Sunday, September 25, 2011

Congratulations to Kenya's Patrick Makau

Congratulations to Kenya's Patrick Makau for setting the new Men's World Record Marathon in Berlin with a time of 2:03:38, breaking Haile Gebrselassie's 3-year old record by 21-seconds! See The Science of Sports for an excellent detailed analysis of his achievement.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Inspirational Running Videos

Always valuing running-related inspiration I was impressed with today's DailyMile challenge to post a video which was personally inspirational. Impressed by a couple that were already posted by others, I added a few of my own to create this compilation. Finally, while I wasn't able to similarly embed a particularly good video click here for a treat.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chicago Marathon Taper Has Begun!

This Saturday I completed my final 20-mile training run in anticipation of the 2011 Chicago Marathon, and I'm excited! I had a good 10.5 mile early-morning solo training run, then met-up with my wonderfully trustful and steady-paced training partner Allison and the Kenyan Way group, where we together ran another 10 miles. Thank God for the ice-cold Gatorade provided every two or three miles by Sean Wade (a huge perk of Kenyan Way versus other Houston-based marathon training programs!)

Despite high starting temperatures of 75 degrees and 90% percent humidity I managed to hold onto my goal Chicago marathon pace (MP) of ~8:00 for 15 miles (I'm shooting for a 3:29 so-as to re-BQ by 6-minutes for 2013). However, the heavy sweat running down my legs directly into my shoes and socks gave them each nearly a full pound of added weight, which combined with my increasing fatigue from holding my goal pace despite such conditions translated into a slowing cadence and pace. Nevertheless, for the full 20-miles I was delighted to have averaged an 8:22 pace despite such conditions, which - knock-on-wood - I will not find in Chicago on October 9th!

This morning, in surveying my list of top running-related blogs I read an especially apt one from Pre-Dawn Runner, recommending that we treat our tapers both as an opportunity to invest in ourselves while mixing things up in our tapering training runs. I'm completely on-board both recommendations. During past tapers I've typically offset my gradually reduced mileage with a gradually increased pace, eventually with all my remaining training mileage matching my goal MP. However, at Memorial Park today feeling especially sharp due to my having taken yesterday off I ran my full eight miles a good ~30-seconds per mile faster than MP, which felt great!

To everyone also running the 2011 Chicago Marathon (or another marathon two to four weeks out) I wish you the best of luck, and truly encourage each of you to have a great experience!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kreb's Cycle for Runners

Having listened a few times to this catchy song after reading this interesting NPR article I copied from Wikipedia a few key Kreb's cycle facts, which we marathon runners need to know a few things about!

Overview of the citric acid cycle
The citric acid cycle — also known as the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA cycle), the Krebs cycle, or recently in certain former Soviet Bloc countries the Szent-Györgyi-Krebs cycle[1][2] — is a series of enzyme-catalysed chemical reactions, which is of central importance in all living cells, especially those that use oxygen as part of cellular respiration. In eukaryotic cells, the citric acid cycle occurs in the matrix of the mitochondrion.
In aerobic organisms, the citric acid cycle is part of a metabolic pathway involved in the chemical conversion of carbohydrates, fats and proteins into carbon dioxide and water to generate a form of usable energy. Other relevant reactions in the pathway include those in glycolysis and pyruvate oxidation before the citric acid cycle, and oxidative phosphorylation after it. In addition, it provides precursors for many compounds including some amino acids and is therefore functional even in cells performing fermentation. Its centrality to many paths of biosynthesis suggest that it was one of the earliest formed parts of the cellular metabolic processes, and may have formed abiogenically.[3]
The components and reactions of the citric acid cycle were established in the 1930s by seminal work from the Nobel laureates Albert Szent-Györgyi and Hans Adolf Krebs.

A simplified view of the process

  • The citric acid cycle begins with the transfer of a two-carbon acetyl group from acetyl-CoA to the four-carbon acceptor compound (oxaloacetate) to form a six-carbon compound (citrate).
  • The citrate then goes through a series of chemical transformations, losing two carboxyl groups as CO2. The carbons lost as CO2 originate from what was oxaloacetate, not directly from acetyl-CoA. The carbons donated by acetyl-CoA become part of the oxaloacetate carbon backbone after the first turn of the citric acid cycle. Loss of the acetyl-CoA-donated carbons as CO2 requires several turns of the citric acid cycle. However, because of the role of the citric acid cycle in anabolism, they may not be lost, since many TCA cycle intermediates are also used as precursors for the biosynthesis of other molecules.[4]
  • Most of the energy made available by the oxidative steps of the cycle is transferred as energy-rich electrons to NAD+, forming NADH. For each acetyl group that enters the citric acid cycle, three molecules of NADH are produced.
  • Electrons are also transferred to the electron acceptor Q, forming QH2.
  • At the end of each cycle, the four-carbon oxaloacetate has been regenerated, and the cycle continues.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Knuckle Lights Review

During the pre-dawn portion of last Saturday's long-run I used my new Knuckle Lights ( to illuminate my way along the many road sections with limited street light illumination, and to be more visible to the frequently distracted drivers sharing the road. In both regards the Knuckle Lights were very helpful. I was particularly happy to see oncoming cars swerve well aside long in advance to provide me ample running room. I also found the diffuse illumination from the two lights (a Knuckle Light is held in each hand) provides better all-around visibility than my Petzl headlamp - which I particularly don't like wearing when it is hot.

Each KnuckleLight weighs between 6 to 8 Oz. (including batteries), which feels light to me. An adjustable strap allows a loose (my preference) to tight fit on the hand. The best indication of the unit's good design was after a few minutes I didn't notice them.