Blue70 Racing

Experiment: Oxygenation vs Sleep Deprivation. What matters more?

An 8 pace on a mild and clear late winter day at scenic Prospect Park inside Brooklyn’s timeless historic residential and commercial community structure.

The NYRR Al Gordon 4M essentially features Brooklyn’s own Prospect Park, its crown jewel for recreation.  Prospect Park is a forested park with included lake and assorted winding paved and unpaved trails measuring about 4 miles in its largest loop.  The race runs that large loop and course goers are greeted along the way by several old historic structures used for entertainment and other matters if nothing less than picture perfect scenes of visual interest. The skies were clear, the weather was mild on this late February Day.

This race course is similar in elevation and therefore effort as compared to the Gridiron 4M inside Central Park, which I ran just 2 weeks ago.  This race served for me, as a study of oxygenation vs sleep depression.  

I skied (aggressively) in Beaver Creak CO, 4 hours a day, 4 consecutive days, up to the day before this race.  Beaver Creak altitude is about 8000’ so my body naturally increased its red blood cell count to improve energy production while mountain conditions presented only limited oxygen supply in its “thin” air.  It is no secret oxygenated blood will provide a power boost to the amateur and professional athlete.  This should improve my race results, race day, one day after I skied.

On the other hand, my weeks vacation left me sleep deprived daily as I awoke on an east cost schedule to assist office activities back home and in addition lost sleep regularly due to long drawn out days and unfamiliar sleep accommodations. I, among others, find it a challenge to sleep in any bed outside my own.  My vacation started with just 3 hrs sleep leading to my first down hill run.  My vacation ended with just 3 hrs sleep leading to the NYRR Al Gordon 4M at Prospect Park, Brooklyn.  I told my son while we burned jet fuel we had to hurry home since I signed up for the Al Gordon 4M run first thing in the morning. He said no, you mean the Al Gordon 4M Sleepwalk. Indeed.

At race start, I knew I was sleep deprived.  After all, my alarm was set so I could make gun shot and I was awoke by my alarm from a cold solid sleep pattern.  Suffice to say, participant excitement left me wide awake and ready to go.  

The race started and my strategy was to intentionally run without monitoring my pace or HR.  My goal was to run above a comfortable (MAF) pace and put out some extra effort in the last of 4 miles.   

It was a crowded but organized 12 wave start.  As usual, NYRR has a solid handle to manage participant count and overcrowding.   It was uncomfortable at first but runners spread out sufficiently by the middle of the first mile.  

I followed my strategy to the tee.  Since I was wide away, I expected my oxygenation level would power me to a record finish as compared to the 4M race I just finished 2 weeks ago.  I powered along through the first 3 miles.  In the final mile, I pushed for pace improvement.  I found I was loosing my wind a bit.  I thought maybe I was short the oxygenation boost I expected. I crossed the finish in 32:25, just a bit more than 8 minute miles.  

It turns out I ran reverse splits until the last mile where I slipped my pace a bit.  On my watch, my splits were   

  8:16 / 7:59 / 7:45 / 8:06

It was a reasonable result for me, although I had hoped to just slip under an 8 minute mile pace. 

My conclusion?  Sleep trumps all!  Always… ALWAYS make sure you get a good nights sleep before a race.  Even better?  Sleep well several days before a race.  

Alas, never schedule a race the day after 4 hours of glade runs, never mind cross continent air travel ;)

There are currently no ratings or comments on this blog post.