Monday, December 13, 2010

Week 11, 30K Race, and Choosing a Goal Marathon Pace

Here's my eleventh week of training for Houston '11:

82¾ miles for the week (December 6th to December 12th)

The eleventh week is the toughest one of the 18-week old Pfitz plan I sort of follow. The plan has 93 miles with a 24 mile long run and another day with 16 miles including 7 miles at LT. But I had a 30K race Sunday, so I deviated quite a bit from the plan.

M: 10 at 8:33 mpm, 54ºF at 3:30PM (day off from work)
Tu: 15 at 7:10 mpm, 60ºF at 1:30PM (day off from work)
W: 12½ at an average of 6:59 mpm with the last few miles at about 6:20 to 6:30, 50ºF at 3:30PM (day off from work)
Th: 5¾ at 8:22 mpm, 39ºF at 4AM, First run under 40ºF this Fall; I had to search hard to find some gloves
F: 12½ at 7:51 mpm, 72ºF at 12:30 windy and humid, planned on an easy day at this pace, but felt awful and had to push hard to stay under 8 mpm
Sa: 7½ at 8:21 mpm, 74ºF at Noon, very windy and humid
Su: 19½ with a 30K race at 6:30 mpm, 43ºF at 7AM with the wind picking up from North 9 to NorthWest 16 with 25 gusts

Sugar Land FLS 30K
I felt good about this race early in the week. The runs Tuesday and Wednesday felt great and 6:20 miles seemed effortless finishing Wednesday's run. I was thinking sub-2 was a very reasonable goal for the 30K and was actually hoping I would be closer to 1:58 with decent weather. But Friday's run was awful and my left knee was giving me strange pains most of Friday and Saturday.

The temperature Sunday morning was near perfect for me. The wind wasn't bad as predicted either (but it did pick up during the race). With the cool temperatures, I thought I had an excellent shot at the last Houston Marathon local invited runner spot. These invited runner spots have great perquisites: a comp'd entry fee, a lunch on Friday, flush toilets with no line before the race, starting on the line with the real elites, warm-up clothing pickup from the starting line, fluids on the course, .... But Houston has a very competitive field of 50 year old runners. SimC, el Tigre, picked up the spot for the 10-miler, RichardP earned his spot in the half marathon, and RichF got a spot in the 25K. When I saw RobW at the starting line, I knew the 30K invited runner would be far below the required qualifying time.

1) 6:30 I felt as though I was breathing way too hard for a 6:30.
2) 6:23 - 12:53 settled into a decent pace, running with HeidyL and KerryL
3) 6:27 - 19:20
4) 6:25 - 25:45 start the first Palm Royale loop, saw RobW was just behind
5) 6:25 - 32:10 got in a good group with RichardP, KerryL, and HeidyL up ahead
6) 6:30 - 38:40
7) 6:26 - 45:06 RobW pulled into the group
8) 6:29 - 51:36 end of the first loop
9) 6:17 - 57:53
10-11) 12:52 - 1:10:45 RichardP pulled away while KerryL and HeidyL dropped back
12)6:31 - 1:17:17 RobW pulled me most of the way into the wind, end of the second loop
13-14)12:59 - 1:30:16 led RobW into the water stop starting the third loop, but left the corner with a big gap behind RobW
15) 6:38 - 1:36:55 heading back into the wind on the third loop
16) 6:46 - 1:43:41 lost contact with RobW in the crowd of second loop runners
17) 6:45 - 1:50:25 caught up to JosephR as we left the third loop
Picture by TuanN

18) 6:39 - 1:57:05 JosephR pulled away from me, but RobW was coming back
30K 4:10 - 2:01:15 RobW was just too far away to try and catch him

RobW picked up the invited runner spot by 15 seconds.

Congratulations Rob!

Rob and I both lived on the 5th Floor of Sid Richardson College at Rice U back in 1978 (before I was bald):

Here's a hint to tell who's who.

Choosing a Marathon Pace
Choosing the right pace to run a marathon isn't easy. If you just go by what feels sustainable on race day, you're doomed to crash around mile 18 or 20. It takes so long to recover from a marathon, you can't just run a time trial a few weeks before the race. So we're stuck with using performance from a shorter race and scaling it to the marathon. There are several different methods to calculate equivalent performances, but the basic approach relies on correlating pace versus distance raced for a standard population.

Here's how the Finish Line Sports 30K has correlated to my time in the Houston Marathon:
30K Race Equivalent Marathon Houston Marathon Comments
1998 2:13:48 (3:12:44) 3:21:12 Upper 60s to low 70s and humid marathon
1999 2:12:01 (3:10:09) 3:29:47 Sunny Marathon day, 58-73ºF, dewpoint 57-61ºF
2000 2:08:54 (3:05:40)3:56:23 Had the flu; ran a 3:19 at Austin
2001 2:08:55 (3:05:42) 3:15:24
2002 2:03:00 (2:57:10) 2:58:53 Higher mileage marathon training
2003 1:59:28 (2:52:05) 2:55:46
2004 2:00:31 (2:53:36) 2:57:51
2005 1:57:07 (2:48:42) DNS Injured one week after the 30K
2006 1:57:57 (2:49:54) 2:54:33
2007 2:04:53 (2:59:53) 2:51:42 71-74ºF and humid during the 30K
2008 missed 2:58:02
2009 2:03:44 (2:58:14) 2:57:37
2010 2:01:15 (2:54:39) ? We'll see

Weather has an enormous influence on how I race. The early years also show that at lower training volume, I lacked endurance. The extra eight miles of the marathon took more out of me than the 30K would predict. In 2002 I increased my training volume and the marathon times started coming out closer to the 30K equivalents.

So what's my goal if the weather is decent on January 30th?
I always wanted to run under 2:50, but that's not realistic.
2:50:59 would give me Two Hours Plus Age, but that's not going to happen.
2:51:41 would be a PR, but that won't be threatened.
I guess I'll go for a first corral time at Boston. It's a moving target (2:54:37 in 2010, 2:55:10 in 2009, 2:55:20 in 2008, 2:55:56 in 2007,....a 2:55:46 gave me bib number 1834 in 2005) so I'll probably need about 2:54 (6:38 mpm). I might be able to get vacation in April 2012. When the power plant has refueling outages they don't allow vacation. April 2012 will be my first chance at an April vacation day since 2005. Starting just behind the elites at Hopkinton is pretty cool.


Anonymous said...


Great run yesterday - thanks for 'pushing' me harder than I thought I could go, although today I feel like I just raced a marathon. You're in shape to have a great Houston next month! See you then,

Anonymous said...


I see you've added a recap! I was really worried that I had made a huge mistake leading all that way into the wind on the 2nd loop. I thought for sure that once we turned you'd come smoking by me. Those last 2mi were really tough - I eased up mentally a bit too much and lost focus and pace.

I'll probably never run a 2:51 marathon like you have, but the challenge is always fun. Thanks again for your gracious comments.


Nuke Runner said...

I don't know still seem to be knocking out PRs. 2:50 is a neat goal.

Anonymous said...


Great run. Here's a couple of pictures of you & JosephR in the last Palm Royale loop.

Congrats to Rob as well. He's on a tear this fall. I'm glad he's out of my age group and is now your problem.:-) And I don't think he was hurting that bad in the last 2 miles, as evidenced by this picture near mile 16:

Good luck you & Rob at the Houston marathon.


Nuke Runner said...

Thanks Tuan...Do you mind if I use your picture?

Anonymous said...


Not at all, if you don't mind the bad pictures. I think there are some pictures of you in either the half or the 25K gallery as well.