Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Running Index vs Cadence

Voila' another chart, exploring if there is a relationship between cadence (leg turnover) and Running Index (hence "effectiveness" in the run).

The graph shows a certain correlation (higher cadence positively related to higher Running Index, calculated automatically by Excel), but I can not swear that it could pass a more accurate statistical study (level of confidence of the correlation, etc), because the variance at each point is in the range of +/-5 (points of RI)...






Polar Running Index in practice

the topic might be interesting only for those using the Polar PPT SW...

I can draw a balance of my 2 years of use of the RS800sd and the related SW.
It is quite interesting to see that the Polar "Running Index" is actually a good predictor of the running shape
The chart maps 2 years of use of the watch and there is a clear relationship between my ups/down, the Running Index and the actual racing performance.
The red thick line is a 20 days moving average, to see better the overall trend rathe
r than the single workouts.
I must anyway remark that obviously also the external temperature has an influence: during the summer periods, the HR is usually higher at equal pace to, so the R.I. becomes unavoidably lower.
For myself, I could draw these references:
- R.I. around 77: means Marathon time around 2h42',
- R.I around 80: Marathon in around 2h38', HM around 1h15'
- R.I. around 84: Marathon likely in 2h33'-34' (that was the prediction based on workouts and 5k race time), HM around 1h13'

I would be very interested to compare data with other runners to see if these values have an "absolute" meaning (eg: 84 means 2h34' for everyone) or specific for each individual


Monday, December 29, 2008

Yearly Summary

The year in figures
- Distance run 4080km (vs 3550 in 2007)
- Workouts around 300 (vs 280/290 in 2007)
- Km/workout: 13.6km average
(Comment: In those 10 months were I was running, I was really consitent. it is a pity that I lost 2-3 months among the different injuries)

- races: 2 victories, 5 times 2nd
- PB in 5k, 10k, HM (sic... not in Marathon), 

Overall comment:
Well, in the figures all sounds good, but I am not really satisfied. In 2007 everything went to my plans, but in 2008 most of the time I had the bad feeling of having blocked by injuries right when it was the time to harvest the fruits of my work.
With the work done during the summer I was able to reach a "higher" level, where my racing style was more based on "running to win" than "running to do my best", but at the end I could not see the outcome in cool weather.
I think that I worked too much on the endurance and neglected hill sprints, general strenght and strides/fast work. The latest injury must also be related to this... because I was losing neuromuscolar condition.

So my "action plan" for 2009 would be:
- resume running and gradually reach a mileage of 100km/week and keep it consistently until end August. Than increase a bit more to prepare for a winter marathon (ideally Fukuoka).
I will try to run the first 4 weeks only "easy" and than gradually introduce  interval training and faster workouts + strenght training.

- I still do not know how to improve my running biomechanics. The physioterapist recommeded me to use orthotics and to add a 6mm lift to my right shoe to compensate for the leg lenght difference.  But how do you accomodate 6mm lift in a shoe ???? I tried but it is very weird feeling
I may try again with ortothics  made by different materials to see if the feeling is better. Or maybe just keep going with my 3mm heel lift (as in use now).  

- dedicate more time to strenght and core training (2 hours/week, ideally)

- dedicate more time to strides and repetition training (100m/200m sprints)

- in summer, reduce the workload compared to this year because I think I was too tired. With 30C/95%rh, probably the real impact on the body is x2 of the actual distance... I will try to make more use of my treadmill. It is boring but at least you can run in a less extreme environment and avoid the huge loss of water while running outdoor.

- also for the Summer, I will focus on short intervals at varied paces. It makes no sense to run more than 1k/2k fast without rest becuase the performance horribly degrades for the heat after few minutes of hard running.
I will avoid Tempos or long intervals and try to keep "neuro-muscolar" fresh. For a specific endurance period, the 2 months of October and November should be enough.

Race Summary 2008
- 6/Jan, HK Half Marathon Champs: 6th overall, 1h15'28". I was still tired from the 30K race of the previous Sunday so I suffered a lot, but the performance was very solid. It was a major local race, so the placement was realistic compared to my potential.

- 20/Jan, CC Half Marathon: 2nd overall. Hilly course, very good starting field, but that day I felt extremely well. I managed the effort very well, with a controlled initial 14k and than push very hard in the final 7k, leaving behind many talented runners. Felt very very confident.

- 9/March, 10k Shatin. 2nd overall, 33'36". This is the race where I have most of the regrets: we battled for the victory for 9900meters and I lost in the final kick. I did the mistake to train too much during the week, so I lacked the freshness for the final sprint...

injured. missed Krakow Marathon

-13/July: 10k. 5th overall, 35'03". Comeback race after the injury.  It was hot and I was decently satisfied with a solid performance

-17/July, 10k. 4th overall, 34'57". Very hot. I was beaten only by invited overseas runners, leaving behind most of the best local runners. So I felt confident to be able to make a good season. Time itself was disappointing because I was shooting more for a 34'30", but I was likely tired by the week.

-7/Sep, 5k mixed X-country. 2nd overall. Half disaster... I hate running in the afternoon and I did not digest the lunch properly. Maybe the first short race in my life where I had to stop to breath... the fact that I arrived anyway 2nd and improved my time by 32" with the year before was a sign of extreme fitness.

- 21/Sept, 5k hilly. 1st. Felt good and attached from the start on the big climb... the last km was painful becuase almost out of steam, but I had already a big gap

-28/Sept, 10000m track. 1st in 33'55". It felt wonderful to win a track meeting. I was very fit and lead alone the whole race. It was hot, so the time was really good

-11/Oct: 5k flat. 2nd overall in15'51". Never felt better. I did not even push 100% and come out anyway with a huge PB. Tagged with a good pack for 3k, than boosted away

injured. Missed Seoul Marathon

- 23/November. Half Marathon. 2nd overall in 1h14'28". Beaten only by a Kenyan is acceptable. This race remains a mystery: I was already crippled and missed many workouts, so I do not know why I felt good enough to run well. The achilles were not that bad and I shuffle run... so in retrospection was really a great race (maybe worthy of a 1h13' or less in ideal conditions)

-7/December: Singapore Marathon. crawled to the finish line in 2h57'.  It will be a souvenir for my older years: selected by HKA to run in their official team. VIP treatment all the way. It was a pity that my tendons lasted for 30k only; I wanted to finish anyway, but those 12k were of extreme pain...






Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS !!

No snow here... temperature around 23C at noon. I had troubles to explain to my daughter that we could not build a snowman and that Santa would not able to come with a sled

For my tendons, I simply threw the sponge: it was crazy to hope in some miraculous recovery. More running would have only make it a chronic tendinitis. In the morning I could barely walk up the stairs.
So I will stop running until I am pain-free and I can resume in a appropriate way.

Unfortunately, here there is only 1 and only running season (from October to March), so I will miss out completely the whole season. Very likely I must already think that my next serious race might be not earlier than 10 months from now... a sad perspective for a competitive animal like myself, but this is the reality.
I trained all Summer basically for nothing... LOL...and another summer ahead
In the next post, I will analyze the year in retrospetive

Monday, December 22, 2008

Wk 51 summary

- 16 Km in 2 workouts

not much to say... the tendons are painful whenever I run. I am trying different combinations of shoes, heel lift, whatever to see if it might improve.
My most ardent wish is to gradually improve in order to run the CC Marathon on January 18th.
But the most likely scenario is that I hang the shoes until the pain is gone, so that sometime next year I can resume running in a proper way.
It is a real pity because now is the best period of the year for running. The weather is perfect, dry and around 15C.

I scouted the web for suggestions on the treatment of the tendinitis and you can find the most disparate opinions/suggestions:
- stop running vs run anyway in reduced volume
- use heel lift vs no using it
- eccentric stretching vs no stretching
- use cushioned shoes vs use flat

2 very authoritative sources like Dr Pribut's running injuries website and the sportinjurybullettin give almost opposite advices on stretching the calf...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wk 50 summary

0 (zero) km in 0 workouts...
everyone is very well, my wife recovers faster from delivery than myself from the marathon...
baby is very well, taken care by his little sister (who is a bit over excited)...

The nightly feed pattern seems at 20/midnight/4am, so I will try to crawl out of bet at 5am to run starting from tomorrow. I need my daily running dose...

