Saturday, September 22, 2007

Mixed Signals

I'd like to start out by offering a hearty congratulations to my wife Kiera, who ran the Flagstaff Half Marathon this morning along with our friend Lisa. So far all I've heard is that it involved rain, wind, cold, mud and fun (hopefully I have the order wrong here).

Today marked the first day of the last back-to-back workouts for the Twin Cities marathon preparation, and heading out the door I felt rested and motivated. The docket from Mystery Coach called for 6 miles at 5:54 pace, and I was to wear the heart rate monitor on semi-permanent loan from the Running Shop for the effort.

I wore my trainers today to save my feet for the 20 miles in my marathon shoes set for tomorrow, and I headed out for two quicker-than-usual warm up miles. I took this as a good sign that the legs were rested, and when the watch beeped to start the effort I was ready. 5:52, 5:54, 5:54, 5:53, 5:57, 5:45. Mile 5 had the most uphill and mile 6 had the most downhill, while the first 4 were fairly rolling.

While the splits were good, the heart rate data bothered me a bit. It sat right at 160 for the first mile, then drifted down to 155-160 or so for the second and third miles. Mile 4's uphill portions found me at 164-168, which seemed a bit high, but it seemed to go back to 160 or so whenever the road tilted down. Mile 5 was the kicker, as I drifted up to 170 while running the longest uphill portion. I could definitely feel a noticeable change in the respiration between 168 and 170, and as the breathing got louder and quicker it seemed I had slipped over the edge and started working too hard. I finally made the turnaround just shy of the 5 mile mark, and as I started downhill on the last mile the heart rate dropped back down to 158-160. I decided to keep at this effort for the last mile, and while it brought me through a bit fast it still felt under control.

When it was over, I stopped in the shade and waited about 70 seconds for the heart rate to return to 120 or so, all the while trying to figure out what had happened during the workout. On the one hand, it was good that the effort and pace returned to normal after I took things into the red, but nonetheless it's a bit troubling to find myself in the red at all for this type of effort. Maybe tomorrow will give me a little more to go on, but for now I'm left with the feeling that things should have felt easier today.

Tomorrow is the big rehearsal for the race, and the plan includes 10 steady miles followed by a second 10 at 5:54, working down to under 5:50 for the last few if things go well. How tomorrow goes will go further towards explaining just how my body responded to today's effort, so I'm hoping for the best. I'll have a few pace mules along to keep me company and keep it honest. Hopefully I'll feel good enough for the whole thing to be fun.

Training: Today, 9 miles, 56:54, 6:18 pace, w/6 mile MP effort in 5:52, 5:54, 5:54, 5:53, 5:57, 5:45
Yesterday, 9 miles, 1:03:26, 7:04 pace


Eric said...

Nice run today, Mike. Don't worry about the heart rate, don't worry about the pace. Your attitude is more important than the data at this point, so keep it positive! This was an excellent result for the final set of back to back runs, so focus on tomorrow's run, and get through that taper.

Everything is looking good with two weeks to go!

Phil said...

Congratulations to Kiera ... the one thing you didn't mention about the Flagstaff Half Marathon is the ALTITUDE. Running a Half Marathon at 7000' takes real courage.

Congrats on your run today. I've never had a situation where my HR drifted down while maintaining a break-neck pace ... of course it's never dropped from 160 to 120 in 70 seconds either.

You're in great shape for the Twin Cities.

Evan Roberts said...

Mike, what's your number for Twin Cities? I gotta instruct my wife to cheer for you at mile 19 (where we live), since I'm not there to do it in person.

Thomas said...

Congratulations to Kiera; to run your first half marathon on such a challenging course is a mighty achievment.