Monday, October 26, 2015

New York City Marathon 2015 Week 10/11

I was very much looking forward to my visit to the osteopath as my back felt as though it was blocked in several places - just under my scapulae and in my neck. I expected him to do one of those dramatic and slightly terrifying maneuvers where he grabs your head and whips it suddenly from one side to the other, eliciting a series of cracks that are so sudden, there is no time to feel any pain; only relief. But the manipulation was quite gentle by comparison and it turned out that most of the clicking I had already done on my own account the week before. I was initially a little disappointed but when I stood up, I realized that my back was much better and I felt a few centimetres taller for it. Having said that, it felt sore and tired for the next few days so it was probably just as well that the session had been "light". Unfortunately, while playing around with the dog, I managed to strain another muscle in my back! I'll have to do some strength training on the parts of my body I have been ignoring lately, and allowing to atrophy. I've lost so much weight that some of it is bound to be muscle - just looking at how thin my arms are is proof of that. All these back related problems spurred me to acquire a better chair at work and I am really noticing the difference (even if it is still far from perfect). I also investigated a gadget (of course) from a company called Lumo, called the Lumo Lift, which detects when you slouch and reminds you to sit or stand up straight with a gentle vibration.

Other than that, my calf muscles - particularly the left one - have been getting tighter and more sore, so I booked another session, this time with Mónica, the physiotherapist at the work gym to make sure my legs are nice and supple come race day.

I realized that I have gone from having no accelerometers to having one on my wrist (Fenix 2), my chest (Garmin Run HRM) and my foot (RunScribe). It reminds me of going from not having a DVD player to almost every device I own being able to play DVDs. Or from not having GPS in the car, to having it on my watch, my phone, my tablet, etc. So I can now track my vertical oscillation, my contact time, my cadence, as well as a whole host of other metrics. The RunScribe consistently estimates my contact time above that of the Garmin Run HRM (approximately 260 ms versus 230) but here the key is relative comparison from one run to another. In any case, I would tend to believe a foot sensor over a chest sensor when it comes to measuring contact time. In terms of vertical oscillation, I am averaging about 10.4 cm, which is on the high side - but then I am quite tall. Interestingly (at least, I think so), it is about a centimetre more (11.4) on the treadmill, as well as my cadence tending to be lower (171 versus 177). It makes sense that I get more out of the "flight" phase of running on the treadmill as there is no wind resistance and the board is more springy than the ground. All I need now to complete the sensory overload, is a pair of magic pants from Lumo - the Lumo Run - which also measure things like your pelvic tilt (which, all jokes aside, I think is quite important, actually).

Speaking of metrics, my watch has been telling me that my supposed VO2 Max has been increasing to 65 - the highest I have seen it get to - which I take as a sign that I am starting to recover from my hard training and reap the benefits - what is called in the jargon "supercompensation". Let's hope so. It could also be partly due to the temperatures falling recently, thereby improving my running efficiency... I still feel a little battered, I have to say, but I have just under a week to (relatively) rest my back and legs. If I were to believe my watch, it would have me running the Marathon in 2:32, which I think is not very realistic. Instead, I filled in a questionnaire on the TCS NYC Marathon app which promises to predict your race time based on a combination of factors such as your training volume & pace, as well as recent race results. In its opinion, my finish time will be in the range 2:47-2:52, with 2:47 being based on my training - which I have done almost all of at faster paces than 2 years ago - and 2:52 being based on my race times. Of course, this is assuming normal weather conditions: 12 degrees and not too much wind (i.e., no hurricanes please!). I ran the 10K faster than 2 years ago but the Half Marathon (admittedly with a stiff neck) a bit slower, as well as my "7k aerobic tests". So it seems quite a reasonable prediction. It's my job, now, to try to make it 2:47 (fantastic!) rather than 2:52 (good!) or even just under 3:00 (happy). I will be disappointed with any time starting with 3 or more...

I've put together a pace band based on my previous performance and a "theoretical pace" from Greg Maclin's impressively comprehensive spreadsheet.

Lastly and because I am a supernerd, I managed to pull off Garmin Connect the actual paces run by several other runners during the New York Marathon (of 2014). To do this, I set up what they call a "segment" of the Marathon course and I was then able to locate other peoples' "tracks" along that segment. For comparison, I chose somebody who ran a little faster and somebody who ran a little slower, although one needs to bear in mind that it was much more windy than usual in 2014. It looks like I am affected by the hills more than most (no surprise there) but that I perhaps slacked off a little in the middle only to finish very fast (see the grey line on the graph).

The long run on Sunday wasn't so long but it was still a Half Marathon distance. I ran along the very same route I did two years ago and was pleased to finish a minute and a half faster while still being at a conversational pace. Continuing to practice a bit of mindful running I noticed something that I often think when I am running. Whenever anyone (be they a pedestrian, a fellow runner, cyclist or motorist) gets too close to me or crosses my path, I feel threatened. And, for some reason, I often play out in my head a scenario of what would have happened had that car not stopped to let me cross (me thumping the bonnet and swearing at them, etc). It also made me remember how I used to get "running rage" on a fairly regular basis - somebody getting in my way, a dog lead nearly tripping me up, a cyclist on the pavement forcing me on to the road, a car beeping at me for running on the road, etc. I think the only thing that has changed is me. Having said that, in the closing kilometres of my 32 km run the other day, a little old dear (not deer) walked out right in front of me without looking (I was running along a cycle-cum-footpath frequented by skateboarders, runners, cyclists - almost anything on wheels). I shouted "CUIDADO!" and kept on running, listening to my music, so I wouldn't even have known had I scared the poor thing literally to death. Still, it could have been nasty - it's just that I could perhaps have shouted a little less loudly.

In other news, I was amused to see that AirBnB were sponsoring the Marathon and actively encouraging locals to "host a runner":

Why do I find that amusing? Well, because I booked an apartment via AirBnB months ago which was cancelled at the last minute with not so much as an apology from the owner. Now I can't really blame AirBnB for that and we have used them for brilliant holidays in Spain, Morocco, Singapore, Malaysia and Russia just to name a few - but I half expected it to happen as the local authorities have been clamping down on it as it competes with the hotel business. The exact same thing happened to a friend of mine staying in New York earlier in the year. so, in the end, I'll be staying with my friends Eli and David, as I did two years ago. It will be great to see them but I am conscious of being a bit anti-social and "edgy" (as my wife calls it) leading up to the race, so I would have preferred to be on my own.

Monday: -
Tuesday: 2 x 1'-2'-3'-2'-1'-2'-3' @ 3:25 w/ 4.5%-2.5%-1% incline
Wednesday: 60' @ 4:00
Thursday: 60' @ 4:09
Friday: 60' @ 4:07
Saturday: 2 x 30' @ 4:00
Sunday: 21.1 km @ 4:10 (1:27:58)

Total kilometres: 88

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