"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Fever Dream

I'd been very ill for a few weeks and unable to do much of anything, so I thought a lot about training for 100 mile races. What I realized is that a lot of what's been published has the same taint as marathon training plans: they tell you what to do to increase the likelihood of finishing, not what to do to run it well. Finishing a hundo is never a given, but the ideas being thrown around start to border on the crazed.

The most popular plan comes from the "Ultraladies" site, which builds to a 75 mile week.
M 0
T 4 tempo
W 15
Th 6
F 0
Sa 30 on terrain like the race
S 20 on terrain like the race

The back-to-backs do in fact teach one how to run when tired, but the program has several problems. The average run is too long, so one never recovers. 30 miles for a top runner might be 4.5 hours, but could be at least 10 for someone trying to finish the Superior 100 in 38 hours; for the slower runner, it's too close to being a race. The Sunday run just compounds the problem.

I noted that there was some similarity to a 3 hour marathon plus 100 miler plan I once drew up:

M 6@8min/mile
T 12 with 6x1 in 6 - 3/8 in 4
W 6
Th 12 w/ 16x400 in 85 - 400 in 2
F 6
Sa 10@9.5, 10@7 (20 in 2:45)
S 18@8, 12@9.25 (30 in 4:15)

If one's running at that pace, the 30 miler falls into place, but it makes no sense for a 4:30 marathoner.

Plan 2

An alternate theory states that what is important for endurance are runs of 1.5-2.5 hours. To have adequate rest and variability, the plan becomes (again, for a 3:00 marathoner):

M 0
T 150 minutes (13-17.5 miles)
W 150
Th 150
F 0
Sa 150 hard
S 150

The problems with this are that the average run is too long (and too hard, at about 85% effort) and the longest run is not long enough.

Plan 3

This was an idea I had and published last year, which still stands, but which I never liked :
 [Three week rotation]
M 6
T 6
W 9 (mar. pace or hills)
Th 6
F 6

Sa 1: 20
S 1: 9

Sa 2: 12 hard
S 2: 9

Sa 3: 31
S 3: 12

At 11-12 min/mile, this is about 12 hours per week.
At 8 minutes per mile, it's 9 hours per week, so add a second 6 mile run on M,T,Th&F and do 14 of the 31 miler hard.
At 7 min/mile, run the last 10 of the 20 hard, last 11 of the 31 hard and add 6 on W, S (total=100 miles/week).
Race a 50K every 9 weeks, dropping the hard 9 before and the hard 9 after (run the miles, but not hard). If closer to 4:30 marathon than 3:00, also drop the hard 12 prior to the race (if 3:45, run 6 hard of the 12). Alternately, for Superior, do 34 miles of hills [300 feet of climb per mile] in 1/4th predicted finish time.

This plan doesn't have any real problems other than that it feels way too rigid. What I came up with recently is

Plan 4

M 90 min. run, 30 hike
T 2 hours hills: 60@50K heart rate, 60@100mile heart rate (hike uphill in 2nd half)
W 30 run, 15 hike
Th 30 run, 15 hike
F 30 run, 15 hike
Sa 4 hours trail: 2.5@HR_100 (hike uphill), 90@HR_50K
S 90 min run, 30 hike
[For me, the heart rates are 155-158 and 126-130. The latter actually matches Maffetone!]
This follows a sort of carb-depleting/carb-loading plan with three easy days to recover. It has runs of correct average length, correct long run length, correct variability; the two hard workouts correspond well with Jack Daniels' marathon training plan ("One Size Fits All" 2001). The hiking works as cross-training.
It compensates for ability, for terrain and for weather. Mostly, it's doable and not too complicated.

Top ultrarunners don't keep running their long runs longer and longer, but increase the incline, making them tougher, while keeping the relative length reasonable.

The heart rates I give above come from a study I did while racing with a heart rate monitor in 2008. I found the following equation held for all-out efforts

10.9 - log (min.) = 4.381 log (HR - 70)

Whether this would hold for me now is debatable and I doubt it would be applicable to others, though it corresponds to "Oxygen Power" by Jack Daniels, perhaps coincidentally.

