Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Marathon Madness

Only a few more days until the marathon and madness is everywhere. Well, there's always madness in Los Angeles but this is a different kind of madness. A co-worker who is running this, his first marathon, is getting the jitters. Another co-worker can't see the point in abusing yourself for 26.2 miles. Vendors are sending all sorts of offers for photos, videos, maps and the marathon sponsors are emailing lots of information about where and when to show up, where to park, what train to ride, where to pick up bibs, chips and of course offers to sell "official" marathon hats, tops, warm ups and so on.

Here are the official L.A. Marathon Race Instructions

Wet Walk

This morning I woke up to the sound of pouring rain. I started thinking, what if it rains on the day of the marathon? It has not rained once during my scheduled walks so maybe today would be a good test--walking in the rain. However, by the time I got out, the rain stopped and the clouds were breaking up.

OK, so I didn't get to practice in the rain, but it was very wet and slippery on the sidewalk especially by the car wash where the soap and grease oozed over the concrete. I was glad it was a very easy day.
Mile 1 - 12:07
Mile 2 - 12:10
Mile 3 - 11:49
Average Pace - 12:02
Total Workout - 36:06

I was taking it very easy, partly because I didn't want to slip and fall. Once I got on the home stretch I walked down the middle of the road and it was much better footing on the asphalt so I picked up the pace on the last quarter mile or so.

This is the last 3-mile workout before the marathon. Just a short one mile on Thursday and some accelerations on Saturday as part of the carbo loading ritual.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Slow it Down

I did the Saturday workout with the Southern Cal Walkers. Many of them were going to do a race on Sunday so it was a very easy drill. After the usual warm up we did build ups--one lap slow with arms down, the next a slow racewalk, then with good form and finally an easy lap. I took the opportunity to see if I could find my 11:27 min/mi marathon pace. I was able to do two sets before the workout was over.
1st attempt - 2:38 = 10:32 min/mile
2nd attempt - 2:47 = 11:08 min/mile

All that speed work I was doing the past couple of weeks distorted my perspective of how fast I was going. It did feel good taking a slow lap and finding out that it wasn't really that slow. The first attempt I was faster than the fastest walkers in last year's L.A. Marathon--funny, when I started racewalking it seemed impossible for me to ever reach that speed. On my second try I really tried to slow it down but was still about 20 seconds per mile faster than my target pace.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

If You Can Do This, You Should Be Able To Do That

So now that I got through most of my little goals, will I be able to get through my big goal of walking the L.A. Marathon at a 12 minutes per mile pace? I went to the NARF age grading calculator and did some number crunching.
Mile Walk - 9:45

The calculator gives this a 66.32% age graded score. Someone that puts out this effort at their prime, age 20-29, should be able to walk it in 8:27. Running the mile calculates to 6:31 at my age (52) and 5:39 at prime age. Another interesting result is that if I trained properly for the marathon distance I should be able to walk it in 4:55:49 or run it in 3:34:06 at my age and at prime I'd be able to do a 4:30:59 walk or 3:10:44 run.

That's only one distance and it would be foolish to take just this one example to come up with a projected finishing time for the marathon, especially since the difference between one mile and a marathon is 26.2 times--but let's continue the foolishness a little further.

Some of my other personal records are:
3  Mile Walk -   32:28  -  10:49 min/mi
6 Mile Walk - 1:06:07 - 11:01 min/mi
10 Mile Walk - 1:54:35 - 11:27 min/mi

These distances aren't in the NARF calculator so the best thing to do would be to convert to minutes per kilometer and calculate the nearest metric distance.
3  Mile Walk - 6:43 min/km =  5,000 Meters at   33:36
6 Mile Walk - 6:50 min/km = 10,000 Meters at 1:08:27
10 Mile Walk - 7:06 min/km = 15,000 Meters at 1:46:43

These are by no means impressive times, but a year ago I was a couch potato and six months ago I was an injured runner. As a neophyte racewalker I feel that I have accomplished something and set attainable goals. Here's is how the NARF calculator is predicting my age graded performance and marathon time for each of the distances that I recorded PR's:
1      Mile Walk   - 66.32% - 4:55:49 marathon
5,000 Meters Walk - 62.05% - 5:16:11 marathon
10,000 Meters Walk - 62.62% - 5:13:18 marathon
15,000 Meters Walk - 61.22% - 5:20:29 marathon *

* On the official race results for the 10 mile walk my age graded percentage was listed as 58.56% which calculates out to a 5:35:01 marathon.

The oldest time is the 10 mile race I did a month ago while the newest is the one mile from this morning so it does appear that I'm getting faster. However, the greater the difference between the distances being compared the more prone to error all this number crunching is going to be. So how about the best long training walk?
20.5 Miles - 4:20:34 - 12:42 min/mi - 7:53 min/km

The closest distance would be:
30,000 Meters Walk - 3:56:44 - 57.39% = 5:41:51 marathon

But that was a training walk done at slower than race pace. How much slower? The target for the group was somewhere between 30 seconds to 1.5 minutes per mile slower. If that holds true it would put my marathon time between 5:06:32 and 5:19:38.

