Sunday, October 12, 2008

10M Lakeshore Run Race

10M, 1:04:00, Max HR = 175, Avg HR = 168, 10M Personal Record

Julie and I drove home to Baton Rouge this weekend, meaning I had to forgo the first race of the Warm-Up Series in Houston. I missed running with my fellow Tornados and the Dynegy Running club, but I did manage to find a 10M race in New Orleans so I could run "in spirit" with my buddies. If I did well I could gloat, and if I didn't I could cower in obscurity. Unlike my financial portfolio over the past week, the gloat/cower strategy had no downside.

I want to use the warm-up series to gauge my fitness level, specifically as it relates to my goal of a three hour marathon in January. I decided, somewhat scientifically, that a 65 minute ten miler would equate to 3hr marathon conditioning. You can type "race equivalent calculator" in Google to find some online tools to make this calculation. I prefer the Jack Daniels vdot method, and this site breaks down your vdot number with decimals. The more popular spot, especially for Houston Runners, is found at But my engineering background craves more significant digits (even if they are bogus), and Runbayou only gives a whole number vdot. The moral of this paragraph is that I wanted to keep a 6:30 pace, and I figured it was right on the cusp of my ability.

The race was a 10M or 3M race -- your option. I know what some of you are thinking -- given that choice what sane person wouldn't pick the shorter distance. Ummm . . . I have no response for that.

So I busted out with the lead pack of about 15 people. I knew I was going too fast, but it was a calculated move. Now that I'm just a tad faster than middle-of-the-pack, I'm starting to appreciate and really enjoy the strategic aspect of racing. I wanted to use this group for two reasons -- 1) to shield myself from the headwind, 2) to pull me through the first three miles since I figured it would be the only time I was running with a group. This was a smaller race, so I wanted to take advantage of the company for as long as possible. And based on the group's rabbit pace, it was obvious they were running the 3M route.

Mile 1 = 6:09, HR = 154 avg, into the wind, tied for my fastest mile

The course was structured as a 1.5M out and back, and then a 3.5M out and back along the same course. All of the "outs" were into a fierce headwind, which averaged 14.39782 MPH according to the weather station at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport a few miles away. (I threw in some significant digits for the other engineers out there.) I relinquished my position in the pack after about mile one, knowing I only had to go another .5 mile on my own before turning around the first time. I reasoned that a half mile into the wind alone would be a wise decision as compared to holding onto this group and burning out early. Let them kick it out for their 3M race and I'll laugh at them as I circle back to pick up another seven. I'll settle into my pace for the rest of the race.

Mile 2 = 6:26, HR = 164 avg, first half into the wind, second half wind-aided.

As I approached the starting point/3M finish point/turnaround point for the 10M, the rabbits got the last laugh after all. Yep, they were going the distance after all, and they were indeed kicking my butt. From the 3M mark onward, I'd end up running mostly by myself. Turning around at the 3M mark was the scariest point of the race for me, knowing I had to run 3.5M into the wind and hoping that I wouldn't fade and lose my 6:30 pace. I had visions of the White Rock Marathon when I ran into a hard wind on and off for 8+ miles around the lake. But this wind was harder, and directly into my face.

Mile 3 = 6:15, HR = 166 avg, wind-aided

During the next 3.5 miles I hit two bridges. I thought this race would be flat! I watch as my overall pace declines, but I'm on the verge of 90% of my max heart rate so I don't want to pick up the pace for fear of burning out. I'm trying like crazy to run the tangents, and I'm reeling in a guy ahead of me (runner A). As I'm about five or ten seconds behind him, I get passed by another runner (runner B). Based on my heart rate and the way I'm feeling, I'm unwilling to keep up with runner B, but it will only be about one or two minutes until I pass runner A. I'm not happy with it, but at least my place remains neutral. And maybe runner B isn't holding back for the wind-aided return like I am. But alas, Runner A doesn't like being passed by Runner B, and they hold on together and pick up the pace. Damn. This developed over a long time and distance, and now we're almost to the turnaround point. I vow to pass them both on the way back.

Mile 4 = 6:44, HR = 171 avg, into the wind

Mile 5 = 6:43, HR = 171 avg, into the wind

Mile 6 = 6:22, HR = 171 avg, into the wind, but it died down a bit for about a quarter of a mile through a residential area with trees.

