Archive for February, 2009

Miles and Time

A postscript to Sunday’s race. Anna and me were 4th in our division (100 to 119 combined years). which is pretty good going in that field. It’s the closest I’ve yet come to an AG award in anything other than a small local race. Our official time was 44:25, which enabled me refine my estimated split time to 22:00. That poorly self-timed figure does not qualify as a PR, but it’s an interesting measure of how I’m improving at the awful 5K distance.

It seems that, of my immediate running buddies, Joe, Kati, Dan all have 5K PRs within a few seconds of this figure, so we may have a 5K shootout in the near future.

Joe came across an interview with Peter Gilmore, who is a speedy.runner from San Mateo. He runs 100 to 150 miles per week. My initial reaction was ‘Well yeah, elites do that, and they do two workouts per day, too”  But then I wondered what this meant in terms of time expended. According to Jack Daniels, the time you spend running is a better measure of training volume than miles run. The various paces we run at, easy, marathon, tempo and so on, are in proportion to our race paces, so I just need to make a wild assumption that Peter’s mix of easy and fast running is similar to mine. It’s now simple to calculate an equivalent mileage for me that takes the same number of hours as his 100 to 150

Peter’s time in the Chinese New Year 10K was 0:31:16, and mine was 0:47:18,
Divide his time by mine to get 0.66 .
Multiplying 100 – 150 miles per week by 0.66 gives me 66 – 99 miles per week.

Now that does not look so outlandish, does it? I’ve visited the lower regions of that range when peaking for marathons. If I did two workouts on some days, like many elites do, I’d probably be approaching that 99 figure.
Not that more is always better of course, increasing mileage has been good to me thus far….


Race: Couples Relay

Another Sunday. another race, another rainstorm.
The couples relay is an annual 2X5K around Lake Merritt in Oakland. Women run the first lap. Most of the couples are of course temporary alliances for the race. Anna, my teammate, has been spending most of her time running long on trails lately.

“I can’t remember when I last ran a 5K. I’m not sure how to pace it.”
“Well, My approach to 5Ks is to go like hell and know that it’ll soon be over.”

The tactical master-plan taken care of, we head to the start. It’s raining steadily. Not hard like last week, and not windy either, but still a downer. I tell Joe I’d be really happy to complete my leg in 22 minutes, and he has a similar goal, although he usually beats me in the shorter races. It feels odd to be standing around watching the start of a race in which I am also a participant. I start my watch, and keep an eye on the time as I put my jacket in the car and warm up.

I get into position as Anna comes around the final corner, running well but looking exhausted. Looks like she gave it her all. We tag, and I’m running. I pass a couple of runners, but I’m not feeling all that fast. Better not over-do it in this first mile. Things are pretty spread out. In front of me here’s a tiny figure in the uniform of one of the local high schools, doing a good pace. I follow him for the time being, and await developments. He’s well under four feet tall, which gives me an uninterrupted view of the ground in front. The mile split is approximate, as I was slow on the button at the handover, but it’s about 6:30. Too fast, but not by much. Two young runners pass us. Let ’em go. The kid is faltering now, so I pass him and contemplate the 100-yard gap to the next runner. That’s a long way, and my attention drifts.

This is horrible, I hate 5Ks. I wish I didn’t run so far yesterday. How far to go? This hurts, maybe I should slow down…

Get a grip and reel that guy in! Even if I don’t succeed, it will distract me from these 5K blues. Focus. Closing a bit, good.

This passes the time nicely, but now we’re in the last quarter mile and he’s still 40 yards away. If he has any sort of kick left, I’m not going to catch him. Do I have a kick, come to that? I dig deep. Uuurgh! 100 yards to the line and he’s gone. I need to bottle that.

After I get my breath back, I turn my attention to my watch.

Let’s see… That 24:40 is Anna’s split (Nice job, Anna!), so I need to add the mile split to this next one, add a few seconds for the slow button push at the handover,…
That can’t be right, start again…
Did I just run a 22:10? No wonder I felt like death!

I’m not at all sure about that time, so will wait for the official results to see if my button fudging was accurate. A provisional PR. Then maybe I wont have to run another 5K for a while…


So I ran in the rain for three successive days, which has not helped my cold.

I was out at dinner last night, and some wine was consumed.

The dog ate my homework.

These are just some of my excuses for running my 1K intervals five seconds too slow today. Well OK, not that last one. Oddly, I didn’t feel wiped out afterwards, so that’s some good news.
The next bit of “quality” running coming up is another race, the Couples Relay on Sunday is a rare 5K for me. I have to self-time my segment, as  they wont be recording individual splits. Last year I forgot to stop my watch at the finish, so I won’t be able to gauge one year’s improvement. Pity. My most recent 5K was a PR at 22:41, about six months ago. Lets see how I do against that.

Race Report: Chinatown 10K

We welcomed the Chinese Year Of The Ox in the pouring rain. The combined start of the 5K and 10K was on Grant Avenue in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Everyone sheltered on the sidewalks under shop awnings until just before the start. I was not thinking of this as any sort of goal race, more like a bit of tempo running in interesting surroundings.

