Friday, December 31, 2010

Year End --- time runs faster than me...

Rather than an arid list of runs... here some random year end thoughts....

A) now almost every week I go running at SongShan Lake, which is in the souther outskirts of Dongguan.
It take me a 25' drive to go there, so not like running straight from home, but is the perfect place for long runs and in general running.
The whole loop is a kind of 8-shaped around the lake 22K+8K....they set up a great cycling track, far from any traffic and with the pleasant view of the lake.
Yesterday I had planned a hard long run, which is by nature a scaring combination of words...
So i felt hesitant at the beginning but the weather was so perfect that I could not miss the opportunity to do a similar workouts in the few occasions before the Standard Chartered Marathon...
The drawback of running there is that you must carry water because there are no water fountains or shops open on weekdays. So i had a water bottle with a gel taped on it...

The plan was a 5k warm-up, than doing at least 23k "tempo run", then 2k cool down to reach 30k.
For the tempo section, I was targeting a bit slower then my target marathon pace, so running at 4'00" would have been enough...
It might have been the perfect cool winter weather, or the setting, but I felt rather good and I was running faster than planned with the HR reasonably low...
In honesty, running fast makes the long run much less boring than slogging around at easy pace and I reached 5k, then 10k and 15k in a blip. From 15k the course is slightly hilly and some headwind was picking up, so I had to focus in keeping the pace...
I reached my 23K in 1h28' (3'52" pace !!) and still feeling very well, but I did not want to overdo it... so it was time for cool down...
Overall a great workout... 30k in less than 2 hours (including W/U and C/D)

Note: I am totally disappointed by using a Garmin with GPS only (no foot pod). The instant speed displayed is totally unreliable and quite disconcerting because you see your pace fluctuating from 4'30" to 3'40" without reason... New Year, back to Polar and food pod (or Garmin + foodpod)

2) time for year end balance:
compared to 2008, I can not dwell into elaborate charts because in the past couple of months I recorded my workouts only on SportTracks which does not have any way to export data to excel
Anyway some statistics for the year:

- Km run: 2393
- Workouts: 233
(Note: there were also 2700Km done on a bicycle in 83 workout)
83+233 = 316 workouts in a year...which is a good 6 workout/week in average (I think some double workout can affect the data)

SportTracks 3 gives anyway the opportunity to find other interesting statistics...

Did you usually train more on week ends ?? NOT ME....

The data says that I train more on mid week when I am stationed in Dongguan and make bachelor life....
or, to put in other words, I dedicate the week-ends to the family rather than running (I will print out this chart for my wife....)

Do you have a usual "rest" day ?
I have... and it seems monday

Both distance and pulse rate are at their lowest on Monday, so it was definitely my easy day...

After my long stop for injury I had to build up the volume gradually and it seems that I was able to progress the volume (apart from the drop caused by my son's birth)

Program for the new year:
After 11 years in South China/Hong Kong, it was time to make my debut at the local marathon, so in February I will take part in the Standard Chartered Marathon

April: dream of another marathon...

August: I already enrolled in Berlin, even if it will be a nightmare to train during the summer

December: dream of taking part in Fukuoka Marathon one more time...
Now, the issue is that the qualification standard is not sub 2h42' (!!), which is not a joke...
- Achieving it in Hong Kong: very tough, the course is hilly and the weather unpredictble (usually on the negative side)
- Berlin: another huge question mark because of the difficulty to train properly in summer tropical weather. And also the entry deadline for Fukuoka is 30/9, while Berlin is on 25/9, so I would have to run fast and than run even faster to a DHL store to post my entry (entry is only by mail....)
For that, I would really wish to run something in Spring, a flat course in Japan or Europe... ideally 5-6 weeks after SCM so that I can recover properly without losing endurance. There are some "candidate marathons", but is not really easy to leave Hong Kong for a long week-end and leave the troops behind... let's (I stop blogging and make the entry for Rotterdam... in the worst case I will lose the entry fee...)

Happy New Year to everybody and many PB to come !!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

globe-trotting : part 2

I forgot to mention in the previous post that right before leaving to Europe I did a detour at a Decathlon sport store in China (yes... there are also here..) and raided the running section of all the cold winter stuff I could find: winter gloves, cap, rain jacket, etc... (actually the choice was quite limited but the essential was there...but I could not expect more in a city where the minimum temperature rarely drops below 10C....).
So I was not totally unprepared to the cold wave which I met in Europe...

It was also funny to notice that basically 90% of the runners whom I met while running in the Park in Monza were all wearing decathlon stuff.... so I passed totally unnoticed, since everybody else was wearing my same outift (next time I will show up with a tracksuit from LiNing brand with China written on the back...).

Anyway the week went quite well, considering that I was in a whirlwind of meetings and moving around Europe.

Mon: DNR

TUE:  very nice run along the River Sile in Treviso (near Venice). It was TERRIBLY cold (-4.3C). I run 30' easy then I started to push the pace just to keep warm... total 13K

WED: Havant (Hampshire, UK). Not very familiar with the place, so I just run along the main road (also because it was with streetlights) for 30' and then return. The temperature was much better (around +1C).