Sticking with the original goal of 12 minutes per mile would result in a 5:14:24 finish.

So what's the point of all this? Just a bit of a reality check to see if I'd be crazy to attempt to walk the marathon under five hours. What the heck--might as well go for it.

Marathon goal - 5:00:00 - 11:27 minutes per mile.

That's a 65.40% age graded effort. Tough but attainable. We'll see in a little over a week.

9:45 Mile

I made another attempt at a 10 minute mile this morning. Instead of going out fast, which I should know by now not to do, I did a couple of warm up miles first. Here's how it went:
Mile 1 - 12:28
Mile 2 - 12:30
Mile 3 - 9:45
Average Pace - 11:34 minutes per mile
Total Workout - 34:44

I really had to hold back on the warm up miles and my legs were feeling heavy--I guess that I've gotten used to the faster pace I've been doing for these past few workouts. About halfway through the last mile I checked my heart rate, 178 bpm, and I was feeling like I wouldn't be able to make it to the end of the mile but my time was good so I kept pushing myself and was surprised that I did it well under 10 minutes.

Only one more goal, and that will be attempted March 4th.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Is That All There Is?

I went from 6 to 3 miles for the morning workout starting today. It sure makes for a short session--even with a full stretching routine after the walk.
Mile 1 - 10:34
Mile 2 - 11:20
Mile 3 - 11:13
Average Pace - 11:03 minutes per mile
Total Workout - 33:09

I started out too fast but I was hoping to break the 10 minute mile barrier. It made the other two miles that much harder, especially the second mile when I had to slow down or I wouldn't be able to finish the third mile. I ended up far short of the 10:49 min/mi pace I did for the first three miles from last week's six mile workout.

One thing I was thinking about was how long it has been since I experienced any sort of serious pain. The knees are feeling great, but I do have a bit of a pain in the butt. A few days ago I started feeling like someone kicked me in the right gluteus. Nothing serious, but I do feel it if I bend down or stand on my right leg with a bent knee. I've been sitting on my heat/massage pad before going to sleep. Anyway, it isn't anything that is holding me back and I don't feel like I need anything for the pain. In fact once I get warmed up it doesn't bother me at all. Still, I'd like to shake it off before the marathon.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Serious Speed Work

Today I did some speed work with the Southern Cal Walkers at the Cal Tech track in Pasadena. After warming up the drill was 300 meter repeats. My best time for 300 meters was on November 11 when I walked it at 1:47 or about 9:30 min/mi pace. The first lap was nice and easy with a 100 meter slow recovery then I started putting in a good effort on the other repeats. My heart rate at the end of these repeats was well into the mid to high 170 bpm range so this would qualify as an anaerobic or "economy" workout. Building up lactic acid in the legs feels terrible and my heart and lungs seemed like they would explode--the best part of this workout was when it was over and I wasn't aching like I do after a long 20-mile workout. Here is how it went:
1st 300 meters - 1:48   9:39 min/mi   6:00 min/km
2nd 300 meters - 1:31 8:08 min/mi 5:03 min/km
3rd 300 meters - 1:37 8:40 min/mi 5:23 min/km
4th 300 meters - 1:39 8:51 min/mi 5:30 min/km
5th 300 meters - 1:39 8:51 min/mi 5:30 min/km
Average Pace (with warm up lap) - 8:50 min/mi 5:29 min/km

That's pretty good for me, but the first effort was just a warm up so I should take it out of the average:
Average Pace (without warm up lap) -  8:37 min/mi   5:21 min/km

Just last week I did a 400 meter lap at 9:24 so it seems to me that I should be well on my way to walking a mile in under 10 minutes. Since I have met all my other short term goals like walking 3 miles under 12 min/mi, walking a long (10 mile+) workout under 12 min/mi and the 6-mile morning walk under 12 min/mi, there is only the 10 minute mile goal and finally doing the marathon at 12 min/mi pace.

However, the 10 min/mi will have to wait--I've got a rest day tomorrow (no more long distance workouts) and strength training on Monday. Next week I'll do a couple of hard 3-mile walks and in two weeks it is all easy miles until the marathon on March 4th.

Finally, just to keep things in perspective, I saw Mark Green set an American 50-54 year old age group record in the 50 kilometer distance with an average pace of 8:55 minutes per mile--I've got a long way to go to get to that level of conditioning!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Last 6 miles, Best 6 miles

Today was the last of my 6-mile morning walks. Next week I'll be cutting back to 3-miles as part of my taper schedule. Before going out I looked up my best time, 11:20 pace on January 30, and decided to try and better it.
Mile 1 - 10:41
Mile 2 - 10:54
Mile 3 - 10:53
Mile 4 - 11:16
Mile 5 - 11:20
Mile 6 - 11:02
Average Pace - 11:01 * new PR
Total Workout - 1:06:07

It would have been nice to break 11 minutes per mile, I was well under that on the first three miles--another personal record for me. I slowed down on miles 4-5 but picked it up a bit on the last mile.

