Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tour de Bayou 3

3.48 miles, 23:38, 6:47 pace, Max HR = 180, Avg HR = 164, 22% Zone 5, 66% Zone 4, 9th place overall

I'm really satisfied with this performance because it's the hardest I've ever run in quite some time, including my recent 5K PR this past Saturday. My race strategy was to stay with the lead group as long as I could, and then push really hard at the end. The lead group took it easy over the first mile and then lowered the boom and left me after that.

In general I've been noticing that my average and maximum heart rates over a run have been declining as my times also decline. This is good and bad. It's good because it means my cardiovascular system has adapted and allows me to run more efficiently. It takes less heart pumping for me to go faster than before. But the fact that my max and average heart rate is declining is bad because it means that I'm not trying as hard as I have in the past. I believe heart rate is the best measure of effort. So I'm sad to say that my effort during races has decreased since my early days of running.

With that in mind, I wanted to lay it all out there on the race course today and not allow myself the luxury of coasting. I think I succeeded . . . at least by the heart rate measure. I ran the last half mile in zone 5, which is reserved for maximum intensity. During this time I passed two people. The first finished in the top two last week, but the course destroyed him today and he was walking. The second person I passed took significantly more effort. I trailed him by a long way for at least a mile, but I reeled him in and gutted it out to slide past him with less than 20 yards to go.

(I use my Festival International 5K as a benchmark of effort, because it's the hardest I ever ran as measured by heart rate. 66% of the time was in zone 5, and 31% was in zone 4.)

Back to today: The course was on White Oak Bayou, which is where I run many of my neighborhood miles. But the twist to today's route is that we were ran through wooded trails that caused you to duck under branches and hop over obstacles, interspersed with a fair dosage of hills. It was a challenging and fun course.

And the BEST part is that Julie joined me for this race. She was nervous about the course difficulty, but looked and performed like a champion.

I was worried about my right Achilles tendon since it felt a bit funny, but I didn't notice anything unusual during or after the run. Maybe yesterday's break was all I needed to ward off injury. As mundane as this sounds, I'll probably keep reporting on this for the next few days until I'm sure this is behind me.

TDLY - Two laps of Memorial Park, 6.08 miles, 54:59, 9:02 pace, Max HR = 173, Avg HR = 156.

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