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Follow Up Data from the Big Race Yesterday…..

Today, I am off school and I am sore enough to have a good excuse not to have to do anything 🙂 So, I have been playing with the data from my race.

First, as I said yesterday. The Ojai 2 Ocean marathon is known to be fast. Even before I ran it, I wondered to myself if I should count it as a PR?  Once upon a time I ran the Fontana Days Half Marathon with it’s several thousand foot elevation loss and absolutely no uphills. I set a PR but in my mind it had an asterisk. Fortunately, later I beat it on a nice flat course. So how much elevation loss should discount a PR?  Thinking back, since my 2009 breakthrough at Surf City, most of my marathons have been on net downhill courses. My first big PR was Surf City and that one begins and ends essentially even, but Boston, LA, Orange County, Ojai 2 Ocean and the California International Marathon are all net downhill courses.

Then I found this cool elevation “grading” calculator at

I plugged in my best time at all the marathons I have raced since 2009. The calculator considers the total ascent and the total decline in each race and allows you to compare it with other marathons with different totals. The chart below shows my best time at each of these marathons and the equivalent time if that marathon had been a pancake flat – zero elevation gain and zero elevation loss – course. (I wonder if such a course exists.)  I was happy to see that yesterday’s time is still my elevation graded (EG) PR!!

Date Marathon my time + Elev – Elev Net Elev EG time
06/03/12 Ojai 2 Ocean 3:15:20 213 970 -757 3:17:40
03/20/11 Los Angeles Marathon 3:24:13 875 1270 -395 3:22:33
04/19/10 Boston Marathon 3:19:30 783 1225 -442 3:18:26
12/06/09 California International Marathon 3:19:48 243 552 -309 3:20:09
05/03/09 Orange County Marathon 3:38:25 338 462 -124 3:37:31
02/01/09 Surf Ciy Marathon 3:21:50 335 344 -9 3:20:37

As you look at the EG times you will notice that some of the times are faster than the actual time. The Elevation Calculator is saying that on most of these courses the course worked against me. Interesting!  Even though ALL of these courses have a net downhill, only those with dowhills doubling the uphills was there an actual advantage.  If you think about it, it makes sense. If you run up a hill and then back down it you will not regain all of the time you lost running up it. It looks like you need about twice as much downhill as you have uphill to make up for the uphill!

Next I put the time of 3:20:00 into the calculator for each of the courses. This gave me a straight up comparison. The chart below is showing the effort you would have to run in order to get a 3:20 on the clock at the finish. Obviously, O2O is the fastest marathon of the bunch requiring only a 3:22:22 effort. Boston is the toughest. I included the San Diego Rock N Roll marathon because Dave Weary just ran it. It has a net downhill, but like Boston also lots of uphill. (David, btw ran 3:25:55 in San Diego which works out to 3:21:31 on a flat course.) Here is the chart sorted from fastest marathon to slowest:

marathon what effort would get 3:20 finish?
Ojai 2 Ocean 3:22:22
California International M 3:20:21
Orange County Marathon 3:19:15
Surf Ciy Marathon 3:18:48
Los Angeles Marathon 3:18:24
San Diego RnR 3:18:08
Boston Marathon 3:15:55

Another thing I have updated here is my PR comparison chart. I did this some time ago and it shows how my PRs at each race distance compare with other distances. I have done the comparison with two different calculators First is the chart based on Mcmillan Running’s calculator. If you read each line horizontally you see the predicted times based on the actual PR noted in RED

equivelent time based on 5K 10K 10 mile Half Full
5K – 19:53 19:53 41:18 1:09:21 1:31:55 3:13:50
10K – 41:28 19:58 41:28 1:09:30 1:32:16 3:14:36
10Mile – 1:08:14 19:36 40:43 1:08:14 1:30:37 3:11:07
half – 1:31:27 19:47 41:06 1:08:52 1:31:27 3:12:52
full 3:15:20 20:02 41:37 1:09:44 1:32:37 3:15:20

Here is the same thing using Running Times Magazine’s calculator

equivelent time based on 5K 10K 10 mile Half Full
5K – 19:53 19:53 41:16 1:08:24 1:31:09 3:13:44
10K – 41:28 19:54 41:28 1:08:42 1:31:34 3:14:37
10Mile – 1:08:14 19:45 41:10 1:08:14 1:30:55 3:11:07
half – 1:31:27 19:52 41:24 1:08:37 1:31:27 3:14:21
full 3:15:20 19:58 41:37 1:08:58 1:31:54 3:15:20

Finally, I updated my Age Graded PR Chart which also includes Vdot scores.  Age Grading is based on the percentage of your race time compared to the world record for someone of your age and gender at that distance. The Vdot score is a measure of your ability to take in oxygen. It is one of the main factors that affect your ability to perform well in endurance events.

PR AgeGraded Vdot
5K 19:53 73.58 50.15
10K 41:28 73.30 49.9
10Mile 1:08:14 73.03 50.24
half 1:31:27 72.40 50
full 3:19:30 71.56 48.54

Looking at the last three charts you can see that the marathon is still not my best event. If you look at any other race distance PR it would predict a marathon PR faster than 3:15.  The Age Graded and Vdot scores are also lower for my new marathon PR than they are for other distances. If I were to use the Elevation Graded marathon time in the other calculators the difference would be even greater.

So, I could shoot for another even faster marathon time, but potentially fast marathons don’t happen in the southwest in the summer. So, I intend to maintain my endurance while building my strength even farther. I intend to shoot for some of those other PRs. I am calendaring races of every distance. Click on 2012 above to see my plans! I also intend to get even lighter. I bottomed out weight wise a few weeks back and have since cheated a bit too often. Yesterday I raced at 169 – good but it could have been better. I want to see what I race like and what I feel like in the upper 150s….

3 replies »

  1. I enjoyed looking at your data. I was not surprised to see that you 10 mile race in Huntington Beach was your best. You ran awesome that day. I think that with cooler dry weather you could have run 3:12 yesterday. With just the very little running I did I felt that it was a little warm and humid. The air felt thick.

    Your time was fantastic regardless of the elevation loss. Over the second half of the race you passed a lot of runners that were not as tough as you. You ran a great race! I would not even mention anything about the elevation loss to anyone. At the age of 50 you covered 26.2 miles on foot in 3:15:20. That is an outstanding accomplishment!

  2. I agree with chuck!! 100%!! Temperature is huge! much more so than elevation loss.
    Hey I was down to 152 lbs after my 100 mile race. So just sayin if you really want to get down there I can arrange it for you. The one chart you were missing is how fast you would be at 160 lbs. 9 extra pounds!, how much time does that cost. Those 9 lbs cannot be muscle weight. You have not done any body fat testing. This is the area you need to check out if you want to run at your optimum weight. Underwater weighing for body fat! Of course you may really not want that information.

    • Of course on a downhill course your weight will not affect you as much as a flat or uphill course.

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June 2012


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