I take the opportunity to reply to a comment from (.) (who is actually a good runner himself) about running a marathon in the heat.
I also read that article from Sportsscientists.com and, honestly speaking, I was surprise that the authors made such a plagiarism without even mentioning their obvious source...
.... because it was already everything black on white in the book "Lore of Running" (also from SA author Tim Noakes):
- Noakes reports some of his studies about running in the heat and that only smaller runners can dissipate heat well enough to sustain performance. There is even a chart with the relationship weight/temperature/maximum speed ... my weight condemns me to slow down inexorably at any temperature higher than 20C... while lighter runner (55kg) can handle up to 30C.
The subject of running in the heat covers a full chapter of this monumental book.
I am not in book reviews, but every committed runner should read it. There are countless information

- about the Wanjiru's victory, also Noakes makes a statistical studies that the "standard average winner" of Olympic marathon is not an established marathon runner, but most likely a rising star at his 3rd/4th marathon...
I am not even persuaded that Wanjiru did really trained a lot in the Japan's heat: in 2007 he barely achieved the minimum days of stay in Japan to mantain residenceship. I suppese that he did spend all summer in Kenya training, and stay in Japan mainly in Spring and Autumn to join the local racing season. Said that... he is a huge talent... we can not forget that his 10000m time at 18 years old is Junior World Record, only 20 seconds away from Bekele's open record...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

incredible 48hours

I likely got the most tiring 48 hours in my life (and I guess it could be well ranked also in a worldwide classification)
Sunday 2.50am : wake-up call
Sunday 5.30am: marathon in tropical weather, limping for 12km
Sunday evening: flight back from Singapore, arrived home around mid-night. Slept only very little for different reasons
Monday whole day: work. My general conditions were ok, just very tired. Obviously my calves were totally "locked" and painful, so even for walking I must use the "shuffling" style...
Monday evening: my wife went into labour (10 days ahead of schedule), so we rushed to hospital, after having trusted our daughter to some friends
all night in delivery room. Honestly I could barely keep myself awake...
Tuesday 6.45am: our son is born !! Mom and child are extremely well
Tuesday: all day rush between hospital, collect back our daughter, etc. Big exciting day, but I was almost falling asleep while driving, avoiding an accident at the last minute. Also got a speed ticket for driving at 80kmh, while the limit at 70, but I was so numb that I traffic signs were optional at that stage.
Tuesday 9pm: collapsed into bed.
so... that's an alternative way to recover from a marathon...
now it is time to enjoy the new-born !!

Monday, December 8, 2008

a review on the marathon

back to HK, here a more relaxed review of the race.

The organizers were very "supportive" to the sport, by inviting not only the usual Pro runners, but also asking to most of the Athletic Federation of South East Asia to send a couple of athletes.
For athletes from poor countries, it was a fantastic opportunity to race abroad, something that maybe that would not be able to repeat in their whole life: so I was very pleased to see a couple runners from Myanmar, from Sri Lanka, from Nepal, India, China and Indonesia (with a very kind and young female runner) and so on... at the start I also noted a barefoot (!!) female runner from India.
Said that, we are treated with fantastic hospitality and it was very interesting to see the working of the "Elite" section of a mass marathon.
There was a "technical meeting" to explain the course and other pedantic details (kind of "put your bib in the front" ... speaking to a audience of Pro runners..) + a course recognition by bus.
During the meal times, the big round tables were usually clustered by runners grouping by language: so a big Kenyan table, a big Ethiopian table, Russian table and so on... at the end, we were almost naturally forced to create a "greater China table" with our colleagues from mainland China, Macau and ourself (honestly to speak about running in Mandarin was not easy for me, a specific vocabulary to be learnt...).

Saturday evening, light dinner and than in bed by 9pm for a 2.50am wake-up call.
I took some Melatonin to sleep, so I was sleeping like a baby when I heard the bell ringing...
dressed, breakfast and short walk to the start point.

I felt incredibly excited, but I was sincerely quite anxious on how the right calf would have managed.
The Voltaren did have effect on the achilles and they were almost painless, but the calf was very tight, even if I did massage it in continously during the week.
A side effect of the Voltaren was that my intestine was blocked since 24 hours, so I felt weight down there, but there was nothing to do, just hope for the best.

5.30am.. gun goes (I was in the first line)
The weather was almost "pleasant". It was around 24/25C, with 80%rh and some breeze. The air is much cleaner than in Hong Kong, so I did not feel the same level of disconfort that it have been usual at those high temperatures. With sunrise, 1 hours later, the temperature went up to around 28C/29C.
It is totally dark outside, empty streets, no spectators.

the Elite Male all run off like rockets, while the Woman started in a different fashion: the Africans started like hell, while a pack of Japanese and Russian took it very easy and I hang up with them for a while.
My expectation was to run slightly below 2h50' pace (hence 4'00'/km) until the very few last kms and then maybe place a "sprint" to gain some 30" somehow.
I was conscious that my limiting factor would not have been the cardio-vascular system or general fatigue, but how much stress the right leg could have supported.

I was running with an abnormal stride, because I could not flex the food completely. But I run quite easily at my target pace of 4'/km until the Half (passed in 1h23'46") and I started to pick up many runners who were completely blown up by the heat.

but around 29.5k I felt that my intestine was in rebellion to the side effects of Voltaren and it was imploring for relief... so I made a long pit stop right at 30k mark and felt much better, with not that heavy sensation on the guts.
In spite of the stop (1-2 minutes), I felt still ok and decently confident, but not more than 500m later, the calf completely locked.
I was no more able to run at all, unless using one leg only and crowling back the right leg.
Stop? quit ? I thought about it, but it have not fair for those who selected me to race.
So I crawled at around 4'30" pace for 11km more... stopping time by time for a strech of the calf or for massaging it...
it was brutally endless... and I was not alone: I overtook 3 Russian women struggling and even last year Woman winner (an Ethiopian) crawled with me for several kms.
At the end I was done in 2h57'00" and I could "peacefully" succumb to cramps 20 meters after the finish line.

My team mates fared quite well:
Mr Lai (Man) 2h43' (well, 14' minutes off his PB but a solid race considering the weather)
Ms Fan SP (Woman) 2h58'58"... she is a stud, steady splits around 4'15" from start to end... no wonder she is the best woman marathoner in HK...
Ms Ross (Woman) something around 3h15', also slowing down for the heat in the end.

my take from this experience:
- if you are injured, take care of the injury first. Keep running makes the things only worse (my hip bursitis mutated into a achilles tendinitis... and I am already struggling for 2 months)
- pain killers pills have side effects and anyway you are somehow intoxicated.
- I have "balls" to make 12k in that conditions...

It was overall a fantastic experience and we made a great bond with our teammates.
I can put the national team singlet in a frame as souvening for this event !!

Now:
- rest until I am cleared of all problems (achilles, calf, whatever...). I will need to strecht, massage and do stenghening excercise, and refrain from running.
- do the husband/father for a while and focus on the birth of my child.
- maybe after Christmas, I will decide of what to do for the 2nd part of the season


PHOTO GALLERY(with Osaka World Champion Luke Kibet, before boarding the bus for the Pasta Party)
(4.45am Elite Tent)

(I look good in the uniform... this picture looks unreal..)(done... 42km can be soooo long...)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Done... With 12km of "via crucis"

Tomorrow a better report with pics, etc. Now in short:

I run at 4'00"/km pace until 30km. The calf was very tight so I used "shuffling" style and organically I felt easy, even if I was running in a very weird style for me. I was running with 1 leg and carrying the other...
10k in 39'30"
HM in 1h23'40"
30k in 1h59'
Than it was total collapse....
The calf locked and also I felt sickness from the huge Voltaren doses and made a long toilet break. I was crippling and jogged to the end in 2h55 or something like that (I did not care... Just happy to reach the end..). The last 12k was horrendous.
I saw many many Pro runners bouncing back for going out hard in such weather.
A pack of Russian women caught me at 10k and they were clocking 3'50" pace (I did not follow). At 25K I picked them up because they were totally done by the heat.

More details tomorrow (I do not know who is the winner, etc)...

Elite tent pre-race

5.00am, 30min to go, Elite runners tent next to starting line.
Everybody is making the final preparation, not much need for a warm-up.
The World Champ in Osaka , Luke Kibet, seems very focused.
another big name is the 3 times woman XC Champ Masai.

My calf is tight, but maybe better that expected. It will not last for 42km, but I will start slowly around 4'00"/km and see how it goes

(This combination BlackBerry + mail-to-publish function of the blog is really a "killer"... It might be tempting to run with a BB and report back home real-time....)

It is time...

It is 2.50am , the alarm clock kicks out of bed to get ready for the 5.30am start...
Outside a termometer on a building is flashing 26C (78F)...
It is going to be a long day...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

6/December : like an Elite Runner (apart from the legs)

Let's imagine that you could unleash your wildest fantasies as a runner:
- land for a big city marathon and the organizer is there greeting you, with a bus arranged to take you to your hotel
- go straight into a meeting room, where someone takes care of your room check-in and already gives you the race pack, without queing for it in some crowded race expo
- a full supply of GU gel, water and else is available to arrange your special drinks to leave at dedicated tables
- all luches already arranged for you and it happens that you are seated at the same table with the World Champion
- a marhsall will brings you to the Elite tent nearby the starting line
- no need to shovel at the start to find your own pace... You are in the front line...

