June 28, 2010

Peak Heart Rate Estimation

An article in the Chicago Tribune points out that the most popular method for estimating maximal or peak heart rate is not accurate for women. It sights a study conducted at Northwestern University that found 206 - (0.88 x age) to be more appropriate for women. 

Actually, the standard equation used to predict maximal heart rate, 220 - age, isn't very accurate for women or men. In fact, it was developed more from a hunch rather than raw data and was never intended for such widespread use. It's popularity is based on simplicity rather than legitimacy. A 2007 study determined 207 - (0.70 x age) to be more accurate and another study came up with 208 - (0.70 x age). Both equations are for men and women. But, not many people can do that much math in their head so the old standard equation of 220 - age remains and likely always will.

Personally, I don't monitor my exercise intensity with heart rate and even if I did would it really matter. 220 - age gives me a peak heart rate of 168 while the more accurate equations give me 171. A difference of three beats per minute? No, thanks. I'll continue to run based on how I feel and leave heart rate monitoring to the highly trained, competitive runners and the anal retentive, type A personality want-to-be's. 

June 21, 2010

Father's Day

Thanks to all for the happy Father's Day.
You guys are the best!

June 9, 2010

Sunburst Marathon, 2010. (#26)

When: June, 2010  
Who: Me and Lesa
Recall: Like running through water.
Overall: Surprisingly good time.
Rating: 4/5 carbs                                                                   

Perfect Enough

The first rock and roll song that I remember getting lost in was I'm Your Captain by Grand Funk Railroad. During its 10 minutes of changing tempos and sounds of braking waves, I would sail and million miles away and back again. Those memories returned half way through the Sunbrust Marathon when I ran under a rail road bridge with Grand Trunk Western printed on the side. I thought, that sounds awfully close to Grand Funk. I wonder if that's where the name came from? If so, it would have been perfect if Footstompin' Music, a better running song than Captain, came blasting through my earphones as I ran under the Grand Trunk bridge. Other than that the Sunburst Marathon was perfect. Not prefect in performance but in the experience, which is why I run marathons anyway. 

I decide to run the Sunburst Marathon when it was obvious that the lllinois Marathon wasn't going to work out. For one, I needed the extra month to try and get into better shape plus I had a (white trash) wedding on the day of the Illinois Marathon. A couple of friends, Calvin and Tony, had run Sunburst a few years before and had good things to say about it. The reviews of the race are mixed with the weather being a major issue. On race day, the average temperature in South Bend is 78 degree. A pessimist would also point out the record high is 95! I decided to take the risk mostly because it's the only spring marathon option left.  

Traffic around Chcago slowed us down but Lesa and I still make the drive in the estimated drive time of 4 hours. We enter the city via route 2 from the east to a magnificent view of the South Bend slums. Every other store sales liquor. Lesa points out a welcome sign stating that we are in the oldest neighborhood in South Bend. "Way to keep it real, South Bend. Your oldest neighborhood does look old. Well done." It's a good thing it's still daylight. 
Seeking inspiration the night before

The expo is at the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown South Bend. We circle around, find a close parking spot and pick up my packet. Inside is a cool timing chip, race T-shirt and a bunch of races flyers. The timing chip is imbedded in a plastic strip that you loop throw your shoe laces. Plus, it doesn't need to be returned. Cool. The race T-shirt is white and descent looking, a decent change from previous marathons. After the expo we check into the Residence Inn located about half way between the start and the finish and it's right on the race course; mile 11.5 going out and mile 24.5 coming back. The desk lady tells informs us that with the marathon that the road in front of the hotel will be closed until 2:00 p.m. the following day but we'd likely be able to leave before that depending on the flow of runners at the time. I figure by the time I finish and we're ready to check out, the road will be clear of runners so no problem. 

The room has a full kitchen so we decided to find a grocery store and eat in. After a lot of driving we find a WalMart. Not our first choice but at it's not a liquor store so we pick up a pizza and head back to the hotel. I go to preheat the oven only to find it's a dishwasher. There is no oven. Just a microwave and the pizza we bought does not have microwave cooking directions. We drive to a closer grocery store for smaller, microwavable pizzas. Pizza you ask? Where's the pasta? I load up on pasta and other carbs the 2-3 days before a marathon but the night before I like to eat whatever sounds good and that usually means pizza. I want to watch the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup finals but Versus isn't available. Oh, well. The Flyers won anyway. After dinner, I fill a water bottle with Dr. Pepper, put it in the freezer and then check out the weather. Lows in the 50s, highs in upper 70s, cloudy with a 30% chance of rain. The only part of that I like is cloudy.