Progress would be measured not only by the average length and pace of runs improving, but the pace at specific heart rates should converge, whether at the start or finish of workouts. The 50K challenge is running hard after having run for hours; the 100 mile challenge is maintaining a pace above a slow walk after an exhausting effort.

I'd also plan to add 3x20 seconds all-out strength workouts (squats, lunges) with minimal recovery, three times per week to incorporate HIIT benefits without interfering with running workouts.
Sorry about the disjointed, almost stream-of-conscious structure of this post. I'm still not well.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Lies I Tell Drunk Girls Late at Night

I've been thinking about the Superior 100 Mile race again. I volunteered again this year and it gets me to thinking that maybe I should correct that "never finished that one" status. As some of you know, I'm more than a little beat up, having been told by more than one podiatrist that I shouldn't be able to walk, much less run.

The question is: do I want to work hard for a year just to be another poor schlub who finishes? There's a huge investment and very little pay-off. Consider the other runners my age who run there: John Horns won the thing outright a few years ago. John Maas finished this year in 28 hours and he didn't run a step; he hiked 16 minute miles, which would be 13 on flat ground [see how long you can walk at that pace; I can manage 3 miles]. Doug Kleemeier ran 25-something and did little specific training, from what I gather, and he was only the third-place over-50 finisher. It's not a small local race any longer.

That's what always irritates me. People, including me, always think that they work really hard for what they get and everyone else cruises to easy success based on talent. That's what's happening here. Typically, runners finish Superior with a time remarkably close to 9 times their marathon finish. With the course record being 19.5 hours, that equates to about a 2:12 marathon - so he actually worked at it, since his marathon time's nowhere near that. Most people just don't really push themselves at Superior... except to finish, which is never guaranteed. The people who are running it are much much more capable than I am. If I finished, it's be close to a miracle.

But who really gives a damn?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Sometimes you have to run one hard and fast...

There hasn't been much to report about my running lately, because I haven't done much running. The sport's become more a matter of pain management than anything else this past year. After a few days of good running, I decided I needed to do a race to see what shape I was really in - because you can convince yourself of anything, but the race times don't lie (usually). I wanted to do something where there'd be no pressure, where no one would know who I was and so I ended up running a 5K race in Plummer, MN on the 4th of July.

I won a trophy, but it was a harsh dose of reality, especially as I think the course was about 300 meters short. Since then, it's been mostly too ridiculously hot and humid to do much serious training, even if I could.

Today there was a break in the heat and I was well-rested. It was time to see if I have finally figured out how to deal with the pain I have when running - I tend to describe it as "running with broken bones on broken glass."

I felt good and started out much faster than planned. Recently, I'd been plodding at 10-11 minutes per mile, but I was under 8 at the start and kept speeding up. It was time to try to rip the scar tissue adhesions in the fascia holding me together, like running an engine hot and then flooring it to burn off the soot and blow it out of the cylinders.

I dropped under 7 minutes per mile, then spotted one of the top local women runners ahead of me and just "gunned" it. I knew she was doing a long easy run and undoubtedly would be thinking about "guys who just have to pass women." In fact, she turned when she heard me breathing like an asthmatic bull (which isn't far from the mark, really) and I managed to exchange pleasantries about how we finally had decent running weather. Then I hit a downhill and just blasted it. 6 minute mile pace dropped to 5 and then a little better than that.

And nothing hurt!

Unfortunately, there's still all of the "old and out-of-shape" stuff to deal with, but it's a start.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Olympic Trials Masters Race

Here's some more good reasons to watch the Olympic Trials tonight, from a Facebook post by a friend of mine.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Where Stephen Hawking Goes Wrong

[I absolutely love being able to use that title.]

I always love when public television has a science series, at least until I've seen it; they start strong, but then end up in hand-waving and speculation and far removed from what the series promised. The most recent show, "Genius by Stephen Hawking" has the same problems, but because of the name attached to the show, people might be thinking "well, the guy's a genius, so he must be right."