Well, this is what happening to me here... At some moment I would like to approach one of the Organizer rep and ask them to check again if it is really my name in that list of Elite Runners...

It is all so unreal... Especially my status if representative of a nation...
Our HK team is strong and I believe that we can do well (obviously related to our standard... Here there are bunches of Pro Kenyans, Ethiopians, Russian women, etc)

Now I must live up to the situation...

Physycal conditions report: the achilles are sore and the calf is very tight, but Voltaren is doing his job
Now I am more concerned by the tight calf muscle, than from the achilles itself (they seem kept at bay by the Voltaren).

(Note: the Kenyans and Ethiopians here are famine-slim, but eat like hungry wolves... So I suppose their metabolism is up to their leg speed)..

Race Number: 0051

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

3/December - 4 days to go

honestly my right ankle feels like a crap... the achilles are really painful, so Sunday it will be a long long way. Since yesterday I am taking huge doses of Voltaren (Diclofenac Sodicum), to at least placate the pain. I would be happy to run on a single leg like on the Half Marathon, 10 days ago.
At 8.30am Sunday (GMT+8), I will hang out the shoes for a good while until I am settled.

Tuesday 2/December (HK): interval 4x2km at Marathon Effort, recovery 1'30". Since it was really chilly, it was easy to hold 7'15" for the 2k. HR was around 165/170, but after 3 intervals the ankle was painful (not yet taken Voltaren)

Wednesday 3/December(Dongguan): took the car and drive to the edge of the forest (to avoid the 5k on concrete). Run 10k easy on soft surface, but calf tightened more than expected

Friday we fly to Singapore. I will receive the running uniform only then, so I will go live on Sunday with a brand new kit (hahah... this goes against the rule #1 of marathon: use only tested gear..).

Race strategy: I will try to run at 3'50"/km until is dark (from 5.30am to 6.45am) and than settle for a more modest 4'00" under the sun.
That should bring me to finish in around 2h45' that is quite respectable for the Singapore's heat. Obviously if the ankle goes for the worst, then I will fight Km by Km to reach the end...
One issue is that the tendons are obviously more painful in the morning than in the evening, because of the shortening during the sleep. The race starts at 5.30am, so not the right time for my achilles...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

solo un Kenyano puo' battere il nostro Stefano

un post veloce sulle performance "italiane" a HK.
Domenica scorsa era anche la Mezza Maratona Unicef. Le condizioni meteo erano perfette, mai visto niente di simile a HK in vita mia...
Stefano interrompe la sua striscia di vittorie consecutive, ma alla grande...
solo il mitico Kenyano Thomas (che mi aveva stritolato una settimana prima) riesce a batterlo di un risicato minuto... in una gara di livello eccezionale per Hong Kong.
1. Thomas: 1h07'42" (nuovo all-comers record per HK, battendo il precente fissato da Gezahegne Abera (olympic and world champion) nel 2003
2. Stefano: 1h08'50" (questo per un runner che 1 anno fa correva in 1h17'....).
3. Chan K.H.: 1h09'02" (frantumato il record nazionale di HK...)

Tempo eccezionale... correre in 1h08' per un amatore "alle prime armi" e' realmente una prestazione straordinaria.
Adesso dobbiamo solo sperare che le ragioni "di cuore" che stanno ripetutamente portando questo Thomas a correre a HK non generino un dominio Kenyano in permanenza...

Rivincita: domenica prossima a gara 10km

Monday, December 1, 2008

wk 48 Summary

- 85 Km / 6 workouts

2 Quality workouts:
- Thursday: the wind was really strong, so our plan (with E.) to make a MP run was canceled (the training route is along the sea..). We opted for a 7x1000m in a shielded stretch.
7x1000m in 3'20"-3'24" (depending on wind direction), with 1'30" recovery jog. I felt in quite good shape, decent stride and the effort was not particularly hard.
- Sunday: long run 25km (with 5km at medium effort (3'45"/km)). It was very likely the best ever weather I had experimented in South China in the past 9 years. 15C with 30% humidity.... run at 4'05"/km almost effortless. Now I understand why my workouts are always so painful compared to what I read in other blogs, in better climates...
The bad news is that I really had serious pain on the achilles. I avoided to take Voltaren NSAID for 3 days to purify the body, but simply without Voltaren it did not work....
The right ankle was painful and remained stiff also after the warm-up... so my stride was altered. Really a awful feeling in such a beautiful day.

Later in the week I will post more on my current interaction with the physiotherapist... there are plenty of interesting notions on the subject of orthotics and leg length discrepancy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

crumbles (briciole)



ENGLISH
yeah... Italians in HK are really leaving the crumbles to local opponents....
I already spoken about my race, but colliding on the calendar there was also the 10K Championship (I bite my fingers to have missed it... ) and my fellow Italian Stefano has destroyed the field with a 31'20" that got very close to the HK record.
He left behind all the best runners in HK, including the 2-times Triathlon Olympian D. Lee (who is an outstanding runner, also holder of HK record).
Stefano. really my sincere congratulations because you had worked very hard with this race in mind since last spring.
Also his story is an incredible transformation from "Alsorun" to good runner in 1 year.
Below his profile as featured in the last number of the local runner magazine and also a gorgeous view of the field during the 10K race

ITALIANO
ormai in HK per i nostri competitori rimangono solo le briciole...
gia' sapete del mio secondo posto alla Mezza Maratona (dietro solo ad un Kenyano in visita), ma in contemporanea c'era anche il campionato di Hong Kong dei 10K e il caro amico Stefano ha demolito gli avversari con una gara perfetta, con un tempo di 31'20" che lo pone molto vicino al record locale.
La competizione era molto agguerrita, incluso anche l'Olimpionico di Triathlon Daniel Li (un fortissimo runner... detentore del record nazionale).
Personalemente sono molto contento perche' Stefano meritava realmente questa vittoria avendo lavorato duramente dalla Primavera per arrivare nella migliore condizione a questa gara.
Tra l'altro anche la sua e' la storia di una trasformazione fulminante da "mezzo tapascione" a dominatore delle gare locali.
Il running magazine locale gli ha dedicato un profilo e poi una super inquadratura del gruppone della gara Nike (mi mangio le mani per non esserci stato... ma avevo fatto la scelta sentimentale di correre la Mezza sul "mio" percorso)

Monday, November 24, 2008

home run

Half Marathon, 2nd place Overall, 1st master, new PB in 1h14'27"

these are yesterday's data...

- for a crazy dispute between organizers, 2 major races (this half-marathon and the extremely popular "big swoosh sponsored" 10k championship) were colliding on the same date. Really too bad. It was a pity that our Half Marathon was with a very thin field of good runners.

- Why did I choose to run the HM? the course is my usual training ground, so I was on my home field, but most of all I wanted to go back to the same race where 2 years ago I understood that my running needed to changed direction. I finished with a very poor 1h23' and I was crawling in the lasts miles.
After that race, I did a deep search on wherever possible (books, Internet) on what could have been a better way to train and how is really the right formula to achieve results from your running.
After 2/3 weeks of little running and many searches and readings, I come up with the move to a more endurance based training and leaving aside the too frequent sessions of interval training.
At the time, I decided that running the Boston Marathon using the new approach would have been a good way to motivate myself. So I started the journey that brings me here today, same race, same course, but 9 minutes faster...

- The Kenyan runner (Thomas) did show up (he is also a very nice person, very friendly), so the race was for the 2nd place... He was so kind to offer us to go along with him, so that he could pace us at 3'15"/km pace and reach sub-70 minutes.... I had to pass the offer...

A quick race report:
* Pre-race conditions: barely acceptable. I was rested, but the achilles were painful all week and only a good dose of Voltaren did bring some benefit. I was also pretty sure that my stride is not yet 100% because of the tightness on the right tight
The physiotherapist did made some manipulation on Friday to release the tensions, but the muscles were so tight that his massage left me with bruises !! (it was incredibly painful, I was screaming and asking myself why to pay that deal of money to be beaten so hard...)

* Temperature suddenly rose after few chilly days, so it was already a good 20C at the start and quickly rose to 23C (the last 5k were really under a hot baking sun...)

* Starting field of around 500 runners, but the race for the 2nd place was basically to be settled between myself and my team mate G. (a very valid runner, 3 times winner of CC Marathon)

* I did not wear any HR Monitor for the first time in my life for a Half Marathon. I just wanted to run on the feeling and go head to head with G. Honestly sometimes it is distracting to watch your HR close to "heart stroke" level and you still have 5k to go...

* After the start, we followed Thomas (the Kenyan) and I was amazed from his effortless stride. We were running fast, but he looked like jogging. The 1k went in 3'15" (!!!!), so I decided that it was crazy to keep that pace and settled on my own pace. G. was more brave and kept going for another km, so he opened a decent gap.

