Archive for February, 2010

A Bit More Billat

This post is a response to Flo of Girl In Motion, who wanted to know what one of my Billat workouts looked like. Well, here  is the HR graph of the one I did on Thursday.

The high reading in the first warmup mile is garbage data caused by poor contact with the monitor band. That is normal on these cool mornings. The two dips are where I stopped at a water fountain. The section of interest is that saw-blade in the middle, which is a 21-cycle Billat 30-30. I alternated 30 seconds at speed (average 6:03) and recoveries at around 9:45. Actually the recoveries were a bit slower than that because I was hitting the lap button after speeding up and before slowing down, so the lap paces for the slow segments included a bit of speed. Billat says to do the recoveries at half speed, which would be 12:00 pace for me. Maybe I should try that.

My HR reached maximum on interval 10, after slightly more than a mile of running, and stayed up there for nearly two miles.   The workout lasted about 22 minutes, and I was pretty near VO2max the whole time. Pretty effective.

That little spike at the end? I felt sufficiently recovered to race a bus over the bridge again.

In other news, my official time for the Chinatown race was 45:21 which I think is abou 10-12 seconds too long.  (these errors sometimes happen with manual timing systems) but it’s no big deal. I just won’t count it as a PR.


Race: S.F. Chinatown New Year 10K

I was feeling somewhat race-deprived after missing the Kaiser half the other week, so determined to race the Chinatown New Years 10K this weekend. Tapering for that half and then then getting the flu made a bit of a hole in my training. so no taper this time. I ran a 20 miler with the LMJS marathon training group on Saturday which is hardly recommended as preparation for a race, but how bad could it be? At the minimum I would get a decent tempo run. The paces given here are from the Garmin. I wore it mainly for the HR data, and because I didn’t want to be bothered with the confusing mile markers on this double-loop course.

The race began under the paper lanterns on Grant Avenue. There were no chips, so I lined up fairly close to the line with LMJS buddies Dan, Loraine and Karen. Not quite close enough, as it turned out. After the firecrackers went off we were weaving though a mass of kids and other slow people. It opened up as we moved into North Beach, but that first mile took me 7:05. Then I started reeling in runners, this was starting to feel like a race. Mile 2 had some steep downhill – 6:48. Mile 3 was mostly flat on the Embarcadero with some uphill at the end – 6:49.

After the 5K racers split off, We chugged up the big hill on Pine to get back up to Grant. Ugh. There was heavy breathing on my shoulder. A guy I had passed earlier gradually worked past me. The positive spin on this was that it would make for an interesting battle in the second half, but alas it was not to be. At the top of the hill he let out a big sigh and started walking. Well crap! I ran along Grant again, starting to feel that 20 miles in my legs. Two older guys running together passed me, and I was not quite able to stay with them. I did catch a different runner on the downhill, but everyone was getting spread out and such opportunities were running out. Mile 4 with the big hill – 7:50, then mile 5 – 6:55. Yup, starting to fade a bit. The pair had got about 100 yards ahead and I was getting glum. Then salvation. A younger runner in the uniform of one of the S.F. clubs passed me and I hung on behind him like grim death. We started to close on the pair in front who seemed to have slowed slightly. By this point in the race we were passing quite a number of 5K walkers, and I nearly collided with a young girl who swung to the side. This cost me 2-3 yards, and I had to work really hard to get back in contact with the guys in front. By that time we were going uphill past the six mile marker and time was running out. 7:10 for that mile.
The finish was on level ground but I could not match their kick. Watch time 45:09 or thereabouts. I need to wait for Wednesday for the official time, but that would be 1:51 faster than last year, and a 5 second PR for the 10K. Not bad for tired legs. It looks like my current training cycle is on track.

Not a Race Report

I was all set for the Kaiser Half on Sunday, had my bib and chip all ready, and went out for a short run on Saturday morning. That run did not go too well. I felt heavy and slow, and doing some strides didn’t help much. My heart rate was way too high. What was going on? The answer came later in the day, as the unmistakable symptoms of flu set in. Oh NO! Oh please let this be over in a day! I spent the day in bed and went through my pre-race ritual in the evening. Lay everything out, pin on the bib, attach the chip to my laces…

But it was hopeless of course. The decision was easy to make in the morning. I consoled myself that flu is gone in a few days unlike, say, a stress fracture or muscle tear. But it did seem unfair. I have not been sick in over a year barring a couple of mild colds, and this thing had to clobber me on a race weekend. I’ll just have to come back stronger.

Just for fun, here’s a video in French of Veronique Billat, the subject of my last post,  and her treadmill. Notice the victim test subject is wearing a safety harness in case of falls. That’s not a bad idea when doing fast intervals on a treadmill!

Billat 30-30

Veronique Billat.
Now there’s a nice French name. A movie star perhaps? Government minister? Nope, she’s an exercise physiologist at the university of Lille. She’s been applying her treadmill and exhaled-gas analyser to the study of vVO2max. There’s a more detailed explanation of her work here, but basically vVO2max is how fast you need to run to maximize your oxygen consumption for conditioning purposes. Every coach knows that the way to spend maximum time at VO2max before exhaustion sets in is to do intervals.But what intervals, and how fast? Mme. Billat has come to the conclusion that equal intervals are best, 3 minutes on, 3 off repeated 5 times. The “off” periods are done at a recovery jog.
Recently Mme. Billat has been working on shorter intervals, which are are nearly as good for most runners, and better for some. 60 seconds on, 60 off or even 30-30 seconds. There is no fixed count for these. You simply continue to failure, in the manner of pushups.

The answer to “How fast?” is simply the fastest speed you can hold for 6 minutes. I found this test difficult to do solo, but McMillan’s predictor says I should be able to run a mile in 5:51. I’m sure I can’t do that yet so I picked a time that seemed do-able to start: 6:20.

The 30-30 workout suits me pretty well. The bouts are short enough that I can say “just one more” 4 or 5 times before I really have to stop and commence serious air sucking. I’m now up to 22 of them, and averaged 6:13 pace on the latest set this morning. When I can do 20 of these sub-6:00 I should graduate to the 60-60s. This is only my third week of doing these, and the improvement is noticeable. That means I’m a little soft in the speed department of course, but these workouts are working better for me than anything else I’ve tried.

This Sunday’s Kaiser Half will test that assertion. I ran this course in 1:37:49 last year, which was a PR at that time. No predictions this time since this race is notorious for nasty weather, but if conditions are good I’ll set out at around 7:00 pace and see what develops.

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 2010
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