Once again, the first episode of the series was excellent and the second was pretty good. Then it started to wobble just a bit. When discussing the possibility of traveling back in time, the people involved discover that it would require there being three of the time traveler simultaneously and they decide that creating matter out of nothingness makes it impossible. Hawking says, correctly, that "it's hard to imagine how this could happen on a large scale." That's technically true, but it does happen on the subatomic level. A particle moving at just under the speed of light has a finite probability (due to quantum mechanics) of going faster than the speed of light, which requires moving backward in time. This has been seen: the recorder shows what appears to be a particle moving normally, plus a copy of the particle and its anti-particle arising from it and then crashing into each other and annihilating each other. On a human scale, this would require this to happen maybe 100000000000000000000000000000 times, simultaneously, with each part shifting the same quantized amount - and then it might only last a fraction of a second.

But it is possible. And that's important for a point I'll make in a moment.

The show falters with the question of "Why are we here?" which becomes "Why are we in this location?" rather than "Why do we exist at all?" through subtle semantic shifts. He tries to cover the question of free will vs. determinism by stating that the brain, being made of matter, must act under the deterministic rules of physics (true, as far as it goes) and shows an experiment that demonstrates that the brain subconsciously makes a decision before the brain consciously is aware of it. Unfortunately, Hawking's understanding of the brain is no better than my understanding of black holes. All the experiment shows is that going from a thought to a thought about a thought takes time.

Consider going for a walk. You have to decide to put one foot forward and then decide to put the next foot forward, but unless you've suffered a brain injury (or are a toddler, in which case congratulations on reading so young), you don't consciously think about those decisions. That doesn't mean that you didn't choose to make them consciously.

Things really start to unravel when he postulates that every decision creates parallel universes. It's not a bad theory, but unprovable. He ends up saying that we are where we are deterministically because in this one chain of events, there was no other possibility. Unfortunately, this contradicts what he said earlier:

Let's go back to time travel. When one makes the decision to move back in time, the other two new "selves" that are necessary are now in parallel universes and one would not be aware of them! So time travel should be possible. In fact, with an infinite number of possible universes, it must happen, and frequently, but we are unaware of it.

There's more episodes to come. I wonder where we go next.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Twin Cities' Top Runners of 2001

I found my ranking of local runners from 15 years ago and thought it might be of some interest to others. Few people race well for 15 years, but those who had already been racing 15 years in 2001 are still racing - and finishing in the same order! If you're looking for a particular name, try putting it into the search box at the top of the page (one of the dozen women is listed under her maiden name). Track races, trail races and ultramarathons were not included. Many names appear twice, as two lists were merged (I started correcting it, then quit); in that case, the higher ranking stands. Each cluster of names are approximately equal. This was my "hit list" at the time - if you're looking for me, I put my name in bold.

Above ranking:
(Steve Plasencia)
(Joey Keillor)
(Kurt Keiser)

Kelly Mortenson, Russ Spangler, Mike Stoick

Derek Phillips

Steve Pasche, Dmitri Drekonja, Sean Mulheron

Ditlev Larsen, Matt Gabrielson, Allen Broderius, Jason Minnick

Eric Johnson, John Koch, Dan Carlson, Pete Miller, Chad Sellers, Eric Loeffler

Chuck Hubbard, Pat Billig, Kevin Haas, Todd Sheldon

Pete Morse, Dan Morse, Robt. Blake, Micah Grafenstein, Matt Barnard, Matt Sullivan, Noah Billig, Andy Kummer, Eric Pierce, Bob Hackley

Corey Ylinen, Doug Cowles, Mark Albrecht, Eric Hallman, Jason Owen, Ryan Ford, Steve Hibbs, Perry Bach, Adam Lindahl, Dave Helm, Matt Reinders, Ken Cooper, Dan Casper, John Krueger

Larry Mboga, Kurt Knueve, Levi Severson, Yonas Seyum, Matt Waite, Mike Cook, Paul Cornelison, John Vandanacker, Dave Heppner

Luke Mullranin, Todd Larsen, Jason Lindelof, Paul Chestovich, Tom McCarthy

Todd Sperling, Chris Kartschoke, Chris Lundberg, Chris Pikus, Ryan Kollman, Pete Prince, Ed Whetham, Ryan Steines, Brad Givot, Matt Schadow, Brian McCollor, Brian Smith, Pete Kessler, Dan Deuhs

Anthony Peter, Greg Sorenson, Todd Vandervort, Joe Haas, Jon Hogan, Tony Schiller, Judd Arnold, Andy McKessock, Kevin Doe