I kept going at my pace, chipping aways seconds to G, until I got him at K9. He must have been struggling, because at the turn-around point I simply kept the pace, but I felt he was slipping behind. We passed the 10k still together in 34'59".

I felt relieved to be already on the way back home (and to the finish line) and clocked several Kms in around 3'30".
With 5km to go I did the silly mistake to start turning my head to see my advantage... the result was a clear evidence of the power of mind and the theory of central governor (see the Noake's book "lore or running" for details).
Being ahead with a sizable margin, with no reason to push hard, simply sent my brain in cut off and I started to feel tired all of a sudden. I was self-dooming myself to slow down to conserve energies.
My stride was pretty awkward. I felt the tension on the right muscles and I had several times to correct the gait and turn to a very strange shuffling stride. I did not feel capable to open the stride and really push at full throttle even if I had been fresh.

* the last 2k were pretty slower (around 3'38"), but the ankles were now painful and the sun was baking my head, so I cruised to the finish line without any sprinting attempt...

* for the records, the winner jogged to the win in 1h09' (if you have a PB of 64', then 69' must be a easy jog...). That's 5 minutes ahead of myself (2nd...).

If you wonder what to modify in your stride to run like a Kenyan Elite Runner, then give a look at these pictures (the 2 models are Thomas and myself )
Did you notice the extension of the rear leg ??



Here I am more relaxed, cruising in the last km. Good view of Shatin cycle path, Shing Mun river at the right, while the green fence on the left delimits the area used for the Olympic Games

Thursday, November 20, 2008

20/November - my "first workout"

I am still a little beaten up from last Sunday's long run. Honestly speaking, 38km "fast" are too much of a workout.I would say that either 35k at easy pace or 30/31k with MP sections are already an excellent workout.
I read that many Japanese or Kenyan runners have 1 or 2 super-long runs in their training cycle (i read of about 38/40km), but their recovery capability is much superior to ours...
So in the future I will stick to maximum 34/35k o even less if there are faster sections within.

......................................................................................................................................................................

This morning the temperature in Dongguan was a gorgeous 12C (the lowest this year) because of the northern monsoon so I did my first serious tempo run of the year...
On the outer ring of Qx town I clocked around 12.3-12.7 km in 46'00", with an average HR right on my MP effort (168bpm).
The Google Earth gave me 12.4km, but my Polar was for 12.7k . So the pace was around 3'38"-3'43"/km, which is not bad considering that is my serious workout in 6 weeks.
It was really a good effort. I felt some tightness in the right hip, but is going much better than 1 week ago. It was good that I was in control of the pace and effort and I manages the small undulations without seeing the HR skyrocketing.

The negative point is that I lost a lot of flexibility in my feet with all these achilles problem and I was really "slamming the feet" heavily... need to work on the stride..

.....................................................................................................................................................................

Lastly, I got to know that next Sunday's race might see also a Kenyan runner at the start. There are some 2nd tier Kenyans based in Malaysia who take part in races around Asia.
The Half Marathon has a first prize award of a 100USD shoes voucher, so not real money...
Said that, that will remove a lot of passion in the battle for the 1st place and a lot of pressure also on my performance. I was keen to race hard for the victory, but 2nd or 5th makes little change, so I might decide to go out at Marathon pace as training session.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

flattered

I just got the latest copy of the local running magazine and I am almost embarrassed by a flattering compliment from another good runner, who was interviewed in a nice personal profile.
(the gentlemen is a very prolific runner, very solid performance and many victories. In my personal opinion his too many races go to detriment to giving his real best in some top races, but at the end he must follow what he feels best for himself)Dear Choi, thank you very much for labeling me a "talented runner" and remarking the event (almost one year ago) ... it is a compliment totally undeserved.
(I remember well that race... as mentioned, we were in a big pack and he started to push his own pace and drop one runner after the other, I was the last to be dropped...)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wk 46 Summary

Training for a marathon in 3 weeks...

Wk 44: 25km
Wk 45: 64 km (4 runs)
Wk 46: 6 workouts, with 120km
I would not have expect to run so easily 120km, even missing a day. I think it all goes down to the temperature drop. Last week was fantastic with morning temperature between 15C and 20C and running was so easy...

Friday: 5x2km in 6'45"-6'50" on the track, to savour again some hard effort. I was almost ok, but the right leg is not working in the right way

Sunday: 38.2km long run with mixed speed, in 2h33' (that was like running a FM in 2h49'), so not really a easy pace. I felt really good and the Km went run fast. Time by time I was picking up the pace but I felt the tightness in the right leg and I had to slow down.
Basically I am ok when I run at 4'/km, but below 3'50" I start to feel tightness...
Also the ankles were hurting...
In the last 5km I opened the throttle and clocked 3'30"/km pace with hard, but comfortable effort.

My overall feeling is that I am aerobically fit, but it all goes down on how I can recover fully from all my pains/ailments.

Injury list:
Hip pain: diagnosed as hip bursitis. Is gone, but the physiotherapist told me that I have high risk of recurrence because of the poor biomechanics of my body
Hip Tightness: still there, whenever I increase the speed. I am working on it with stretching
Achilles pain: increasing, very negative. According to the PT, it is related to the unbalance in the legs, leg discrepancy, etc, etc. For this one, I am going on with streching, ice and Ipubrufen (by the way, the PT told me to take 1200mg daily to be effective).
Plantar fascitis: almost disappeared (at least a good news). I suspect that using the Asics Kayano only did provide more support to the foot and helped the healing.

So now 21 days to go... and I am like an old worn-out shoe...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Singapore, I am coming...

the things are:
- HK Athletics pushed me again to run in Singapore

- my wife got excited of the idea that I was running representing HK and that was really a special opportunity, likely unrepeatable. We did a contingency plan in case of an early delivery (the due date would be December 18th) and, at the end, she was the one pushing me to go (incredible... my wife supportive to my running mania must be a sign of serious hormonal unbalance)

- I might not be at 100% condition, but running in Singapore removes a lot of pressure because it will be hot, so a slow race. My hip pain is affecting especially at higher speed where the range of motion is wider, but very likely in Singapore it will be enough to run around 3'55"/km.

Overall, I felt it like something unconceivable only until 1 year ago and a realization of a "kid's dream" (which athlete does not dream of representing his country in international competition ?).
I have been living in China and Hong Kong for 9 years, so it is almost like my own country (well, in other countries I would have already got citizenship...).

All said, I give it a try... If I can run well, the better, otherwise it will be anyway a great feeling just to wear the "Hong Kong, China" singlet and start in the elite sector.

now, the basic is: how to get ready for a marathon in 22 days ???? that would be a good title for some article on running magazines, but honestly I was already in tapering phase for a while...
I will try to make a long run this week end, run anyway the half marathon on 23rd to make a "solid" workout and keep the mileage higher until 4 days to the marathon day.
HKA is really weird in their approach, selecting the team with only 4 weeks to go (I know that they also contacted other male and female runners with the same timing).

Singapore's course

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

update 12/Nov

  • I am back to running. The hip is not 100% ok, I feel still tightness in the area and my stride is not yet fully normal. I can not "carry" the right leg in the best way to have a smooth stride.
  • I also got a bout of tendinitis to the achilles because I maybe resumed running too suddently. That complicates the equation...
  • I lost a bit of aerobic endurance, but most of all I am really "flat" whenever I try to rump up the speed.
  • The temperature dropped dramatically in 1 day... from 24C to 14C in 24 hours... now it is a paradise for running... Running at 27C compared to running in cool weather is like 2 different sports... now I understand again the meaning of "easy run" or "tempo run"... now the usual "crawling..."
  • Next race: I will take the start line of a Half Marathon in 10 days. The start is 1km from my home and the course is basically my usual training route... so I play at home... I hope that at least I can last the whole distance
  • Lastly, it is not really my lucky period. I got a call from HK Athletic to be invited to represent Hong Kong at the Singapore Marathon, as part of the HK team... that would be really a great honour and the maximum level of self-achievement for an "alsorun" like myself. Well, I had to decline because I might be more likely in delivery room in those days... what a difficult trade-off between such a family joy and this maybe unrepeatable opportunity...

Monday, November 3, 2008

3/Nov random thoughts

- October 2008 has been the warmest October in HK recorded history, with an average mean temperature of 26.5C (that is 80F as average....). Honestly, I did not need to read the official notice... I felt that the only difference vs July was much less rain and a bit less humidity.. otherwise was really ugly

- glad to see that yesterday in Seoul the 2 HK "official" representative (sent by National team) did very well for their records: Ms ADA a good PB in 2h56' and broke the 3hrs barrier. Mr Lau KM end up in 2h36' (also a PB for him), that projects him at the 2nd place of the HK ranking...
My regret is that I left Lau 1 minute behind at our last race before this marathon (the track meeting...), but I better quit regretting about what could have happened.

