Saturday, September 30, 2006

18 Miles with a Heart Rate Monitor

Starting to add to the gadgets once again. I got a heart rate monitor--albeit the simplist one that I could find, a Polar B1. Don't bother looking for it at the "official" site, it is too basic to make the list. I got it at a good price, $30, through In Dave McGovern's clinic we did some heart rate monitor training and it was quite interesting. According to the test we did in class, my maximum heart rate is about 191 beats per minute (bpm) which is pretty good because if I would have used the rule of thumb method (220 - Age = Maximum Heart Rate) I'm 29 years old! (Actually, I'm 51.) Another measure is lactate threshold, which is the point at which the body can clear the lactate acid from the muscles, and that came out to about 172 bpm. A general endurance walk like today should be done at around 65 to 75% of maximum heart rate, about 124-143 bpm. But that's not how it went.

The easy first mile started out at 145 bpm and most of the walk was around 155 bpm. Towards the end it got warmer, I was getting tired and I was pushing harder on the last few miles, it was up to about 165 bpm. Anyway, this is the first time using a heart rate monitor so I don't have enough experience to know how much my heart rate fluctuates during these training walks.

I started the walk at the Santa Monica Beach pier at 8am and headed past the Venice Beach pier, 6 miles round trip for three laps. By the time it was over I had dodged three bicycles, slowed down for a downed Rollerblader, stopped to kiss my wife twice (who was doing a much shorter walk with our dog) and weaved my way through countless pedestrians. Still, I managed to get close to my 13 min/mile goal pace for this walk--my marathon goal is 12 min/mile. Here are the numbers:
Mile  1 - 12:21            Mile  7 - 12:46          Mile 13 - 12:09
Mile 2 - 13:39 Mile 8 - 13:34 Mile 14 - 13:06
Mile 3 - 13:11 Mile 9 - 13:14 Mile 15 - 12:49
Mile 4 - 13:11 Mile 10 - 13:35 Mile 16 - 13:02
Mile 5 - 13:10 Mile 11 - 13:05 Mile 17 - 13:24
Mile 6 - 12:00 Mile 12 - 12:11 Mile 18 - 12:13

Total Time - 03:52:40
Average Pace - 12:55 minutes/mile

Great, I was able to beat the 13 min/mile goal even though I did start out too fast--as usual. Now how about crunching some of these numbers. First of all, did I have a negative split? This means that the second half was done faster than the first half.

First Half - 1:57:06
Second Half - 2:08:48

Even though it fealt like I was giving it much more effort on the second half, I didn't make a negative split. In fact the second half was almost 11 minutes longer. That could be attributed to getting tired, the temperature got hotter and the crowds that kept growing later in the day, especially in Venice Beach.

Now how about some other split times?

Approximate 10K Split - 1:17:32
Approximate 20K Split - 2:35:57
Approximate 1/2 Marathon time - 2:49:00
Approximate 30K Split - 3:52:40

These are some of the splits that are listed in the L.A. Marathon results for 2006. If this were the actual marathon I would be somewhere in the middle of the racewalk division. Of course there is still a long way to go after mile 18. In addition, if this were a real marathon I might have tried to do 12 instead of 13 min/miles and right now I'd probably hit the wall well before crossing the finish line.

There is still five months before the L.A. Marathon. I often wonder if I will I make it to 12 minute/miles by then?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Solana Beach Racewalk Clinic Photos

Dave McGovern put up some photos from the Solana Beach racewalking clinic:

In case the link breaks, here are the photos he posted.

The mandatory group photo.

Sloan tortures Dan -- Yes, that's me getting a workout.

Neighborhood walk

Lucky 13

This morning I wanted to see how close I could get to 13 minute/miles, without looking my watch every other minute! This should be my pace for the 18 mile long slow walk tomorrow. Here's how I did:

Mile 1 - 12:30
Mile 2 - 12:55
Mile 3 - 12:44
Average - 12:43
Total Time - 38:10

Still going out a bit too fast even though it feels slow, should be no problem doing all 18 miles at a 13 min./mi. average. Why pick this pace? It is about a minute below what I hope will be my marathon pace come March 4, 2007.

