Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bond Brook 10 mi trail race

Bond Brook is the new set of xc ski trails and singletrack mt. bike trails in Augusta. Overlay the east side of Bradbury on top of Pineland and multiply the elevation by 1.5 and voila! Bond Brook. This race was not on my radar until yesterday when I opted out of Mayor's Cup 5K for something closer. I'm not sure why as my weekly mileage is now half of what it was this summer and I haven't run more than 9 miles in one run in over 6 weeks. Moving from a flat 5K to 10 miles of extremely undulating terrain was probably an unwise decision.

The course is two loops of repeated alternating between wide ski trails and narrow single track. The ski trails were a roller coaster - there was rarely any length of something flattish. It was bone-jarring descents or lung-bursting climbs. Like Pineland, most of these were short-lived but some of each were quite extended. By contrast the singletrack seemed flattish, like the east side of Bradbury, but I think that was an illusion as the map shows these too had large (usually) ascents, it just took lots of tight twisty turns to complete the climb.  The singletrack was in sweet shape. I had both my nike spikes and my Inov8 195s and unwisely chose the 195s. The last mile of singletrack had lots of slimey turns on a cambered trail bed and it took some tip toeing to not slide down.

Some stats:
Bond Brook 10 mile: Garmin 305 reads: 9.46 mi, 1739' elevation = 183 feet/mi
Pineland 25K: Garmin 305 reads: 15.3 mi, 1772' elevation = 116 feet/mi
Bradbury Breaker: Garmin 305 reads 8.78 mi, 1537' elevation = 175 feet/mi

None of the climbs are as steep as the Breaker but there is very little flat.

My race:
I actually felt pretty good given that I lost my running mojo sometime in August. The first 2 miles of my 2nd loop was noticeably slower but I was slowly reeling in a young guy in front. On a long descent during the 3rd mile of loop 2 I nearly caught him and there was a short flat section before turning off the ski trail and onto the slimey mile of singletrack. I decided this was my move and I accelerated and just beat him to the trail. He hung onto me for maybe 0.5-0.75 miles which pushed me some but then he fell back when the singletrack started to climb. Had I not made my earlier move I probably would have been complacent to just sit behind him on the singletrack and run his pace. As a result of passing him, the 4th mile of loop 2 was only slightly slower than in loop 1 and my last mile of loop 2 was nearly 30s faster. So all in all I had about a 34s positive split, which doesn't seem too bad given no prior knowledge of the course

Mile Loop1 Loop2 Diff
1      7:24     7:52    +28
2      7:23     7:43    +20
3      7:46     8:00    +14
4      8:24     8:30    +6
5      5:57     5:23    -34
     36:54     37:28    +34

I think I came in 5th place, 2-4 minutes behind 1-4, and 1st master. Unfortunately I googled places 1-4 and noticed that I beat them all in summer road races so not sure what this says about my current fitness. I Want to do the NE XC in two weeks. The positive is, Franklin Park is a fast course and only 5 miles. The negative is my fitness is plummeting precipitously.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tapers and Cognitive Biases

Back in the spring, I asked Kevin Tilton about tapers and specifically mentioned Jim Johnson who races every weekend and I wondered what he could do if he, you know, tapered. Kevin thought tapers were overrated and mentioned that his best races were with little to no taper. I had heard this before from posters on the famous LRC message board but had discounted it as anecdotal evidence (which it is). I haven't really researched the ex phys literature but I do recall that Rob Sleamaker briefly reviewed evidence from the literature that claims a proper taper increases performance by 1-3% or something like that. I was thinking about this recently because of two races this year compared to last year. Compared to this year, I ran a faster pace at the Bradbury Breaker and the Craig Cup last year despite having run the Beach to Beacon the day before the Breaker and the Maine Marathon 6 days before the Craig Cup. This year I was fresh for both (The B2B was 8 days earlier and I ran no marathon this year). I am now questioning the value of tapers. It's these sort of experiences that are very powerful in forming/re-inforcing (probably erroneous) beliefs that contradict conclusions based on more reliable evidence (i.e. science).