Saturday, September 23, 2006

Nuthin' New on Race Day

ORN: 8.3 miles, 1:16:27, pace somewhere around 9:25…see below

Well, it’s one week to go to
The Portland Marathon. The taper is in its final stages and I’m doing the usual nutso things in the taper. Like obsessing on whether or not to bleach my shoelaces to get them extra white. Yeah, really.

Of the more productive uses of my now-extended time not pounding out miles, I’m watching my weight to keep it flat at 195, laying off snacks and sodas, drinking water, stretching carefully. I have my packing list well in hand. And, yes, I’m monitoring the weather on race day. As of this moment, it should be about 52 at the start, headed for 73 under partly cloudy skies with only a 10% chance of rain. Sweet.

I’ve continued to navel-gaze about my projected pace. Part of the problem is that I know my Garmin has some inaccuracies in it. Linking that knowledge with the old maxim “don’t do anything new on race day,” I made up a
mile split wristband for today’s run, using it in conjunction with the stopwatch on the Garmin to see my true pace. I also wanted to practice flipping the mode switch on my trusty GPS unit back and forth from “virtual trainer” to stopwatch mode. I carefully covered the wristband with shipping tape and wore it on today’s 8 miler, so I wouldn’t have ANYTHING new on race day. And what a hoot…I learned a lot.

First off, the standard 10 point font of the wrist band really didn’t cut it for my 52-year-old eyes. Shoot, even with the reading magnifiers built in to my sunglasses, I could barely read the time while I was running. Talk about feeling like a doofus. (And to think I umpire baseball all summer with eyes like these…please don’t tell the coaches.)

The second thing I observed is
Murphy's law appling fully in this situation. “A water-tight pace band isn’t.” About 2 miles into the run, I noticed the paper soaking up the sweat. By the end, all the non-black ink colors had faded into oblivion.

The third thing I observed is the applicability of yet another old maxim: “The person with two clocks does not know what time it is.” Between my fancy-schmantzy GPS unit and an old-fashioned pace list, I had no idea how fast or slow I was running. This is further compounded by the fact that though I ran on my favorite route, where I’ve marked every half mile using a bicycle odometer, I didn’t know just how accurate those marks were. So, by the Garmin, I ran today at a 9:19 pace. Dividing out the ostensible 8 mile course by the elapsed time, the pace was 9:33.

Ever the engineer, I pulled out my race log while sitting at a tire-repair place later in the morning and reviewed the actual pace vs. the Garmin pace on major races I’ve run during the past two years, races where I have some confidence the overall distance was pretty accurate. While it varied, it looks like my Garmin gives me a pace about 8 seconds per mile faster than the pace I’m actually running. This is the first time I’ve done that math and now at least I know it.

So, here’s the plan. I just re-ran my pace chart in 16 point font using a 9:38 pace. I’m going to fold it over and put it in a small sealable bag to fit in one of the many useful pockets on my
RaceReady shorts. And the objective will remain to beat a 9:30 pace on the Garmin. Future race planning will build this 8 second error into the training. For now, I’m sticking with the plan.

Boy, this taper thing is getting scary…good thing there is only one week to go.

Persevere. No matter how bad your eyes are….


Darrell said...

You had me laughing through this whole post. The eyes, the running ink, comparing all the measuring devices, just funny, funny stuff.

I gave up on the printed, taped, wrist mounted pace bands awhile ago. They annoyed the heck out of me, especially since I usually fell behind. In Bellevue I printed one and taped it all up but I kept it in the front pocket of my Fuelbelt and pulled it out (obsessively) at every mile. And yes I had to look over the top of my glasses to make out the little print! I had both the pace expected for that mile and the total time to that point. That last bit of info was really helpful.

The devil is in the details right? Try to keep it together for one more week and go have a great run in Portland. It looks like perfect weather conditions. I'm not going to be there but if I was I'd know how to find you - I'd be looking for the guy with the whitest shoe laces!

Running Chick said...

oh, the taper madness is in full swing! lol.

i'm cheering for you joe! (to get you thru the taper, as well as thru the race!)

Anonymous said...


I think that Kitchen-Klatter cleaner is needed for the shoe laces!! Mom thought is was the world's greatest product.... and she would want you to have white shoe laces!! Although I'm not a runner, I do enjoy your thoughts..... and I'll be monitoring you next Sunday on-line!!


susie said...

Ha! I can just picture you Mr. Engineer, with all your charts and watches. We are pulling for won't be long now!

backofpack said...

Hey Joe, Thanks for stopping by. It ought to be fun to meet up in Portland. My husband has a degree in Manufacturing Engineering too - he worked in Injection Molding for 18 years and is now in Rapid Prototyping.

I read your previous post too, and will certainly be keeping your son in my thoughts. We have two friends over there right now, two in our running group who've been there, and one friend who was there at the beginning of it all. I worry enough about them - I can't imagine if it was one of my sons.

See you Saturday!

George said...

Joe, for the Indy Mini, I made a time split sheet on an index card, I made it in a font I can read - I also added where the water and gatorade stops were. I then laminated it and put in one of the pockets of race ready shorts. It worked great! (I actually carried two in case I dropped one. {I didn't need the second one})

Good Luck in the race, I am sure you will do great!!