Not much to report for yesterday. It was just a very easy walk with Rosie followed by lots of stretching. The stretching seems to be doing the trick--no more aches that used to be a part of the "no pain no gain" way of making it though a marathon training program.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Trying to find my Groove

This morning I tried to do a smooth pace of around 12 min/mile. I thought I had it on the first mile but came in way under 12 min. Slowing down a bit I couldn't find something that fealt good and when I saw how far off I was, I gave up and did a cool down walk on the last mile. Funny thing was that my cool off pace was faster than when I started racewalking a few weeks ago (14 min/mile).

Mile 1 - 11:40 * New PR
Mile 2 - 12:24
Mile 3 - 13:56
Average Pace - 12:40/mile

So what is The Groove? Well, it seems that once I get into a balance between the right pace, technique and mental state, it doesn't feel like I'm walking. It feels like running, but not really. Hard to explain it but maybe it would make sense if it can be compared to a boat just plying through the water and one planing over the water. All of a sudden the drag on the hull diminishes and the boat is moving much faster using the same amount of power. Try walking fast, not race walking just regular walking, then switch from a fast walk to a slow jog. It feels more comfortable, you're using less energy yet you're going faster. That's what it feels like when I hit the racewalking Groove. Of course right now I'm doing the equivalent of a slow jog and haven't moved into a full run pace, but my slow jog is pretty much the same feel and speed as what I'm hitting now when racewalking. The difference is that when I run long distances I take walking breaks and when racewalking it isn't quite so obvious--but I know when I fall out of my Groove.

Now here's something to ponder. When I was running I took walk breaks to recover. There was no way to I could run a full three miles, much less a marathon, without those walking breaks at the beginning of my training. Looking at the interval training I did earlier in the week, the average pace was pretty good even though much of the time I was walking relatively slow. Back to when I was running, eventually I could run a full 6 miles after extending my run intervals and diminishing the walking intervals. Maybe that's what I should do with racewalking--speed and recover intervals? Or maybe I need to find the right pace where I can go at a speed where recovery walks aren't necessary?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Weighing In

I'm not much into watching my weight, I'd rather go by how I look and feel, but this morning I stepped on the scale. When I first started racewalking after a running injury I weighed in at 165 lbs., that was less than two months ago, today I weigh 155 lbs. but more importantly I feel much better.

Yesterday I got up too late to do a morning workout--had my earplugs in and didn't hear the alarm. So I decided to do a hill climb after work. The course was going up La Cienega Blvd. from Beverly all the way up to Sunset. It starts out as a gradual incline and keeps getting steeper and steeper as you approach Sunset Blvd. No racewalking, but it got my heartrate up.

This morning I tried some interval work. This was the first time using the interval timer on the Timex. I thought I had it figured out, two minutes hard, one minute easy, but on the last mile I fealt something was wrong so I looked at the watch and I was doing two minutes easy and one minute hard! Even with that screwing up the walk I was still able to put in a decent overall pace:

Mile 1 -- 12:16
Mile 2 -- 12:16
Mile 3 -- 12:56

Finishing off this hard day I did some of the exercises from Dave McGovern's clinic followed by lots of stretching. This isn't something that I would be able to do every day unless I set the alarm clock earlier--got to rush off to work now!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Message from the Master

After that big improvement in my pace, I thought it appropriate to send a thank you message and post it on Daves World Class Racewalking Clinic Alumni Association message board:

Solana Beach weekend

Just a quick thanks for a great workshop at Solana Beach last weekend. After taking a week to recover, and changing my weekday workouts I was able to take off a minute off my mile pace. Nothing really earth shattering but before the workshop I did 6 miles at 13:30 min/mile and yesterday I did 8 miles at 12:30 min/mile and didn't get nearly as tired. My best mile yet is 11:41 so I've still got lots of room for improvement.

Thanks again Dave, and thanks Karen for being a great hostess and Sloan for the workout!

And I got a reply from the master himself--Dave McGovern:


Nothing to sneeze at? Are you kidding? If I could take a minute off my best mile pace I'd have the world record! The best part is you're going farther at that pace and feeling good aftewards! Racewalking is all about technique. It can be a gradual proccess, but that's a good thing. Steady improvement over time!



