December 8, 2011

Tecumseh Trial Marathon, 2011. (#27)

When: December 3, 2011  
Who: Me and Lesa
Recall: With six you get a twisted ankle.
Overall: I run it for the soup.
Rating: 5/5 carbs    

Since this was my 6th running of the TTM, here are six way this time was the same and six ways it was different from the previous adventures. 

The Same.
1. Lodging. Jill and Randy Peper graciously put us up Friday night. We go back with the Pepers to Penn State where Randy was getting his Ph.D. in veterinary science and now he's the main man over all research animals at Indiana University.
Waiting for the bus to take me to the start. 
(Note the sign referring to us runners as 'athletes'. That's a first for me.)

2. Transportation issues. I was the last person on the last bus and had to stand in the isle with a handful of other runners the whole way to the start. Also, the runner sitting in the front seat was giving the driver directions to the start. Reminds of the year the race director stepped into a departing bus and asked, "Does anyone here know how to get to the start? I need someone to give the driver directions." 

3. Late start. We started about 10 minutes late. Not as bad as other years. Remember, the first year the race director stated, "We'll start the marathon when the last person is out of the port-a-potty. I love this race!

4. Hearing gun shots along the way. No dead or wounded runners were reported. Similar information on the number of local deer was not available. Here's the caution issued by the race director, "We strongly suggest wearing bright colors for your day in the woods. It is still deer hunting season for archery and muzzle loaders." I really love this race.

5. Final time. Slow. And while not a course PR for me it was close. My best time was the first year but I think that year the course was not a full 26.2 miles. If that's the case this was my best time. Other than my right foot and hamstrings, I felt I had more energy for the last few miles. 

6. Soup and sandwich. Even though we had plans for an early dinner with the Pepers an hour after I finshed and I had planned to skipped the soup and sandwich finishing reward, I couldn't pass it up. Delicious. 

"Bring on the soup!"

1. Warm weather. Starting temperature was in the 30s and it had to be in the 50s or close to it at the finish. It was nice to run in shorts and long sleeves.

2. Initial pace. I started out a little faster than usual only to get ahead of some of the slower downhill runners. It's frustrating when you get with a pack of runners who, on the flat, run at your pace but at the first descent, they start tip toeing downhill. Many of these runners are the same ones that pause and ponder at every water crossing. Getting ahed of them proved to be a good idea unless the faster initial pace was the cause of the impending muscle cramps. 

Mile 12. 
(Why with at least 22 miles of trails, the photographer chose to take pictures at a gravel road, I don't know.)

3. Twisted right ankle. While I didn't fall down, I did turned my ankle pretty good between mile 8 and 9. It really stung as I hopped off to the side of the trail. Fortunately, one the initial pain subsided, I was able to run on it without too much problem. I was extra attentive to the trail after that not wanting twist it again. Not sure if it was related but the right heal was so sore over the last mile on the hard and rough gravel road I could barely run. In fact, I was afraid I might have to walk across the finish line. Oh, and not just the usual two, but three black toenails! 

 The Day After and My Ugly Right Foot (lateral side)

  The Day After and My Ugly Right Foot (medial side)

Ugly feet. Please accept my apology. 

4. Major muscle cramps. Near mile 22 there's a good long downhill which, in the past, I have enjoyed "flying" down but this year, right towards the end, my right hamstring knotted up into a painful intricate knot while my left hamstring was on the verge of doing likewise. I had to step off the trail and stretch it two or three times. After that the going was even slower than usual. Run (even) slower, ski fast. 

Mile 23

5. Dr. Pepper. This year I but Dr. Pepper in my water bottle. It wasn't completely flat so the first swig sent a burst of carbonation down my throat. My thought was that during the later miles I need something with a little more sugar than good ol' Gatorade. Other than the excess carbonation, I think it helped. I also tried to eat more for breakfast since the race didn't start until 10:00. So in addition to my usual banana and energy bar I had an egg McMuffin. Why not?

6. Body weight. Good golly. Could I be any heavier? I know I didn't get in as many miles leading up to this marathon and I obviously didn't change my diet. Time to get serious about running more and eating less. 

November 22, 2011

Not Enough Hay In The Barn

One day while talking to Tom Woodall, a retired cross country coach, about training for marathons he stated that what training you do the few weeks before the marathon are not that critical since "the hey is in the barn." With my last few marathons, my concern has been getting enough hay into the barn to begin with.

