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Road to Nowhere

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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:05 pm

@Mike MacLellan wrote:Lookin' good, Mark. And yelling at the Garmin is something we've all done, I'm sure. Mine tends to be something more along the lines of "COME ON MOTHER F***ER" when I want to hit a pace and I'm just a few seconds shy of it, but you'll never hear me saying that's a sign of immaturity What a Face

Well, then it must be perfectly all right then. Thanks for clearing that up. Very Happy
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mike MacLellan on Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:33 pm

I'm glad you recognize my status as the arbitrator of maturity on this forum. Tough job but someone's gotta do it.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  mul21 on Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:13 pm

@Mike MacLellan wrote:I'm glad you recognize my status as the arbitrator of maturity on this forum. Tough job but someone's gotta do it.


Hmmmmm, I'm skeptical of this statement's truthiness....... Twisted Evil
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:10 pm

@mul21 wrote:
@Mike MacLellan wrote:I'm glad you recognize my status as the arbitrator of maturity on this forum. Tough job but someone's gotta do it.


Hmmmmm, I'm skeptical of this statement's truthiness....... Twisted Evil

What?! I'm shocked, shocked! that you'd say such thing. Shocked! Suspect

It couldn't be a tough job at all. Relatively speaking, a fifth grader could probably out-mature us. Wink
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  dot520 on Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:23 pm

Mark, you are really cracking me up! Visualizing you stressed and yelling at your Garmin for 1 measely beat per minute when your blood pressure is spiking due to being stressed and yelling at your Garmin!!! Ha! Viscious cyle, indeed.

Personally, I prefer electrolyte gel over slobber otherwise I won't even start getting a decent and consistent hr until I'm sweating (or glowing or whatever we women do).
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:57 pm

@dot520 wrote:Mark, you are really cracking me up! Visualizing you stressed and yelling at your Garmin for 1 measely beat per minute when your blood pressure is spiking due to being stressed and yelling at your Garmin!!! Ha! Viscious cyle, indeed.

Personally, I prefer electrolyte gel over slobber otherwise I won't even start getting a decent and consistent hr until I'm sweating (or glowing or whatever we women do).

Dot, you squeeze a Gu onto your chest to make your HR strap work better? Now that's hardcore! affraid

Technically, I use an aloe vera gel (Banana Boat After Sun - which I obviously don't need much around here this time of year...) to get the contact before I warm up. Way better than drool, and it smells better, too! The problem the other day was that I didn't put enough on.

You're totally on point with that vicious cycle notion. I need to find some Zen-like inner peace, pronto! Wink
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Traveller on Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:00 pm

I've had runs where the HRM strap dried enough that I got erratic readings (way high in my case). Sometimes the displayed HR will stay the same for a long time. I try to just watch how I feel until it decides to earn its keep. The Polar strap I used to use had fabric-mesh contacts which tended to stay moist. The Suunto strap I'm currently using has a rubberized contact which seems to be a bit touchier, but it hasn't been enough of a problem for me to have to take drastic actions.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:24 pm

@Traveller wrote:I've had runs where the HRM strap dried enough that I got erratic readings (way high in my case). Sometimes the displayed HR will stay the same for a long time. I try to just watch how I feel until it decides to earn its keep. The Polar strap I used to use had fabric-mesh contacts which tended to stay moist. The Suunto strap I'm currently using has a rubberized contact which seems to be a bit touchier, but it hasn't been enough of a problem for me to have to take drastic actions.

Hey Clark! Thanks for stopping by. Fabric-mech contacts? That sounds wild. I still use the rubber strap from my Garmin 305. It needs a bit of moisture to work effectively - but not too much. One time, it rained so hard during a race that the whole thing slipped town to my belly, recording a HR of something like 239. Yipes!
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Fri Feb 17, 2012 2:25 pm

Low HR Run: 30 minutes on the treadmill

Temp: 68. Shoes: FR2s

The Bowder Family Stress-a-Palooza seems to be waning, so I was hopeful that this morning's run would be a little less, well, stressful. It started off pretty well, with a HR of 68 as I began my warm-up walk (it was 88 on Wednesday). I tried to quiet my busy-busy-brain, which may have helped a little, and I kept my HR in the proper zone (below 138) much longer than Wednesday (when I had to throttle back at 17 minutes). I made it past 20 minutes and finally saw the HR rise to 140 and refuse to come down at 21. I slowed down for a minute, and my HR slowed with it, so I tried inching the speed back up again and... nope. Right back to 140. Okay, then.