- lasty, it is time now to explain why I did chose Seoul and why so much regret about not running. Next month (December) I will become father again and therefore running has to take a back seat for a while. It is a great positive event that takes 100% of your life for a while...
Combined to my advancing age, I guess that yesterday might have been really my last good "shot" to a great run...
said that, I will try to do my best and if the training goes ok, I will take the line at the local HK marathon, hoping to make a decent race.
Our first daughter helped to come back to running and it was a driver to running better, now let's see what happened.
I overcome my depressing thought of quitting running for good, but I will race only if my fitness is ok and capable to fight for a good race like now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No, i will not run in Seoul this Sunday.
Sunday I went out for a test, but after 15km I started to feel pain in the hip and getting tight.
Maybe another week of easy run would settle the things but mentally I am no more there... leaving the family for a week-end and starting not being 100% fit would be not a pleasure.

Now I feel incredibly tired, like actually after a marathon... 5 months of training in the heat and humidity were at no use. I hope that I can rebound back because at 39 years old, it is increasingly difficult to train so hard, coping with so many job and family constraints...

My best wishes to those who will be running in NYC, Seoul and other places next week-end. Hit your own target!

Friday, October 24, 2008

24 October

Run easy 10km daily from Wednesday, but I am not ok yet...
After 30minutes I feel disconfort in the pain.
I have also a terrible mental fear of feel pain again, so I run with poor gait...
The Physio told me to persevere with streching and manipulation that maybe I can recover in time...
Sunday I will go for a medium lenght run to see how far I can keep...

Unfortunately in Asia the decent marathons can be counted on a single hand's fingers, so missing it would only leave as next chance the other marathon in Seoul in March (Tokyo has closed entries last August..., I can not move from Hong kong in december to february, so Taipei, Fukuoka, Macau are off-limit). There is also an interesting Beppu-Oita Marathon close to Kyoto, but the entry requirement is a sub 2h30' recent time !!! (They can still have 200 runners at the start, the level in Japan is crazy..)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

comparison

as a morale boost in this rough moment, I can draw the comparison between the run-up to Fukuoka 2007 and Seoul 2008.

- KM done in preparation (4 months up to marathon)
2007: 1382 km (Aug to Nov)
2008: 1807 km (not finished yet) (Jul to Oct)
+30%

- Exertion in the 4 months build-up (from Polar PPT SW: a kind of score of HR x time)
2007: 6813
2008: 8207 (not finished yet)
+20%

- 5K XC hilly race early September
2007: 18'16"
2008: 17'44"

- 10000m track race (late September)
2007: 35'18"
2008: 33'54"

- 5K flat race October
2007: 16'15"
2008: 15'51"

it all sounds good....
pity that I did not make a single long tempo run or a decent MP workout...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

21/October

In this desperate attempt to recover, i will take 2 days off and than run easily until the pain disappear. Obviously 7 days of easy runs should not affect my fitness at this point, but before flying to Seoul I must be 100% sure that I can at least keep the distance...

becuase it was quite interesting, here an abstact of the physioterapist visit:

- he made me stand single legged, closed eyes, to see how I could keep balance
- different check on the rango of movements
- palpation, etc

especially the first check was significant, because he told me that I have weak buttocks and weak core, so I can not sustain the balance well and all together this put too much load on the legs and the muscle stabilizing the legs.
So, this is a good reminder about the importance of strength training and core stability training. Do not do like myself, neglecting it for too long....

then, some US treatment and deep tissue massage. The massage was so deep and so painful that I was screaming... I thought whether the final 6km of a marathon would look like a joke if I could stand that pain...

final, a demonstration of some stretching position to loosen up the muscle. He recommended me to just run 10km at most easy every day.

I am now following the recipe... finger crossed. Final decision will be early next week, after a "test" of 10km at MP

Monday, October 20, 2008

broken...

It should have been a nice report about the nice 135km done in the week and a good final workout, but in reality this post is about my hip...
in short, I am injured at the hip: the muscle that runs above the hip until the knee (tensus lateralis or something similar) is strained and inflammated.
Yesterday the long run has been a nightmare: I started to feel pain and that caused an alteration of the stride until the leg "locked"... so I jogged home (10km...).
I am afraid it is quite severe because at the end in the past 10 days just went worse and worse.
Therefore I fear that my marathon is really in jeopardy and that is pretty depressing perspective.
Honestly, after 5 months of training under this scorching sun and breathless humidity, I would have deserved a bit more luck... just 15 days to go...
The physiotherapist this morning gave me a combination of remedies, but with only 15 days to go, sounds pretty desperate.
What to say more.... I got the worst "revenge" for those small mistakes done in the past months:
- not enough core stability excercises
- lack of sleep, with conseguent fatigue of postural muscles
- not enough streching...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Injuries list

Honestly the major concern I now have for the marathon is the long list of small injuries and pains that are with me already too long.
I think it is the doom from the orthopedic who discouraged me from running saying that my legs were not suited...

A) sore achilles
- root cause: tight calves and too much running on hard surfaces
- not affecting my running at all, so I am not concerned. Sometimes I ice them when I remember about it..
I will strech more in the next 2 weeks.
- risk: very low
B) plantar fascitis, left foot
- likely due to increase in mileage and always running on hard surphaces + poor mobility of the ankle/calf
(Goes together with A) ).
- not many ideas on how to solve it: already got several suggestions here and there. I am a bit lazy about some of them. Anyway is not much paiful, apart sometimes nighttime
- action: massage + using shoes with support
- risk: low to moderate
C) right hip pain
- occured first while trying the new marathon shoes on a long run
- appears usually after 15km and does not go away. Stride is seriously affected.
- cause: the literature say some overuse + weakness in back muscles + inflammation of tissues + tighness in muscles
- action: I now make streching on the area and take Voltaren.
- risk: high... If it happens on race day, I am dead... I am really scared about it. Any suggestion welcome
(General suggestions on Internet and literature are: changing running surface, changing shoes, strenghen back muscles)

Monday, October 13, 2008

13/October - long and "mean" run

This morning I was 100% committed to make a long and fast run, whatever it takes..
....it took a lot....:
a) my daughter was sick and I maybe slept 7 hours in the past 2 nights...
b) to be back on time for work, alarm clock at 4.15am (well, anyway I was not sleeping anymore)
c) it was another humid day, luckily only 25C, but 90%rh

regardless of a), b) and c) I went out with very mean intentions: at least 35km with 20k+ at medium effort.
So after 10km of lethargic warm-up at 4'10" pace, I upped the pace and the effort to slightly below 160 bpm (80%HRmax). The Km were passing by fast, at 3'50" pace and I felt overall very well and very comfortable in the effort... even after 30k, it was still a nice going..
Total: 35km in 2h17' (3'58"/km pace..). That is like a projected marathon in 2h47'....
Average HR: 151 (around 76%HR max)... (Polar Running Index was as good as 89!!)

in short... it was a very mean run...
(a pity I could not do many of them in the past month...)




in shor

Wk 41 Summary

- 127km in 7 workouts
- 1 excellent race, that left me satisfied in full
- 1 excellent workout on Tuesday (4x4km @ 3'25" pace approx), total 30k
not yet a decent long run... and I have only 1 week training + 2 weeks tapering....

=> right hip pain after Tuesday's workout, appearing now almost every day after 1hr. I guess the new shoes strained some muscle. Hope it will disappear with stretching and Voltaren.
My major concern is if the choice of the shoes for the marathon (NB RC902) is the right one, or if they are too light and not enough cushion... next week end I will make a final test.

Some nice pics from Saturday's race:

- early in the race, still together - in full effort with 500m to go (I should have been at 3'05" pace...). Nice to see that I look smooth...
- the winner

Saturday, October 11, 2008

2nd on 5K race ... But it was very sweet placement

2nd place can be a bit bitter, but today for me was all sweet: the winner is by far too superior to everybody and I come home with a huge PB on the distance and great indication of shape for the marathon.
Let's go in order...
Today was the final race of the 5K series and the only flat 5K in HK.
The course is on a pedestrian road not closed for the race and full of twist, so not exactly a super fat course (last year I was hitting a pooing dog....).
Honestly, I was not very motivated to race because I hate running in the afternoon, it was hot (27C/80F) and I do not want to affect the training for the marathon.
I went only because being the last race of the series I wanted to collect the "goodies" and prize for the series and at the same time it is unrepeatable occasion for a 5k PB.
All said, I felt good on the warm-up and decided to use a passive tactic to follow the pack of runner at my level and just kick for the final km.
It all went to plan. After the start, the winner (congratulation Stefano for the fantastic time) disappeared fastand we formed a pack with my usual opponents (all guys capable to run below 16min in ideal conditions).
I just hang out there, covering every move and trying to avoid overstriding. The first 2k were tough because I was not used to these paces, but progressevely I felt better and I was not even at 100% effort. Felt very confortable, waiting for the right moment. With 1500m to go, I felt that the others were hurting and I placed my move, easily gaining ground.
With 500m, no one was closing by, so I cruised in good form to the finish line in 15'51".
A great PB, also considering the weather and the twisting course. I was not even hanging out for death, so there are other seconds to collect here and there...
As remark, the Italian domination in HK continues... Whenever we took the start line, either myself or Stefano win. Also today a 1-2 like last time ....

