Saturday, October 7, 2006

Southern Cal Walkers

This morning I met up with the Southern Cal Walkers at the Caltech track. I found out about them when I joined the North American Racewalking Foundation. It turns out that NARF managing director, racewalk instructor, coach, judge, author, (did I leave anything out?) Elaine Ward also runs this goup.

When I first saw them I thought I thought I could out pace most of the people in this group, some were older than me, some younger. But once things got moving I realised that many, OK most, of the members could easily out pace me, including most of the older ones. To add to this humbling experience, one of the members showed me an "age graded" card that lists how fast an athlete should be able to racewalk at various ages. Remember the heart rate monitor formula showed me at 29 years old? My best mile pace puts me in at around 80 years old!

We did dynamic flexibility warm up exercises followed by some 800 meter intervals.

Elaine Ward pulled me aside for a while to check out my technique and said that I looked pretty good--not fast, but that will come with practice. One thing that was a little confusing was that she said that I should get some training shoes. The New Balance 111's I was wearing don't have much support and that's fine for racing but a sturdier shoe would be better for the regular workouts. When I first started looking for racewalking shoes I read everything I could, but since there was only one racewalking model made by a major manufacturer, the choice seemed to be rather limited. After seeing the various shoes experienced racewalkers were using, choosing the right shoes for training is going to be a bit more challenging.

Here's how I did on the intervals:

1 - 5:41 - about 11:22 min/mile pace
2:30 rest (walking slowly and taking in water)
2 - 5:54 - about 11:54 min/mile pace
2:30 rest
3 - 6:06 - about 12:12 min/mile pace
2:30 rest
4 - 6:09 - about 12:18 min/mile pace

So my average pace was around 12 min/mile, though I'm still starting out too fast and ending up rather weak. I was wearing the heart rate monitor and was holding pretty steady at 170 bmp, just below what should be my interval workout rate. Next time I might be able to push it a little harder.

Tomorrow is the long slow (or long sub-threshold) walk. We're going 8 miles so taking the first half at under 160 bmp and the second half at around 170 bmp should be a good for a 12:30 min/mile pace. However, we're going to add the Santa Monica Pier bridge to the start and end of the workout to get in some hill work and I'm not sure how that will affect my pace. Still, after checking out the marathon course, some hill work is in order.