A while back I promised myself when I registered for the Tecumseh marathon that I would train hard and be ready by December 3. Ten days away and that promise was broken weeks ago. I got a 19 or 20 mile run in sometime in October but no long runs of any significance since. I have done some hill work but there's 26.2 miles of hills and I could use more endurance. I was going to get a long run in on November 12th but it was REALLY windy so I settled for 14 hilly miles thinking I'd be able to get in a 20 miler next Thursday morning before I leave for a conference. But, nope, that didn't work out nor did the following Saturday. Too much imaginary stress and not enough sleep. Monday morning Erin and I helped deliver food to the needy for the Charleston Firefighters so today was my last chance. But, between the wind and rain, I had to cut things short. So rather than feeling strong with 10 days to go until the marathon I'm wondering if I'm up to 26.2 miles of "over the river and through the woods"? There's nothing I can do now, I can't but anymore hay into the barn. 

13.2 miles.... this.

Indy Monumental Half Marathon, November 2010.

I almost forgot about this one. Beginning in the summer of 2010 I began training for a fall marathon. I decided upon the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on the first Saturday in November. It's one of the few fall marathons on a Saturday in the Midwest. I got an 18 mile training run in while in Logan for dad's funeral but after that I wasn't able to get the miles in that I needed so I dropped down to the half marathon. 

Since it was a half marathon and only 2 hours away, I drove over that morning, picked up my packet, ran the 13.1 miles, and drove home. It was a little chilly but not bad. The course was okay but I hear the second half is worse so the full marathon my not be in my future. Still, Indy is a great city to visit and fun to run. 

My though from the start was let's just get this 13.1 jog-fest over with.

Running past on of the monuments.

Pushing to the finish. 

 Done. Time to go home. 

November 21, 2011

The Illinois Half Marathon, April 30, 2011.

I don't know why it took so long but finally, after getting a new laptop, I get this posted. Despite a busy senior year year Erin was able to put in the training necessary to easily run her first half-marathon in Champaign, IL. I was honored to run it with her. A little windy and chilly but not bad running weather. Of course, the course is flat since it's in Champaign, really mostly Urbana. You have to run the full marathon to see more of Champaign.

Actually the half-marathon was just the beginning; that night was her senior prom. The weather was just a little cool and breezy. Lesa, as usual, was excellent in support finding us at mile 7 and there to greet us at the finish. I just wish I looked at good as Erin does in these pictures.

Erin setting the pace.

Erin still able to smile at mile 12.

 The end is in sight.

Erin out sprints the fat old man to the finish.

Proud papa.

February 2, 2011

Hitting the Wall?

Last October, two reporters interviewed me about an article published by Benjamin Rapapport on marathon runners hitting the wall. Rapaport list Harvard Medical School and MIT as his affiliations so he's obviously crazy smart plus he's a marathon runner. Combining these two Rapaport came up with this wild looking chart that predicts how far a marathon runner can run before she hits the wall.
The chart is like a complicated version of Chutes and Ladders. The goal here is to end up below the gray zone. If you land within it, you will hit the wall. Don't worry about landing above it since that's nearly physiologically impossible. Start with the colored lines. These represent different VO2max values or fitness levels with red being the lowest and purple the highest. If you don't know your VO2max you can predict it here. (Warning; you'll need to know you weight in kilograms and height in meters. Good luck with that!) Mine is 49. A little high but close enough.

With the colored lines a smaller percentage of the total energy comes from glycogen as you go down from red down to purple. Yes, the more fit, faster runners burn less glycogen than slower runners. Next, look across the top and find your marathon finishing time. The slower you run a marathon the smaller the percentage your energy comes from glycogen. I'll go with 4:28. Follow your marathon time downward until you intersect with your fitness level. Are you below the gray zone? I am. If so, no carbohydrate loading for you. You don't need it. If you land in the gray zone, break out pasta and load up. Now, if I want to keep up with Bill and finish a marathon in 3:42 I would need to carb up to avoiding hitting the wall. Pretty cool, huh?

Does it work. Rapaport validated it with data from a study that looked at running 30K and glycogen depletion. True, 30K is not 42K so that might be an issue. Still, his theory does illustrate important concepts about running; 1. Not all marathon runners hit the wall. And, 2. A constant running pace is more energy efficient. For example, a runner slows down for 5 minutes and burns less glycogen. He makes up for the time by running faster for 5 minutes but in doing so he burns even more glycogen than the amount saved during the 5 slower minutes of running. In other words, as running speed increases, glycogen use increase exponentially not linearly. (See Figure 1. from the article posted below.)
Here's the article from MIT News with an unimpressive quote by me. I can't access the article in Science News but its titled Up Against the Wall.