Pre-race forecast

The race starts at 6:00 a.m. EDT and I'm up at 4:20 (3:20 am Charleston time) and take a shower for one, it's a nice shower and I want to get my monies worth and two, I need to wake up. I didn't sleep well but that's usually the case and why I try to get extra sleep two nights before a marathon. After the shower, I down a Cliff bar, banana and Dr. Pepper. I dress, put two small PayDay candy bars in my pocket and swallow two Tylenol and two Exedrin. I'm ready. The plan is for me to arrive at the mile 11.5 a.k.a. the Residence Inn around 7:45 and for Lesa to meet me out there with the water bottle of icy Dr. Pepper, more pills, and a couple extra PayDays. I leave the Inn at 5:40 and walk to the start. The streets are empty except for the police who will be controlling traffic at the major intersections. I cross the river into the downtown area and wonder what is the name of this river? I understand it must bend to the south but I don't even know its name and there's no sign to tell me. I stop at the port-a-potties and arrive at the start just as they begin the national anthem. At the end of the anthem, I step into the crowd of runners, the gun sounds and we're off. No waiting. Perfect timing. 

My two goals are to feel good at the finish and not die for any reason but particularly from a heat stroke. I click into my default 10 minute per mile pace and feel good until two guys in their twenties run past me what a appear to be either wrestling tights or leotards. As they passed, I see Leo Tard One's leotard is a solid color and Leo Tard Two's leotard is tiger print on the back and other different color patterns on the front. I almost lose my Cliff bar right there. Before I do, I quickly look away and hope the Leo Tards continue at their faster pace so I never have to see them again.

We cruise a few blocks through downtown and then head northward. There aren't a lot of spectators but many more than I would except for a 6:00 a.m. race. I wave to as many as I can without thinking that I must look like Forrest Gump. At mile four there's a small a loop to the left. As I turn left I'm met by the runners returning out of the loop. It's kind of fun to look other runners in the face for a change. As I look at the oncoming runners I see either an older runner wearing a surgical mask or Michael Jackson is not dead. I can't tell for sure. The skies look to be clearing and I fear that the sun will be shinning brightly before too long. I decide to play it safe and walk for a few minutes every 3-4 miles just to keep my body temperature down and let the Leo Tards get further ahead. 

Happy to be at Mile 10

Just past the northern turnaround point, I draft find myself running behind GirlA and GirlB who seem to be on the same race plan as me. We run on a cement path along the river. I like running paths. More cozy and intimate than roads. Just passed mile 8 we cross the river whose name I don't know and run around a neighborhood, up a hill and down a path towards mile 11. Fortunately, the skies have clouded over and kept the temperature reasonable but not the humidity which is at 90%! That's great if you're a fish but I find it difficult to run through water. Speaking of water, I feel like a clown fish in my bright orange and gray outfit but Lesa easily spots me as I run towards the Inn. GirlA and GirlB also stop at the Inn. Their boyfriends/husbands are waiting for them there also but Lesa has the key. She holds a water bottle full of slushy DP. Perfect. I want to drink the whole thing right then but I resist the temptation. I take a couple more Tylenol and Excedrin and another PayDay before I leave. Since on the return trip the Inn is at mile 24.5, Lesa will not be able to be there and at the finish line so she's going to leave the DP water bottle bend a decorative rock in front of the Inn. 