This morning it was warm enough to leave the sweat shirt behind. One problem was that the heart rate monitor was not registering consistently accurate readings until around mile 4 when I started building up a little bit of sweat. Maybe some conductivity cream will work better than tap water on the heart rate monitor transmitter, I should try it out.

When I could get a reading my heart rate was averaging between 165-170 bpm. It is interesting to see how heat, level of hydration, going uphill or downhill, how late I stayed up the night before and other factors affects heart rate. When I did the 10 mile race my heartbeat stayed above 170 bpm yet my pace was slower than today.

I don't bring along water on these morning walks. What I do is prepare a quart of Hydralyte, drink half of it before going out and the other half while stretching after the walk. This seems to work fine for distances up to 6 miles. For the marathon I plan to drink every 2 miles and take a packet of GU every 4 miles, that seems to be easy enough to remember and I won't have to carry any bottles--that's a change of what I planned to do a couple of weeks ago.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Begin Taper

With only three weeks to go for the L.A. Marathon it is time to start tapering the workouts. I guess it already started because I didn't do a long workout last weekend. This week I'll stick to my 6-mile morning walks and next week I'll cut it down to 3 miles. Tapering doesn't mean taking it really easy--at least not yet.
Mile 1 - 10:54
Mile 2 - 11:21
Mile 3 - 11:17
Mile 4 - 11:47
Mile 5 - 11:44
Mile 6 - 11:17
Average Pace - 11:24
Total Workout - 1:08:24

So what is tapering? It is gradually cutting back the workload in order to give your body a chance to recover and peak out glycogen storage. The long workouts are over, but the intensity of the workouts should remain fairly high.

Here is a clip from an article by Dave McGovern. For more tidbits check out his web site at racewalking.org.


Once you've done your mileage build-up and completed several 18- to 20-mile walks, the real work is done. About three weeks before the race you'll "sharpen" by cutting your mileage back by anywhere from 1/3 to 2/3 of your normal workload to give your body a break from the long stuff and to work a bit more on marathon goal pace. This is your taper period. The goal of a taper is to ensure that you're well rested, but also to make sure you're "sharp" and fast. Your schedule should stay pretty much the same, but with less mileage and maybe a little bit more intensity (that means faster walking).

Your main objectives in the weeks before the race are physical and mental rest, and glycogen storage, but you also need to keep active enough to retain fitness and flexibility. Too much rest can leave you feeling flat and sluggish, but it's better to err on the side of doing too little rather than too much in the last few weeks. One of the biggest mistakes first-time marathoners make is trying to do too much too late. Whatever training you've done is "in there." You can't do a whole lot to improve your fitness in the week before the marathon, but you can beat yourself up and make yourself overtired and overtrained by trying to "catch up" on missed training.

A taper is just what it sounds like: a gradually tapering decrease in weekly mileage rather than a sudden drop. Most walkers will cut their weekly mileage by about one third the first week of the taper, then gradually drop down to about one half of their normal weekly mileage the week before the marathon. Others will cut back by as much as two thirds in the week before the race. I don't recommend dropping back that much because it violates one of the primary principles of marathon training: Don't do anything drastically different immediately before your race. You never know what effect such a drastic reduction will have on your body. Maybe you'll feel fine, but maybe you'll gain five pounds because your body is used to burning a lot more calories during the week. You never know.

For better or worse, whatever training you've done in the months before the marathon will rise to the top on race day-but only if you allow it to. You need to have faith in your conditioning going into the race. Don't undermine your training by doing too much in the last few weeks. So do cut back a bit, just don't cut back too much or make any drastic changes in your training program.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

L.A. Marathon 2007 Study Guide

I was hoping to walk the entire route this weekend, but haven't been able to do it. However, I did drive through it and made mile-by-mile notes of the course.
Some new maps in PDF format were posted on the official site of the L.A. Marathon:

L.A. Marathon 2007 Detailed Map
L.A. Marathon 2007 Major Roads Map
L.A. Marathon 2007 Refreshments and Entertainment Map

Here's a quick view of the detailed map.

Most marathons end approximately where they started so any uphills are offset by the downhills, but this is the first time that a point-to-point course will be used in Los Angeles so is it mostly uphill or downhill? Here's a closer look at the elevation profile. Click on the image to see a larger version.

The biggest hill is right at the beginning, but those bumps at the end will probably cause the most problems.

