Back into the ‘Eights’

On Nov 12th, Camille Herron broke the world record for a 100m ultra marathon, in a staggering time of 12:42:41. I’ll save you working it out, but her average pace was 7:38/mile which she maintained pretty much throughout. Even during the last 10 miles of the 100, she was averaging 7:40/mile, which is faster than I’ve ever run a 10k.

DOaRtMGVAAARVKq.jpg-large
Camille Herron sets the 100m world record!

OK, comparing yourself to an elite athlete is always going to be futile, but the sheer difference is staggering, and seems even more staggering when the distances are longer. The 5k world record (for men) is 12:35 (or 4:04/mile) and yet the world record marathon time for men is 2:02:57 (or 4:42/mile). Bear in mind, a marathon is over 42 kilometers, so more than 8x further than a 5k, and yet the pace is a mere 38 seconds slower and faster than most people can run.

There are a few people in my running club that regularly run between 16 and 18 mins 5k’s, which is in the 5 mins/mile range, and I don’t think I’m ever going to get there. Even a sub-20 mins 5k, which is around 6:27/mile is probably beyond me at this stage in my life, especially given my tight hamstrings, scoliosis and that I’m 45 and have really only been running a few years. But a 7min/mile pace isn’t out of the question, and neither is a 7:xxmin/mile at longer distances. That gives me some targets for 2018. But I need to be realistic…

In 2017, I’ve only run one race in the eights, which was the 3.5 mile Chase Corporate Challenge, and even that was a modest 8:41/mile pace. In 2014, I ran 6 races in the eights: a 10k (8:55), a 4-mile (8:36) a 3.5 and 5m (both 8:14), a 10 mile (8:31) and a half marathon (8:52). Throughout 2017, most of my training runs have been in the 9 – 10 mins/mile range, and admittedly this was mostly training for my marathon, but it’s significantly slower than the pace of my training runs in 2014.

This last weekend, on the back of my base marathon training-gained fitness, I pushed to run a sub 9mins/mile training run over 10 miles. 3 laps of Prospect Park (including a nice hill) in a not too shabby 1:27:56 (or 8:47/mile) – easily my fastest 10 miles for years. In the same week, I did 5.22 miles in 42:20 (or 8:07/mile), which included 2 miles under 7:30/mile. What I’d really like to do is maintain this level for a while and push my race times for my mid-long distances from the 9’s to the 8’s, and the shorter distances (5k and 4m) into the 7’s.

camilleherron100k2-806x537
Comparing Yourself to an Elite Runner is Futile! (Credit: Runner’s World Magazine)

I’ve run three 5k’s before under 8 mins/mile (all equate to being under 24 mins). 23:59, 23:36 and 23:19 (my PR) which equate to 7:44, 7:37 and 7:31 paces. If I can run 5 miles, with the last two miles under 7:30/mile, I think I can run under 7:30 per mile for 5k. I might even be able to run 7:30 per mile for 4 miles, and in 2 weeks I get to test that out during a 4m race in Prospect Park (The Jingle Bell Jog). I am not sure if one should push for a PR in a race called the Jingle Bell Jog, but I’m just in that kind of mood. My 4m PR is currently 32:19, or 8:06/mile.

In the meantime, tomorrow I am running the Fred Lebow Cross County Championships, which includes two climbs (one of 120 feet and the other of 150 feet). My best time for this race is a model 27:23 – so that’s the time to beat!

 

Advertisements

10 Miles, 10 Smiles, +10 cadence

Ahh, the post-marathon blues. There’s only one way to shake them off, and that’s to go for a run. Which I did.

If you’re not familiar with it, Prospect Park is Brooklyn’s answer to Central Park, only smaller and has fewer tourists. The road loop is popular with runners and cyclist alike, and is exactly 3.33 miles long, making 3 laps 10 miles. Today was intended to be a relaxing ‘as you feel’ recovery run after last week’s heroics in the NYC Marathon, but I also had half a mind to run this at a slightly faster pace than I’ve been running this distance during my training. Also in the last few weeks of my marathon training, I started to focus a lot more on cadence, which is something I am ashamed to say I’ve somewhat neglected over the last few years.