What would you do after a PB and before a marathon ????
Well, obvioulsy putting the time in the McMillan calculator or Jack Daniels' VDOT, right ??
They both comes out with a marathon equivalence around 2h32-34', and I also played a bit factoring the hot weather (2sec/km), the twisting course, etc on a time in ideal conditions.... But it could become really a wild dream...
All said, for sure I have the right aerobic power and stamina, I feel good general endurance, but lacking of something in specific endurance (marathon pace for long distance).
The answer in 3 weeks...
(I can not give a displeasure to Jack Daniels and McMillan...)

Flash news: Italiani ancora dominanti !! Doppietta 1 - 2

A Hong Kong ormai non c'e' ne per nessuno.... Continua I'll dominio italiano.
Gara finale della serie 5km e un nuovo filotto:
1o Stefano 15'15" (tempo fantastico considrerando i 29C ed I'll percorso piatto ma non veloce)
2o io, Roberto 15'51" (gara tattica, ho succhiato le ruote fino a 1km all'arrivo e poi allungato facile sul mio gruppetto)
Bravo Stefano, penso che I'll record di HK sui 5k sia per te fattibile (in pista)

Friday, October 10, 2008

10/October - Running Index

After the "Golden Week" of holidays for the China National Day, back to work for the factory. So I swap the "running camp" to Dongguan...
2 easy run yesterday and today, about 19km each. Weather was warmed up again, but obviously it is not so dreadful like in Summer. So the pace was comfortably around 4'05"-4'15" + some stride.

More interesting is that I extracted again the chart of the Polar Running Index and it looks really awesome.
I can not swear on the validity of the Index, but the correlation between HR and speed during the workouts makes sense as indicator of the general fitness.
Obviously I dot not think that gives any useful indication on the specific endurance/performance for a certain race distance, but at least makes comparable different period of the years or year-on-year.

All said, it is very confortable that my current level is much higher than the run up to my last marathon. It also shows the period of "stale" in September due to "heat fatigue" and mental tiredness.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

8/Oct - tired

24C/humid... worse than yesterday
I felt tired from yesterday's workout (unavoidable...), so only 13km at a leisurely 4'25"/4'30" pace. I guess also tomorrow must be taken easy.

Stefano: and you ? feel tired legs ? (relative to your potential, you took it a bit slower)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

7/oct - another great group run

Today is public holiday in HK (festival of ?? according the lunar calendar)
So I sent out another invitation for a group run and the response was overwhelming !! Even more fast runners than last time... Basically 80% of those in HK who can run below 2h45' for a marathon show up !!
Weather was great too: overnight the northern monsoon cooled down the temperature to 22C overnight.
It was all set for a perfect workout !!
Good warm-up alone, met the others and we had for the planned workout:
- 4x4km @ HM effort, with 1km easy run in between.
Being more or less everybody at the same level, we set the reference pace of 3'30"/km. My personal agenda was to maybe increase the pace gradually if the HR would have not entered in my target zone of 177+/-3.
What can I say ?
- after months at 30C, at 22C it was a joy
- a paceline of 10 runners going at 3'30" is a show in itself and it was mentally very easy to keep the pace in a group rather than alone.
So it was the "easiest" workout of the year to complete...
Here the numbers:
-30km in 2h10'
-Intervals (time/pace/HRaverage/HRmax/feeling):
1 13'50" / 3'28" / 162 / 171 / felt easy but it was the first...
2 13'40" / 3'25" / 167 / 175 / also easy (tailwind), but start the real effort
3 13'45' / 3'26" / 169 / 181 / stride a bit altered, felt like working at the right intensity
4 13'13" / 3'18" / 174 / 186 / we raced it... But I felt good, good sprint

Overall: with lower temperature, running is a different thing.. Felt really well and in control at 3'25" pace. Very positive. Maybe we could have pushed a bit more during the recovery to make it tougher and closer to a full HM effort.
Everyone was enthousiastic at the end about the great workout and the effectiveness of training in such a group. To be repeated

Monday, October 6, 2008

Wk 40 summary

- 148km in 7 workouts . (WOW.. it is my lifetime record for a week)

Overall: I wish I could have had several weeks like this... it was almost perfect in terms of quality and quantity of the work. The cooler monsoon helped a lot because reaching 15/18km in my "easy" days was really easy.
Unfortunately the hot weather in September really killed me and I have not done yet many really "high quality" workouts. The number of Km really hitting the pace has been very low.

I am really in doubts for the next 2 weeks on what to do:
- work mainly on quality workouts and try to become more familiar with "high" speed, even sacrificing the distance
or
- continue the plan as mixed endurance/speed, with the risk to have great stamina, but not mechanically used to the 3'40" pace...
I think it over tonight... (suggestions welcome)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

5/october

after yesterday fast and long run, I was expecting to feel tired today. I WAS tired..
15km easy @4'25" average pace.
Note: friday I did the silly mistake to run faster because I felt good even if it was supposed to be a easy run. That is rule #1, #2 and #3 of training... when it is your easy run to recover before/after hard workouts, do it easy, regardless on how you feel !!

4/october "the power of networking"

by far, the most enjoyable workout in my 9 years in China&HK !!
In the past days I had floated the plan for this workout (20km easy + 13km @MP) to my usual running friends ... well, the word spread out and at the starting point we were more than a dozen, with (incredibly!) 6 out of 10 of the best marathon runners in HK and the current 2nd best female runner !! wow..
The comment from E. was the most amusing: "I guess that not even at the HK Marathon you have this starting field..".

The weather was at his most awful, with an incoming typhoon: 27C, 90% Humidity, hot humid strong wind.
Honestly I had not recovered well from friday's workout or maybe the poor sleep, but I felt not really OK. The HR was way too high for the easy pace (155bpm at 4'15" ... no way in normal conditions).

Anyway in such a good group, the first 20km went out very easily: we were pacing 4'15" and any of us could pace the group for a while... ideal conditions...
than we started the most amusing section: 12km @ 3'40"/k pace (target).
Honestly, given my poor conditions and the ugly weather, if I had been alone, I would have simply cut short home...
Even at that pace, we were all packed and it was really a great view... while we were overtaking several slower runners on the cycling path, I heard more than one of them commenting in disbelief that all of us ("know faces" in our small territory) could be running together ...
at the end, we did the 12km in 44'50" (3'43"/k pace). Really satisfactory given the weather conditions. My HR was way out the target of 168+/-2bpm, more flirting with 175bpm towards the end, but given my conditions of the day from the start, I took it as unavoidable and it was good to finish well without drop of pace. No doubts about my marathon endurance at this point.
Total 35k in 2h22" and a real good running experience !!
My thanks to Stefano, M.K., Keith, Lai HK, K.T., E., S.F. and the others for joining !!

Friday, October 3, 2008

from now on, daily

because it is now only 1 month left to the Marathon day, I will try to blog more frequently... maybe almost daily update.

Latest developments:

- on Oct 1st (China's National Day), we did a great workout with E.
31km with 6x2km @ HM effort (target 3'30"/k pace).
Honestly something was wrong because I felt very awkward on the pace. The 3'30" pace felt too fast on the legs, but in reality the HR was barely touching 170bpm (so more in "Marathon" effort than "HM" effort). I could barely hit the 7'00" target for each interval, even if I did not feel it like a particularly tiring effort.
I do not know if someone out there met the same issue. I am not sure if it is due to still some residual fatigue from the 10k race or "too much" endurance training, without faster workouts.
From now on, I will add strides at the end of each workout to bring up to speed the legs...

- 2nd October:
easy run, 14km. Felt very tired from yesterday (understandable)

- 3/Oct:
the main purpose was a test drive on the marathon shoes.
I opted for the NewBalance RC902NR because the most similar to my previous RC600.
They are great shoes indeed... comfortable, responsive, good support for pronation control and the cushioning is decent (for a 220gr/7.2oz shoes).
I held very easily a 4'05" pace and also pushed for 2k to see the response of the shoe: 3'35" pace felt very easy.
Summary: 16.7km in 1h08' (4'04" pace), with 2km in 7'08" at medium effort (!!) + stride.

tomorrow Saturday, I was able to gather most of the best runners in HK to come with me for the long run !!! incredible... I guess at least 5 out of the 10 best will be with me for the long run with MP section !! (I feel some pressure now... better go to sleep early tonight)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Italians strike again - filotto italiano

This post is mainly focused on the Italian running community and the endless strip of victories in from August until now (obviously not all mine...), so I will write in Italian, for the benefit of the spare italian readers...