It may look daunting, that's why it is best to break down a marathon into smaller chunks. Some people say that it is simply a 10 kilometer race--with a 20 mile warm up. let's break it down mile-by-mile. Click on the thumbnails to see the details or better yet, download the PDF files.

There will be water stations at every mile except mile 26 and Gatoraid (Endurance Formula) every odd numbered mile except for miles 1 and 25.
Start to Mile 1

Mile 1 - Lots of L.A. Marathon banners on the light posts line both sides of Cahuenga Blvd. at the start line. Ironically, there is a large Nissan dealer at the start--this marathon is being sponsored by Honda. The start takes you east so watch out for the sun. Right off there is a gentle uphill that gets steeper as it goes through the Cahuenga Pass. The steepest part is around Universal Studios Blvd, about 3/4 mile into the course.
Mile 2             Mile 3             Mile 4             Mile 5

Mile 2 - The uphill climb continues until reaching the crest about 400 yards past Barham Blvd. Only 1.4 miles in and the roller coaster ride begins with a big downhill through the next few miles.

Mile 3 - The road is wide at this point with gentle curves. It would be wise to remember to find the tangents and take the shortest possible path. At about 2.5 miles, next to the Hollywood Bowl, the downhill ride begins to level off.

Mile 4 - Still downhill, but not as severe, Cahuenga changes into Highland and the first turn of the course is a left onto Hollywood Blvd. It is easy to spot the turn by dinosaur at the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum at the corner. Watch out for the crown on the road, best stay near the middle of Hollywood Blvd. It is mostly flat until hitting another downhill at Ivar. Use the downhill to start looking for the right turn on Vine.

Mile 5 - Straight and a gentle downhill with a few more severe downhills, a good drop happens just before Fountain.
Mile 6             Mile 7             Mile 8             Mile 9

Mile 6 - Gentle curves and downhills give way to gentle rolling slopes. Slight uphill before Beverly.

Mile 7 - Downhill just before the left turn on 6th Street. The scenery turns into a nice residential area around Hancock Park.

Mile 8 - Starts off with a downhill and gentle curves that turn uphill around Wilton. Don't worry too much at the hill coming up after Western, the course turns right on Harvard before reaching that incline. Watch for the Cafe Sweetie for the turn.

Mile 9 - A gentle downhill turns uphill after James M. Wood with the crest at San Marino Street then downhill to the left turn at Olympic. Once on Olympic there is the first clear view of downtown Los Angeles
Mile 10            Mile 11            Mile 12            Mile 13

Mile 10 - Start of a gentle uphill and curves around Vermont. Slightly steeper climb before the right turn on Hoover then more rolling hills.

Mile 11 - Right on Pico, left on Vermont, right on Venice where there is a school with a nice track on the right and a cemetery on the left.

Mile 12 - Turn left at the end of the cemetery, you'll see the freeway up ahead and begin a steep downhill to Washington Blvd. The course continues through the freeway underpass.

Mile 13 - Flat or barely perceptible downhill.
Mile 14            Mile 15            Mile 16            Mile 17

Mile 14 - Left on 39th which is the signal after Exposition Blvd. Enters a mixed residential, apartments, area then on through the middle of Exposition Park.

Mile 15 - The road here is closed to traffic and runs around the Coliseum to the right. Continue out of the park and under the freeway. Right on Main, left onto Martin Luther King Blvd.
Mile 16 - Sharp left going left onto Central (it looks like you're heading into a dead end) followed by another sharp left onto Jefferson. Keep it tight to the left to keep from adding unnecessary extra distance.

Mile 17 - It stays flat through most of downtown. This is a warehouse/industrial area, not pretty. Right on Broadway and it will start looking more like downtown with the big building up ahead.
Mile 18            Mile 19            Mile 20            Mile 21

Mile 18 - Left on Adams, there is a Wells Fargo Bank there. Under the freeway then right on Figueroa--you'll see the church with the big dome at the corner.

Mile 19 - It is still flat or at most a very slight uphill as the course continues under freeways and past Staples Center.

Mile 20 - Right on 11th, which is going against a one-way street, crossing the tracks for the Metro. Left on San Pedro.

Mile 21 - Now deep into downtown, right on 9th street. Watch out, it is a bit confusing because there is a small street also called 9th just before the "real" 9th which turns into Olympic.
Mile 22            Mile 23            Mile 24            Mile 25

Mile 22 - Freeway underpass followed by a bridge over the river and rail yard. The climb over the bridge isn't too bad but it will hurt!

Mile 23 - Uphill to a left on Boyle and continue uphill crossing over the freeways until around 7th street. Left on Whittier, all uphill.

Mile 24 - Another bridge and a very nice view of downtown L.A. with a good downhill off the bridge.

