5K run test: new 41 vDOT wow! 4:22:00 Ironman run ‘possible’

Looks like shedding those few pounds has indeed helped my running speed 🙂

…the goal that I set for myself 9 months ago on December 7, 2010, was to be at a vDOT of 41 prior to Ironman Florida, to set up a ‘possible’ 4:35:00 Ironman marathon (4:22:00 + a little mattress)

…to do that I’d need a 5K run test in 23:36 or faster, so a pace of 7:36/mile or faster

…looks like I’m there now…7:29/mile pace yesterday…8 weeks ahead of time…cool 🙂

Here’s a couple of earlier posts about vDOT and my goals, and our vDOT calculator

My last test on May 5, 2011 was a 39vDOT , 57F, 32% Humidity…so a perfect running day…Davidson College track, in Lane 7:

7:54/mile, 39 vDOT

And yesterday, same track, same Lane 7, quite a bit warmer 73F and 70% Humidity:

#1: 151HR avg, 157HR max (7:16/mile)
#2: 158HR avg, 159HR max (7:34/mile)
#3: 157HR avg, 157HR max (7:40/mile)
last 400 meters: 157HR avg, 157HR max (7:40/mile)

7:29/mile, 41.64 vDOT

  • 5K: 23:16, 7:29/mile
  • entire test HR 154HR, max 159 HR

Just for yucks, here was my first test this year on January 6, 2011, when I established a 37 vDOT…I was sooo proud 🙂 …now I’m just sooo much faster 🙂

8:12/mile, 37 vDOT

A few notes about the test yesterday:

  • it was starting to get hotter by the time that I started the test, so should have gotten up earlier, eaten earlier, and started the run earlier…like by a couple of hours…bit mad at myself that I didn’t…but there I was at the starting line, with the sun feeling a bit hot already
  • I deliberately started at the faster pace, since I didn’t really know what my test pace was going to be…a 41 vDOT would be 7:36/mile, and a ‘glorious’ 42 vDOT would be 7:27/mile…I came dangerously close to that 7:27/mile with a 7:29/mile average
  • and I had read an article a while ago, about a test where the maximum results for a 5K were actually produced by going out 6% faster than target…not by even pacing, or the ‘common’ wisdom of a negative split…limited study…but thought I’d give it a try…here’s one reference to the study:
  • and who knows how fast I really was these days with that new, lean body, so didn’t want to leave anything on the table 🙂

…the next thing was at the end of lap 7, with 4 to go, I pulled back the pace for a few 100 yards, since I was suffering in multiple categories:

  • left hamstring was stiff and ‘singing’ to me
  • left side was cramping
  • stomach was complaining
  • and a quick look at the Heart Rate monitor, the numbers were staggering all over the place
  • …so the demons in my head truly screaming…in my effort to try to get out the door before the heat came up, I had obviously cut it a little too close to breakfast, and my stomach was gurgling and complaining…and adding in some cramping on the left side…rats…and then that little trick with the Heart Rate monitor…nice touch…I typically don’t look at the Heart Rate numbers, but my quick concern was that it may be recording my last heartbeats, as I felt overheated and nauseous…

…so I came really close to packing it in…too funny though…my mantra’s kicked in…a little earlier would have been better, but nonetheless welcome…Yoda and then Bruce Lee in my head…

…so after a few seconds, it didn’t ‘feel’ like I was having a heart attack, I decided that the Heart Rate monitor was just being weird…the hamstring still felt ‘intact’…no ‘real’ pain…the stomach and cramping wasn’t going to go away, but so what…so I decided to just get it done…the ‘good’ guys prevail 🙂

…picked the pace back up to the painful level, clicked the watch again, and ran out a full last 4 laps from that point on the track, as fast as I could…man that was suffering I have to tell you…

In looking at the numbers, my maximum Heart Rate…knocking out the anomolies…looks like the Heart Rate monitor went on the blink for part of it…sometimes happens when the strap loses traction….or ‘maybe’ close to death, and a few seconds reprieve was a good idea…did I say that maximal testing is _tough_?…only _really_ got to 159HR, vs. 162HR on the May 5 test…an optimist would say that maximum Heart Rate drops with higher fitness…however my Heart Rate actually faded in the last mile, along with my pace, so I probably cooked my legs going out too fast, and then the heat/humidity started to kick in and finished me off.

To get comparative results to my last test, I removed the few hundred yards of still-going-but-lower pace after lap 7 from the numbers…if I had just stopped at the end of lap 7, and used the time for that distance, my vDOT would have been 40.81…so since I had another mile left in the legs, that would be low…and the softer few hundred yards added some distance to the entire test, but may have made the last 4 laps a bit easier…so not a perfect execution

…of course, the purpose of the test is not to execute a maximal 5K, but rather to get an idea of what my current ‘vDOT’ fitness level is to establish training paces for the next 4 weeks

…so to that end, since the first clean 7 laps by themselves would give me a 40.81 vDOT for the 7 lap distance, and the overall run a 41.64, I’d have to say a pretty clear 41+ vDOT performance…even considering the imperfect execution

…there may even be an argument that a perfectly executed test, on a cooler day would have produced a 42 vDOT, or higher…with my final run test in 4 weeks, I’ll leave it for that…and use a 41 vDOT to set my training paces…I tend to go a bit faster anyway…which now are:

Run Zones
Zone HR Pace
< 131
> 154

…I have to tell you, this ‘running by the numbers’ is cool stuff…at least for me 🙂

If the 41 vDOT holds up to Ironman Florida, this gives me a potential 4:22:00 Ironman marathon…a 42 vDOT, a 4:17:00…and may as well put it down since I’m dreaming…a 43 vDOT a 4:12:00

…my Ironman run race goal has been 4:35:00…geez…sort of hard to believe that it _may_ be actually possible 🙂

…considering that my fastest Ironman marathon to date was a 5:03:38 in my first Ironman  in 2007 (5:04:52, 2008 /  5:14:25, 2009 / 5:21:04, 2010 ), it looks like I at least have the ‘potential’ to reverse that trend…as impausible as it may be that a 57-year-old guy can improve their Ironman marathon by over 30 minutes…in their 5th Ironman

…and before that’s going to actually be possible, I seriously need to re-wire my running ‘self-image’ to actually ‘believe’ that I can do it…I see a separate post coming up again soon on the mental side of Ironman training and racing…I need to get rid of the little earnest, but fat guy running…’I’m Flash!’…”I’m a lean and fast cheetah!’…somehow not quite ringing true in my head…yet…I need to find something…

…too early to declare victory yet…a 5K maximal test is simply done as a convenience since you can recover quickly from it…’better’ would be a test at a longer distance, but trashes the legs and subsequent training…so to apply it to a 26.2 mile run…particulary after a 2.4 mile swim, and 112 mile bike ride…requires specific training for the marathon distance…and a perfect execution on race day to get near the ‘potential’

…over the next 6 weeks of intense training, and 2 week taper, the trick will be to stay healthy and not break something as I try to sustain the run training that will be necessary to give me a shot at getting near that potential…and then race day execution, conditions and who-knows-what

…by way of example, if the temperature during the run is 70F, with a 41 vDOT, my 4:22:00 (9:59/mile pace) marathon target pace will need to be adjusted for the heat to a 4:41:00 (10:37/mile pace)…I would need a 42 vDOT to have a heat adjusted run target of 4:35:00

…but I have to say, I love the trend…and OMG…a 41 vDOT yesterday is a heck of of a lot better that a 37 in January

…oh yeah, and lose that last 5 pounds (2 x 32oz Gatorade bottles) as insurance 🙂


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