Thursday, December 19, 2013

Coaching Gift Certificates Available.

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If you would like to purchase a Gift Certificate for Coaching Services, I am now offering limited services, listed below, to be purchased as a Gift for another.

Please send an email to to make a request and for further instructions.
Please allow 72 hours for issuance of Gift Certificates via Email after Payment has been received and processed.  Payment can be made via Paypal, check, or money order. Certificates are not activated until payment has been processed. Training plans will not be created until after payment has been made in full.

Current Rates for Services listed below are available here

Services Available for Gift Purchases:
(1) Training Consultations - for the self-coached runner who write their own training plans but would like personalized professional feedback and guidance. After an assessment of their own training ideas, past log, and future goals is made, feedback and recommendations are made on a bi-monthly basis. Access to coaching advice and guidance as needed is available via email throughout each week as questions arise.  

(2) Personalized Full Length Training Plan -  After an assessment of past training history, current fitness level, and a discussion about realist goals, a personalized training plan will be written specifically for you. 
- Training Plans for Marathons and Ultramarathons will average 18-20 weeks in length, maximum.
-Marathon and Ultramarathon training plans may require you to have some base of training established prior to requesting a plan, depending upon your goal.
- Half marathons and shorter races will average 12-15 weeks in length, maximum. 
- The length of the training plan is determined at the coach's discretion, the amount of time until your race, the amount of mileage you are training at prior to requesting the plan. In some cases, coaches may be unable to write a training plan if there is insufficient time to create a safe and effective training plan to meet a runners goal. 
- From the start date of your plan, two (2) weeks of email follow up is included in order to address any necessary adjustments or to provide clarification about any issues related to training plan materials.  Questions are limited to those relevant to understanding the training plan. This service does not include Online Coaching. 
-  If more substantial guidance or coaching is required, Training Plan Consultations can per purchased one month at a time or Online Coaching can be provided for an entire training cycle. 
-  Please note, as a guide the ideal time to contact me for an assessment is 25 weeks prior to your goal marathon.  Allow more time for an ultras and less time for shorter races. 

Issuance: Please allow 72 hours from time payment is processed for Certificates to be sent via email.

Payment: Payment can be made via Paypal, check or money order.  However, certificates are not activated until payment has been processed and therefore training plans will not be released until after payment has been made in full.

Expiration:  One year from date on Certificate

Refunds:  All Gift Certificates are refundable, minus a $25 processing fee, for up to 30 days after the date the Certificate email was sent by Creating Momentum (as indicated by the date on the certificate).  Beyond 30 days from the date of Certificate, no refunds will be issued. 

Transferability: Gift Certificates for Training Plans and Training Consultations ARE Transferable to eligible individuals before the expiration date.

Balances: Gift Certificates can be purchased in a dollar amount (i.e. $150.00) but balances are not refundable.  Balances can be combined with other gift certificates or payment methods to purchase further training. 

Exclusion - Please note:  Online Coaching or In-Person Coaching Roster slots are not available for purchase by third parties as I required a assessment prior to accepting runners into those intensive programs.  However, if a client is deemed appropriate and accepted into those programs after an assessment is made, the recipient of the gift certificate may then apply the value of their gift certificate towards Online or In-Person Coaching. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

NCR Trail Marathon. Sparks, MD. 11/30/13

I love the NCR Trail Marathon. It is a fantastically fast marathon course that is a beautiful hybrid of Road and Trail.  If you can tolerate miles and miles of relatively quiet, relatively spectator free Rail Trail of hard packed non-technical dirt through the woods with not much deviation of terrain, you can shine!

Course/Race Review:
The course is ideal for fast times because you start with a rapid drop in elevation as you leave Sparks Elementary School for just over a mile until you reach the start of the Rail Trail.  By mile 2 you are already on your way out to the turn around at 13.5 miles.  The way out includes an almost imperceptible incline of 1% which on fresh legs does not impact pace.  By mile 9, the "steepest" incline of the rail trail occurs, still almost visually unnoticeable, but it always is reflected in my pace as well as my mental dialogue. It is at this point, when I tend to start focusing too much on questioning whether I can hold my pace because suddenly easy miles start to feel a little harder.  When things start to get "harder" in a marathon at MILE 9, that can be an ominous sign for me. However, it is not a bad sign if you know your terrain and even a 1% change can be felt.  When suddenly an incline increases just slightly for a significant duration, things should feel slightly harder.  That makes sense, so I need to remind myself to not worry and proceed at an even effort.