Chris Fuller, John Fehr, Mike Seaman, Nick Thoemke, Steve Kalina, Brian Preus, Bobby Paxton, Chris Leigh, Sean Brenkman, Rick Taplin, Dave Duede, Paul Giannobile, Brooks Grossinger, Andy Sherman, Brent McGrew, Eric Pierskalla, Mike Bialick, Jim Batchelor, Jay McElwain, Kai Richter, John Krueger, Jim Kappel, Josh DoBell

John Hager, Scott Niemela, Dave Larsen, Doug Keller, Ryan Rapacz, Todd Sheldon, Paul Cornelison, Gary Judson, Bob Peterfeso, Dave Kleingarn, Mark Kalar, Chris Pikus, Aaron Koehler, Mark Albrecht, Chip Cheney, Todd Sperling, Dave Larsen

Jay Nelson, Erik Quam, Jon Francis, Anth. Kinzley, Neil Grosscup, Scott Haugh, Brent McGrew, Tom Zimmerman, Jim Kappel, Steve Kangas, John Akins, Tyson Burke, Kelly Keeler, Chris Kartschoke, Petzi Keenan, Lance Mason, Bob Paxton, Keith Pilgrim, Rob Wetham, Brian Bessingpas, Tom Zimmerman

Ed Hasselman, Craig Yotter, Nick Maddox, Rick Mulvey, John Auel, Yonas Seyum, Nick Andrea, Kevin Wright, Andy Frederick, Doug Milkowski, Kyle Cannon, Torry Kraftson, Ben Mullin, Janet Robertz, Kirt Goetzke, Ryan Malmin, Tom McCarthy, Ryan Rapacz, Jim Gargano, Steve Hiras, Dennis Henseler, Anth. Kinzley, Andrew Keenan, Matt reier, Brent Loberg, Kermit Pattison, Mike Setter, Trent Riter, Ty Stevens, Terry Stewart, Terry Tupy, Ryan Malmin

Marian Chatenet, Steve Sinclair, Mike Stokfisz, Seamus O'Sullivan, Kevin Grigg, Marvin Denzer, John McKeehen, Pete Tollefson, Jacob Blood, Dave Anderson, Todd Blatti, Chuck Smith, Katie McGregor, Brent Loberg, Dan Beel, Leon Ball, Chris Babcock, Jeff LeMire, Kyle Meyers, Derrick Podratz, Mike Stokfisz, Todd Larsen, Mike Nawrocki, Chad Giese, Joe Papin, Jim Bengtson, Dan Jonah

Dave Kleingarn, Don Landin, Forrest Tahdooahnippah, Steve Gerncser, Bill Eggert, Mike Setter, Chip Cheney, Rob Whetham, Dave Tappe, Derek Harmon, Nate Trebilcock, Kevin Taddonio, Jim Bengtson, Todd Rowekamp, Mike Stella, Rich Heilman, Brian Fawcett, Scott Brown, Kevin Ball, John Akins, Jim Black, Toby Henkels, Chris Celichowski, Brian Fawcett, Mike Moulsoff, Tom Pletcher, Chip Cheney, Frank Campbell, Ephrem Woldeslassie

 Kirk Paulson, Kim Kauls, Dennis Wallach, Chad Giese, Steve Rodrigues, Wes Schwie, Scott Labat, Mike Schreamek, Warren Thomas, Mar Jang, Mike Welch, Bryan Ryhud, Martin Robek, Kurt Decker, Thom Goeltl, Jay Morgen, Pat McCarthy, Darren Ruschy, Jason Lindelof, Tom Wagner, Dain Larsen, John Anderson, Bob Rapacz

Frank Kennedy, Ben Kummer, Carrie Tollefson, Dennis Henseler, Sean Smith, Jeff Allen, Paul Chenoweth, Brian Whitley, Heriberto Vargas, Sean Laidig, Dave Peterson, Franz Klein, Jeff Heimer, Jesse Longley, Chris Celichowski, Aaron Koehler, Jon Black, Paul Cornelison, Mike Moulsoff, Tom Wagner, Brian Dixon, Eric Kaluza, Norm Champ, Brendan Hanley, Joe Barnes, Brian Dixon, Bev Docherty, Jay Morgan, Chris Mullen, Larry Mboga, Kevin Pilarski, Bonnie Sons, Dave Crocker, Jeff Stinson, Tom Kristo, Allen Lundberg, Mike Kilcoyne