Just before I reach the turnaround at the 6.5 mile mark I pick up my pace and focus on bringing it home. For the last 3.5 miles into the wind I've averaged a 6:35 pace, which dragged my overall average up to 6:26. But I'm very enthusiastic because I'm feeling strong and I know the hardest part of the race is behind me. Negative splits are almost a given on the wind-aided return, and I never eclipsed 6:30 as an overall average. I'm now thinking about how far under 65 minutes I'll get, and not whether I'll be able to hit 65 minutes.

Joy of joys, I pass runner A and B from above. I'm feeling strong like I could reel off a sub-6 mile. This is fun and I want to run a fast mile just for the heck of it. But I don't want to get cocky and make any mistakes, so I reign in the urge and continue to run just at 90% of my max heart rate for the remainder of the race. I'm by myself, although there is someone about 20 seconds ahead. I gained on him until the last mile, and his lead remained constant thereafter. He picked up his pace at that point.

Mile 7 = 6:27, HR = 170 avg, first half into the wind, second half wind-aided. My slowest mile.

Mile 8 = 6:18, HR = 171 avg, wind-aided

Mile 9 = 6:17, HR = 171 avg, wind-aided

Mile 10 = 6:09, HR = 171 avg, wind-aided, tied for my fastest mile.

1) Fastest miles were the first and last, at 6:09
2) The pace difference between my 3.5M out and 3.5M back was 20 seconds per mile (6:35 vs. 6:15)
3) I finished in 13th overall.
4) Positive Note -- I felt as though I could have held the overall pace for another three miles to complete a half marathon.
5) Flip side of #5 -- I should have run this faster. I should have kicked out a 5:50 mile at the end and laid it on the line. But I'm not taking it too hard because it was a technically challenging race, and I'm still a very inexperienced runner. I don't know myself and I don't know how to race. Also, I felt no pain after the race and a hard mile would definitely have caused some significant discomfort for at least the next day. This is a race, but a training race. The goal is Houston and I don't need to take any chances before I get there.
6) The winner, Kevin Castille, turned in a blazing 52:37. I cheered him on at one point and he returned the favor later on. He's an elite runner, probably the finest in Louisiana, and was the first American to finish at last year's Crescent City Classic with a 30:32. He ran in the 2004 10K Olympic Trials race in Sacramento, and ran a 14:18.08 5K earlier this year. I knew Lafayette had a stellar runner, but I've never seen or met him before and didn't even know his name. But his performance today, which was probably only a workout, made it plain that this was said runner. I talked to him briefly after the race and he seemed extremely humble.
7) New Orleans is a very nepotistic running community. I think everyone knows each other. Houston is very similar, but since it's larger it has a little more diversity. Julie watched all of the top finishers cross the line, and the announcer called out everybody's name because he knew them. When he got to me he said "I don't know this guy". I thought that was pretty funny. Maybe I'll wear my name on my shirt next time.
8) Incidentally, I wore my Tornados singlet and met someone who spent some time in Houston and trained with us (before I joined.)
9) Congrats to Avi Moss who turned in a strong race. I've been running with Avi ever since I met him on New Years day in Baton Rouge. He's a member of the Bayou City Roadrunners, and is temporarily located in Baton Rouge for work.
10) This is 5:30 faster than my 10M PR in Chalmette last year. Do you think it's possible for me to break 60 minutes next year?


Racing Flats
Thanks to Jenny Peters from Varsity Sports in Baton Rouge for her patience fitting me with racing flats. I want to run the marathon in some light shoes, and I figured the 10 miler would be a good proving ground for longer races. The Nike Lunar Racers planted a seed in my mind that I don't necessarily need to wear ten pound cotton blocks around each foot. The Lunar racers are a light weight marathon distance shoe, so I decided to investigate a lighter racer.

As it turns out, I already might not be in the right shoe. I've been through thousands of miles since I started running last year, but every shoe salesman I've ever had must have been fitting me in the same type of shoe I already had, without ever taking time to investigate my foot. I've been in a stability shoe, which has a reinforced sole that prevents the shoe from torquing as it lands. I guess it's for people who overpronate. I don't know if that's right so don't quote me. I just know Jenny was confused with the conflicting data I was giving her (my shoe history, wear pattern, a foot examination). The reason why I was in that shoe type to begin with is that I got a deal on a pair at DSW. It's disappointing that so many people have led me astray, but I will take the blame. I'm hardheaded, and if someone was trying to steer me the other direction it's likely that I didn't pick up on the signal. Ultimately the salesmen aim to satisfy, and if I was unwilling to listen to them then I can't place the blame on the salesmen.