I was going to have to wait for the tempo part, since Grant is quite narrow, and I really should have been closer to the front. The pack was going pretty slowly, and I started to pick my way through it. One guy pushed me out to the side as  passed him. Gee thanks, and goodbye. Ah, here was  Karen of the LMJS, running the 5K, doing a pretty good threading job. I followed her for a bit, then went through a different gap and we parted company.

By the first mile mark, things had opened up and I could go as fast as I wanted. We went down a steep hill into North Beach, crossed Columbus, then headed south on the Embarcadero. There was a nasty headwind here and it seemed to be raining even harder. Ugh. At least I was still passing other runners. There’s a guy wearing a bin liner, rustling and flapping  in the wind. Must be slowing him quite a bit. Goodbye. The tall buildings of the business district provided some shelter, and we went up a gentle gradient towards the point where the 5K runners turned right to the finish. We 10K types were faced with a steep uphill. As I approached the split, a gust of wind almost stopped me. Oh great, this is going to be brutal! But then it reversed direction around the buildings and helped me up the hill, hooray!

Crossing the start line again, I could sense my endurance mode kicking in (a.k.a. the Energizer Bunny) A half dozen runners were visible ahead of me, and I amused myself by picking them off one by one. Oh, that guy’s wearing a Boston Marathon jacket. I’ll count him as two. Back on the Embarcadero, I caught the last of them, a guy of about 20, loping along with long strides. He stayed on my heels for about a minute, then his footsteps faded. In front of me now was a huge gap to the next runner, about a block and a half. So I just continued with my little tempo run, waving at the volunteers, smiling for the photographer.

Back in the business district, The cops waited for me to pass, then waved the cars through. Wow. There must be a decent gap behind me now. The guy in front was getting closer too. At the turnoff to the finish, he headed straight on until the volunteers yelled at him to turn right. Damn, I wish I’d known he was going to do that. I’d have gone a bit faster!
Ox Shirt
I was a bit slow with the button at the finish, so 47 minutes give or take 5 seconds. Not too shabby  for a hilly course in the wind and rain. I don’t know how I did, position wise. There are no age-group awards in this race. Being sopping wet, I headed straight home.  I like the shirt. Happy 4707 everyone!

My Own Track

I followed an idea explained on Flo’s blog by Doggie Poo. You can discreetly put distance markers on your running trail with duct tape. The actual measurement is done with Google Earth (or any mapping program that does measurements) “Just past the light pole, in line with the end of the house with the big tree”, that sort of thing.

So now I have a dead-straight 1,000 meter track along the shoreline trail in Alameda. After running it a few times, the tape is not strictly necessary. I know the spot.  It’s still nice to have an actual mark, though. Running up and down it at speed earned me some stares from dog walkers and normal-speed joggers! At interval speed, I should cover it in 4:10. The first try I did it in 3:59 – oops. Nailed it the second time, bit slower on the third. J.D. only had me do three of these at this point in the program, for which I am grateful.
It still knocked the stuffing out of me though.

I was just starting to wonder if I’ve hit a limit by doing two speed sessions per week, when I see in Runner’s World a sidebar on Stephanie Herbst-Locke. She just ran a 1:15 half at age 43. “Only do one speed session a week after age 40”. Hmmm. I’m a decade older than her! My schedule is going to get disrupted by racing for the next couple of weeks, anyway, but I’d like to continue the experiment for a while.


A nice outing this morning. The temperature was a little below freezing – cold for hereabouts, and I was wishing for warmer gloves. All that was forgotten when I reached the shore. The air was super clear, and the moon was out. It lit up the bay up with a big splash of silver, enough to read my watch by. I was running along just staring at the view, probably lucky not to go slap into a tree or something. I stayed at a genuine easy pace, mindful of an interval session coming up tomorrow.

How To Run Slowly

This morning I was wondering about the wisdom of my new schedule, which involves doing longish runs on Saturdays with the group, then doing quality sessions on Sundays. Today’s session was an especially devilish thing out of Jack Daniels’ marathon plan “A”.

Run 2 miles easy, then 5 X 5 minutes tempo, with 1 minute rest between. A little tough when you’ve run 13 miles the day before, And then run for an hour at easy pace. Urgh! That hour was run at about 10:00 pace. I was pooped. The good news was the intervals themselves. Target pace: 7:15, Actual: 7:08, 7:10, 7:03, 7:08, 7:10. A little fast, but it bodes well that I was even able to do that.

It looks like I’ll be doing an extra race next weekend. There’s a 5K/10K held as part of the Chinese New Year festivities in San Francisco’s Chinatown. I don’t know much about this race, other than it’s started with firecrackers, watched by a large crowd, and of course there are hills.  Gung Hei Fat Choi!

Race PRs

5K20:43 (LMJS 6/28/09
12K54:36 (Across Bay 3/21/10)
15K1:09:51 (LMJS 19/27/09)
Half1:31:28 (Kaiser 2012
Marathon 3;13:14 (CIM '11)


February 2009
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