Sunday, June 10, 2007

Titus Van Rijn and Speed

Andy Roth initiates a postal competition each year for a one hour run to be completed on a 440 yard or 400 meter track, more or less between Mother's Day and Father's Day each year. This competition is named after Rembrandt Van Rijn's son (who was often a subject of his father's paintings). I'm not sure why Andy names it this. Today (6/10/2007) was the last eligible day to complete the one hour run this year. So after the poor attempt at 100k, this was a good motivation to get me out to the track. It seems that I can't run intervals without straining my right hamstring so one hour to two hour runs have been my most effective speed workout. I got in 4 one hour workouts on the track this past week. On the first one, I struggled to break 8 miles (7:30 pace). I hauled on the second workout, running the last mile in 6:44, getting 8 1/4 miles plus about 50 yards. I backed off on the third workout, just getting 8 miles in 59:08. I wasn't quite sure what I'd get on my final attempt today. The first mile went in 6:43 but the effort turned out to be the reverse of the Tuesday workout, passing 8 1/4 in the same time of 59:49 and finishing with 52 meters in the last 11 seconds. So way off last year's total (9 1/8 miles) but it was nice to get back into the habit of running fast (at least fast for me).

I found an interesting interview on Cool Running. Don Allison interviewed Jim Garcia and Kevin McGovern prior to the 1997 World Challenge 100 km Championships in Winschoten, Holland. One interesting comment from Jim Garcia was that the critical miles for him in races are 30 to 35 miles. I find that interesting because all of my problem runs became a problem between about the marathon point and 50k. My thought (I wouldn't call it a conclusion) is that maybe if I can consistently get through this section and maybe a few more miles, that the rest of the race will follow suit.

Speaking of Jim Garcia, let me just apologize for not following his excellent advice to

  • Work on your speed.
  • Do back-to-back long runs on weekends.
  • Never wear the same shoes more than two days in a row.
  • Do sit-ups.
I'll try to make amends. But read the interview. His remarks are pretty funny.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Disappointment, Joy, and a Decent Workout


The 100 km time trial (5/27/2007) didn't go so well. I noticed my right ankle flexor getting sore by 8 miles and my legs started getting sore in the 20's. Then the bugaboo which cropped last year at the Seattle Race and this year at Ruth Anderson (i.e. the two other times I've attempted 100 km), my hip flexors and groin got sore. At 50 km, I thought I'd keep going for another 25 km and then maybe another 25 km after that but my pace dropped to a ridiculous 12:00/mile and I quit at the end of the lap.

At first I was confused and frustrated as to why I'm so inconsistent from week to week. My pace on the 33 mile the previous weekend was very consistent and faster as was my pace on the 44 mile run. Eventually, I figured out from the sore spots that I put more tension than normal on the flexors by running with a more erect posture (heh heh, he said "erect"). But my posture was similar to the previous week as was everything else (except that I tapered - which I don't think is the problem). So I'm still a bit frustrated at my inconsistency.

As anyone who is a runner knows, you can always find any number of authorities and examples to tell you that what you are doing is wrong, i.e. you didn't taper enough, you've been running too many long runs, you should run long slow distance, you should work on your speed, you're running too many miles, you're not running enough miles. So I usually take advice with a grain of salt and rely more on an analysis of the problem. My frustration is that last year when I worked on my speed (9.12 miles in one hour, a number of runs of 18 miles where I was well under 7:30 pace) and this year when I've emphasized long runs (40, 44, 31, 33 miles), the result is the same for the same reason. So what to do?

I think my recent aim of trying to run 100k in 10 hours is too conservative. I should aim for more like 9 hours. But I still think that I need to work on longer runs. So I'm going to try going back to the 2+ hour fast track runs every other day and also try to get my 50k+ runs more consistent. I'm not sure if this means a long run every weekend or every other weekend but for now, working up to the 2 hour runs will take priority. My intermediate aim is to get my practice time for 50k close to 4 hours, on the track if necessary (I ran a practice 50k in about 4:11 last year). I also wonder if part of my problem running the 100 km is mental. In other words, why can I run 33, 44, 50 miles without a problem but when I attempt 100 km, the same old problem kicks in by 30 miles despite widely varying preparation?

Executive Summary: 100 km time trial BAD. Plan to run fast 2 hour track workouts a plenty with a few 50k plus workouts thrown in (and enjoy the trails or play piano on the off days).


Kevin Gray (friend, local ultrarunner, ran the 50k of the 2006 edition of the Orange Curtain ultras, volunteered for the 2007 edition) broke his ankle while hiking Mt. Baldy, wasn't rescued for 4 days, and not only lived but appeared to be in pretty good shape (except for the ankle) and even cheerful when rescued.

Decent Workout:

Ran 8 miles on the Oxford track (6/2/2007), averaging about 7:29/mile. Not the 6:35/mile pace from last year but it is a decent first step. This is the time of year for the Titus Van Rijn One Hour competition. I have to put up some number in the next week for Andy Roth's annual postal competition for one hour on a track. I doubt that I'll get up to 9 miles this year but I'll see if I can liven up my legs and improve a bit on 8 miles over the next week.