The Gran Fondo

At the beginning of this month, I joined a challenge on Strava: do a “Gran Fondo,” or ride 115 km (71.45 miles) in one day.gran-fondo-115-6-v1

At this point, it’s looking like I’ll miss the end of the month by a few days, but my trip is mostly planned out. I’m going to be biking down to Providence using this route; I’ll also have to bike perhaps another 20 miles along the Providence bike trail once I get there. I’m trying to hustle up a friend to come with me, too.

I still need to buy some equipment:

  • Water bottle holders (for both bikes, if my friend comes…)
  • Food
  • Bigger bike bag (or just an extra one)
  • Small first aid stuff (probably already have this)
  • Extra spare tire tube and CO2 canister
  • Jersey
  • Gatorades

I also need to do a few random tasks:

  • Plan out the map/route and commit it to memory. FIND BATHROOMS.
  • Raise my bike seat on my tri bike
  • Swap out the pedals on my road bike

So ready to break 6:30…

Did another mile run this morning in 6:52.

Funny how quickly the hedonic treadmill works. I was elated to break the 7 minute barrier 2 months ago, but now just another sub-7 minute run is “slow”.

As Scott Adams puts it, if you have a “goal-oriented” lifestyle, you spend almost all your life feeling like you’re underperforming. In this case, my next milestone is a 6:30 mile, so if I go out there thinking I want to do that, and end up going backwards in terms of performance, well…

Still, I feel pretty happy this morning. I think being below the 7 minute barrier is psychologically very helpful for me, since I feel like “at least I’m an objectively fit person, just having an off day.” Being at this level of fitness is new for me, and I’m still enjoying it.

Much progress on running

new pr late juneI set a new PR for the mile on Monday: 6:40.

For whatever reason, my recent running workout regimen has been working out well, in terms of reducing my mile times. I thought I would document my running past, present, and future.

A bit of history

I began running more seriously in September 2013 after I sprained my thumb and had to stop lifting. I did my first 5k that month. I did a half-marathon in November 2013. I did a marathon in November 2014.

I’ve compiled the following graph of my run times, using runs of approximately 1, 2, and 3 miles (times are all minutes per mile):

run times

The main takeaway is that I haven’t improved much over this time period — although it’s a bit unclear, due to data problems. (I certainly improved my distances, which are not shown, but it’s not so clear about my times.)

A big problem with this data is that I don’t really have run times for these short distances around the times I was running intensively, to prep for my half-marathon and full marathon. Also, the observations we do have are sometimes instances where I got tired and had to pack my run in early — so they’re deceptively slow.

This underscores the importance of having some kind of standardized run to track one’s progress.

The present

More recently, since I’ve been doing mile runs, I have standardized tracking, and it’s clear that I’m getting better. So it’s not necessarily clear that my new regimen is helping particularly — although it certainly feels like it is — but we do know that it is a regimen that works.

I generally run 1 mile on Mondays (say at a 6:45 pace), then do 2 miles at the track doing intervals (alternating quarter mile laps of running at a 6:00 pace and walking/slow jog). I also do a longer run later in the week, at this point around 4 miles. I’ve been throwing in stadiums in the last couple weeks, and I also try biking a bit if I need a fourth or fifth workout. (I often do four.)

Future plans

Going forward, my goal has been to increase mileage by approximately 10% per week, to avoid injury (I feel like rest has helped me sustain a relatively good pace of improvement — this may also be key.)

So here are my recent mileage totals, counting stadiums as 3 miles (due to lots of injury potential):

May 25: 6.2

Jun 1: 6.8

June 8: 6 (low bc first time doing stadiums required recovery)

June 15: 5.1 (low due to carelessness)

June 22: 3 so far, will pick up another 3 on Friday due to stadiums + long bike on Sunday. Perhaps an additional easy mile run on Saturday. That will add up to 7, perhaps.

