Saturday, May 21, 2011

Running By Heart... Rate!

I will run my 6th marathon in one week in the state of Idaho. I definitely should PR because I am in good shape, but, I am very nervous. After breaking the big goal of 5 hrs in Arizona, I was clueless in regards of what the next goal would be.

I hired a coach in February, who has helped me improve big time. He wasn’t too happy with me racing every weekend, but either he understood my driving force or he just gave in. Every single race result foretold a good pace for my upcoming marathon, but what pace that would be? Coach doesn’t put too much emphasis about pace; his emphasis is in quality Tuesday’s workouts and the long runs to be run as the body feels. The rest should come along. I think it’s a great tactic but for a fixated old dog like me, who only has worked with pace, it was a tough issue to understand. Though I followed suit, my evil twin was still asking every day, at what pace should Coeur D’Alene be run?

This weekend, my last before the marathon, I had scheduled 8-10 miles. I have never run a race the week before a marathon because what is normally available are Half Marathons, which are too far, or 10K, which are too fast. 10K the week before is a recipe for disaster knowing my idiotic need of wanting to continue PRing this distance. But, Seattle gave me a gift this weekend. Believe it or not, the running calendar had a 15K!!! 9.37 miles… Wow, wasn’t that amazingly convenient? I doubted on registering because my lack of judgment controlling pace and sprinting, but I thought this was a long enough race to not run it at 10K pace, and short enough to press a bit without getting into trouble. So, could I control myself for a change? I clicked the register button.

The race promised to be beautiful. One, the course, starting and ending in beautiful Gas Works Park, and going around Lake Union. What else can you ask to the Emerald City? Two, for three days in a row, we had sunny clear days and low 60’s. But, if you are trying to guess, you are guessing right. The weather on Saturday was rain, overcast and low 50s; but, as I put it a couple of years ago, “a rainy day is better than no day at all”.

My friend Benny went to cheer me on, and helped me to distract well enough that I was seeded back in the pack. This was good because it kept me on the leash at the start of the race. My mandate:  “run by feel”, and “do not sprint”. I removed pace from my brain and set up a heart rate strategy. Though I have tried to use this strategy in the past, it has never materialized. I broke the race in four segments and set my HR accordingly. The first 6K were run at about 155. It felt really easy. At 7K I cranked it up a notch and ran avg 162 until the 10K mark. It felt easy and good. Then, I raised it to 165 till 13K, but went higher at a slower pace as there was a trio of consecutive steep hills, short though. At 14K I raised it to 173, and kept it there. It felt good. For the last 2K I was easily passing people without running too fast. One, two, three… ten, eleven… many!!! and it was when FINALLY, FINALLY after four years, dawned on me what is to run with negative splits. The power was absolute and the body felt in good shape. 100 meters before the finish line, a guy sprinted and passed me, I was ready to chew him, when I saw a sign on my thighs: DO NOT SPRINT… You have only one week to recover!!! I didn't

I ran amazingly well and got second place in the division without looking for it or paying attention to the pace. I ran a very comfortable run, and finished with the absolute confidence that my marathon strategy now is well understood. This run gave me the response that I have been looking for weeks. And I am pretty sure that this will be my strategy from now on… Running By Heart... Rate! 

My splits with a second half faster than first by 3 minutes:
Mile 1: 10:21 – HR: 153
Mile 2: 10:03 – HR: 155
Mile 3: 10:04 – HR: 154
Mile 4: 10:15 – HR: 156
Mile 5: 9:56 – HR: 159
Mile 6: 9:47 – HR: 165
Mile 7: 9:21 – HR: 165
Mile 8: 10:28 – HR: 166 (3 very short & steep hills)
Mile 9: 9:18 – HR: 173

Time 1:31:11 for a 9:47 min/mile pace.

@ Beautiful Gas Works Park
With friend Benny who made this T-shirt for me. After my surgery last January I asked my Dr. when I could run again. Doctor said: Use common sense, though I know runners don't have any. Thank you very much Benny, I really treasure the gesture, the shirt and the phrase !!!!
Got 2nd place in the division
DO NOT SPRINT ding dong!!!

1 comment:

Petraruns said...

you're amazing. i cant wait till next week - can we follow you? XX