There is a lot of debate around cadence, however ideally it’s supposed to be 180 steps per minute, or about 3 steps per second, or faster. That should apply whether you’re strictly a casual runner, a club runner or you’re an elite. Speed is determined by a combination of stride length, or stride rate (cadence), so increasing one or the other (or both) obviously increases speed.

Many of my training runs have an average cadence in the high 150’s or into the 160’s. I am very rarely getting into the 170’s, but I have noticed that when I am feeling good and have faster runs, it’s my cadence that is higher. Let’s take a look at my 10 mile run today Vs my 10 miles run in September (which was actually a race!) in regards to cadence.

Bronx 10M Cadence
Bronx 10m race in September, 167 SPMM

My stride here looks pretty consistent, and averages 170 spm. You can see the poor miles I had (7, 8 and 9) and frankly the paces were all over the place. An 8:30 followed by a 9:30 and then a 10 and 11:34. This is my normal ‘mono’ stride approach to running, if you ignore the fact I ran a poor race!

Prospect Park 10m Cadence
Casual run today, but an improved 172 cadence.

So here there is less consistency but a higher average. The consistency is really down to when I am focusing on my faster stride rate, and then I slow down when I lose a bit of concentration (or tire slightly at the end). Prospect Park is also hilly which impacts your cadence slightly, with downhills inviting longer strides as you recover a little cardio and uphills inviting shorter quicker strides. My pace though is far more consistent with only a 10 second variance after miles 1 and 2 (on a hilly course) and then a nice negative split at the end. Even if I do say so myself.

I am going to be focusing a lot more on cadence in the next few months and running up to my NYCHalf in March where I’m hoping to not only PR but get closer to that magic 180spm!

4m Race to Deliver

Two weeks ago I set out to reboot my running after a rather lackluster summer. After that post, I ran 17.5 miles the following week, and I’ve just completed 19.5 miles this week ending in a ‘race’ today. Upping my mileage slowly in readiness for the Fred Lebow half marathon in January is the current plan.

Today I was only hoping to finish within 36 mins, and given my evening runs have been in the 10 mins/mile range was pretty sensible. I finished in 35:08 which is a bit better than I’d hoped.

 

race-to-deliver
Fall Races are Best!

I’m back on track to complete the 1000km challenge (You Vs Year on the Under Armor App) and I have one more race in 2 weeks in Brooklyn, which is another 4-miler. My goal is to beat the 35:08 I got today!

 

Happy Thanks Giving All.

Reboot. Restart. Marathon Day.

It has been five months since my last post, and I’ve had a somewhat indifferent summer of running and I’m heading toward a disappointing year. I set out with the best intentions and didn’t have the focus, will power or determination to see things through. My head hasn’t really been straight in regards to many things this year, perhaps I am falling into a mid-life crisis of sorts, but my running is definitely one area I thought I’d persevere. But I didn’t.

It all started reasonably well with 5k and 4m PR’s back in April… but I didn’t push hard enough in the Brooklyn Half Marathon to get my PR (course best but 3 mins short of my half PR). My Queens 10K was respectable, but again short of a PR I set in 2014 by about a minute. After that, I’ve done nothing special and frankly barely keep up the weekly miles to stay still – I’m struggling to maintain 10 mins miles.

Even the relatives easy You Vs Year challenge on MapMyRun / Under Armour challenge is now something I could miss out on. I’m barely 40km ahead of schedule, whereas at one stage I was 200km ahead.

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-6-26-12-pm
Just staying ahead of the baseline!

In the first half of this year, I averaged 16 miles a week (no a lot, but enough to maintain a point of fitness). In the second half of this year, I’ve average barely 8 miles per week. Not nearly enough to meet the goals I set out to achieve.

