Friday, July 24, 2009

Deseret News 10K - an interesting experiment

Photo: All of the Wasatch Walkers after the race.

I signed up for this race planning to use it as a training race, so 1) I didn't care too much about my time, and 2) I didn't do much training that was specific for this race, and 3) I did a HARD workout on Tuesday (6x1600m repeats).

So yesterday, when I received a call from the blood bank practically BEGGING me to come in and donate, I decided to do it. What the heck. I have A+ blood, which is really common, but I am CMV-, which is not very common, and required for transplant patients, babies, and immunocompromised people. I did think about the possible effects on my race, and decided that I would be happy with a slower time since it was only a training race anyway. I donated after work, at about 5:30 pm, approximately 12 hours before my race. I figured the worst case scenario was that I'd be slower for the race; I'm healthy and fit and knew that I'd be OK. Besides, it was an interesting experiment to see how my performance would be affected.

Here's an interesting article about blood donation and performance; essentially, when you donate, you give 10% of your blood. They tested some cyclists and found that maximal performance (as determined by testing VO2 max) was off by 8% 2 hr and 2 days later, and by 7% one week later.

Well, I can now confirm this result from personal experience :). I finished the race in 59:45, about 2 min slower than last year, and my worst 10K performance ever. OK, so I've only done four 10Ks, three of them being this nice downhill Deseret News 10K course. Still, I am in great shape right now and should have been able to generate a fast time.

Here is a comparison of this year and last year's split times:
2008 2009
Mile 1 8:52 9:06
Mile 2 8:50 9:03
Mile 3 9:30 9:53
Mile 4 9:27 9:28
Mile 5 9:29 9:44
Mile 6.2 11:47 12:33 (with 30-sec H2O stop)

OK, yes, I did take a long water stop at mile 5.5 this year; w/o that stop it would have been 59:15, but that is still my slowest 10K every :). I was being cautious because it was hot (75 at 6 am!) with some light cloud cover, and I was concerned about hydration after donating blood. I stopped long enough to down about 16 oz of water. I was feeling pretty darn beat up by that point, and I wanted to be sure to finish! I was a little worried that if I pushed it too hard I'd be in the medical tent.

You could also ask if I pushed as hard as I did last year. I felt like I pushed harder, honestly. My ave HR for each mile split was as follows: 153, 164, 169, 171, 172, 173 (1.2). I hit a max of 179 in the last 1.2; theoretically my max is about 190-191 as measured in two of Dave McGovern's RW clinics, so that's 93.7% of max, which is a very very hard effort.

After the first 2 miles I wondered if I'd pushed too hard at the start, because they were so fast. Yes, they were downhill, so I expected them to be fast. I'd probably have been less concerned if I'd remembered that my times from last year were even faster. Regardless, I slowed down on the 3rd mile (mostly downhill but some uphill too) to try and conserve a little energy. Then on the 4th mile I figured I'd better pick it up a little, so I did. And then there was just not much left in the tank for the last couple miles. To be fair, the last 1.2 is flat and then slightly uphill, so it's hard to have negative splits in this race, but still, I really felt I was dying in that last 2.2. I think that's when the loss of red blood cells really got noticeable to me.

Now to put it in perspective: I had LOTS of fun (despite the pain, I just love races), heard fun comments from runners ("How does she walk so fast" "She's WALKING and I can't keep up with her", etc.), finished 10K under 1 hr (not bad) and got a great workout. I still finished faster than probably 1/2 the runners, including one of my current TNT runners and two of my TNT runners from spring. I finished about the same time as a TNT cyclist (who is also a triathlete) I know (in fact, almost ran into her trying to get some water!), and finished 10 minutes ahead of the next Wasatch Walker in the race. There were NINE Wasatch Walkers in today's race, which was AWESOME! So much fun to cheer the rest of them to the finish.

It was an interesting experiment :) and I'm not sorry I did things the way I did. Now I have about 5 wks to generate some red blood cells for Portland-to-Coast, which should be just about right.


Harriet said...

Yes, blood donation affects me as well.

Still, sub 1 hour is nothing to sneeze at, even if that is an off day for you.

A couple of comments
1. I did this race back in 2001 as a runner and ran 44 minutes (loose shoelace slowed me down)

2. Back in 2001, I was running a half marathon and found myself slowing just before mile 2. I thought "I'm in better shape than this, aren't I?"

Then someone who was passing me remarked that they had seen me on TV the previous weekend; I had donated blood at a 9-11 blood drive.

I laughed and said "thank you" and trooped in at about 1:49, which was about 6 minutes slow for me in those days.

Hunca Munca said...

Very interesting! You know you're a true scientist at heart when you're willing to experiment on yourself (and a true humanitarian as well, to donate blood before a race). Glad you had fun!