If you're curious about times, my low HR pace on the treadmill starts at 12/mi. I let my HR start at the bottom of the range (which would be 128-138) and slow when it exceeds the top end and won't come down by relaxing, breathing or changing my form slightly. When I cut back today, I only had to cut back to a 12:45/mi pace and my HR.

I think I'm ready to give a MAF test a whirl. Barring any further complications, I'll do one Sunday. It'll be interesting to see what happens because I'll run it differently than these training runs. 1) I'll be outside, where it'll probably be 30 degrees cooler (warm temps can rev my HR) and 2) After an untimed mile to warm up, I'll target that top HR and try to hold it as steady as possible. Which means slightly faster running. Exactly how fast, and how fast it falls off, will be the key.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  ounce on Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:24 pm

@Mark B wrote:I think I'm ready to give a MAF test a whirl. Barring any further complications, I'll do one Sunday. It'll be interesting to see what happens because I'll run it differently than these training runs. 1) I'll be outside, where it'll probably be 30 degrees cooler (warm temps can rev my HR) and 2) After an untimed mile to warm up, I'll target that top HR and try to hold it as steady as possible. Which means slightly faster running. Exactly how fast, and how fast it falls off, will be the key.

You know, maybe 3 years ago I bought Maffetone's book and I liked it. And I never remembered to do the test. I used the HR calculation (180-age+5) and went on from there until I found a new HR max (202, but I rounded to 200). No idea what a MAF test would tell me now, but I have no desire to find out.

I sure agree with you about warm temps increasing the HR. Once the sun came out at Houston, my HR jumped 15 beats. It was like downshifting from overdrive to 5th...same speed, but using more energy. Pissed me off, but I never trained in the sunny part of day. It was either running all of it in the dark or maybe the last 30 minutes was done as the sun was about to rise. I've decided that I need to do some running in the daylight, so I can get my heart comfortable with it. Lord knows the heat will be here by May, maybe earlier, but I hope not.

Looking forward to your analysis of the test.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:28 pm

@ounce wrote:
@Mark B wrote:I think I'm ready to give a MAF test a whirl. Barring any further complications, I'll do one Sunday. It'll be interesting to see what happens because I'll run it differently than these training runs. 1) I'll be outside, where it'll probably be 30 degrees cooler (warm temps can rev my HR) and 2) After an untimed mile to warm up, I'll target that top HR and try to hold it as steady as possible. Which means slightly faster running. Exactly how fast, and how fast it falls off, will be the key.

You know, maybe 3 years ago I bought Maffetone's book and I liked it. And I never remembered to do the test. I used the HR calculation (180-age+5) and went on from there until I found a new HR max (202, but I rounded to 200). No idea what a MAF test would tell me now, but I have no desire to find out.

I sure agree with you about warm temps increasing the HR. Once the sun came out at Houston, my HR jumped 15 beats. It was like downshifting from overdrive to 5th...same speed, but using more energy. Pissed me off, but I never trained in the sunny part of day. It was either running all of it in the dark or maybe the last 30 minutes was done as the sun was about to rise. I've decided that I need to do some running in the daylight, so I can get my heart comfortable with it. Lord knows the heat will be here by May, maybe earlier, but I hope not.

Looking forward to your analysis of the test.

Oh, Ounce. You did low HR training without ever doing a MAF test? Horrors! That's like playing D&D without 10-sided dice! geek

Seriously, I can't imagine doing this sort of training without the tests. If you can't see that you are, indeed, making measurable progress, it'd be hard to stay motivated.And the only way to do it is to commit one of your runs to doing a test. If you ever try the low HR training again, try to do them. They can make your day.

Heat isn't usually a problem where I live. In fact, the biggest heat problems I encounter (other than warmer-than-expected spring marathons) are when I'm inside on the treadmill.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  ounce on Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:23 pm

@Mark B wrote:
@ounce wrote:
@Mark B wrote:I think I'm ready to give a MAF test a whirl. Barring any further complications, I'll do one Sunday. It'll be interesting to see what happens because I'll run it differently than these training runs. 1) I'll be outside, where it'll probably be 30 degrees cooler (warm temps can rev my HR) and 2) After an untimed mile to warm up, I'll target that top HR and try to hold it as steady as possible. Which means slightly faster running. Exactly how fast, and how fast it falls off, will be the key.

