Sunday, September 14, 2014

My 1st Pacer Experience, SSBR& AHM 2014

My 5th AHM will be no PB. I joined SAFRA AHM official pacer group. I also don't want to push shorter distance limit if I could not run marathon in 3:30.
It had been 3 months training till race day on 31st Aug. All together 84 pacers in 4 groups: 2hrs, 2hrs15min, 2hrs30min, and 2hrs45min. I belongs to 2hrs. The group was huge, and once we trained in East Coast Park, runners from other running club were quite a shok They suspected we would block the way on the race day.
The training was enriched by experience Tampines club trainer Ashley Ng. He arranged most training routes and they were benefitial. But the logistics was full of hiccups. There was no water supply during 1st training run. And pacers could not get apparal, bib, timing chip during race Expo. And worst of all, we were asked to assemble 3:30 for final briefing but the person in charge didn't show up, and no ballooms to be allocated to each pacer. We were astonished there like soldiers without general. Finally Ashley took over, gave the whole team bruefing and lead us to the starting line.
The race atmosphere took the unhappiness away once we enter the course. We took photos, warmed up, and after flag off at 5am, we were on the journey. It was much easier than expected. Though it was packed with runners, we still managed to move in a reasonable pace (just 10~20sec slower than target pace, that is my pattern), and well kept formation without blocking the way. My barefeet had no problem with the course because I had run it many times. The temperature was not high but a bit too humid, like this June's Sundown. I was all wet after 5km, that was rare in me. As runner became less we could speed up to our target pace. I took a camera but found it hard to took good at low light and such speed, totally different to that I was in MR25 Ultras, not a good idea.
When my watch clocked 1hr we passed 10.5km, slightly falling behind. It was extremely humid, just like Sundown Marathon in June, I was all wet. Two running friends used to follow me at the start, but now one is missing, the other came across cramp at 16km and also slowed down.
As for the other runners, we could hardly been spotted in the darkness without ballooms, unless they purposely followed like my two friends. I saw some posted on forum that he didn't see any pacers, and other said he followed Team Fatbird pacers--he obviously messed up with unofficial pacers. Team Fatbirds were awesome runners, they took pacer jobs in many local races and had good popularity. I knew one of my colleague, he was TFB pacer, privately pacing his friend to achieve 1:50 in this AHM. He might be messed up as pacer because of his own and TFB's popularity. The only advantage was our group size, around 20 pacers in our 2hrs group. It helped some freinds find us. Wendy, one of SAFRA veteran, caught up with us half way and followed throughout. I don't know how many managed to. Because most runner tended to start fast, so there were few could catch up like Wendy did. And most were near fatigue when we caught up. The only thing can do was inspire them, pushing them was useless and harmful. 500m before finishline, some runners began to dash, it was danerous. So I shouted out "keep your pace, don't sprint". I think it should be also be included in pacer's field manual.
When I saw the finish line, it read 1:59 something. We were on target. Later I checked my official timing, found my gun time happened to be 2:00:00 sharp. I was so happy to get it ti conclude my first pacer job. We ran almost even pace, slightly slower start and a bit faster finish, perfect!
Some thoughts after race.
1, A big pacer group will not cause congestion if well organized.
2, Ballooms are mustbe.
3, Pacers need team building activities to get aquainted to build up mutual trust. We found some pacer running on his own pacer without following the group. And some pacer dropped out while others were totally unawared.
4, Team manager is the most key, he decides the success

Friday, June 6, 2014

3 PBs, From Hell to Heaven, Hurray for 1st Sub-4

Just finished my 8th marathon, Sundown Marathon, 1st time in sub4. I need to write something. I decided train for it since end of Feb. Accumulated more than 1300km in the following 3 months. I'v tried to clock as much mileage with doubles in Mar. I'v through myself into tracks for 800s, 1600s intervals twice a week since then. I cut my mileage, dedicated to race pace familariztion one month before race. It was the first time I carried out a plan consistantly. The reward was awesome, I broke 4 hours barrier lied before me for 4 years, against all odds, the humid weather, the poor race organization. 

My timing was 3:59:45, placed 87th in men's category and 101th in all. Most participant did not run well because the race day was exremely humid. And big part of up slope between 32km to 36km death gate. I ran a even pace (5:38/km, read from my watch) through out the race, with a slow warm up (6:20/km) and fast finish (5:16/km). Everything seemed to be well arranged, and I just let go my legs to complete the run. The only surprise was the unbearable gastric disorder. I had to drink a lot cold drink to compensate fluid loss and remove heat. But all blood stream went to circulation to fuel leg muscles and bring down body temperature. They just stuck in my stomach and generated a lot of gas made me pain and panic to toilet. So the theme in my 2nd half of marathon was going to toilet in the finishline. I'v asked another sub4 finisher and he shared the same feeling. The finishline toileting was such a beatiful thing, just like the reward of water after finishing Spartathlon.