THU:  also in Havant. I went further down the road and on the way back some strides and 1' hard effort. Temperature was quite enjoyable (5C)

SAT: near Piacenza (Italy). This was probably one of the "coldest" runs in my life.
I really wanted to make a long run all around the hills and flatland of the town, but when I woke up all the streets, trees, cars, whatever was covered by frost (locally called "galaverna").
At 9am, it was -6C !
By the way, there is a very nice plug-in of SportTracks (Weather plugin) which read the data from GPS track and match with weather data from the nearest weather station. So you can get exact weather profile during the workout.
(yes.... all the 2 hours at around -6C... not bad for a guy from Tropic)

At the beginning I was really struggling to warm-up. But the climb from 100m to 300m altitude in the first 5k did the trick and I was able to sweat a bit...
Honestly once you are dressed properly it is much better to run at -6C than at +30C so I did not felt any problem to keep a decent pace around 4'10"-15".
In good weather, I would have enjoyed a landscape like this:
but basically it was all in white 

Unfortunately even this time, my right hamstring started to seize once I passed 25k and I was really struggling. I really need to understand what is going on because the hamstring get tight once I hit a certain distance and is not painful at all after the run. There is some biomechanics wrong and I need to sort it out (also working with stretching and strengthening)

TOTAL WEEKLY: 75Km which is really not bad considering the schedule... now I am back to China and there are 20C+... so another week, another temperature....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Globe-trotting - part 1

Crazy week and I incredibly managed to run 90km+ while hopping up and down from air planes..
I write these few notes from a Hotel room near Venice (Venice in Italy...not Venice CA..), but this is just the final step of a busy week

MON: we had a terrible night with the kids, I was totally done and missed the morning run.
To make up, I run in the evening on the treadmill in Dongguan. So 7k easy

TUE: now the weather in South China is perfect. In the morning 17C and dry, I started from home in Dongguan and come back 1:13' later with 17km of easy run

....Then rush to the airport and fly to Shanghai

Evening: my hotel was "middle of nowhere" by the sea and so I put the shoes on for an easy 9km run.
Needless to say that Shanghai is MUCH cooler than Guangdong...
With 3C, the 9k felt very easy even if it was the 2nd run of the day

WED: I stepped out of the hotel and felt really cold..only 2C and chilly breeze from the sea. I went easy for 8K until I felt like ready to freeze.. So I upped the pace and pushed back @ 3'45" pace. Total 13K...felt very easy.

....As usual the flight out of Shanghai was late (4 hours !!), so I arrived back Dongguan at midnight.

THU:  still exhausted from the trip and little sleep, I went for an easy run again on treadmill (where ? In Dongguan). Totale 6k

FRI: Hong Kong. Great workout ! Weather was perfect and I had a decent night sleep.
So 25' w/u than 3x10' at AT with 5' easy in between.
This is a great kind of workout and should be performed weekly or even more often!
Total 18K at 4'00" average pace !

SAT: not an easy night with the kids, plus bus with the family, plus packing the suitcase---> no running

Night flight from HK to Milan.

SUN: Monza, Italy.
This city boasts a huge park which is a running paradise.
I was just out of the plane, but I did not want to miss the opportunity to run where.
The place was full of runners of any age, gender, speed.
The only thing in common was that it seemed that everybody was wearing running apparel from Decathlon (their Kalenji running stuff brand).
I felt really weird that I was also wearing the same jackets and tights as anybody else even if my stuff was actually purchased in it globalization.
I forgot to say that it was REALLY cold...around 0C. I felt really freezing even with my winter stuff.
Somehow I run 28K in 2h00'... But at the end I just craved a hot shower !

So weekly stats:

- run: 90K+
- miles flown: 14000km
- thermal shock: from 25C of monday to -1C of Sunday

And more to come...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Running Resurrection !

After weeks and weeks of hardship, eventually come the day when the stars aligned in the right way also for me....
Yesterday at the "Mizuno 10K race", I scored a 6th place overall (1st Master), and got back to a good timing and good racing: 34'05" !!
That is like 45" faster then 3 weeks ago, when I was really struggling at the Asics 10K... (in earnest, yesterday the weather was slightly better and less humid)

I could have titled the post "how to improve your 10K by 45" in 3 weeks" and get a huge traffic boost, but in reality the "How to" is very simple...

A) I was somehow able to sleep decently in the 4-5 days leading to the race. The baby still needs 3 night feeding, but we are getting more used to... (well... also being away in China for 3 straight sleepful nights did help...)
B) I really made it a point for the past 3 weeks to run anyway, even if I was dreadfully tired or at impossible times.... so once after a night feeding I simply laced up the shoes and went running at 4.30am.
So, it was not really following any training concepts, but I managed to run respectively
94 , 86 and 96km in the 3 weeks since my last post.
C) somehow I was able to run good long runs... I managed to run even a 31km at 4'06" pace, which made me feel really in good shape.

About Sunday's race:
It was a sunny and clear day with temperature around 22C and 63% Rh, the race is very popular with 1400 at the start and a really large bunch of good runners. I did not have any expectation about time or placement, but at least I hoped to do a better showing than in the past 2 races...

my 5k splits were 17'11" and 16'54" and I really judged my pace very well without being carried away at the start but clocking Km after Km near 3'24" pace... I picked up many runners how went out too hard and gained progressively from 15th to 10th to 7th place...
in the last Km I saw that the leading Master runner was somehow struggling and pushed a bit harder to get him with 300m to go and just sprint to the finish.
After 2K

At the 5K turn-around point
to complete the good day, we also scored the victory in the team competition.
A kind of pity that Stefano P. got 2nd place also today (3 times 2nd in a row !!), but he is getting into race shape so I foresee he can break the ice very soon...

Note: I know that I need an explanation on the uniform "Italia", etc... but maybe in a future post
Our team looks terrific !!