Mile 25 - Right on Central and a left on 3rd, the Buddist Temple. Left on Los Angeles Street--all flat.
Mile 26 to Finish

Mile 26 - Right on 7th where it begins to go uphill. Right on Flower, wrong way for traffic, and continue uphill through the canyons of buildings to the finish line. The uphills don't look too bad, but we'll see how they feel at the end of the marathon!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

400 Meter Speed Work

Today I worked out with the Southern Cal Walkers at the Cal Tech track. The drill Carl Acosta had planned out was a couple of 800 meter repeats after a good warm up, but I decided to do a couple of 400 meter repeats instead.

Last week I did a disappointing 10:28 mile on tired legs so I started thinking about what I could do to bring my speed up. I did the distance work, the easy miles and the tempo (aerobic or lactate threshold) walks, what I was missing was the really fast short economy, anaerobic, or whatever you want to call it--as fast as possible without going out of control walk. The first 400 meters I started with a good effort and finished with a sprint on the last straightaway. After a couple minutes to recover I did another 400 meters. This one was more of a steady, even effort.
1st 400 meters - 2:26 - 9:44 minutes per mile pace
2nd 400 meters - 2:21 - 9:24 minutes per mile pace

The point of this exercise was to feel what it's like moving at under 10 minutes per mile. Now I've just got to extend this effort to a mile and beyond.

Of course I shouldn't loose sight of my immediate goals. The marathon is just three weeks away and I wanted to complete it at a 12 minute per mile pace. What seemed like a pie-in-the-sky dream is nearly within the realm of possibility for me. A marathon at 12 minutes per mile equals a finishing time of 5:14:24. In order to make it in 5 hours the pace would have to be 11:27 minutes per mile, what I did on the 10-mile race. Using the calculators on the NARF site, a 9:58 mile or a 1:05:33 10k would get me to that 11:27 marathon pace. However, no point setting up for disappointment--I'll stick to my original goals for now.

Shoes felt good, knees are fine, time to press on.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Yet Another Pair of Shoes

I'm collecting more shoes than Imelda Marcos.

"The exact number of shoes varies between accounts; estimates of up to 3000 pairs of shoes have been published. Time reported that the final tally was 1,060." From Wikipedia article.

Well, maybe not that many, but I just had to get a pair of those snazzy red Asics DS Racers. In my quest to find just the right pair of shoes I've managed to run the gamut from no support to full motion control. Looking back at my last several walks I can now see where my last breakdown started and it does seem to put the blame on the shoes.
January 18 ...  6   miles - 11:51 pace - Loco Banditos
January 21 ... 10 miles - 11:27 pace - Loco Banditos
January 23 ... 6 miles - 11:50 pace - Loco Banditos
January 25 ... 6 miles - 11:39 pace - Asics DS Trainers <-- foot started hurting.
January 27 ... 20.5 miles - 12:42 pace - Asics DS Trainers <-- blistered heel/knee started hurting.
January 30 ... 6 miles - 11:20 pace - Asics DS Trainers
February 3 ... 1 mile - 10:28 pace - Asics DS Trainers <-- time out!

Even though the Loco Banditos were a little too large, I had no problems, they just wore out. The DS Trainers fit great in the store, I followed all the shoe fitting tips like trying them on at the end of the day because feet swell up as the day wears on, but somehow they just weren't the right shoes for me. Maybe they were just a little too stiff, the heel a bit high or the wrong size, but they didn't work out. The DS Racers are more like the NB 111's, NB 550's and Loco Banditos. Basically, they are very flexible racing flats but all the support I seem to need come from the custom orthodics. This time I made sure to get them nice and roomy--size 11's. That's a big change from the size 9.5's I've been used to buying just a few months ago.

So, coming back from some time off to get the knees back into shape and breaking in new shoes--it was time to hold back and do a very easy day.
Mile 1 - 12:33
Mile 2 - 12:45
Mile 3 - 12:18
Mile 4 - 12:25
Mile 5 - 12:12
Mile 6 - 11:56
Average Pace - 12:21 minutes per mile
Total Workout - 1:14:11

I was taking it really easy, kept my sweat shirt on even though it was rather warm and watched my heart rate stay in the low 160's bpm as the sweat started pouring.

The new shoes felt great too--a few more miles and I'll decide if these are the ones I'll use on the marathon.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Walking Fuel

There were all sorts of concoctions lined up on the aid table at the 50km Championships in Chula Vista. I saw everything from flat cola (shake until the fizz is gone) to a small bottle of tequila--though I don't think that was consumed on the race course!

It would be great to have everything prepared ahead of time and have someone pass it to you, but in the races I'll be doing it will be water or Gatorade in paper cups. Usually half of it sloshes out of the cup before gulping it down. Last time (and only time) I did a marathon they had bananas, oranges and other goodies, but by the time I got there they were all gone. It was questionable if there would even be water. I'm not kidding, here is a blurb from the 1993 L.A. Marathon report:

"The weather played a major factor in the race with a high of 87 degrees on race day, creating a temporary water shortage at water stations."