Once you hit the turn around that imperceptible incline on the way out turns into a very welcomed gift of a decline on the way back.  After the half way mark of a marathon, any gifts are welcomed.  With 9-13 being the "steepest" up (yet still barely noticeable), they then offer a mental and physical boost on the way back, encouraging a brisker pace from 13-18 when you meet the first little incline on the way back.  The course levels out and rolls a teeny bit between 18-22 (again only perceptible if you are paying attention to this).  However, it is good to know that the course is no longer as steeply declining because a fade in pacing could be interpreted as the wall creeping up, when it really is not.  It is just the course.

Just past 24 you exit the rail trail and return back to the school on rolling uphills.  The hill at the 25 mile mark is the steepest and cruelest of the hills. It is a bona fide hill.  Get over that and it gets better, but still hilly. Each year, I pass many reduced to a walk here.  I don't walk it since it is so close to the finish that I am motivated to suck it up and push through.  Also it helps that I know we get a downhill right after the apex for recovery of both heart rate and pace.  That down hills assists with my ability to tolerate the final rollers and climbing back up to the school.

I just love everything about this race.  The only negative is the cold weather.  The staging area is inside the school gym where it is warm and real bathrooms are available.  There is a post race buffet of food, including Vegetarian, Dairy Free Winter vegetable soup, bagels, fruit, cookies, coffee hot chocolate, etc. The swag you get is alway special and well done, some years better than others.  One year I received a cooler bag with a ton of zippered and mesh pockets that is big enough to store everything I need for an ultra run of any length, yet small enough to be carried with with a shoulder strap.  It was the best swap I ever got at race and I have used it for 4 years now.  In other years, they gave all runners jackets and vests, winter hats, etc...  This year we received a long sleeve technical running shirt.

I have to say that I am so impressed with the race because prices are still relatively low in comparison to other marathons.  I believed I paid $85.

My Race:
As I have been noting here on my blog, after Tussey 50 mile, my body needed a break. I have been running lower mileage but I still logged over 3100 miles so far this year so far, even with a month of "rest."

I wanted to use this race as a "check in" race to see where I stand at the start of my new training cycle for Spring racing.   Two weeks ago I ran a 60k with my guys but I used that truly as a long run, running to the 20 mile mark around 8 minute pace, then adding walk breaks allowing me to reach the 26.2 mile mark at about 3:40.  I had hoped to be able to run faster that 3:40 today and would have been very happy with 3:30 or under.  But to be completely honest, I wasn't sure I could break 3:40 today.

Last year I surprised myself with a 3:16 here, my second fastest marathon.  However, my mileage over the month before was higher last year, I ran a faster Ashenfelter 8k last year, and I was also several pounds lighter.  Right now I am the heaviest I have been all year at 118, but my body fat is on the lower side but could be better.  My best racing happens when I am 114 and lean.  I was 114 at the start of this race last year, so I knew there was no way I was running a PR today.  Going into this my plan was to take the first mile fast, and then settle in to 7:30's and hold them for as long as possible. If I had a great day in me, I wanted to be set up for it to happen.  If not, then the fade would be ok too.

I tend to run fast at the NCR also because the weather is often ideal for me.  Each year it has been hight 30's to mid-40's.  There can be wind, but the out and back helps mitigate that usually.  This race is always the Sat after Thanksgiving, so this year being a late Thanksgiving brought us colder weather.

This morning it was 25 at the start, but wind was mild to non-existant.  Sub-freezing is a bit rough for me.  It took me 4 miles before I could feel my toes.  My fingers were not happy.  My first mile was 6:52, which at this race is a slow start for me at this race.  I felt a very thin layer of ice on the roadway that made things a little slick. I was careful in the down hills to not slip.  

Once on to the trail, my pace settled right to 7:28 for M2.  I wanted to hang around 7:30's but I really did not like how "hard" 7:28 felt.  I felt stiff and cold and running felt difficult already and I was only at mile 2.  

Already I was concerned that this was going to be a really hard day.  But again, with a low mileage month, a month of feeling not my best, a month of gaining weight back, a sluggish, slower pace marathon is to be expected.  At this point, I just hoped to be able to run the whole thing! :) 

By mile 3, the field has spread out and things got quiet... and that is when the music in my head started.  And for the next many many many miles things felt amazing.  Easy.  Peaceful.  I imagined all the weight on my shoulders being tossed away.  I felt light on feet.  I was flowing.  My pace settled around 7:35 - 7:45 and I cruised mindlessly to the music in my mind without stress, worry, or concern.  It was beautiful.  This is why I run. 

At mile 3 mile Garmin battery indicated it was low and would die soon.  It remained for some time,  but it would drop the signal and soon the data was meaningless.  I kept splitting at mile markers anyway figuring the running time should be correct even if the mileage was off.  But I wasn't too accurate with mile markers so that was off too. I just didn't care.