Saturday, September 23, 2006

Long Not So Slow Day

Today was the long slow day. We went to our usual venue starting at Venice Beach and I figured that I'd do the whole walk with whatever speed my first mile time would be. I was surprised that it was under 13 minutes, it was only a warm up, but that's how I set my pace. I also saw one of the participants from Dave McGovern's clinic out there--but she was going way too fast for me to keep up so we just exchanged polite hellos.

Anyway, here are the times for the 8 mile walk:

Mile 1 - 12:50
Mile 2 - 12:55
Mile 3 - 12:58
Mile 4 - 11:57
Mile 5 - 12:59
Mile 6 - 12:10
Mile 7 - 12:09
Mile 8 - 12:52
Average Pace - 12:36
Total Time - 1:40:54

Whoo hoo! Now if I can get my pace down half a minute and keep it up for 26.2 miles I'd be a happy camper--but now is not the time to beat myself up on the long walks. I have to admit, this one fealt really good and comfortable.

I'm not sure if the mile markers are all that accurate, that 11:57 mile seemed a little out of place, but what followed that was crossing the bridge at the Santa Monica Pier. Whoa, that took a lot out of me but was able to recover and pick up the pace again.

In any case, it is all good.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Best Mile Yet

Yesterday I had an early call at work so I decided to do a quick workout--just one mile.

Time: 11:41

Whoo Hoo! Like seeing improvement.

However, this morning I was feeling tired. It was my "easy" day so I did the three miles at an even effort. The times were rather dismal:

Mile 1: 13:03
Mile 2: 13:34
Mile 3: 13:53
Average: 13:30

Tomorrow is a long slow day, my nephew and I decided to up it to 8 miles instead of our usual 6. I'll probably just try to keep good form and not worry too much about speed.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

First Sub 13min/mile Pace

After taking a day off yesterday (from walking, work went on and on) I made some big changes in my morning routine.

1. Get rid of the iPod/Nike. The calibration went way off after the stride adjustment I made in Dave McGovern's clinic and I'm just not comfortable walking around with wires hanging out of my ears. Besides, I find that music is more of a distraction than a help. I gave the iPod/Nike to Rosie and she is very happy with her new toy.

2. Do some warm up strength exercises and dynamic stretching before the walk. A little warm up before the walk allows me to start at full speed instead of using the beginning of the walk as the warm up phase. It also gets me feeling good and relaxed going into it.

3. Check the split times at the known mile markers. The miles don't move when I adjust my stride!

4. End with a cool down walk then more strength and stretching drills to keep muscles from tightening up.

With the exercises that I've added to the walking I've also had to start the workout earlier. The alarm is now set for 6:00AM and I've been getting out the door by about 6:20.

So, what are the results?

Mile 1 - 12:45
Mile 2 - 12:55
Mile 3 - 12:50
Average: 12:50 min/mile

The total workout was 38:31 and even though I have done some faster workouts, this one seemed more consistant. I'll have to start adding some speed work during the week to get the times down, but the main thing to watch right now is keeping proper form. We'll see how it goes this weekend on the 6 mile walk and in a couple of weeks on the 18 mile long walk.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Damage After the Storm

Dave McGovern's racewalking clinic was awsome, but I'm hurting on Monday!

First of all, how did I do after the clinic?

18 Sep 2006, 6:29 AM
Distance: 3.06 mi
Time: 43:37
Pace: 14:14 min/mi

Well, that's terrible. What happened was that I did a warm up for the first couple of miles and added a little speed on the last mile. One big problem was that the iPod/Nike computer was way off compared to my usual mileage markers. How far off? By the end of the workout I had to go an extra 300+ meters to complete the 3 miles. I was so startled that I forgot to mark my splits on the Timex. I did mark where the end should have been and came up with 40:14. Still not great, but that averages out to about 13.5 min/mi--and that's with a couple of very--very easy warm up miles.So--what happened? The only explaination I can come up with is that I am going much further with every step. I'm using my feet more and the iPod/Nike calibration is no longer valid for my "new" stride.

Briefly, the racewalking clinic was very humbling. There were some very good racewalkers there from the "Walk This Way" group in San Diego. One of the most inspiring participants was a 72 year old woman who could beat most of the other walkers. Watching myself on tape was also very humbling--does my form really look that bad? By the end of Sunday I was doing much better and Dave signed my book, "Most Improved Award." He also added "Stretch and you'll fly!" I'm really tight and inflexible. In the gym portion of the clinic I was given lots strength and flexibility exercises to perform. The trick is finding the time do do them all.