I can't weigh myself down by carrying all the water I'll need, but I do plan on taking at least a small bottle of Hydralyte aka, Gookinaid. I used it during the long workouts and found it is easier on the stomach than other sports drinks. I tried all their varieties, none were overly strong tasting, but I settled on their original citrus flavor. A few things that closed the deal for me was that Philip Dunn mentioned Hydralyte in his online journal, they were serving it at the Chula Vista Championships and Curt Clausen wrote a testimonial for it.


Just forwarded media releases from my last two weekends of races. I have been using the Gookinaid Hydralyte every day and in both those events with great success. Almost all my workouts I've been using the drink during and also weighing in and weighing out and then replacing my sweat loss with Gookinaid. My recovery and ability to train has greatly improved and my muscles feel much better. I've also started really monitoring my carbo intake so the combination of monitoring fluid and carbs seems to have really done the trick.
The best part is that in the last 50km I had no stomach distress at all. In the race at about 17km I was feeling a bit out of it and figured I had not kept up on fluid intake so took in 17 oz on one lap with no problems at all and felt better by the next lap. The Gookinaid Citrus Drink has worked great as it really goes down easily. I just wanted to forward you the latest results and let you know how well things are going. I am drinking a lot of the product, so after this weekend's race I am almost out of powder. Oh, which also reminds me -- two cross country flights and no illness - drinking 32 oz plus of Gookinaid onboard each flight segment has also really helped the last two trips.
Anyway, thanks so much for all your help and for the helping me get back on track. I plan on making Gookinaid Hydralyte a permanent part of my training/racing strategy as it has worked wonders for me.

Curt Clausen,
U.S. Olympic Race Walk Team
U.S. 50 km Walk Champion
U.S. 15-km Walk Champion

In addition to liquids, there are gels, candies, bars, bananas and other more substantial foods that help with endurance events. I tried a few different brands and flavors of gels and settled on probably the most boring of all--Just Plain GU. It has some caffine along with the usual postassium, carbohydrates, etc. and taking one packet just before starting then one per hour worked for the long workout I did a couple of weeks ago. For the marathon I will be putting in more effort so I'll go with their recomendation of one every 45 minutes. As for my choice of flavor, the others just tasted too strong and I want results, not a gustation moment. There was lots of GU on the aid table at the 50km Championships and I'm pretty sure I saw Curt Clausen sucking down a packet.

Anyway, that's how I made up my mind on what to eat and drink during the marathon.

Monday, February 5, 2007

A Week of Weights

Any other week I would be writing down my long workout results, but I've been limping around ever since my fast 6-miles last Tuesday. I managed to not make things worse, even with the speed work on Saturday, but my knees haven't recovered yet. I'd rather take a week off from racewalking and do strength training and stretching this week than have to take two weeks off to heal up closer to the marathon.

I'm starting to see a pattern to my knee problems. As long as I can complete all the workouts without blistering my heel or loosing a toenail, I continue doing fine. However, if I injure my foot and continue walking, my knees go out. So to protect my knees I'll need to take care of my feet.

I started racewalking after stressing out my knees running. At first I just used my running shoes for walking and I had no knee trouble--I wasn't moving very fast either. Then I started studying the art of racewalking and purchased a pair of real racewalking shoes, NB 111's. The first pair I got were the same size as my running shoes, 9.5, but they felt a little small so I loosened the laces to make them more comfortable. Big mistake--I blistered both heels the first time I worked out with them. I traded them for size 10's and they worked out quite well, though they still felt a little tight on the sides. I wanted to get a second pair in order to rotate shoes but when I found out that they were going to discontinue the 111's I got a pair of 550's, size 10 but in the 2E width to give me a little more room to spread out. Those shoes worked out fine until a long workout where I stopped in the middle of it to get something out of the car and changed to a sloppy, bent knee walk, slipping my feet in and out of the shoes--I blistered my heels again. My next pair of shoes were Loco Banditos, size 10, and they were a bit too tight, but I didn't blister in them. However, I did loose a toenail on a long workout. Guess my feet expanded and had nowhere to go. I ordered a half-size larger shoe, but they weren't in stock so the company "lent" me a pair of size 11's. Funny thing is that I never injured myself with these shoes. They were also the shoes that I got my orthotics fitted. I'm still waiting for the size 10.5's to arrive and I already wore out the size 11's. Several people told me that I should get shoes with more support so I bought a pair of Asics DS Trainers, size 10.5. These shoes worked out fair on my morning walks but for some reason I developed a pain on the top of my right foot. For the long workout I skipped some eyelets to relieve pressure on the sore spot but I made a mistake by not snugging up the laces. The right shoe was just loose enough to blister my heal. Once again some knee pain followed but after seeing some great walkers at the Chula Vista race, I wanted to go hard on my morning workout and again on the Saturday speed work. That brings things up to the present.