You know, maybe 3 years ago I bought Maffetone's book and I liked it. And I never remembered to do the test. I used the HR calculation (180-age+5) and went on from there until I found a new HR max (202, but I rounded to 200). No idea what a MAF test would tell me now, but I have no desire to find out.

I sure agree with you about warm temps increasing the HR. Once the sun came out at Houston, my HR jumped 15 beats. It was like downshifting from overdrive to 5th...same speed, but using more energy. Pissed me off, but I never trained in the sunny part of day. It was either running all of it in the dark or maybe the last 30 minutes was done as the sun was about to rise. I've decided that I need to do some running in the daylight, so I can get my heart comfortable with it. Lord knows the heat will be here by May, maybe earlier, but I hope not.

Looking forward to your analysis of the test.

Oh, Ounce. You did low HR training without ever doing a MAF test? Horrors! That's like playing D&D without 10-sided dice! geek

Seriously, I can't imagine doing this sort of training without the tests. If you can't see that you are, indeed, making measurable progress, it'd be hard to stay motivated.And the only way to do it is to commit one of your runs to doing a test. If you ever try the low HR training again, try to do them. They can make your day.

Heat isn't usually a problem where I live. In fact, the biggest heat problems I encounter (other than warmer-than-expected spring marathons) are when I'm inside on the treadmill.

Well, keep in mind that when I started it, I wasn't running much faster than the lowest HR. So, it wasn't much of a step down for me. I had started it in the Spring of 2008. I had run 9 marathons by then, starting in 2005. I had a deep base, just no speed.

Prior to 2003, I hated running. I never exercised. I avoided it. I wasn't a high school runner who stopped then restarted almost 30 years later. I was a non-exerciser at 270 pounds, turned walker, then jogger, then runner. So, I had no frame of reference for being fast.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Sat Feb 18, 2012 3:03 pm

@ounce wrote:Well, keep in mind that when I started it, I wasn't running much faster than the lowest HR. So, it wasn't much of a step down for me. I had started it in the Spring of 2008. I had run 9 marathons by then, starting in 2005. I had a deep base, just no speed.

Prior to 2003, I hated running. I never exercised. I avoided it. I wasn't a high school runner who stopped then restarted almost 30 years later. I was a non-exerciser at 270 pounds, turned walker, then jogger, then runner. So, I had no frame of reference for being fast.

I can relate, Oz. I started running back when I was in high school, but never competitively. Over the past three decades (eek!), I've been faster, or slower, lighter or (a lot) heavier, dedicated or lapsed... but I've never come close enough to being fast enough to consider myself a speedy runner. I dreamed about getting a BQ a couple of years ago, but with changing standards (theirs) and changing attitudes (mine), I've lost interest. I still like the feeling of the wind in my hair, but for now, I'd rather see how far I can go rather than how fast.

The cool thing for you is that, because you didn't really develop as a runner until recently, that you have more upside potential for getting faster relative to your starting point than somebody like me. Building a solid aerobic base makes you faster at a lower level of exertion - which also lays the groundwork for getting a LOT faster when you start working at a higher intensity. That's not just Maffetone's (and Hadd's) philosophy - it's Lydiard's, as well. Something to think about, at least.

Awesome job on the weight loss, BTW.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Sun Feb 19, 2012 1:02 pm

MAF TEST (5 miles with 1 mile warm-up)

Weather: Partly cloudy, chilly. 34 degrees, 96% humidity. Gear: FR2s, tights, T, pullover. (started with jacket, hat and gloves but ditched them after I warmed up).

After a month plugging away on the treadmill, I decided it was finally time to get a sense of just where I am in terms of my aerobic fitness. So I headed out to the track this morning for a MAF (maximum aerobic function) test. I started out with a slow warm-up to bring my HR up to my target of 138, then kept going, slowing as needed to keep the HR as close to 138 as I could manage. I gave myself permission to stop the test before the full five mile period, but I felt good enough to keep at it - even though it's the farthest I've run since Tecumseh.