I'll post more details later but right now things are going crazy at work so my blogging time is limited.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Calm before the Storm

Very easy walk this morning but the Dave McGovern class starts tonight--looking forward to a big racewalking weekend! Funny thing is that I got messages from his racewalking alumni site and he announced today that he is engaged to be married.

15 Sep 2006, 6:47 AM
Distance: 3.00 mi
Time: 43:37
Pace: 14:29 min/mi

I was able to stop the workout at the right distance, but the time seemed too long. In addition, the first mile went on for about 200+ meters longer than usual. As a double check I stopped the Timex at the "usual" ending point.

Timex: 41:42
Timex pace: 13:54

That's much better, I was trying to keep a 14 min/mile. Nice and comfortable and I'm pretty sure I'd be able to keep up this pace for 26.2 miles.

Something new on this walk--new shoes. The New Balance MRW111B racewalking shoes. These are the ones that I had to exchange from a size 9 1/2 to a size 10. They still feel a bit tight on the sides, guess my foot is an E and not the standard D that these shoes come in. Still, they fealt pretty good and I was very careful to keep the pressure off the heels to prevent a reoccurance of the nasty blisters I got from the smaller size.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Another PR

Walked the first two miles with Rosie for a warm up, though it wasn't much of a warm up at her pace, then tried to do a sub-12min/mile on the last mile.

14 Sep 2006, 8:04 AM
Distance: 3.07 mi
Time: 52:46
Pace: 17:08 min/mi
Best Kilometer: 7:39
Best Mile: 12:03

To double check this, here are the Timex times:
Timex: 48:26
Best Mile: 12:06
Avg: 16:08

Didn't quite get under 12 min/mi, but it was still good enough for another PR on the iPod/Nike. So much for sticking to my plan of taking it easy this week.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Back to the Program

Picked up the pace again this morning. Not trying for any personal records but the iPod/Nike did record another best mile:

13 Sep 2006, 6:29 AM
Distance: 3:02 mi
Time: 38:09
Pace: 12:37 min/mi

Best Kilometer 7:39
Best Mile: 12:21

Everything pretty much matches up with the Timex Ironman, though I'm still having trouble stopping the workout on the iPod on time. I do like that the best mile was very close to the average. Better yet, the last mile was the fastest.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Walking Very Slooow

This morning I let Rosie (and our dog Natty) set the pace. About halfway through the walk Rosie said her normal pace is even more leisurely. During the walk I noticed a little pain in my knees and hips, probably because we were going so show. We did the whole course but had to backtrack on occasion to let Natty do her thing.

One more thing--the iPod/Nike displays the starting time of the workout so it might be interesting to add that information to the blog/log.

12 Sep 2006, 6:48 AM
Distance: 3.06 mi
Time: 54:45
Pace: 17:51 min/mi

Monday, September 11, 2006

Officially a Racewalker

I returned a message from the L.A. Marathon office today. It seems that most people that sign up for the Racewalking division don't even know what that means. Jane from the office said that I was one out of 100 she called that didn't make a mistake on my registration. She also said that she is going to assign Racewalking number 315 to me.

I feel sort of like that scene from "The Jerk" -- "I'm somebody!"

Too many new walking gadgets

So it is Monday and time to get back to training. Yesterday was a day off, well I did do a 3-mile walk with the dog (funny, she kept trying to take all the shortcuts home during the walk) and I also did a few easy laps in the pool but I was taking it slow and didn't time myself or anything. What a difference this morning--strapped on the Timex Ironman watch and the iPod/Nike computer and off I went. Well, sort of. I haven't quite gotten the hang of these new gadgets and didn't start them both at the same time, missed marking my third mile on the watch and didn't stop the iPod properly at the end of the walk. Still, Lance Armstrong's voice came on at the end of the workout to congratulate me on my fastest mile yet--at least the fastest recorded on the iPod:

Best Kilometer: 7:39

Best Mile: 12:34

A couple of weeks ago I would have been thrilled at this, but I know I can do much better now. I won't be trying to break any PR's this week though. This coming weekend is the Dave McGovern racewalking clinic and I don't want to injure myself so I'll be taking it easy through Friday.