Every time I had a foot injury, my knees were next to go. I believe that it is because I unconsciously adjust my gait to compensate for the painful foot and that throws off my leg alignment. The blisters heal even if I continue working out, but a painful knee needs a rest. Strength training and stretching seem to help recovery as long as it doesn't stress the joint too much.

This time I'm going more aggressive on the recovery by massaging my legs with "The Stick" every morning, get a deeper stretch with a Stretchrite strap, use a heating/vibrating pad every evening and take some supplements--Papain (Papaya Extract) and a concotion of Glucosamine Hydrocloride, methylsulfonymethane, Chondrotin Sulfate and Hyaluronic Acid. The Papain is a Natural analgesics recommended in the MEAT vs. RICE article. The Glucosamine formula is designed to help with joint problems. I don't have all that much faith in these "magic pills" but then again they probably won't do any harm either so it is worth the try.

I'm not in terrible pain right now, in fact I feel pretty good--just not 100% especially after sitting for a prolonged period, like when I'm at my job. If I improve enough I'll do my 6-mile workout on Thursday, maybe slow, maybe not. In the meantime I'm hitting the weights and waiting.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Still Short of a 10 Minute Mile

This morning Rosie and I worked out with the Southern Cal Walkers. After warming up we did one lap slow, the next faster and so on until we were at about 70% of race pace on the 4th lap. Then we did a timed mile--another 4 laps.

This was my chance to try for a 10 minute mile, but I didn't quite reach that goal.
1st 400 meters - 2:36.00
2nd 400 meters - 2:34.40
3rd 400 meters - 2:36.40
4th 400 meters - 2:41.25
1 Mile - 10:28.05

I tried to pace myself by following Carl Acosta. The first lap was a little slow and we both picked it up on the second lap. On the third lap I was starting to get tired and when I saw that my time went up I slacked off because I knew I couldn't make up for it on the last lap.

It wasn't bad, but it wasn't really a mile either, 1,600 meters=0.9941939072000000266 miles. As long as I was going for accuracy I also recorded my time in hundredths of a second. Of course this didn't make any difference, I didn't walk a 10 minute mile. The good news is that I didn't do any more damage to my knees.

As a comparison, if you can call it that, just yesterday Tim Seaman walked a 5:51.18 mile at the 100th Milrose Games in Madison Square Gardens. What made this even more impressive was that he was pushing hard last Sunday at the 50km Championships in Chula Vista. He didn't finish the 50k in California but recovered to place first in New York.

Results from the WCLA 10 mile and 5km Race

Here are the results from the 10 mile and 5 kilometer race put on by the Walkers Club of Los Angeles on January 21 at the Rose Bowl.

I was so happy with a time under 2-hours, but look--everyone who finished came in under 2-hours!

WCLA 46th 10 Mile Annual Racewalk
.                                                    Average Pace
Place Time Name Age Club Age Grade min/km min/mi
1 1:35:34 Pedro Santoni 49 SCW 71.63% 5:56 9:33
2 1:43:21 Rick Campbell 60 ES 72.85% 6:25 10:20
3 1:43:59 Mario Lopez 49 WCLA 66.06% 6:27 10:23
4 1:50:33 Bob Nyman 68 ES 74.22% 6:52 11:03
5 1:52:14 Carol Bertino 59 ES 75.58% 6:58 11:13
6 1:54:35 Daniel Fort 52 SCW 58.56% 7:07 11:27
7 1:54:49 Al Cazas 49 IER 58.09% 7:08 11:28
8 1:55:57 Patrick Bivona 65 IER 68.38% 7:12 11:35
9 1:58:29 Roberta Hatfield 65 UNAT 77.59% 7:21 11:50
10 1:59:10 Jack Cassidy 57 W2W 61.43% 7:24 11:55

