid to low-33s for 10K. I think my Hamburg result proves it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hamburg Marathon - Race Report

PERFECT. The word that best describes my Hamburg Marathon, despite having thoughts of dropping out when I started to feel some slight pain on my right achilles and right knee (more on this below).

Hamburg did not disappoint. The weather was near perfect (overcast, ~58 degrees at the start and almost no wind), the course was fast (probably not as fast London, Berlin, Chicago, Rotterdam & Amsterdam though), and the crowd support was simply AMAZING.

Pre-RACE: The last week of taper leading to race-day went fairly well. I only did short easy runs, with the exception of Tuesday's tune-up workout, to freshen up the legs. I even took a complete day off (Friday), which I normally don't do. The day off and lower-than-normal prerace mileage (30 miles) was actually me being extra cautious with the right knee, which I refused to mention in the post leading to the race. To be brief, I felt some twinges in the right knee on Monday, mostly before and after the run. The knee felt fine on Tuesday's tune-up workout, but the slight pain came back again on Wednesday. A massage on Wed night and icing made the knee feel better. To ensure extra healing I decided to take Friday completely off from running. On Saturday, I went for a slow easy 30 minute jog. For the rest of the day I mostly stayed off of the legs. I rested (midday nap and a flawless 7 hours of sleep), ate lots of pasta (lunch & dinner) and watched TV and Gladiator. I was ready to go, but still worried about the knee eventhough I wasn't feeling any pain.

On race morning I stayed in my hotel, 200 meters from the start/finish, until about 30 minutes before the start. I don't do much of a warmup for a marathon; about 5 minutes of jogging and then some stretching is all I do, as I like to save all my energy for the race. Most of the warmup is done in the first couple miles anyways.

RACE: When the gun went off I didn't worry too much about a group as it would take a few kilometers to settle in. After a first Km of 3:37 (5:49 pace), I slowed the pace a bit splitting 2K (slight gradual incline) in 3:50. At this point I finally felt like I was running at the right effort, so I latched on to a pack of about six. We came across 5K at 18:29. The same pack ran together for the next 5K reaching 10K (1st energy gel) in 36:43. One by one the guys in this pack started to back off of the pace over the next few kilometer. I felt very comfortable, so I just kept my pace with my eyes set on the next runner or pack of runners in front of me. It seemed as if I picked up my pace and was reeling in runners, but in reality they just kept coming back to me.

Around 17K I was running with a couple guys and could hear them breathing a bit hard. I knew they weren't going to stay with the pace. There was a little wind during this part of the course and I didn't want to slow down, so I decided to pick up the pace to catch the next pack of 3 runners, about 10-20 meters ahead. This resulted in a fast 17K split, 3:34 (5:44 pace).

I caught up to the pack and then "OUCH". I started to feel some pain in my right achilles. The tendon felt stiff. I tried different ways of landing my right foot to prevent the pain. Shortly after that, I started to feel some slight pain on the right knee. I'm not sure if the change in foot strike cause the knee to act up. My original thoughts were "if the knee and achilles continues to hurt then I'm going to drop out at the halfway mark where there is an aid station. Better to drop out and prevent worsening the injury than hobble through another half-marathon." I then started thinking positive telling myself that it's all in the mind; and praying to the Lord to get rid of the pain. I truly believe the Lord was with me. The pain was gone or I had forgotten about it.

At 20K, I took in my 2nd energy gel. I was still running in a pack with 3 other runners, but they all eventually dropped off the pace. Over the next 5K, I picked off a few more runners and could also see a big pack of runners about 100-200 meters ahead with a motorcycle and camera man following. I had my eyes set on the pack and motorcycle. 27.5K - 3rd energy gel.

At around 30K I finally caught the big pack of runners, which consisted of two female elite runners (2nd & 3rd overall). I learned after the race that the camera man was broadcasting live on German TV and had the camera set on the German female Ulrike Maisch, who won the European Marathon Championships in 2006. My goal from this point on was to stay with the group for as long as possible. I must have gotten a little excited at times or wanted some fame because I found myself in front of the pack setting the pace, despite an African male elite there for that reason.

At 35K, I took in my 4th and final energy gel. Most of the pack was still together besides the African female and her pacer pulling away. I reached 40K in 2:26:27 (5:54 pace) and still feeling okay, but certainly tiring. In the last kilometer, Ulrike and the rest of the pack picked up the pace and I found myself hanging on for dear life finishing in 2:34:33, a new personal best and by far the best marathon I have executed. I was quite shocked to see that I ran the last 200 meters in 39 seconds. Official and Unofficial splits below.

Video coverage at 20K, half, 30K, 40K and finish here.