So what now? Well today is NYC Marathon day… I am going out for a run right now, will target 8 miles (a well known course I do) and take a look at my time and statistics Vs other times I have run that exact course, and see what I can do to pull things back into shape in the remainder of the year. I’ll be right back, after that run…

…back! So after a puffing 8.01 miles @ 10:04 pace, I actually feel a bit better about things. First of all, being able to run 8 miles non-stop after a pretty atrocious few months of barely keeping in touch with running, is somehow hugely motivational. My body seems to be telling me, I’m still hanging in there with you!

I have two 4-mile races coming up in the next 4 weeks, the first on Nov 20th and the second on Dec 3rd. It would be great to end the year on a high and set some new goals for 2017.

Also, yesterday I completed my volunteering for NYRR, which means I am on target to be eligible for next year’s NYC Marathon as well as running all of the major Borough Races; Fred Lebow Half, NYC Half, Brooklyn Half, Queens 10K, Bronx 10m and Staten Island half.

Onward and upward…

5K – Under 24 Minutes Again

Yesterday I ran the Eileen Dugan 5K at Brooklyn Bridge Park, finishing 28th out of 168 in 23:59. It was only the second time I’ve finished a race under 24 minutes, so I am pretty happy with it.

Brooklyn Bridge 5K
Just crossing the line, in 23:59.

My splits were decent, all under 8 mins with the middle mile the slowest. It took a good 5 – 10 seconds to get over the start line (which wasn’t clocked) so it was gun Vs finish. I was a good 23 seconds shy of my PR, but I have another 5K later this month so there’s a chance.

Brookyn Bridge 5K MMR
Decent Splits, pretty pleased with Mile 3

The race was won by South Brooklyn Running Club’s Ben Carter in 18:02 and the top women’s finisher was Serena Hunt in 19:59.

I haven’t ran a huge number of 5K’s over the last 3 years, but looking at my finish times, the last couple really have shown a big improvement in my speed, but I know I can do a lot more to improve this with strength and speed work, which I have seriously neglected since I started running.

5K Race Time and Pace 2013 - 2016
Gradual Improvement. Next race is the 2016 Crit.

This evening it will be a long slow 8-miles as I prepare for two up and coming races, the Red Hook Crit 5K and Brooklyn Half Marathon. The latter I am hopeful of a course best (I’ve never cracked two hours), as for the former, I am really hoping for a 5K PR.

Red Hook Crit 5K

So last year, this is the race I came 120th out of 135 runners, which I was very pleased about  as I got my 5K PR in some style, and the race had an incredible field, the winner crossing the line in 14:21. Yesterday’s winning time at the Brooklyn Bridge Park would have placed 40th, just to add some context. It was 4 laps of 1.25K each. This year it’s 5 laps of 1000m each, so to figure out how to break my PR, I need to work in Kilometers.

My time last year was 23:36 over 5K, which is 4:43/KM. So I am looking at doing laps quicker than 4:43. During my marathon training I’d quite often do 400m laps in about 1:50 but remember that feeling pretty tough – well this is 1:53 per 400m which for me is very fast. But I managed it once… all I need to do is manage it again and knock off 1 second somewhere!

Easy eh? I’d better get to the track…

First PR of 2016 – 4 Miles

Four miles is an unusual race distance. It certainly isn’t an Olympic distance, and there aren’t that many 4 miles races compared to 5K’s, 10K’s or Half Marathons, but in NYC there are several per year hosted by NYRR and others. I’ve grown quite fond of the distance; just being that almost extra mile longer than a 5K, you can’t go almost flat out like you do in a 5K but you don’t need to hold back as much as you do in a 10K, so it’s a pretty nice distance.

I targeted this race to be my first realistic PR for 2016, and I pretty much race the entire race as I planned, which is a great feeling. My prior PR was 34:27 in 2014, and today I ran 32:19, over 2 mins faster.

I’ve slowly improved from the first 4M race I ran in 2013 (see below). I had a dip in 2015 but overall it’s a pretty decent improvement from my early races to go from around 9:30 min/mile to 8:05 today.