Forse a Pechino non e' andata alla perfezione per l'atletica italiana, ma qui nel Sud della Cina sembra un momento molto favorevole alla nostra comunita':
a Hong Kong ci sono circa 6-8000 partecipanti regolari alle svariate gare, con una punta di 50.000 per la HK Marathon e manfestazioni collaterali. Di questi solo 3-4 sono italiani, quindi una minuscola rappresentanza statistica...
E' quindi incredibile che nella stagione podistica 2008-09 appena iniziata, abbiamo vinto TUTTE le gare a cui uno di noi ha partecipato !! Da fine agosto ad oggi, una gara dietro l'altra !!
Le mie 2 vittorie si aggiungono le 3 di Stefano, che anche ieri (Public holiday per la Festa Nazionale) ha sbaragliato gli avversari in un 10km con un ottimo tempo di 32'38" (non male... era ventoso e 26C (secchi)). Bravo Stefano !!
Speriamo che il filotto continui ...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Wk 39 Summary

- 129km in 7 run (affected by a typhoon mid week)
- 3 workouts
  • Monday: Long Run 33k. A disaster. Not fully recovered yet from Saturday's race; and it was very hot, humid and polluted. I asked E. to come with me for a final 13km section at MP (3'40"), but it was so hot that we decided immedialty to settle for a more modest 3'50" and we could not even keep it. I was so dead that I got dropped by him..
  • Thursday: progression run 10k easy + 10k medium + 10k MP effort. After the typhoon the air was much better, so the workout went very well. I can not swear on the actual pace because it was on unmarked roads, but feeling was good and also I recovered promptly
  • Sunday: race 10000m track. 1st place in 33'54". Temperature 27C/75%rh. Good sensations, I was at 95% effort (last year at the same meeting I did a 35'15"...)
Overall: the week did not start well, but the end was much better.
Because of the heat, I am still lacking some real good quality workout (kind of nailing the 3'40" pace for a long run..).
Now there are only 3 weeks of hard training before the tapering and I hope the weather could cooperate so that I can pile up some good long run and MP pace workout... finger cross. I feel much stronger compared to when I did 2h38' in Fukuoka, but this year I could not yet see any concrete evidence of it in long workouts.
Luckily last night the northern monsoon has brought cooler, dry air so this morning was like running in another country...

again 1st (incredible)



yes, It did happen... winning a 10000m track event. It would have been an impossible dream only 1 year ago...

going in order...

The race: it was Round #4 or 4 of the HK Track&Field Championship. Unfortunately the local Athletic Association does whatever possible to put off good distance runners from this Championship: to take part in the finals for a given discipline, you must have taken part to at least 3 meetings. The meetings are spread year round also in Summer, so not many are keen to run the 5000/10000m in June or July just to earn the presence.. so many runners take part in 1 or 2 preliminary rounds, but the finals for distance running are disputed mainly by keen track runners who just stick to taking part at every round.

The weather: to avoid getting psyched I did not check the weather before the race, but it was a 27C/80F with 75%Rh. Hot Hot, but it did not felt too bad coming from even worse.

The track: the WanChai stadium is crazily located right in the middle of the business district, with skyscrapers on 3 sides and the sea at the last side. (see the pics above...)

The starting field: decent, a bunch of 2nd tier runners like myself + nontheless than Chan K.O. This guy is, in my opinion, the most talented in Hong Kong. He holds several HK records. Unfortunately he has the disputable policy that training in Summer is not for him, so he trains very lightly for several months. In this part of the year I knew he was beatable even by myself

The shoes: I guess that my fellow pronator runners will feel upset, but I used a pair of ultra-light racing flat like the Mizuno Wave Ekiden.
They are maybe less than 180grams and with really minimum sole. There is anyway a minimal "wave" feature to provide some support...
I use them only for track and 5kroad races ... already a road 10k let me with strained muscles.





The race itself: we started very causiously and 1st Km was only 3'32". I did want to avoid to go slowly and let it become a 3000m sprint, so after 3 laps I took the lead and started to settle into a 1'20" lap pace that was more in line with my potential. Little by little I could not hear anymore the steps of other runners behind me and I also decided to be mentally strong, therefore:
- no more taking split at each lap
- do not turn back to see where they are...
So I started a kind of time trial alone, keeping the breathing at tolerably hard level but without overdoing. It was hot and the track was reflecting the heat even more...
I just checked the 5000m split at 17'06" and than went on at my own pace.
After 6000m it started to be tougher to keep the pace but also the lap counter was coming down to less than 10 to go...
at 8000m I gave a look back and I had at least 200m lead, so I started to believe that I could have won unless a collapse in the pace. I therefore focuesed on just keeping the same pace and keep some reserves for a fast last 800m if needed.
Also at 9000m no apparent opposition, so I cruised for the last 2 laps to close in 33'54"

split (I took them but did not look at them...)
- 1k: 3'32"
- 2k: 2'22"
- 5000m in 17'06"
- 8000m in 27'17"
- last km in 3'15"

Overall:
- Now I felt much more confident for the Marathon pace. Running in 33'54" in that heat means something in the low 33' in ideal conditions.
- Also very pleased about my actual effort: I was not really at 100%, becuase running alone ahead was not in the plans and I was always keeping something in reserve to avoid bonking for the heat
- Lastly, for a mid-age runner who was just running 35'30" 2 years ago, I felt this victory as a great accomplishment, becuase taking part in a Open Elite meeting (also some Olympians were there (in sprints)) and win my race is something unique for my running career. Being very much aware that 33'xx is ridiculous for Elite sport..
- About the heat from the track: I got a big blister under my toes because of the friction between the thin shoe and the boiling surface of the track !!!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

From WanChai to Berlin

My best wishes to all those running Berlin Marathon tomorrow.
There will be also a fast woman from Hong Kong who should do well (good luck JJ!!).
Also some of my favourite bloggers will run targeting the magic 2h35' that is also my dream.

I will be rather taking part in a track meeting for a challenging 10000m.
The track of WanChai is one of the most spectacular in the world... carved in the middle of the skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island. I will try to take some shots because the feeling is special (I also hope is not too hot and humid, because the reflection from the skyscrapers make the track feel like an oven..)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A thypoon makes a difference...


Tuesday night the typhoon "Hagupi" lashed Guangdong/Hong Kong. It was very sudden and hard-hitting, unfortunately causing several deaths (7 confirmed dead + 19 missing) in Guangdong.

It did cool down the air considerably and also the humidity is lower. So this morning it was quite pleasant at 5.30am when I went out for a progression run 10k easy + 10k moderate and 10k MP effort. Nevertheless it was 26C and running around the factories of this industrial town is not the dream of every runner.... but overall it was a workout that I would not be able to do before
- around 10k in 44'
- around 9.2km in 37'26" (around 4'00"/km, hilly course)
- last 37' on treadmill with HR around 165 (awful... I hated, but it was much cooler..)

with cool-down around 30km in 2h05'. Good feeling, but I was not satisfied about the running gait, need for sure some fast interval to improve the stride

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

endless summer

another rant about the weather. This year the summer is endless. We are already in Autumn, but the temperature are like in July (or worse).
Yesterday I got up at 4.30am to make a long run and it was already 28C(82F) with 87%rh !! during the day the temperature reached 37/38C with high humidity and high pollution.






















Until now, I could make only 1 or 2 really good workouts while the remaining ones were only "surviving". Not a single good MP run; I did not even try to make a fast tempo run because it would be too tough. In short, I am putting miles but I am really not satisfied of the quality.
I hope for a temperature drop in the next 3 weeks, at least to make 5/6 good workouts before the marathon

Wk 37 Summary

- 96km with 7 workouts in 6 days. The work schedule has affected the organization of the week. Because of the Saturday's race that left me very tired, I had to postpone the Long Run to Monday, so the mileage "looks" low.

- quality workouts:
  • Tuesday: progression run 8km easy + 8km moderate + 8km @MP pace . It was the best run of the month ...
  • Saturday: race 5k. It left me totally exhausted also on Sunday. The heat was really brutal and these course in HK are too demanding. I felt leg pain until Monday, like after a weight lifting session..

Monday, September 22, 2008

technical report on Saturday's race

because I found that reading blogs is a very good way of exchanging experiences, here some technical information for my readers

- shoes used: New Balance RC750: racing flats suitable for pronators. I would dare to use them for a 15k race and maybe also a HM on the flat.