For what it is worth, here's the time for the full 3-mile walk:

Timex Ironman watch: 37:48

And here is the reading off the iPod--note that I hit "MENU" to stop the workout at the 3-mile mark but it kept going. I was shocked to see a reading of 16+ min/mile but that was because it was reading my cool down walk.

Distance: 3.05 mi

Time: 41:32

Pace: 13.35 min/mi

Something else I noticed this morning was that my mileage markers were somewhat different from my now calibrated iPod/Nike computer. I marked the course using the odometer on my car but the sidewalk where I run is a little shorter because the turning radius is a little less than the distance the car has to turn the corners on the street. It was only off by a few yards so my previous timings should still be pretty close.

Once I get the hang of these gadgets I'll get a more accurate reading but let's say that if I take the distance from the iPod and the time from the Timex, my average pace is:

12:36 per mile

According the website for the LA Marathon, the winning racewalker in my age group did a 12:10 pace and the second place finisher kept up a 13:14 pace. At this point in my training I'm happy with where I'm at.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

UCLA track practice

My nephew Joshua and I went to do an hour at the UCLA track. We first calibrated out iPod/Nike computer then set out to make as many laps as we could in an hour. Of course the idea was not to over do it because we were training for the Marathon and not a 5k or 10k after all. Joshua ran and I, of course, walked. Here are my results:

Total Miles: 4.7
Pace: 13:01

Not too shabby for this point in my training. I had a little trouble stopping my iPod right at one hour, but it was close enough. My Timex Ironman watch pretty much confirmed the iPod results.

Next weekend I'll be taking a David McGovern racewalking clinic so hopefully I'll get my technique in shape and continue to improve my pace.

One thing that has me concerned is the shoes. I'm still using a pair of "motion control" Asics running shoes I got when I started training to run the Marathon. I ordered a pair of New Balance MRW111B which are "real" racewalking shoes, but they didn't fit me and I had to send them back to get a larger size. Not sure if the shoes will make the round trip in time for the clinic.

Friday, September 8, 2006

Under 12 min./mile

Today I walked my first mile in less than 12 minutes. However, each successive mile was slower and slower.

Last night I drove around the course and checked the mileage with the odometer. In addition, I extended the course slightly to make it 3 miles instead of 2.5. Now I've got specific mile markers that I can use to check my progress.

Mile 1: 11:48
Mile 2: 13:03
Mile 3: 13:26
Total:  38:18

Average: 12:46

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Walking with Rosie

One of the side benefits of switching over from running to racewalking is that my wife, Rosie, decided that she would also start walking in the mornings. Today she asked about how to walk faster so I gave her a quick introduction to racewalking. I walked along with her, our minature Schnauzar Natty in tow, and she was able to keep up a 15 minute mile for the entire 2.5 mile course. Natty also kept up fine and only did a couple of "pit stops" along the way.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006


One of these days I'm going to get myself a recumbent bicycle. Why? Because it is sort of geeky and uncool? Perhaps, or maybe it is because it is actually an improvement over a conventional bicycle.

Here is an interesting one--front wheel drive no less:


Morning Walk

Each weekday morning I do a course around my neighborhood that's about 2.5 miles long. Every once in a while I'll put in my time just to see if I'm really progressing.

Total time = 35:44
1st mile = 12:27

14 mile walk

Last Saturday I did 14 miles on the Venice Beach/Santa Monica boardwalk. Flat course, somewhat warm weather.

Time: 3:06:28

That averages out to a pace of about 13:20 minutes per mile and a 1/2 Marathon time of just under 3 hours. Checking through the 2006 LA Marathon results for my age group (50-54) I'm at a pace that would take me to third place. Of course there were only 3 racewalkers in my age group so it isn't all that great! Still, I'm in striking range of the second place pace of 13:14 and with enough training maybe even get up to the winning pace of 12:10.

Let's get the show on the road

Okay, stupid title but how do you start it?

This is the personal blog of Daniel Fort. Presently I'm an assistant editor at DreamWorks Animation, an evening and weekend wanabe Linux geek and learning how to racewalk because an orthopedic surgeon told me to stop running or I'll be looking at knee replacement surgery in a few years.