4 Miles 2013 to 2016

Splits

Mile was started steady, I actually love a slow start, and in most NYRR races you’re in the crowds anyway, so panicking and flying off isn’t a great idea. I did the first mile in 8:15, which was a little quicker than I expected, but I felt great. Mile two I just kept my breathing the same, but increased my cadence slightly (which is pretty visible below) and completed mile two in 7:45.

Cadence on 4M PR.png
Cadence Against Distance. After passing the crowd in the first mile, I quicken my stride slightly.

Mile three was mostly a slight climb, and this is where I was glad I had not been going any faster, because although the hill had me gasping little, I never felt uncomfortable, and completed it 8:14, which was still way ahead of the pace needed for a PR.

Mile four felt like the hardest mile, but I ran 7:50 again, and looking back at my pace and HR, I can see it was the most strenuous, but no slower than mile 2 which felt pretty good.

So… finally some good running news after a pretty disappointing 2015. I have two more 5K’s in April and then the Brooklyn Half in May.

HR and Elevation 4M PR
GPS’s are never great at capturing pace as the satellite tracking is not always consistent. But the elevation and HR are accurate, so this makes interesting reading for me.

 

 

2016 – A Year of Bests, or Near Misses?

This post is mildly scatological, so apologies in advance. If you’re squeamish, give it a miss.

Today was the New York City Half Marathon, and I was running it for the 3rd time. In 2014, I managed my first ever sub-two hour race at this event by two seconds (1:59:58) but since have only come in under that time on one other occasion, despite being a much more experienced runner now than I was back then. Today I was planning to at least score a Course Best and perhaps have a go at my PR at this distance, which stands at 1:56:07

I started the day incredibly tired, and my stomach felt ‘not quite right’, perhaps due to a slightly poorly judged Chipotle on my lunch break yesterday, but I managed my coffee and some breakfast and managed to stay reasonably warm hiding in the subway at 59th St until the last minute.

The first few miles also went well – I needed a 9:07 or so per mile to hit my target. Mile 1 was a nice warmup of 9:26 followed by an 8:39 and 8:56 (on the uphill in Central Park). But then the stomach cramps hit me(!) If you’re a runner and know what that’s like, you’ll need no further details, but if you’re not and you don’t, just take my word for it that it feels terrible.

Somewhat amusingly (read that again with your ‘dripping sarcasm’ voice), New York Road Runners decided for reasons only they will ever fathom, not to put any porte-potties on the west side of New York’s central park. So from mile 3 to mile 6, there is no bathroom.

Now you might think this would make you run more quickly (as is often remarked and joked about amongst runners) but for me at least the opposite was true. I was too tense and too uncomfortable so my pace slowed to 9:12 and then 9:24 for the next two miles. Finally just before mile 6, an oasis of Royal Flush ports-loos beckoned, and I took my break.

Stopped Off for a Whoopsie

Three minutes later I was off again. I felt so much better, and cranked out six sub-8:42 miles (8:32, 8:18, 8:41, 8:36, 8:36, 8:28) and for those 6 miles caught and even overtook (for a short while) the 1:55 pace maker who was running around 8:46.

In the very last mile, I dropped to 9:17 and the last 400 meters took me 2:17 (in my track repeats training I can often do these in 1:48). The tank was just empty, and so I crossed the line in exactly 2:01:00… the three minutes I lost, plus the prior 2.8 miles at 9:xx almost certainly cost me a course best, and perhaps a PR given I was chasing the race for 6 miles faster than planned, or I had trained for.

However this does give me great hope for beating my other records this year. A 4 mile “Run for the Parks” race is in a few weeks, and I’m looking to beat my PR which is 34:22. The Brooklyn Half Marathon is in may, where my course best is 2:00:11, but I really want that PR in my home town race, and then there’s the Red Hook Crit 5K, where last year I set my 5K PR with a 23:36 time, which I am also hoping to beat.

So this year with either be a year of records… or a year of excuses. Let’s see.