Ironman 70.3: Timberman


Since it’s looking like I won’t make Ironman Mt. Tremblant, my brother convinced me to switch my registration to a Half Ironman, the Ironman 70.3: Timberman race in New Hampshire. I’ll be able to drive to this race much more easily, and it’ll be a better match for my abilities.

The official Athlete Guide is here, and the schedule is here.

Swim: 1.2 miles – Cutoff: 1′ 10″

Bike: 56 miles – Cutoff: 5′ 30″

Run: 13.1 miles – Cutoff: 8′ 30″

To swim 1.2 miles in 1′ 10″ (let’s say 50″ to play it safe) I’ll need to swim 25 meters in 38.76 seconds. My pool has 25 yard laps, so I’ll need to do a lap in 42.2 seconds. I feel like this is fairly within reach.

Now supposing something goes wrong and I take the full 1′ 10″ for the swim, that gives me 4′ 20″ remaining for the bike, or 12.9 mph average pace. I’d probably want to target around 16-17 mph in order to hit this. (26 kph, from my bike computer’s point of view).

Then I have 3 hours left for the run. I’d actually have to run here… if I walk at a 15″/mile pace, I’ll only complete 12 miles, but I need to do 13.1. So I’ll have to do something like run the first hour at a 10 minute mile pace, get 6 miles under my belt that way, then spend the next two hours doing 8 more (with some room to spare since 6+8 = 14). I don’t particularly want to run, since I haven’t trained for this distance and there’s a decent chance of getting injured.

Over the next few days, I’ll try to get in the pool and on the bike to see how feasible they are.

Intervals Wednesday

Did another set of intervals at the track. I do two miles, running around a 6′ pace every other quarter mile. The gaps I take as easy as necessary. One question is whether to allow myself to walk — this probably lets me go harder on the intervals, but does mean an overall slower time.

I managed to improve my interval times this week, but took the “rest” sections slower, so my overall pace was much lower.

Run is on Strava.

Decent mile today

Did my mile today in around 7 minutes. A bit off pace, but definitely stretched myself to my limit.

Interestingly, I thought I was doing quite well during the first half, but not really. On my PR, I did the first half in 3:19, while this time I did it in 3:24. I guess I was just feeling good?


Set a new PR for the mile today: 6:45.

The following chart shows my speed progress along my favorite 1 mile route. The y-axis is pace in minutes per mile, and it’s oriented so that up means lower minutes per mile (so faster pace). The x-axis just counts runs so far, so the actual distance between points doesn’t reflect the time between runs.

You can see there isn’t much of a trend in the raw data points. Indeed, my previous best time (on this course) was a 7 minute mile one month ago. But perhaps the moving average overlaid by Strava is a better, “filtered” indication of my underlying ability.

run progress

What were things that happened differently this time (not all may matter, of course?)

  • Caffeine
  • Using my asthma inhaler, two pumps (more on this later)
  • Waiting 45 minutes to wake up before going for a run (doing household tasks and email during that time)
  • Running fast enough that my half mile time was above PR pace, so I felt motivated to set a record when running back home
  • Cold weather — it was 55º and raining. My hands could barely type when coming back in.
  • Sufficient sleep, but not too much (perhaps 9 hours?)
  • No workout the previous day

One thing that didn’t seem to matter, this time or the last PR I set, was having breakfast. I generally find that eating a lot the night before is important for good running, but I had a fairly empty stomach in this case. Maybe the mile distance doesn’t really require that much built up energy (glycogen?).

Run today

Did another 1 mile run, a bit below target pace, 7:11.

I’ve actually noticed a slight trend slower, and I wonder whether it’s due to cutting back my running/biking time to avoid injury. In any case, I’m happy to accept that because I’m going to build up my mileage soon enough.

Back in the game

After a week off due to illness, I’m ready to get back with exercising.

I just completed a 1mile run in 7:15. A bit slower than I’d like, but I felt tired and I think it was probably just a one-off poor performance.

I’m also going to look into getting treated for exercise-induced asthma. It looks like I have this.