Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Summary

The numbers for November:
Total Miles 187
Total Vertical Miles 6.3

12 Trail Runs, 124 miles, 4.7 vertical, 25 hours
5 Road Runs, 34 miles, 0.1 vertical, 4 hours
4 Treadmill Climbs, 18 miles, 1.5 vertical, 4 hours
2 Track Workouts, 11 miles, 0 vertical, 2 hours
12 Resistance Training, 9 hours
7 Rest Days

Almost a carbon copy of my October with the exception of a couple more road runs (including a rare road race).  I've already eclipsed my total miles and vertical for 2010.  Hardrock lottery this Sunday.

Tomorrow morning's forecast: Blowing snow, windchills in single digits (bring it on December!)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fort Collins Thanksgiving Day Run 2011

So every now and then I get an itch for competition.  An itch to see if I can turn back the clock and pound out some 5 minute miles, okay 6 minute miles, and find out if I can still hold my own in this world of singlets, short shorts, and flashy racing flats.

The Fort Collins Thanksgiving Day 4 miler is probably the biggest and most competitive road race our town offers and it had been 16 years since I had truly "raced" this event.  I've done the race many times since then behind the wheels of a jogging stroller with one or two cheerleaders along for the ride.  Starting from the back of the pack of 1000 plus runners/joggers/walkers with a double-wide stroller is a whole other sport on its own.  "Hold on girls, we're jumping this curb and going for the sidewalk!"

It wasn't until Tuesday night that I finally decided to commit to this 20 plus minutes of pain.  Believe me, I am much less intimidated by a full day (or more) trail running event than a road race of any distance.  Seeing so many of the trail running crew signed up for the race as well really pushed me over the edge.

So what was the goal?  I have been regularly pushing the lactate threshold a couple times a week on the track, inclined treadmill, or on my time trial runs up to the "Rock" or "Towers".  I clocked a 6:03 on the last interval of a 4x1600 meter track workout just last week.  I figured that I should be able to run close to that pace for 4 miles on rested, race-ready legs.  So even though I was coming into this with very little training on the roads, I didn't feel totally unprepared.  Still unconvinced, I ran 4 road miles only somewhat uncomfortably at 6:40 pace Monday (the day after a 3 plus hour trail run).  Then another 10-mile "tempo run" on the roads Tuesday, where I was running under 7's on each of the last 4 miles, and I decided to submit the registration.  A sub-25 would be satisfying and a sub-24 might get me some pie to bring home for my "old farts" age group, but I knew better than to even entertain the idea of a PR.

I don't really know what it means to "taper" for a 4-mile race, but I was feeling fresher than I usually do on a typical Thursday.  An easy 90 minute trail run Wednesday and nothing too crazy in the weight room this week.  My prerace jog had my legs feeling pretty good, but my abs were quite sore from a workout on Tuesday.  Figured I was good to go.  I found some of the guys at the starting line (I was the only one wearing trail shoes) and we were off.

Mile 1 was painful, erratic, and not much fun.  Between battling for space and trying to find some kind of rhythm, I expected to see 7 plus minutes at the split.  A 6:15, however, had me just about where I wanted to be.  I thought I was holding pace in Mile 2, but a 6:40 split told me otherwise.  Okay, let's turn it loose down Mountain Avenue to make up for that last mile.  The legs refused.  A 6:39 and a 6:46 and I crossed the finish line in a depressing 26:20.  No pie today, as I finished 9th in my age group and 105th overall out of a huge field of 1772.

I can't really figure it out.  I think I just need to do more of these races to get faster again, but I don't plan on that.  Oh well, at least the girls thought I looked fast coming into the finish line.  That's really all that matters on this day.  This race makes for a great start to a Fort Collins Thanksgiving with friends, family, and too many extremely fast runners that I will just have to continue to chase.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Hardrock: What are the chances?

Been seeing a lot of chatter on the interwebs lately on how bleak the chances are of getting in to some of the increasingly popular big events for 2012 (namely Hardrock).  With the lottery soon approaching (December 1 deadline on the applications), I thought  I would crunch some numbers to see just how bleak my chances are for a July 13 date in Silverton with my 2 tickets in the hat this year.

Disclaimer:  I am not a professional statistician but just pretend to be now and then.  Feel free to comment on any of the BS below.

As of November 5, there were 427 applicants for the 140 spots.  Some projections I have read put the final number in the 700 to 800 range.  I'll assume 800 applicants on that final list.  Of course, some of those applicants are already in with automatic entries.  I'll project 30 of those.  That leaves 770 applicants for 110 spots, however past history shows that about 30 more will get in from the wait list.  Therefore, 770 applicants for 140 spots (110 plus 30 wait-listers).

This problem sets up nicely as a hypergeometric probability distribution, however we have another issue to deal with here.  The 770 applicants may have anywhere from 1 to 6 tickets in the hat.  I expect the distribution of the number of tickets per applicant to be skewed, with probably at least half of the applicants holding just 1 or 2 tickets.  I'll assume a mean of 2 tickets, giving a total of 1540 tickets in the hat.  Since a person can only take up one spot in the race, once their name is drawn any remaining tickets they have in the hat are excluded from the analysis.  Therefore, after each unsuccessful draw of your name, the next draw will have, on average, 2 less tickets in the hat (increasing your chances slightly with each draw).

The math:
If you have 1 ticket
P(not getting drawn in the 1st 140 draws) = (1539/1540)*(1537/1538)*(1535/1536)*...*(1261/1262)
                                                                   = 0.905

P(getting drawn) = 1 - 0.905 = 0.095 = 9.5% (about a 1 in 10 chance with 1 ticket)

By the same equations,
P(getting drawn with 2 tickets) = 0.182 = 18.2%
P(getting drawn with 3 tickets) = 0.260 = 26.0%
P(getting drawn with 4 tickets) = 0.331 = 33.1%
P(getting drawn with 5 tickets) = 0.395 = 39.5%
P(getting drawn with 6 tickets) = 0.453 = 45.3%

Feeling lucky?

I would analyze the Western States lottery, but I'm not even qualified to throw my name in that hat.  Go figure.  Qualified for Hardrock, but not Western States?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cougar bait?

I've never been too worried about the mountain lions choosing me as their breakfast.  No doubt they see me a lot more than I see them, especially when I'm hopping along in the pre-dawn hours with my headlamp.  I've had two previous encounters with lions while trail running in Fort Collins.  I saw my third one this morning.  I got a good long look at this awesome creature from about 10 feet away, through the window of my car.  Bad news was that I was spitting distance from the Soderberg trailhead where I was planning to trudge up Towers Road.  Also bummed I didn't have my camera.  Well I cancelled the popular 4:30am wave for Towers Thursday and decided to head on up to the Horsetooth Rock trailhead instead.  It was a more preferable run than Towers anyway, and the way the lion was looking at me, I thought it best to not invade his territory.  With our second major dumping of snow in the last 8 days yesterday, it was just a beautiful morning on the mountain!