A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Some Very Pleasing Results of Statistical Analyses on my Recent Training

It's been a very hard, but rewarding year trainingwise. But it's been quite rewarding; the results of my training beyond my wildest dreams!

A case in point...I wasn't anywhere near 100% recovered just 2 days after the hard paced 34 mile RVRR Train Run I participated in last Saturday. I felt fine, but was still a tad fatigued from the effort there.

Nevertheless, I decided to do a hard swimming workout at the pool this morning to see how I fare. It's the last real hard week of training before I start to taper for Western States, so everything is basically "grind 'em out" tired until this weekend.

My home pool location in Staten Island


The workout consisted of four 500 meter freestyle swims with 60 seconds of rest in between the 500s. It's pretty much one of the tougher workouts in my repertoire.

I didn't feel very energetic this morning; I was actually dreading this workout as I was driving to the pool. I felt like a sheep arriving at the slaughterhouse.

After the warmup, I gave myself a little bit of a pep talk, and then it's on to the 500s.

The last time I did these 500s was in March. I finished these with an average of about 7:30 for each 500, a decent pace.

About halfway through the first 500, I started to feel very loose and started to push a little harder. I ended up doing the first 500 in 7:13. This definitely caught my attention!

I felt a little more inspired on the 2nd 500. I had no problems with it and finished at 7:10! I felt like I was on fire. Time to knock out the last two 500s!

The third 500? 7:07. And the last one? Finished with a flourish at 7:03!

Now I'm not sure when it was the last time I broke the 7 minute mark on the 500 meter distance; it certainly wasn't the past 10 years.

Coming back home this morning, I was very curious about what my projected time would actually be if I were to do a half-ironman triathlon or an ironman triathlon before. I mean, my cycling and running were showing some impressive results.

I have a spreadsheet with some statistical macros on them that do some of the number crunching for me when I coach athletes. The statistics I use, over the course of 15 years I've been coaching athletes, is found to be a very accurate predictor of results in various race distances, including half-Ironman and ironman triathlons.

Well, I decided to try doing the number crunching numbers on myself, using the swim numbers this morning plus some recent cycling and running results I gleaned from the past couple of weeks of training.

The figures that resulted made my jaw drop.

The half-Ironman results would predict me finishing a course with gently rolling hills and ideal weather conditions (around 80 degrees F) at 4 hours and 35 minutes, give or take 10 minutes, with a 90% degree of confidence!

That would mean, if I were to have an exceptional race and finish, say, at the upper end of that range (4 hours 25 minutes), that I would have an outside shot at qualifying for the Ironman Hawaii World Championships!

It definitely looks possible!


This is something that I would seriously consider trying for next year...maybe.

The statistics for the Ironman distance is even more impressive, with a 90% degree of confidence, I would finish around 10 hours and 45 minutes, give or take 24 minutes.

My PR in any Ironman distance was 10:36:37. Would it be possible to actually break that PR when I'm 44 years old and theoretically "over the hill"? The statistics says, yes, there's a chance!

Maybe next year I will try for these goals. It's certainly piqued my interest in them again. To actually have a shot at qualifying for Ironman Hawaii again after all these years is very tempting.

But hey, this should translate well to 100 mile ultras, right?

Statistics on 100 mile ultras are really not possible, considering the long distance and the wide variety of terrain from course to course. Plus, I do not know two of the Grand Slam courses very well (Western States and Wasatch Front), so I cannot reasonably predict how I'll do.

Even if I can get some accurate statistical info on the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, I don't think I would want to know anyway. It's better to go in blind, right? And see what happens in real time.

But the best thing I can take home from all this info is that my training worked very well. As a matter of fact, it was definitely above my expectations! This spring was the hardest I've ever worked with my training. I also added a good, sound diet to the mix, eating good foods...and that boosted my performance in training even more.

I look fit, I feel fit, and I actually feel like that 20-something year old again who did all those triathlons back in the 1990s.

And that is what ultimately counts!

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