February 8, 2008

Training Peaks now support Nike+

Interesting news today. Training Peaks log now supports upload of data from Nike+ iPod. I'm not sure if I will use it, but it is an interesting way to make the Training Peaks site more attractive for casual users. I'm just wondering if people that spent 30 bucks on Nike+ sensor will be willing to pay the Training Peaks user fees. Check the announcement out on the Peaksware blog.

February 4, 2008

Official finish time 43:11

The LVRR just posted official race results from yesterday and I did even few seconds better than what I thought. 43:11 and 59th out of 450 runners (6:57 min/mi pace). This is a 10k PR that I'm really proud of. Now back to training for the A-race which is the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon in late April. Time to beat there is 1:49:22 - that should not be a problem with the improvements I made in my running, but I have different goal for the race that for now I'll keep to myself.

February 3, 2008

New HRM? Not yet...

It is that time of the year. Performance review is behind me and the company is doing real well so I'm expecting fair compensation for the work I've done last year. As every year around this time I get the urge to check out the latest and greatest gadgets. Until few years ago I used to select a computer or some other electronics gadget and drool over it until I spent the cash and got it. Things changed two years ago when I started to look at the top of the line heart rate monitors. Currently I use Polar RS800 with foot pod and also GPS module which is a very good HRM. My backup HRM and bike computer is the S625X with the power unit installed on the bike.

Now what leads me to search for something else when I have the best unit that is in the market? No offense Garmin, Suunto and other users, but RS800 is hands down the best computer out there. Well I want to find a HRM that offers me in one unit what the existing two units do for me now. Ideally the HRM would allow me to monitor my cadence, speed, pace and distance during the run and also speed, distance, cadence, power during the bike. The HR would work under water and the monitor would record R-R intervals just as the RS800 does. It would be possible to use it during the triathlon and the unit would automatically or manually switch from swim to bike to run and use the appropriate sensor. If I found such monitor I would be happy to make the switch especially if the unit was from Polar as I already have 2 years worth of workouts recorded in the PPT.

I looked at some reviews of the Suunto T6 and although it looks like a solid HRM it lacks some very important features the RS800 has - like the ability to plan workouts any time you want. The flexibility I have in design of my workouts in the PPT (Polar software) is almost insane. I love it especially for interval sessions that combine various interval distances and paces as prescribed in the FIRST training plans. It is no problem to program ladder interval or mix of 800 and 1200 intervals in one workout. The RS800 then guides me through the interval. I can even specify the duration of the segment based on time, distance, heart rate increase (e.g. until I reach 120 beats keep doing this), heart rate decrease or as manual that lets me control the length of the segment manually. For each interval I can specify what heart rate range, HR sport zone, pace or speed range I want to be in. And then specify the repeat which can either repeat one segment or a set of segments. So by clever design it is easy to setup workout like this: 15 minutes warm-up, 2 x 1200m (2min RI) followed by 4 x 800m (2:00 RI) followed by 10 minutes cool down. Then on the day when I need to do the workout the watch prompts me with the beep any time I need to change the pace. I can setup the workout with HR range for each segment that indicate where I need to get my HR. I also mark each segment with keyword or pace I need to run - that way when the watch beeps it shows me the text.


It is easy to manage my workouts and based on my research this is the only watch that offers this level of control and does all the other stuff I wrote above. Only if Polar integrated the power / bike sensor with this unit I would be so happy. Until then I'll keep looking around and stick with the Polar RS800. I guess I'll save my money now as nothing better is currently out there. That includes the new Garmin 405 that looks like a good running computer, but does not fit my needs and the waterproofing rating is laughable - not recommended for triathletes (direct quite from Garmin site).

Lehigh Valley Super Bowl 10k - top 100 finisher


This is becoming a regular event for me to run the 10k road race in Lehigh Valley Parkway on the Super Bowl Sunday. Last year was the first time I participated in the event and I was extremely proud of finishing the run in under 50 minutes. This year I had a soft goal as this is my B race I was not too concerned about running to kill myself. I need to be in shape on Tuesday for intervals session so the goal was to be attained only if felt good enough during the run. OK so what was the goal - sub-45 minute finish was what I wanted to get (I even thought about being minute or so faster if the running gods were on my side).

The run starts relatively late - at 10:30 a.m. to allow for the temperature to raise a bit. One never knows what weather will be like. Last year was horribly cold with strong wind so it was a real winter run. This year we got a very nice weather - the temperature was around 32 F (0 C) when I arriver to the parkway and the temperature raised to 40s before we started. Much better than what we had to battle last year. The event is always sold out and this year the Lehigh Valley Road Runners limited the field to some 500 runners. For the start I lined up on the side of the road in the first fourth of the field. I'm certainly in no position to stand with the big dogs in the front and I did not want to be too far back to avoid the crisscross in the first 1-2 miles until the field spreads out. It turns out that the line-up was spot on and during the first mile I passed only few people - maybe 30 and from mile 2 I was seeing the same group of people around me. But let's not get ahead too much.

After the gun (or shell I say shout :-) I kept to the side of the road and tried to avoid the crowding that happens in the middle. That worked quite well and I did not have to slow down in the first mile. I also kept eye on my pace to keep it just around 7:10 for the first mile - as always the excitement of the race got the best of me and I finished the first mile in 6:52, mile 2 through mile 4 are all in the rolling terrain, but first you need to climb uphill to the neighborhood above the parkway. I actually passed few folks on the way up the climb, it never gets old passing people. I'm not sure if you are familiar with the definition of rolling terrain around this area, but let's just say that some rolling terrain would qualify as pretty good hills in some flat areas of this country. In any case my next few laps were quite consistent - 7:16, 7:10 and 7:20. Then the race turns back to the starting line and it is mostly downhill and flat from here. Next mile was a bit faster 6:50 which may not have been such a good idea. I actually had to slow down right after passing the mile 5 as I started to feel little lightheaded and my stomach was about to launch my breakfast onto somebody's back. Some guy passed me and encouraged me to keep going with them (it was larger group). I explained to him what was about to happen if I kept pushing and let him go. Although I slowed down a bit I did not let the group get too far ahead of me. If I could catch my breath I may be able to pass them before we reach the finish line. After about 400m of slower running (around 7:45) I picked-up the pace again and focused on the group ahead of me. On the last half a mile I checked my watch picked-up the pace to 6:30 and kept pushing. The sub 44 finish was getting very real. In the finish stretch I looked at the countdown watch and it was showing 42:50 - I do not know where I got the strength to push even more, but I did. I crossed the finish line in 43:15 (or just about that time - official finish time will be published next week). I almost collapsed after crossing the finish and had to catch my breath. I got a nice red hat from the sponsor of the race that they gave to the first 100 finishers. I do not know my official place, but I know it is within the first 100 which is better than what I did last year (156 / 501). Time to celebrate with watching the game tonight.

If you are interested you can check the approximate path of the race on usatf.org.