Sunday, September 30, 2012

Training for Philly Marathon 2012

I have ran the Philadelphia Marathon every year for the past 8 years. My best Philly marathon result was 3:28:42 in 2010, and worst result was 4:56:53 in my marathon debut (2004). Due to the timing of this race so far in the fall, it usually has not been my focus race.

This year, it's a different story. It is my focus running race. I am training not only to break my personal best (3:15:13 Steamtown Marathon 2011) but also to quality for Boston Marathon. I am aiming to run 3:09 to meet the current BQ standard for my age group. It will not be easy but I am willing to train hard.

I am scheduling my life around my training schedule. I have trained for marathons before but never with this kind of intensity. As the Philly marathon is 7 weeks away, this is what I've done this week:


Monday: Hill repeats in the morning; weightlifting in the evening

Tuesday: 11 miles medium pace in the evening

Wednesday: Fins swim practice (4000 yards long distance freestyle / no pull bouy)

Thursday: 1-hour Spinning class followed by a 6-mile tempo run

Friday: rest

Saturday: 10 miles at race pace & 2 miles during warm-up / cool-down; Fins swim practice (3500 yards; mostly freestyle with pull bouy)

Sunday: 17 miles slow distance run

I am using a heart rate monitor to help with my pacing and training effort. It's a good tool to make sure I don't go out too fast or get lazy and slow down in a middle of a run.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rock N Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Wow ... an unexpected PR is always nice! This race was not part of my racing program. I had a terrible run the previous weekend at the Delaware Diamondman Triathlon.

I signed up for this race to be part of the William Way LGBT Community Center's new fundraising running team. I figured 1:45 would be my realistic time, and actual wore a 1:45 pacing bracelet. One thing that I did differently for this race was to depend on my heart rate monitor to pace myself. This was a new toy. Based on limited data from the DDT run the previous weekend, I decided that I should be able to stay at a heart rate range of 160-165 bpm.


The morning of the race, I met up with a fellow Philly Fins swimmer and walked to the start of the race. Met up with members of the Philly Frontrunners and Team WayGay RunWay for photo ops. I think I was too distracted by all these activities that I checked my gear that contained a water bottle I needed. As national anthem went on, I picked up a discarded water bottle so I could take my salt pills and pre-run gel.

UntitledI started in Coral 4, by the way, along with my Fins buddy. I was assigned to be in Coral 1 based on my seeded time of 1:29. Coral 4 seemed to be my realistic pace group.

As the race run started, I felt good. I started to surge through the crowd. I was very aware of my heart rate so I knew I wasn't going out too fast. There was a problem, though! After the first 1/2 mile, I realized that my GPS wasn't turned on. I was getting my heart rate but not my pace and mile count! Luckily, I was able to keep running at the same pace while turning on the GPS function. My device started to receive my location around the Mile 1 marker. My first mile pace was around 7:15.

Rock N Roll Phill Half MarathonI studied the course map the night before, so I knew the course very well. It has changed slightly since its hey day of the Philadelphia Distance Run. I helped that I had trained on a large portion of this course for the past 8 years. I felt great turning back to the Art Museum area. I gained confidence as my device was finally functional. I adjusted my pace based on my heart rate while being aware of my pace.

Once I reached Kelly Drive, I stuck to the river side of the road so I covered the minimal distance of the course. Everything was working out so well. I passed one runner after another. My triathlete buddy/rival Vinny in his usual Spiderman costume. Shirtless Kevin of the FRP. Many nice female runners actually cheered me on as I passed them!

I executed my nutrition plan perfectly: Gu every 30 minutes, water every station!

I felt strong crossing Falls Bridge onto the Martin Luther King Dr, or West River Dr as most of us still called it. Four miles to go. I was running sub 7:00 pace. At this point, I figured I should be able to go under 1 hour 40 minutes, even if I slowed down a little. But I never slowed down. My heart rate started to inch north of 165 and I decided that I could take it.

One mile to go, I saw my partner taking photos of me! At this time, I started to feel the intensity of the race. I didn't even smile for the photos. I pushed on, and ran a 6:45 for the last mile!

Rock N Roll Phill Half MarathonAll I could say as I crossed the finish line was ... 'oh, my god ... oh, my god...' After I stepped on the electronic timing mat, I felt onto my knees. I crawled to the right side and stayed on four for a minute. A concerned volunteer came over to ask me if I was ok. I said yes, and I only needed water. I found a bottle of water and started making my way through the exit chute. Picked up some more fluid bottles and some food. I drank and ate everything in sight, and slowly came back to life.