Comparing the numbers with previous tests, it's pretty clear that I'm not where I was a couple of years ago. That isn't surprising, or upsetting. Still, looking at today's test alone, it was nice to see that the fall-off wasn't too precipitious over the five-mile period. That's something, anyway.



One thing's for sure, I'm even more committed now to working the low HR regimen again. It works, and it'll be good watching those test results improve this year.

Also, it was nice to be outside again. I got to spend some time with robins, geese and gulls... which are a lot nicer to listen to than the thrum of a treadmill.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  ounce on Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:42 pm

So, why do you think your times increased with each successive mile? I'm presuming each mile was the same topography.

And is your foot a non-issue now?
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Sun Feb 19, 2012 11:18 pm

@ounce wrote:So, why do you think your times increased with each successive mile? I'm presuming each mile was the same topography.

And is your foot a non-issue now?

The time per mile increased because that's what it always does when you run by a target heart rate rather than a target pace. As you begin to fatigue, you lose efficiency and your body has to work harder, and you slow down. I've heard it described as "heart rate creep" or something like that. Normally, runners feel it as increasing difficulty maintaining the same pace. Low heart rate training approaches that phenomenon from the other side of the equation: You maintain the same effort level, but you slow down the farther your run.

If you dig into the table above you'll notice that, the more I did low HR training, the less I slowed with each successive mile. That's one of the key ways of seeing that the training is working. If you keep at it enough, you can actually see little to no fall-off in pace at the same heart rate. That's when you know your aerobic base is about as solid as you can get - it's usually accompanied by the feeling that you could run forever. Which makes sense, when you think about it.

In this case, the terrain was absolutley the same topography. It was on my local high school track, where I have done every one of those tests. And the conditions were pretty good for it, too. Chilly but not frigid... with only the slightest of breezes. It was just warm enough for me to start peeling off layers to make sure I didn't suffer from heat build-up.

The foot? Well, I'd like to say it's a non-issue, but it is still not fully healed. I get a bit of pain in the top of the foot, where the metatarsals connect with the mid foot. The spot where the podiatrist was talking about signs of arthritis. But that's never bothered me before, so I'm hoping that it's just a temporary thing that'll resolve over time, not the beginning of some chronic condition. The fact that I scrambled up a bouldering wall at a climbing gym wearing nothing but Free 3.0s might have something to do with the soreness...

So, as to the numbers: What do they mean?

Well, I think they show several things. One is that, while I built a lot of strength last year doing trail and hill runs, I didn't do much for my aerobic base. On top of that, my significantly reduced training schedule since I creamed my foot last November resulted in a pretty significant loss of base fitness. And last and certainly not least, tipping the scale at 182 (rather than 167 in some of the earlier tests) means schlepping a lot more mass around the track.

Which has the biggest impact? I'm really not sure. I hope that over the course of the year that my aerobic fitness will increase and my weight will drop to a more appropriate level. Keeping the intensity low should help accomplish both of those goals.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mike MacLellan on Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:13 am

Not that comparing will do us any good, really, but I'm just going to point out that those numbers are similar to ones you've had before, and the numbers 2 months later are close to your best ever. So, y'know.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:42 pm

@Mike MacLellan wrote:Not that comparing will do us any good, really, but I'm just going to point out that those numbers are similar to ones you've had before, and the numbers 2 months later are close to your best ever. So, y'know.

True, that - though I like your observation. Smile

The main goal of my MAF test yesterday was to establish a new baseline so I can track how things are going as the year progresses. It also helps me to be ruthlessly objective when I'm deciding how to proceed. No need for speed now; I just need to work the program.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mike MacLellan on Mon Feb 20, 2012 3:09 pm

Yep, I hear ya. Aside from the oh-so-scientific observation that paces just start "feeling easier" as training goes on, it is definitely uplifting to see some hard data every once in a while. Just remember to place your trust in the trends (looooong term!), not the individual tests, which could be skewed by any number of factors.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  ounce on Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:41 pm

I would hypothesize that doing hill work once a week or every other week, while it does get you out of your aerobic zone, will help you more than hurt you. It might get your heart to reacting, "Holy crap! I'd better make some more capillaries. This dude's going postal!" More muscle cells, more capillaries, more power and availability to move you along a bit faster.

You and I are almost the same in time and HR, but my HRmax is 200 and I'm 15 pounds heavier. This is interesting.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:58 pm

Oop! No time to respond to your comments now, Mike and Ounce. But I promise I'll get back to you later.