In the past 3 months, in preparing for marathon, I joined other 2 races. The 1st was TWILIGHT Ultra, marked the end of base mileage accumlation (500 more per month). The 2nd was JP Morgan 3.5miles, marked the end of speed training and begining of race pace familarization. These two I also clocked PBs. 

60km PB, 7:58 for TWILIGHT Ultra. I ran a enjoyable 7:00~7:30/km pace, stop every 15km for refeul. I felt like heaven with endless energy that could last the run forever. 

5km PB, 20:08, from JP Morgan run(the 3.5miles result was 22:34). It was stressful, exausting, burning, 20min 4:00/km pace made me feel like in hell: I could hardly hold me in one piece at the end of race. Minutes like years.

The marathon, ~5:40/km pace, neither feel enjoyable, nor unbeatable, just in the middle. So that is the magic of running, the magic of marathoning, magic of ultramarathon. What taste do I like? I like the joy in an ultra, and satisfaction after a marathon. Shorter distance like 5k bring me more bitterness than sweetness.

PS. There is no post run muscle soreness (DOMS) after all these races. The huge mileage running pattern build up much faster recovery ability in my body. I should be able to train more, improve more.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ultra Endurance Level Achieved

It is 1st week after 60km ultramarathon. And it is 1st time I was completely free from DOMS, no muscle soreness at all, no interruption of training. I completed 9 training run this week, total 129km in 14hrs, longest 30.7km. It was a successful race strategy to stop at 60km. I gained barefoot running experience without sacrificing training continuity. And also tested my safe long run distance. I could put my self into at least 60km long run in my training session. That is essential to ultra training: I was able to carry on 100miles weekly mileage and 38miles long run. It is beyond most average ultra training requirement. I'm confident to complete 100km ultra soon.
Let's get back to my current focus: Sundown marathon less than 2 months later. I'll continue my weekly mileage building up to 200km. Continue to improve Yasso800 speed, currently at 3:20 per session. Continue to improve 30km long run pace, currently at 6:30/km. Most important, my MAF speed, last week at 5:43/km, this week over 6min/km due to high cortisol level after race. I wish MAF reach below 5:15/km so it will be confident to run a 3:30 marathon. Wish me good luck!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Twilight Ultra 2014: A Testing of My Barefoot Running Edge

I finally gave up 100km plan on Twilight Ultra last month because I didn't think I could extend long run to 60km within 1 month. So it became a part of Sundown marathon training run. I set target to 50km to avoid impact on next day training. The pace should be close to my longest run in Jan, ~7:30/km. Anyway it would be my longest barefoot run.

The ultra is about recovery and wearing out. When to wearing out is irreversible and reach to its end, the game is over. For me the muscle recovery, hydration and energy refill are reversible because I spent sufficent aerobic training time to bring up fat recovery and fat burning ability. At lower intensity workout, my muscle is not easy to wear out and carbonhydrates are conserved. That is why I could run almost 100miles a week while keep my leg refreshed. Even interval training were recovered within 12hrs. I'v done at least 3 doubles a week and soon I'll be run 30km perday. The only irreversible thing is my barefoot soles wear out. It have been stronger and stronger as barefoot mileage accumulates but still limilted by the longest run I'v ever run. I could not imagine I could run 100km with longest run only 43km. In my experience, the longest run should be at least 2/3 of race distance.

The race started 7pm Saturday evening, I'v loaded my stomach with 250gm pasta at 6pm. I had experience in running with stomach full so it was not a problem to me. The only thing is I had to slow down my pace to ~8min/km pace due to blood stream diverted to digestive system. It took me more than 3 hrs to empty my stomach. And once emptied I could run below 7min/km pace. I only got my first refuel at 30km mark with 2 slice of peanut buttered bread and one cup of hot milo I brought. Hot milo made my stomach felt refreshed. In contrast to cold drinks, the cold chilled body but tortured stomach, too much cold drink might induce vomiting. The refuel was right on time and I set off with brand new body after 10min break. Though pace was slowered down again but soon I picked up 7min pace. I planned to refuel every 15km. I was steady till I went to 45km mark for 2nd refuel. It was a bit late than last. Before that I was thinking to challenge myself with 100km again but after this 10min break I doubted. My pace was not as easy as before. I needed to keep me focused on running form to ignore the pain in the soles. The west strech of the course was very dirty and unfriendly to my soles. Small gravels stuck on my soles and tried to sting/pucture me. After 55km mark finally came the wall, two big gravels hurt my left soles made me decide to finish it. The last 5km I was running on my edge and finised strong in time of 7:58. Now I climbed to 60km peak, 2/3 rule worked and was safe. So 100km is just next to it! If I was free from DOMS, I could repeat this 60km long run any time I like in preparing for 100km race. Just keep watching.