Click on photo for larger view.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hamburg Marathon - 2:34:33 (PR)

Ran 2:34:33 setting a new personal best by a little over a minute and breaking my Guam national marathon record. Half splits were 1:17:16 & 1:17:17. Results here or you can click here to go directly to my results and splits. Race report to follow soon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hamburg - Bib #: 7200

All that remains is a few more days of short easy running to keep the legs loose. Yesterday was my last tune-up workout, 1K cruise intervals to keep the legs from feeling stale. I did 4 repeats (3:20, 3:19, 3:17, & 3:17) and felt pretty comfortable on all of them. My biggest concern on Sunday will be the weather. I'm hoping it will not be warm. Bib number is 7200.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tapering - Week 1 of 2 complete

I like my Sunday runs because I get to run by the bisons (bulls, cows or whatever you call them), which for some reason are normally hanging out a few meters from the running path. Each time I pass by them I seem to think that I'll get attacked. The bisons have free range and can cross the cycle/running path to get to the other fields. Luckily though, these bisons are tagged and tamed, but there's no telling what's on their mind at any given time. The run was easy and uneventful, 13 miles at 6:50 pace and 72% of max HR. The legs and body felt very good. I'm starting to feel the energy building with 7 days to go.

Good luck to the folks running Boston.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

10 days till Hamburg

The taper phase is in full force, and in all honesty, I'm enjoying it. I took the last 3 days pretty easy with some strides following Tuesday's run. Today, I did a tempo interval workout of 3 x 2K to keep a little stamina in the legs. Ran the first 2K in 6:56, which felt like a stroll. The remaining two were each 6 seconds faster in 6:50 and 6:44. In the last 2K, I was delighted to see 81 seconds lap after lap and still feel quite comfortable. Now, it's just a matter of keeping things easy and getting to the start line.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Marathon simulation

Last Sunday's unplanned 26 mile long run certainly took a little on the body, especially with a 10-mile marathon pace run two days prior. To ensure I recovered from it, I only did easy running from Monday to Friday.

Today, I did the Paderborner Half-Marathon. The intent of the race was to simulate marathon race day; get the feeling of marathon pace while practicing taking in my gels and fluids. The race started at 3pm, which I thought was quite late in the day. Temperature was very warm at 75 degrees. Ran 1:16:56, about 30 seconds faster than where I want to be at the halfway mark in Hamburg. The pace felt good and comfortable, but the HR was probably a tad higher than I think it should be for marathon pace, but I'd say it was mainly because of the warm temps. I'm just praying that the weather in two weeks will be 10-15 degrees cooler. Time to begin the two-week taper.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Unplanned 26 miles for the long run

You can call me an idiot for miscalculating my run route in today's long run. The plan was to run 23 miles or the amount of time I anticipate to finish the marathon in. Well, the planned 23 miles unintentionally turned into 26 miles (.2 short of the marathon). I totally forgot that I ran a 3-mile loop around my neighborhood before stopping at my doorstep to pick up my water bottle and heading for my usual Sunday route, the cycle paths on the Netherlands/Germany border. After picking up my water bottle, all I had in mind was that I had to do 11.5 miles out and back. It wasn't until the 17th mile and on my way back that I remembered I ran a 3-mile loop to start off the run. I tried to think of an alternate route back home to prevent running 26 miles, but it really didn't matter because it would all end up around the same distance. Despite running longer, I felt very good the entire run and was quite happy to see the pace consistently under 6:30 for the last 12 miles. Below are the splits (uploaded to my Garmin Training Center) for the run. 26 miles in 2:49. Good end to a high mileage week (~106 miles).

30 Mar - 5 Apr

Mon: Noon - 10.7M @ 6:53 pace; PM - 4M @ 7:33 pace
Tues: Noon - 6.6M @ 6:57 pace; PM - 8M including 4 x 1200m (4:02, 4:01, 3:57, & 3:56)
Wed: Noon - 10.8M @ 6:52 pace; PM - 5M @ 7:10 pace
Thur: 9.5M @ 6:52 pace
Fri: Noon - 4.2M @ 7:12 pace; PM - 14M including 10 @ MP (58:42 - 5:52 pace)
Sat: 7.1M @ 7:04 pace
Sun: 26M @ 6:30 pace

Weekly Total: ~ 106 miles

Friday, April 03, 2009

A good day of training

Had an excellent day of training today. At noon I did 30 minutes of easy running followed by some core exercises. Four hours later I was back on my feet for the key workout of the day, 14 miles with the middle 10 at marathon pace. Ran the workout on the track because I wanted to monitor my pace at accurate distances. The goal pace for the workout was 5:52-5:54 pace (5:50-5:52/1600m or 4 laps) or 3:39-40/km. I actually focused more on the min/km pace because like all races here in Europe the split markers are in Km. I was practically dead on with the pace in every kilometer and mile (splits below). The workout itself was extremely tough on the mind, trying to stay focus lap after lap. When I got to 5 miles (8km to be exact) I couldn't believe that I still had another 20 laps to go. The legs started to feel a little fatigue with 2 miles remaining. Interestingly though, those last 2 miles were the fastest. After completing the 40th lap I continued on for another 100 meters to officially make it 10 miles at marathon pace. 10 miles in 58:42 (5:52 pace; 3:39/km). This is a good sign of fitness considering the mileage in the legs (58 miles prior to the workout).

Mile / 1600m split / Mile pace equivalent
1 - 5:50 (5:52)
2 - 5:51 (5:53)
3 - 5:51 (5:53)
4 - 5:51 (5:53)
5 - 5:50 (5:52)
6 - 5:50 (5:52)
7 - 5:49 (5:51)
8 - 5:50 (5:52)
9 - 5:49 (5:51)
10 - 5:49 (5:51)