Looking south from Residence Inn at mile 11.5

After a brief visit with Lesa, I head down the hill where I see a new looking building labeled Geropsychology Institute. I had to look it up later but Geropyschology deals with the psychology of old folks, like me. How appropriate. Again, I follow GirlA and GirlB to mile 13 where the course follows another cement path along the river whose name I'm not aware of. I'm feeling good and keep plodding along at my 10 minute per mile pace. A tall runner pulls up next to me wearing black compression shorts and a very form fitting yellow shirt. I notice Mr. Skintight before because he walks with a stiff left arm and fingers. Like a robot. At mile 14 we're back on a road and Mr. Skintight and I see the lead runners returning. I feel good that I got more than half way before I saw them meaning if they continued to run the course again, they wouldn't lap me before I finished! Mr. Skintight not only applauds the first few runners but every one after that. "Hey, buddy the 23rd place runner does not want the motivational comments of the 512th place runner. Give it up." 

I take advantage of the next downhill and leave Mr. Skintight behind. At mile 16 we enter a riverside park that's really quit pretty. Again, more paths. I'm still feeling good but GirlA and/or GirlB are fading. At this point not only do I see the returning runners but I also see the course on the other side of the river of unknown name. Initially I thought I would hate a mostly out and back course but like I mentioned early, it's kind of nice to see the faces of the runners for a change. Being able to see that I still had to run across the river, up the west bank about 1.5 miles before the turn-around was not good. So I cranked up the music and thanks to Liquid Soul I made it to the turn around, through mile 19 and back out of the park at mile 20 in relatively good spirits. The free banana at mile 18 hit the spot. The worst part was seeing Leo Tard again, but I did pass him, and an older lady who, contrary to good fashion sense, was wearing a green camouflage running skirt and a bright pick running bra. "Lady, even if you were 30 years younger–no! Not, good."

The last turn before entering the stadium

"So just where is the 50 yard line any way?"

There's a red flag flying at the mile 21 aid station. An official looking woman tells me all that the race has been 'red flagged' and to drink a lot of water. A yellow flag means 'caution', red means 'warning' and black means the race has been cancelled. I know I'm slowing down some but I feel good and I'm moving forward. Good signs. I drink a Gatorade and water to make the race lady happy and eat a bit size PayDay that never really kicks in. I convince myself to run until the Geropsychology Institute and walk up the hill leading passed the Inn. Again, the a red flag is out at the next aid station and I'm bombarded by volunteers that seem willing to tackle and force water down anyone throats who doesn't take a cup. I take a cup out of fear but only drink a sip knowing I have a water bottle of DP waiting just beyond the aid station. The slush is gone but it's still Dr. Pepper. Yum! 

Wow, orange does not make me look slim.

Finishing Before The Rain

The last two miles are less fun but I eventually find myself within the shadows of Notre Dame stadium. This should be cool. Finishing at the 50 years line where Knute Rockne played. To gather energy and inspiration I walk just a bit before entering the north tunnel. I assume that's the Notre Dame fight song playing overhead as run through the tunnel but I can't tell. There's a slight downhill so I "fly" out of the tunnel onto the sacred turf and head for the 50 yard line. I hear the announcer calling out the names of finishers. "Number 189, Jackie 'er Jake Emmett from Charleston, IL." "Jackie? I hate Notre Dame." Okay, the experience was perfect except for that. I get my medal (average), a wet, cold wash cloth (perfect) a popsicle (more perfect) and head out the south end where I find Lesa (she is perfect!). She reports they are calling for heavy rain showers soon so we take a quick picture in front of the Lou Holtz statue more as a joke since I don't even care for the man and begin to walk back to the Inn. We make it a fourth of the way when the rain hits. I don't mind since I'm already drenched but despite the protection from the trees poor Lesa gets a second shower. Not so perfect for her. Back at the Inn, Lesa dries out and redoes her hair while I shower, get dressed, and update my Facebook/Twitter status, of course.

We check out at noon forgetting we left a large, frozen pizza in the freezer. As we drive away we see the mile 24 aid station is closed and all traffic support is gone but we do  drive passed two "runners" still on the course. One, an older man, stops us and asks if he's heading the right way. We tell him he is. Further down from him is a lady limping along with the help of a friend. Wow, that's dedication. I'll bet they stopped at the Geropsychology Institute for a mental boost. 

Me and Lou

We re-drive over the unknown river, through South Bend slumbs, and towards Michigan City, IN. A nice lady at the BP recommends Swingbelly's restaurant on the shores of Lake Michigan where we order hamburgers and then do a little shopping at the outlet mall before heading home. 

South Bend Tribune