- HR profile: I wore the HR monitor on purpose to see my maximum HR rate during the race. Knowing that the profile of the course would have forced me to push very hard, it is good occasion to measure the real HRmax to use later to base our own training.
My last indication was 197bpm, and it has been confirmed also this time. So no need to change my training zones !!
The HR profile describes well the development of the action: decent pace until I reached the climb, flat-out for the 5 minutes uphill, take it more relaxed in the downhill return (I was hurting badly anyway) and than push what was left for the final flat stretch. I did not sprint that much, so it was surprising the I reached the max on the finish line


- I was feeling like a dead man during the race, but later I could see the pictures of those behind me and I got relieved ... they were looking not fresh either (from the top, myself, 2nd/3rd and 4th placed)






- the good news is that the runner who felt victim of heatstroke got discharged from hospital on the same day. He is a very valid canadian runner (1h14' HM PB), just arrived in HK, but I guess that in Canada 33C/90%rh is not the standard...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

1st

I did it !!! I won ! today eventually it was my day !!

was race #2 of the AVOHK 5k series. Weather was brutal: 32C/65%rh (makes 39C/102F heat index). I felt pretty sluggish before the race, not really in good feeling (I guess it was related to the strange starting time of 4PM).
The course is equally awful: a first Km flat, than a steep 900m hill that usually forces many to walk it, a small up/down loop at the top and return, with the downhill that shatters your legs before the last flat stretch.
Unfortunately the winner of the fist race, Stefano P., was absent due to a small injury, so I was the pre-race favorite, but today also my training partner E. joined the race and he can beat me.

I am a very poor downhill runner, so I placed all my hopes in charging fast from the start and opening enough gap on the top of the hill to take it easy downhill and have some reserve for the final km.
Well, i make it short saying that it all went to plan, I arrived to the botton of the hill with E. on tow and charged the hill hard, very hard.
It hurt a lot... it was brutally endless and steep and I could barely breath. I never turned my head until the top and just charged, charged, charged.
At the top I was almost dead, but I opened a real huge gap (I turned my head then). So it take the dowhill comfortably (slow) and it hurt anyway. The breath was not in sync with the legs, so I was really in pain.
After this torture, I eventually reached the flat; I thought for a moment that I was hurting so badly that is someone would have caught me, I would not able to react. So I pushed again but mainly in damage control... turning my head time to time to see if someone was getting close.

well, it was really a relief and a joy to see the finish arch and I was closing for the first time this year as a winner !!
Glad to see that, as expected, E. placed 2nd and he told me later that on the hill I did not even try to follow me because I was going up like a madman (actually, it was so steep that I was barely jogging...). I should have taken it easier and have more fuel for the second half of the race..
I am very happy, It is really a good morale booster.


Weather was so brutal that several runner felt sick after the race, I was really concerned for the 4th placed A.H., who collapsed after the finish and had to be taken to hospital
picture from SCMP newspaper about the poor runner.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

choosing my shoe

now it is 8 weeks to go to my marathon and I must pick up the shoe for the race.
Unfortunately my beloved NewBalance RC600 are too worn-out and totally our of stock in HK, otherwise I would not have doubts...

I happens that I have won 4 wonderful looking shoes at local races that could be suitable for the job (running 42km for a 70kg heel-striker...).
They are all brand new from the box and I do not want to go into testing each of them...
The drawback is that 3 of them are all models for Asian and Japanese market, so it is impossible to find a review for these models on our usual sources...
"Asian fit" models have usually a wider forefoot to accommodate the shape of Asian feet, and it is not a bad feeling also for my "caucasian foot" because gives some extra space when the foot is swollen...
said this, let's see the contestant

A) MIZUNO WAVE SPACER R3

gorgeous looking black/yellow. 205 grams/7.2oz . I believe it is more suited for neutral runners, but the wave plate is quite solid. Sold only in Japan (Hong Kong is a bit particular market, where East meets West).















B) NIKE KATANA RACER STAR
shining orange, 215gr/7.6oz. Sold also in USA, but I could not find a decent review on whether they are suitable for a marathon, even if they have a "air" unit also in foresole. Also it seems classified for neutral gait runner (and actually I can not see any specific anti pronation device)



C) NEW BALANCE RC902MR
pleasant red color, 220gr/7.8oz. They seems also the less "aggressive" of the bunch with a design very similar to the NB RC600. Listed as suitable for pronators (with medial post and stability web). This is also a Japan only model.


D) MIZUNO WAVE REVOLVER
classic blue/white color. 220gr/7.8oz . They are also listed as marathon shoes for pronators, but a review on runningtimes.com discourages the use for longer race over 15k. I need more double check on them. They also seems more common for US market (while absent from Mizuno European website...)










Like in any beauty contest, the line-up of the finalists (Mizuno Wave Revolver was unfortunately stored elsewhere)













Needless to say, they are all "made in China" and most likely made here in Dongguan (Adidas, Asics, Mizuno has their subcontractors in Dongguan, I can not swear for NewBalance, Nike are made most likely in factories in Guangzhou (50km away)). So I support the local economy...

still hot and humid

From Mara Yamauchi's blog (overall very boring... not worthy to read), a good sentence about the toughness of the Asian summer

.....
Autumn in Tokyo
....
The summer here is so hot and sticky, that the Japanese have a whole set of special words, food, clothes etc for it.
“Natsu-bate” means endless fatigue brought on by hot, humid days, poor sleep, dehydration and other heat-induced menaces
....

Autumn is here too on the calendar, but is still so hot and humid...

Yesterday, 12 hours meeting at work, followed by a business dinner... a poor sleep because the air was so sticky and heavy in the bedroom (even with air-con...).
As soon as I hit the road this morning, I felt that it was not the best day ... much more humid than the past days and the air was so hazy that looked liked British fog (but 30C warmer).

I really struggled to make a decent 17km at easy pace, the last 20 minutes were endless...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

good feel

this morning I had my best workout in months...
- 27C(78F)/80% rh
- Shoes Mizuno Elixir 3 (a great model, good for both longhish runs and fast pace)
- slept too little, but felt ok anyway.
The program was to run 24km in progression at 8k steps: 8k at 70-75% HRmax, 8k at 78%-60% and the final 8k at MP pace/effort (target is 3'40"/km and 85/86%HRmax).

It was really magic night (still) , the moon was perfectly round and shining on the west, while the sun was ready to rise from the East...
I hit these paces:
- 8k at about 4'10"/km . I felt incredibly easy and the HR was really low, even lower than 140...
- 8k at 3'50"/km pace: it felt amazingly easy. The HR was steady at 155-156 (78%/79% of HRmax) and I could have gone on forever... I was guessing that I could be capable to run a marathon in 2h45' as "easy" effort...
-last 8k at 3'40"/km: I hit the pace perfectly and the HR was in target until the last 2km. I guess the HR drift was due to the sun already shining on my already half tired legs, but overall the pace felt quite comfortable. Never felt the "2h35m marathon" as likely as today. I have it in my legs, I need to tune up the feeling at 3'40" speed in order to find the best stride (today I made some experiments with faster stride versus lower cadence but longer stride...)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wk 36 Summary

- 110km in 7 workouts (well, in 6 days)

- main workouts:

Thursday: after a fairly trouble night because of my daughter, I got up too late with little time to spare for a workout. So I felt like doing a time trial to see what is my effective fitness after 2 weeks so so: on 6km I hit 20'19" (3'23"/km pace). The effort was pretty hard, similar to a 10k/15k race. Temperature was an awful 27C/78F. I take it as a decent indication that my 10k shape is around 33'40/33'50", not bad considering the temperature.
Sunday: I got up at 4.30am (!!) and checked the current temperature from HKO: I was shocked to see that we were already at 29C/82F, with 60%Rh (low for the region..). My planned long run was going to be a survival affair.
Kayano shoes because I wanted to save the feet from additional beating (left still painful)
Easy pace for 15k, than it was time for a 4x3k @MP.
11'00"
11'00"
11'08"(hot front wind)
11'02" (hot tail wind)
in the last 2 I was way out outside my target HR pace (173 average, while I was supposed to stay under 170), but I do not know how much was also due to the temperature.
To survive, I pick up a shaded strecht and placed water at the 2 ends: my mantra during the 3k interval was thinking about "only xxx meters to the water".
In total 33km, not bad

Overall comment: I started the week pretty easy, feeling still tired and with foot pain. Missed a day on purpose. I guess that it did paid off because I rebounded by the weekend and Sunday's workout was by long the best long run I have had this cycle.

Now I just hope the temperature begins to cool down a bit, as to make at least some decent MP run nailing both the pace and HR before marathon day.
The problem in training with 28C/80F for a marathon held at 10C/50F is that until race day you can not test the real conditions in terms of temperature and feelings... let's see