Rasa Michniovaite, Duke Rembleski, Pat Eastman, Wm. Magdalene, Monty Mouw, Jon Gargano, Andy Larsen, Eric Stich, Kermit Pattison, Antonio Vega, Keith Pilgrim, Joe Turgeon, Jamie Drockman, Rob Holthus, Shawn Callahan, Chad Millner, Mike Campbell, Darrin Diedrich, Ken Davis, Mike Evans, Eric Kalmes, Jim Monson, Greg Swanson, Bruce Solheim, Dave VanOrsdel, Garret Tomczak, Ken Valley, Nick Gervino, Rick Mulvey, Paul Gisselquist, Dan Cohen, Ben Merchant, Jay Nelson, Mark Roth, Mike Sweeney, Brian Gilbertson, Mark Sweeney Jr., Jamie Comer, Jens Strand

Mark Myers, Jay Coggins, Tom Pletcher, Bill Boies, Mark kalar, Darren Ruschy, Mike Nawrocki, Frank Campbell, Brian Fendrich, Jerry Beutel, Kevin Osborn, Brian McCollor, Joanna Deter, Paul Case, Mike Gade, Mike VanBeusekom, Troy Vargas, Zach Edmonson, Dave VanOrsdel, Blake Johnson, Jack Ankrum, Danny Clark, Steve Moosbrugger, Dale Heinen, Doug Keller, Jon. Ortloff, Mark O'Connor, Tom Mose, Jim Sylvestre, Jim Robin, Sean Graham, Nick Graham, Dave Holden, Bob Johnson, Rick Mulvey

Evan Roberts, James Sylvestre, Garret Tomczak, Jim Evans, Dan Abercrombie, Bev Docherty, Brian St.George, Malcolm Richards, Troy Stresemann, Kristin Nicolini, Dale Heinen, Travis Nordrum, Chris Humbert, Steve Quick, Cale Konetchy, Nick Graham, Dave Rea, Jim Ramacier, Mark Engesser, Andy Soderberg, Brian Pelletier, Mike Mack, Justin Tuomela, Pat Gerst, Mike Januszewski, Chris George, Todd Blatti, TJ Brazi, Eric Cameron, Kirk Paulsen, Scott Brown, Mark Leduc, Jim Monser, Nick Maddox, Pat Tarnowski, Scott Thomas, Nathan Dolenc, Kevin Doe, Robt. Blase, Ben Kenyon, Staci Bennett, Mike Januszewski, Erik Kluznik, Jason Rengo, Kevin Blanchard, Dan Salazar

Ryan Cameron, Kirk Walztoni, Tom Goeltl, Scott Myers, Brett Osgood, Jim Grindle, Mitchell Kimmes, John Cretzmeyer, Ryan Gage, Tom Kristo, Al Lundberg, Kevin Timp, Nick Janssen, Tom Merriman, Mark Skildom, Mark Woomavovah, Debbie Leyden, Erc Ellingson, Marc Ellingson, Allan Bohlke, Mark Brunsvold, Brant Hollenkamp, Paul Hasse, Rick Hoska, Troy reine, Kurt Decker, Andy Sorenson, Joel Anderson, Chris Bayliss, John Cretzmeyer, Jim Evans, Marty Humphrey, Jerry Heaps, Nick Janssen, Jim Kelley, Don Kempf, Doug Kleemeier, Cale Konetchy, Craig Helmer, David Norton, Tom Roman, Corey Swan, Wade Folske, Jim Defoe, Doug Mascher, Bill Revering, Chris Humbert, Brian Helm, Brant Hollenkamp, Ben Ewers, Martin Lanz, Karl Adalbert, Jerry Beutel, Kevin Osborn, Allen Lundberg