Rushed Low HR Run: 30 minutes on the treadmill

Temp: 68, and quite humid outside. Shoes: FR2s

It was a hurry-hurry-hurry sort of morning when I slammed a cup of coffee and dashed up stairs for my low HR run.

Needless to say, the HR was a little elevated... Smile

I took it nice and easy, relaxing (a bit) as the workout progressed, though I had to slow the speed fairly early to keep my HR from going too high. All things considered it went well. (I probably shouldn't have tried running on my toes in the last minute before my cool-down, but hey...)
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:36 pm

Okay, I think I have enough time to respond.

@Mike MacLellan wrote:Yep, I hear ya. Aside from the oh-so-scientific observation that paces just start "feeling easier" as training goes on, it is definitely uplifting to see some hard data every once in a while. Just remember to place your trust in the trends (looooong term!), not the individual tests, which could be skewed by any number of factors.

Funny you mention, that Mike. Because, if you look back to that "best ever" MAF test a couple of years ago, you'll notice that it represented an unusually rapid improvement in a short period of time. I have come to understand that the improvement was actually a sign of overreaching - which laid the groundwork for my overtraining blow-up later that summer. Gradual improvements are natural, and best.

The hard data makes it easier to run so slow so much of the time. It shows that it works.

@ounce wrote:I would hypothesize that doing hill work once a week or every other week, while it does get you out of your aerobic zone, will help you more than hurt you. It might get your heart to reacting, "Holy crap! I'd better make some more capillaries. This dude's going postal!" More muscle cells, more capillaries, more power and availability to move you along a bit faster.

You and I are almost the same in time and HR, but my HRmax is 200 and I'm 15 pounds heavier. This is interesting.

That's very true about hill work, or even repeats. Maffetone advises to avoid those sorts of things, however, in the base-buiding phase. Because once you goose the body to think you're going postal... it adapts to be always ready for you to go postal, which interferes with the positive adaptation to the low heart rate efforts.

My HRMax (observed) is 193. For purposes of Maffetone-style low HR training, HRMax is irrelevant. And the comparison between your HR/speed to mine is interesting, as well. Most of the comparisons work best comparing against yourself, because there are a lot of things that could come into play (biomechanical efficiency, number of mitochondria, slow-twitch to fast-twitch ratios, weather, etc.) when comparing one person with another.

Nevertheless, I think it would be fascinating for you to force yourself to take a MAF test and see how it all looks. Even if just to be a data geek and get something to chart. Go for it!
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  ounce on Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:36 pm

Yesterday, I did 4 miles that averaged a 130 HR, which I believe would be my figure (180-55+5) to target for a MAF test.



  1. 11.28, 128 bpm
  2. 11.36, 131 bpm
  3. 12.19, 131 bpm
  4. 12:43, 129 bpm
I guess that could do until I actually run 5 at 130?
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:53 pm

@ounce wrote:Yesterday, I did 4 miles that averaged a 130 HR, which I believe would be my figure (180-55+5) to target for a MAF test.



  1. 11.28, 128 bpm
  2. 11.36, 131 bpm
  3. 12.19, 131 bpm
  4. 12:43, 129 bpm
I guess that could do until I actually run 5 at 130?

That'll do nicely, actually. The true "MAF" in the test is the first mile after the warm-up. The subsequent miles are useful for getting a sense of how deep your aerobic training has gone.

The rate of slowing that you experienced looks about right. If you did low HR training consistently and went back and did another test in 4-6 weeks (any sooner wouldn't be very useful), you'd notice that you'd be able to go faster at the same HR... especially as the run continued. It's a lot of fun to see.

It works best to do it on someplace mind-numbingly consistent, like a track, and do all subsequent tests in the same place to limit the variables (doing one test on the track and another on a treadmill wouldn't give you good data, for example). Ah, science!
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Mark B
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  ounce on Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:46 pm

Well, here's the data from a 5 mile run on December 21, done 2 days before my last 20 mile run.


  1. 13.12, 127 bpm
  2. 13.27, 129 bpm
  3. 13.49, 130 bpm
  4. 13.28, 131 bpm
  5. 13.27, 132 bpm

Both runs were done on the same street, but the extra mile was just a bit further down the street before I turned around. No warmup mile.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

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