Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How I plan to be the first person to break 2 hours in the marathon.

So today I ran down a banked downhill mountain bike track that descended well over 1000 feet in 2 miles. I realized that I was pushing way under 5 minutes a mile with ease due to the ridiculous downhill (my only problem being that I was scared out of my mind that I was going to wipe out and totally die), so I became curious and I decided to use the Jack Daniels running calculator to estimate how fast I could run 2 miles at various declines. Based on an estimate of 9:45 at flat, I should be able to do:
8:05 w/ 1000' descent
6:25 w/ 2000' descent
4:46 w/ 3000' descent
3:06 w/ 4000' descent
1:26 w/ 5000' descent
-0:13w/ 6000' descent
-7:47 if I fall 2 miles straight down
-15:10w/15000' descent (yes, I realize 15000'>2 miles)
Clearly the calculator isn't working so well probably much past 1000' (and even that seems outrageously fast), but I think I'm going to have to collect some test data once I get the Garmin watch that I'm about to buy.

And now, the part that you're all waiting for. What do I need course-wise to break 2 hours in the marathon in my current condition? Apparently, I need a course with around a 17000 foot descent. If anyone comes across a race like that, please let me know.

A more serious but related note... According to the calculator, Haile Gebrselassie should be able to run just a couple seconds under 2 hours at St George, assuming Berlin, where he ran 2:03:59 was a totally flat course. I think he needs to go and give it a shot.


fbg said...

A couple of weeks ago, I ran up one of the big hills around here, and noticed a nice set of roads on my way up, which were a nice not-too-steep grade, and would be conducive to running fast. So, once I got to the top, I took a short break to enjoy the view, and then blazed my way down. I actually set a 5k road PR in the process. The course dropped around 800ft in those 5k (~5% grade), which in my opinion was almost too steep. I was thinking at times that if it wasn't quite so steep, maybe I could run faster.

Based on effort, I'd say my 5k time was around 2-2:30 faster than I would have run on a flat course. Projecting that out to a marathon, maybe I could run 16-20 minutes faster on a 5% downgrade course, assuming my muscles were used to downhill running for that long. So, I think it's possible for a sub-2:20 marathoner to break 2:00:00 if there was sucha course.

I wonder what Jack Daniels' calculator is based on. A negative marathon time would be great, but I think it's only valid up to 3 or 4% downgrade courses, or less, even. It's nice to think about, though!

Collin said...

Yeah, I agree, though I think it's possible to keep running faster up to 10% or so. After it gets a little too steep, I can't get a full stride out of my legs anymore. St George is about 1.7% downgrade on average and I believe there are 2 ridiculous back to back miles that are nearly 10%, so it should be pretty interesting.

RM said...

You can't run something in negative time.

This post receives a thumbs down.

Johnnie Cochran said...

Incorrect Ryan, we run things in negative time all the time. The problem is that we lack the ability to perceive our future memory the way we experience our past memory. In other words, you can't remember what you haven't done yet.

cgb said...

Through relativity and time dilation, a negative marathon time would be possible, however, highly unlikely.

Or so says Wikipedia...