I told Jenny that I've never had any significant foot or leg pain. As it turns out, that's not completely true. I don't know how I could have let this slip my mind, but my feet hurt just about every morning when I wake up. It's symptomatic of plantar fasciitis, but it's not exactly that. It's more like a tired arch muscle and some localized soreness.

After trying multiple times to fit me in some lightweight trainers for the marathon, Jenny recommended the Brooks Racer T5. This was my hard-headedness at work. She wanted to put me in something with a little more substance, and I wouldn't listen. I reasoned that I could always use the flats for 5Ks if the 10M didn't feel work. So I bought the T5s and laced them up for this race with more than a little trepidation.

From the Brooks website:
"Note As this shoe is a very lightweight, minimal support racing flat, the vast majority of runners will not find it 'enough shoe' for a full marathon. If you have a light frame and a biomechanically efficient stride, however, you may be able to get away with it. We suggest you work up to it in several half marathon-plus races beforehand to see how it works for you before running in it for a full marathon."

Would I have to pull out of this race? Was I driving a Indy class car with Pinto class skills? Would this be too much for me? I had to chuckle when I saw Kevin Castille at the starting line with the same shoes. What had I done?

You already know the results of the race. I honestly can't say how much credit to give to the shoe. I didn't finish in Kevin's shadow, so apparently shoes don't run themselves. But it's got to help when you wear shoes that 6.2 ounces vs. 12.7 ounces for the Brooks Trance 7 that I would have worn otherwise.

But the weight, the look, the reason . . . none of that matters if I had foot pain during, immediately after the race, or the next morning after the race. And the verdict: Other than a blister on the right toe next to the pinky, these shoes felt better than my normal training shoes. They are designed for a neutral strike with minimal to no pronation. I think that's me. The Trance 7 and Asics 2120s are stability are for pronaters (I think) and I don't think that is me. So maybe I'm in the wrong shoe.

I think I'm going to run one more distance race in these (25K hopefully) and see how they treat me. But right now I'm thinking the marathon is a strong possibility. But I'll use thicker socks that cost more than $6 for a dozen pair so I won't blister.

I know this was a tough read due to the length, so thanks for sticking around. I promise to catch up my blog over the next few days since I finally have internet access at home, no thanks to Comcast.

Incidentally, if you have any feedback regarding anything in this post, please don't be too shy to comment. I can use your advice on racing, the wind, the shoes, the flats . . . whatever. Thanks.


Kevin said...

Hey great race and great re-cap of the race. It was actually just the right lenght and kept me interested through out the whole article. I usually glaze over some of the blog that I read.

I might actually wait around at Houston this year to see you finish at 3:00. I am shooting for 1:45 in the half this year.

Cajun Cup 10K November 8th, you could hit it on the way to see the Tigers play.

I all ways feel like I am in the presence of greatness whenever I am around Kevin Castille. When I first started running, I took a running class at Red's. Guess who was teaching it? Yep, Kevin. He is an amazing runner and a heck of a nice guy. He certainly makes it look easy. He spend some time in Stork's hood running when he was trying to qualify for the Olympics.

Anywho, keep up the good work.

RTL said...

Ditch heavy socks (and tape) strategies for avoiding blisters. On race day all you need to do is always apply Vaseline to entire clean foot and use usual clean lightweight runners socks. (You already apply it to other parts that rub…). You will never get blisters with this trick, and no - feet don't slide around out of control! Also - everyone I know, and from own experience, regret compromising shoe weight in a marathon. A lot of my training is on trails and soft ground so I have to build up in last few month to survive pounding of running on concrete for 26.2 miles. So I need a more substantial ASIC with gel in forefoot which I'm landing on each stride. I think you'd have to do all training on concrete to get away with a racing flat for a marathon - and few can do that training program without injury. Or some inserts in a racing flat may be a compromise.

Anonymous said...

Great race and read. Jenny mentioned the blog tonight and thx for the props. I hope to be with you and other Sub3 come Houston. You're right on track. I'm a pronator and need the extra motion control. Their is some truth to the mental part. I chalk it up to it being the right day and being prepared. Announcing your goals works well. I'd always downplayed my race goals and settled for reaching attainable goals. RunBayou alias Chip Tyme got me to announce that if breaking 3 was my goal that I should say it proudly. The great thing about running is that there is positive feedback when you're times get lower. The better your time the more willing you are to train harder.

Good luck.
Avi Moss