Monday, October 27, 2008

Yasso 800s and my marathon prediction


That's the total number of reps I've done in Yasso 800 workouts since the middle of July. I did the workout 10 times, starting at 6 reps and adding one rep every other workout. My fastest average was 3:17 for 10 reps on the road earlier this month.

My slowest workouts were also on the road, and I barely averaged under 3:30 for both of my 9-rep workouts. The road course I use is rolling and on the day I averaged 3:17, I managed to use the loop so that more reps were level or down and the worst ups were covered in my rest intervals. On the 3:29 days, the worst hills were hit during my hard reps. So, it's possible that none of those results are very useful as predictive values.

Saturday morning, I wasn't feeling great when I woke up. Both of my kids have been sick in the past week and I was concerned that I was catching something from them. But, it was important to me that I complete this workout and I didn't want to defer it so that it was any closer to my marathon. So, I headed to the track and hoped for the best.

I had double-checked that the track would be free. The school where I was running has lots of sports teams. But, their girls' soccer team and field hockey team were gone from state playoffs. Their boys' soccer team had taken out my son's team the day before, so they were off for the day. Their football team had played the day before, so they would be off. And, their cross-country team would be at the state championships in Thetford, VT, so they wouldn't be using the track.

So, imagine my surprise when I pulled into the parking lot and it was packed. I had forgotten about junior high football. Luckily, they were playing on a different field than the one inside the track, and the track was open.

I felt sluggish in my warm-up, but not too bad. The weather was cool and breezy, with some intermittent drizzle - nearly perfect unless the track became wet and slick. Luckily, that wouldn't be the case.

So, I started the workout and ran 3:23 for my first rep. Not bad, but not really where I wanted to be. But, I'm often slowest on my first rep, as I transition from my slow warm-up to the faster speeds. After each rep, I rest actively for as long as the rep took. Basically, I would walk for about 1:50 after each rep and then jog slowly back to the starting line. As I started the second rep, I could tell that I was running faster than the first. It felt much better and I ran 3:18. From there, I really got into a groove and I ran 3:19, 3:20, 3:20, 3:18, 3:18, and 3:18. On the 7th and 8th reps, I noticed that the wind seemed to be picking up. I could also feel that I was getting tired - most likely from my hard 24 miler the previous Saturday.

I figured that the last rep would take care of itself, so I really wanted to focus on #9, so my average would stay under 3:20. Regretfully, I got a bit too excited and I ran the first lap too fast - 1:35. As I hit the wind on the second lap, I really faded from my stupid first lap and I ended up with a 3:22 - a 1:47 second lap.

One to go and now there was no reason to save anything. Being less stupid, I ran a 1:40 first lap this time and then finished with a 1:37 for a 3:17 - my fastest rep of the day.

Done. Eighty of these repeats over 3+ months, along with all the rest of my training.

In 1995, when I ran my marathon PR, I averaged 2:57 the first time I did 10 reps and I did 2:53 the second time at ten reps. However, I was well rested for the second of those two workouts and considered the 2:57 to be a better marathon predictor. I did indeed run a 2:57 marathon that year.

This time, I've done fewer total miles. I'm older. I weigh more now than I did in 1995. But, I'm physically stronger now than I was then. And, even though my recent mileage numbers have not been as high as in past marathon training cycles, I have years of accumulated base training from ultras to draw upon. I've done a lot of quality workouts in this cycle.

In many ways, I'm curious to see how my training translates to the race. I stripped down my previous marathon training to get rid of the "junk" miles. I did all of my quality work - track work, marathon pace miles, long runs, tempo, etc., but I didn't do as many slow, easy, moderate distance runs during the week. Will that make a difference on race day?

So, my Yasso 800s predict about a 3:20 marathon. My half marathon predicted a race in the 3:25-3:28 range, depending on what formula is used. However, I ran 9 x 800 meters only 4 days before the half marathon and I didn't go all out in that race. My 5K from Labor Day weekend projects to a 3:14-3:19 race.

I want to run sub-3:30. That's almost exactly an 8 mpm pace. My plan in the race will be to do one or two miles at 8 pace and then drop to 7:50 or so for as long as I can hold that pace. If I can hold that pace the whole way, I'll run about 3:26. If I fade a bit late, I will hopefully still stay under 3:30. And, if I feel great with 10K to go, maybe I'll try to pick up the pace and bit and see if I can get under 3:25.

Despite some numbers that predict I can run in the 3:20 range or maybe better, I'm not going to risk my 3:30 goal by going after the faster time.

If I did that, it might work, or I might explode like I did in my last fast marathon attempt and I'd have a very slow time. The last time, I was racing with a "Boston or bust" mentality. This time, even if I fall off my qualifying pace, I should still be able to run a post-40 marathon PR, and I'm going to stick it out to the finish.

My prediction as of right now: 3:27:59


Jamie said...

Very cool about the Yassos. Your prediction for your time is just :03 slower than the time I ran last weekend at MDI. I hope you kill my time.

Tania said...

Very nice Damon! I am so anxious to see how you do. I have a feeling you are going to run a great race.