WCLA 46th Annual Richard Oliver 5km
.                                                         Adjusted Time            Average Pace
Place Time Name Age Age Group Age Grade for age 20-29 Club min/km min/mi
1 24:56 Joe Nieroski 44 M40-44 78.28% 23:14 ES 4:59 8:01
2 29:08 Yoko Eichel 59 W55-59 83.87% 23:35 WCLA 5:49 9:22
3 29:20 Donna Cunningham 60 W60-64 84.26% 23:29 SCW 5:52 9:26
4 30:17 Alan Ede 67 M65-69 79.80% 22:47 SCW 6:03 9:44
5 30:35 Wayne Wurzburger 65 M65-69 77.28% 23:32 SCW 6:07 9:50
6 30:38 Ray Billig 49 M45-49 66.38% 27:24 SCW 6:07 9:51
7 30:58 Aleksandr Kazaryan 52 M50-54 67.33% 27:00 Unattached 6:11 9:58
8 31:32 Janet Robinson 65 W65-69 83.35% 23:44 ES 6:18 10:08
9 31:55 Jolene Steigerwalt 63 W60-64 80.26% 24:39 SDTC 6:23 10:16
10 32:14 Sylvia Ellis 59 W50-59 75.80% 26:06 SCW 6:26 10:22
11 32:40 Carl Acosta 72 M70-74 78.62% 23:08 WCLA 6:32 10:30
12 34:45 Bill Moremen 79 M75-79 81.53% 22:18 SCW 6:57 11:11
13 35:18 Stuart Ray 64 W60-64 66.24% 27:27 SCW 7:03 11:21
14 35:25 Deborah Raymer 50 W50-54 63.01% 31:24 ES 7:05 11:23
15 35:33 Leon Glazman 73 W70-74 73.18% 24:51 WCLA 7:06 11:26
16 35:45 Shirley Capps 71 W70-74 80.05% 24:42 SCW 7:09 11:30
17 36:49 Arvid Rolle 73 M70-74 70.67% 25:44 ES 7:21 11:51
18 36:56 Lloyd McGuire 75 M75-79 72.38% 25:07 SDTC 7:23 11:53
19 37:52 Joan McIntyre 70 W70-74 74.43% 26:35 ES 7:34 12:11
20 37:59 Anelise Smith 68 W65-69 72.05% 27:27 SCW 7:35 12:13
21 38:00 Gerald Saulvester 66 M65-69 62.89% 28:55 SCW 7:36 12:13
22 38:45 Suzanne Synal-Griffen 66 W65-69 68.73% 28:47 IER 7:45 12:28
23 39:41 Roz Esposito 55 W55-59 59.01% 33:37 SCW 7:56 12:46
24 41:09 Margaret Fields 64 W60-64 63.06% 31:22 SCW 8:13 13:14
25 42:25 Holly Osborne 55 W55-59 55.71% 35:50 SCW 8:29 13:39
26 42:40 Jenny Dean 55 W55-59 54.88% 36:03 IER 8:32 13:43
27 42:48 Jim Lamb 79 M75-79 66.20% 27:18 PP 8:33 13:46
28 42:53 Clifford Veasey 46 M45-49 46.25% 39:19 IER 8:34 13:48
29 43:09 Soula Thomas 82 W80-84 80.80% 24:29 ES 8:37 13:53
30 46:32 Patricia Willis 71 W70-74 61.50% 32:10 WCLA 9:18 14:58
. Non-Judged
. 36:05 Lindsey Goldbloom SCW 7:13 11:36
. 45:35 Dorothy Joy IER 9:07 14:40
. 45:36 Rosie Fort SCW 9:07 14:40

My wife Rosie didn't want to be judged but a judge did come up to her as said that she was bending her knees. A few more weeks practice and she'll get it right.

The awards were divided into 10-year age groups in male/female categories for the 10-mile race and 5-year age groups in male/female categories for the 5km race. The age grading is a way to compare results between the various ages and genders. Note that although I came in 6th in the 10-mile race, I won my age/gender group. However, if females would have been included in my division I would have come in second to an older woman and by age grading I would be second to last. Sort of a humbling way of looking at my first place trophy, isn't it?

Friday, February 2, 2007

No Time For This!

I missed doing my morning 6-mile walk yesterday because I had to go to work early. It didn't help that we worked late the night before. I thought about doing the walk last night, but I was a little too tired, I have never done an evening workout and saw no point starting now.

My right knee has been hurting for the past few days and both legs feel stiff. Maybe I've been pushing myself too hard on the workouts, maybe my job has been taking too much from my workout schedule or most likely that blister on my right heel caused me to change my gait and I re-injured myself.

Whatever happened, the 6-mile workout didn't happen. I did a slow 13 minute mile this morning and I didn't feel like I was warming up so I did the strength training instead. That was on my Friday schedule anyway so we'll just let Thursday go.

Tomorrow I'll be back at the Cal Tech track with the Southern Cal Walkers and Sunday will be a beach walk. I was hoping to do a fast 16 miles, but we'll see how I feel by then. At this point it might be better to cross train. I don't want to just rest because it seems that just prolongs recovery and in a couple of weeks I'll start tapering for the marathon. These next couple of week will be the last chance to get conditioned--at least until I decide to enter another race.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Lesson on Lifting

Tim Berrett from Canada was leading the 50 kilometer race at the 2007 Racewalking Championships in Chula Vista, California until he was shown the red card and disqualified with only 15 km to go. Too bad, he was way ahead and seemed that he would easily win--but he wasn't legal. Check out his feet, he is clearly off the ground.

The rules on lifting are that it has to be visible by the unaided eye. In order to be disqualified, three different judges have to report rules violations. At this event it seemed that the judges were giving courtesy "warnings" before reporting infractions. Still, there were several infractions reported while others got off Scott free. Click on these photos to view higher resolution images--these racewalkers were clearly off the ground, but was it visible to the unaided eye? I must admit, I saw very little lifting until I looked these photos carefully.