Sunday afternoon I was able to went out for a recovery run. 6.5km in 8min/km pace. Quads was slightly sore but not a big deal. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

NE Passion Run 2014: Volunteer Job Done

I was assigned to take care starting area. The day before during reccee I found same reccessed drainage cover persisted after last NE Run 2 years ago. The one made one runner fell before me. So I worked with another volunteer Mr Tee covered it with cupboards and fixed with self-fasten stripes.
The event day we assembled at 5am. After having breakfast we began deployment. I was allocated 10 runner volunteers from our CC, and another 9 students volunteers from NTU. I asked Mr Tee lead 4 volunteers to set up barriers along the route. And led the rest to set up starting pen. The organizer didn't provide sufficient barriers. So I used the tapes to seal the starting area with limited barriers. And set up a gate at the end. The enclosed area was about 150m long so should be no problem to accommodate 600 runners (the number the organizer Provided me for each wave). I deployed 4 marshalls to guide the route, 2 taking care of starting line, 2 stay at park entrance to guide the runners, the rest taking care of starting pen.  There were 3 waves today. 1st wave men's open starting at 7am. I open the pen for them at 6:30, and asked others to wait outside. At 7:15, I closed the pen, reset starting point and let 2nd wave (women open and men veteran) in. And asked the men open late comer to follow. They started at 7:30. And last, the 4k fun runner. They start after 8am. 

All went smoothly and only one runner without bib, brutally get off my hands when I asked him his bib. Shame on him. We volunteers were not policeman, we'll not use force on him as long as him did not trouble other runner. Our duty is only to keep runners safe. 

It was a nice day. The haze gone and shower came only after race. So blessed.

Some suggestion to the organizer. Enclose start point with barriers according to the wave size. Set signboards and volunteers guide runners to starting points. Depoly cyclist sweaping after last runners, and give sign to the marshalls to reccess.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Peak Mileage Returns

2 Mar 2013, 25~32C, partly cloudy.
It has been 2 months no rain but weather still cool in the morning and evening. I ran every evening in Meridian JC, and some recovery runs in the morning. Seikiya's pattern works for me. This week I achieved 127km mileage. I made same record in last Apr. But this time it was much easier because I have 3 days doubles. Doubles are good for mileage accumulation. It gives more recovery time between runs. Most important is morning run. It was brilliant to put recovery run in the morning. Because I need glycogen depletion training no more. It does relief stress from previous hard workout. I could put two hard workout in my training. Tuesday 10xYasso800, Thursday Fartlek. Later I will migrate to tempo and interval. Between them were 90min MAF runs in Moday, Wednesday and Friday. The recovery run depend on my condition. If I were too tired, I opt sleep instead push me the the morning run. So this week I only did 3 morning recovery run. Saturday I did 30.6km long run, thanks to the speed work, long run pace improved by 15 more seconds per km, even though the day was hot. Sunday I follow Elias CC elite runner Simin. I was able to follow his pace till last few hundreds meters for the 9.2km distance. We started from 5:00/km pace, then 4:30/km, in the last km, Simin kicked to 4:00/km. I tried to catch up but failed in the last 300 meters.I only did 4:15/km at last and felt hard to get faster. I realized speed was very hard achieve, even in my fartlek runs, I could only achieve 3:17/km pace for a 90sec sprint session. I can't imagine how the Kenyans run under 3:00/km pace in a marathon. They are genius.
For two weeks I have incorporated speed work in my weekly training. It was time to do it,which I had paused for 3 year. Thanks to the pure base training in the past 3 years. I had no muscle strain, no signs of injury, and over training. It's time to be a speed demon!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Pampered by tracks

21 Feb 2014, 27C, cloudy.
Morning 6.3km recovery run in Pasir Ris Park. Evening 10.7km track run in MJC. I'm a kind of addicted to track running because of the so luxurious pampered feeling for barefoot running. No worry of gravels, glass and uneven terrain. Just focus in running, focus on form. I slowly warm up from 8min pace, after 2miles I just reached 6:20/km pace under MAF HR (140). The best MAF pace 6:08/km was in 5th mile. It seemed I slowly picked up my speed.