My official time of 1:32:54 was a personal best for a half marathon. Unofficially, I ran a faster half marathon split at Steamtown Marathon last year in the downhill first half.

I still can't believe I ran this well without much training. This run gives me confidence as I decided to train hard for the Philly marathon this year.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Delaware Diamondman Triathlon Race Report

I completed my first half-iron distance triathlon on Sep 9. My target time range was 5:30 to 6:30 hours, and I came in right in the middle of my target time. There were many things that I did well, and a bunch of things I could have done better.

Delaware Diamondman Triathlon

First, some background about this race. It's a small regional event organized by Piranha Sports. I had previously signed up for 2 other Piranha events but did not show up. This time, it was my focus race this triathlon season. Without going into details, there was a medical crisis that brought me to the visiting area of an emergency room for 5 hours 2 days before the race. Everyone's ok. Everything's ok, but the event did a some impact on my race. I stayed at a hotel across the street from the University of Delaware campus in Newark, Delaware. It's a 15 minute drive to the transition area. Parking was easy, next to the transition area. Things I forgot to bring to transition area: the rubber bands that came with my Profile Aero Drink bottle, flashlight. Race setup: Every athlete got an assigned spot on the bike rack. It was a tight space that I had to stack my shoes on top of my transition. Portable bathrooms were about 1/4 mile from the transition area.

Swim - 1.2 miles

It was an in water start. Water temperature was about 76F so it was wetsuit legal. Lake bottom was muddy and slimy. Water condition seemed dirty and gross. The swim was one big loop, and the course was well marked with orange or yellow buoys.

I was in the first wave, toward the front, on the outside of the lake. The start was a little crazy as I expected. I got kicked a few times. I bumped into a few bodies. I did a a few breaststrokes when I needed to find an open lane. I swam most straight. I stayed calm and paced myself well. I was happy to see 40:xx on my watch coming out of the lake.


It was a long swim to bike transition. First, I put on my T1 shoes staged near the swim exit. Jogged 1/3 mile to the transition area. Took of my T1 shoes, got myself out of my wetsuit, put on my bike shoes, and off I went.

Bike - 56 miles

The bike course consisted of 2 loops. It was mostly flat, and the course was mostly closed to traffic. I was prepared for the bike portion! I had a nutrition plan. I had a fluid plan. I knew my target pace. I was ready!

I was comfortable in the aero position hamming my way through the course. I only got out of the aero position to pee and to navigate through some turns and potholes. After the first loop, I realized that I was slightly ahead of my target pace, so I went slightly easier on the second loop. At this point, there were about 5 of us riding around the same pace, keeping away from the draft zone of each other. We exchanged leads but for the most part, we never got too far from each other. We started having some conversation. I saw these guys during the run, and also after the race. It was a friendly race!


I had nice dismount off the bike, and quickly ran my bike into the transition area. A quick glance around the bike racks gave me a sense that I was somewhere in the middle, as bike racks were more than half empty. Took off my bike shorts that I wore on top of my jammer. Put on my shoes and run bib, and off I went!

Run - 13.1 miles

I felt good off the bike, so I decided to run hard! Big mistake! I was able to maintain 8-9 minute pace for the first 5 miles. I slowly ran out of energy. At the start of the second run loop, I started to shuffle! Run / Walk. Run / Walk. It was a new experience for me in a triathlon to see people running by me. I was struggling to keep it together to move forward. I didn't have cramps. I just felt exhausted. I started to pick up the pace after the turnaround point with less than 2 miles left. I started passing some people who had passed me. I was so happy to see the finish line as the clock was just under 6 hours.

Official Results:

Swim 1.2 Mile 0:44:47 113

T1 0:04:10 162

Bike 56 Mile 2:48:06 101

T2 0:02:37 131

Run 13.1 Mile 2:19:38 96

Finish Time: 5:59:20

Overall Placement: 106 / 173 overall

Division: 13th out of 22 in M35-39

I have mixed feelings about my performance. My swim was calm and straight and could be a little faster. My transition times were a little slow. My bike portion was surprisingly strong, but I need to ride steady to save some for the run. My run was awful! I need to manage my expectation better and not starting too fast on the run.

I am happy that I finished under 6 hours. A better race plan will bring my time under 5:30.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Mount Desert Island, Maine

I enjoyed a rare vacation with no races. Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Labels: , ,