Jerry Heaps, Mike Kilcoyne, Mike Niziolek, Jason Quarford, Keith Donovan, Chad Miller, Kevin Grafft, Jeff Vrudny, Chris Kohler, Jack Ankrum, Mark Leduc, Mike Ewasiuk, Christian Proetz, Dave Borner, Brad Bayer, Chris Johnson, Steve Simpson, Chris Boldt, Mike Evans, Greg Lindusky, Paul Brown, John Wolff, Andy Burton, Janis Klecker, Kari Campbell, Peyton Cook, Chris George, Anna Gulingsrud, Tony Kocanda, Bill Kretsch, Matt Kurke, Eric Meyer, Steve Manker, Joey Osmundson, Marc Nosal, John Naslund, Pete Prince, Troy Reine, Kidane Shurbe, Dave Sanders, Tom Styrbicki, Dan Streble, Malcolm Richards, Theo Rich, Mel Alvarez, Zack Bullis, Paul Brown, Mike Babcock, Alberto Cruz, Kyle Cannon, Shawn Callahan, Joel Fenske, Ray Fini, Doug Fryer, Kevin Flynn, Trevor Hartman, Wil Hafner, DerekHager, Mark Kassebaum, Joe Mrkonich, Stephen Maupin, Chris Nolan, Andy Peltier, Rick Peterson, Norm Purrington, Danny Ripka, Ethan Rooney, Pat Staiger, Steve Simpson, Tim Smith, Steve Smith, Mike VanBeusekom, Rod Zamorano

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Most Beautiful Woman 2016

People Magazine just released their issue declaring Jennifer Aniston as the most beautiful woman of the year. Earlier this year, I chose 16 year-old Russian model Daria Milky:

I thought it'd be a good time to detail my experiments with finding the most attractive female face possible.

Early days

20 years ago, I participated in a study that attempted to find what men found attractive in female faces and discovered that I always chose the most feminine face and was saying my ideal was somewhere past the end of their charts. Wondering if that made me some sort of freak, I discovered that there were some inherent problems with the study, which were never corrected in future studies; for one, "attractive" can either mean sexually attractive or aesthetically pleasing and the two are not the same - people naturally are attracted to the faces of babies, but do not find them sexually attractive (normally). Women tend to prefer female faces that are somewhat more masculine than men do - which led to a problem in studies of my own, which I couldn't correct after I discovered it.

Breeding photos like corn

Access to a rather clever photographic program and a supercomputer allowed me to do an experiment. I took six photos of what I considered attractive but unusual-looking women (4 European models, 1 South American model and 1 Bollywood actress) and attempted to extract features from them. The process I used was akin to inbred-hybrid family selection of low heritability traits in maize: 1) an average of the photos was made 2) each of the originals was changed to a proportion of the average deemed most attractive 3) a new average was created and the process iterated. This allowed for simultaneous selection for multiple features, corrected for partial and incomplete dominance and epistasis and should have eliminated the noise of experimental error (mutation, if you will).

What happened was that the most important factors became immediately fixed and then others could be selected. First, eye shape changed until the vertical measurement became one half the horizontal (beyond here lie monsters); then overall lip dimensions changed similarly. There were 26 geometric standards that I discovered. The first problem that arose was that the sample of six photos I used was too small, but more became unwieldly; the faces I started with led to some unusual characteristics that could not be altered easily - the eyes tended to become noticeably too large and the irises were no longer circular (an error that makes my photos easy to detect).

Because this could be only a local maximum, rather than a globally "best face," I started doing a ridge analysis, playing with color and expression. I quickly discovered a preference for cartoonishly vivid color. Then, working on expression, found that a "mildly pleased surprise" started to appear; this is akin to what models call "smiling with the eyes" and, when exaggerated, with an open mouth becomes "blow-up doll face." I was going to correct back from that when my computer access was halted. I ended up with:

An interesting, but odd face.
This face most closely resembles, in real life model Monique Olsen (not in the original 6):

My privileges were suspended when I showed that I could change faces as follows:

I used this last photo as a Twitter avatar for a year and many people thought it was real. A new, simplified version of the original program I used was released and I started trying to correct the mistakes I had made. The best face I created was:
The features are much softer than before, but I ended up with this awkwardly cropped photo. The face closest to it that I could find was a German lab's attempt to find the most attractive face:

The celebrity in real life that comes closest is Lucy Hale:

So, here's Jennifer Aniston, and here's an image that's 75% her and 25% "ideal face:"

I think it's an improvement.