At 8 miles, I took my first gel which I pin to my waist band.  I had a second gel in the back zippered lower-back pocket of my capris.  I wanted to save that for 18.  I took in Gatorade at every stop except for one.  I deviated because I saw Christian, who ran about 35 miles of Tussey 50 miler with me last month, and I wanted to say Hi!  He was handing out water so I attempted to grab a water from him rather than grab a gatorade from the other side.

At 9.5, my pace started to fade to 7:50-8:00 but I wasn't too worried.  I felt more confident now than I did at 3 miles and I was just looking forward to the turn around.  Finally I reach the relay transition zone and I passed the clock which could be 13 or 13.1, I have no idea, but it said 1:38.  My watch had stopped registering distance.  I knew last year I was at 1:35:30 here.

As soon as I hit the turn around, I got such a mental boost.  My pace dropped and I felt even stronger than I did just miles before.  I was back down to 7:30 or under and I was really happy with this as a great start to a new training cycle.  I knew my pace was a product of the decline and hoped I was feeling this good at 20.

As I approached mile 18, I decided to take that gel. My fingers, still in my throw away cotton gloves never warmed up.  I could not feel anything and I did not want to take them off.  I reach back to the zipper pocket.  I never used this before to store gels during a race.  I usually put my keys there.  I pulled on the zipper and then tried to extract the gel from the tiny pouch pocket.  After a minute of complete and utter frustration and a complete inability to get that stupid little packet of sugar out of it's prison behind my back, I completely gave up... and that is when the music stopped.  Ugh!  and LOL at the same time.  I could have been very upset by this, but this was not a goal race and I knew I was going to finish in a time I was happy with, gel or not.  I still felt energetic so it was not big deal.  I have also run 20 mile training runs at slow paces on 0 fuel or water so I knew I could run slowly even with nothing if I had too.

However, my mile 21, I felt that I was crashing and my paces was falling off.  I started to feel heavy and sluggish.  I thought about how I have probably lost tons of mitochondria in the last month so running out of steam makes sense.  I was still splitting my watch and saw an 8:15, but I am not sure how accurate that was because sometimes I would miss mile markers or think I missed them and then split things at the wrong time.

At 22, I decided to try to get that gel out one more time.  It was now that I realized that when I zippered the pocket open earlier, I had actually zippered it closed (and I had been running the whole time with the pocket open).  When I closed it, I could not pop the gel out and because my fingers were so numb I couldn't figure out what was going on back there.  But I did get it out at 22 mile and it helped to take it.

With 4 miles to go, I was now in survival mode.  I looked forward to the hills just for a change and wondered if this year I would be reduced to a walk on them.  However, that wasn't the case.  I felt stronger on the hills than I did on the trail.  I believe the gel helped.

I had a nice strong finish and came in at 3:24!

I am very pleased with this experience.  I have a lot of work to do, but not as much as I thought.  Today Spring Training Starts and my baseline has me at a 3:24 for 26.2   That is not a bad place to be :)

Time: 3:24:50
OA place: 59
Female: 9th 
Age Group 2nd

Friday, November 29, 2013

Guest Blogger: Kimberly Knapp Schwartz, "My Marathon Cherry Has Been Popped!!!!! Marine Corps Marathon, 10/27/13 "

I would like to introduce Kimberly Knapp Schwartz, a Team In Training (TNT) running I got the
pleasure of meeting and training with for her first marathon ever!  Kim is a great example of what can happen when runners commit to our TNT training runs and show up ready to hear the advice and guidance offered as part of their perk of raising a few thousand dollars for Cancer Research.   

Many runners I train with tend to run their long run training too fast, at least at the start of them. Bonking is common and often distressful.  It is also part of the learning process.  Kim is a great example of what someone can do when they focus on slowing things down early and learn how to negative split a long run.  Early on, when long runs hit around the 15 mile mark, Kim had a little trouble holding her pace for the entire way.  We worked on slowing down the pace early and getting faster each mile.  

For each of her 18-22 mile long runs, Kim demonstrated the fine art of discipline and self-control, starting runs easy at 10:30 and slowly chipping away at the pace until the entire run averaged just about 10:00, with our final mile breaking 9:00 and our final tenth's breaking 8:00.  Very few people I train for their very first marathon are able to negative split their long runs like she did.  It takes confidence and patience and an understanding of how to fuel herself well.  Once she figured all that out, I had high hopes that she was going to have a fantastic first marathon ever!.

Here is Kim's Report about her first marathon!

My alarm goes off at 3:40 am and I bounce out of bed.  The day is here, holy shit… the day is here! It’s finally my day, my day to become a Marathoner. I’ve put in all the work and am so excited but also beyond nervous.  For the past 2 days I’ve been in DC and haven’t been able to contain my nerves.  I think I’ve been driving my roommate “coach sue” nuts :) .
You see back in May I signed up with TNT (team in training) and now its race day.  I’ve always wanted to run a marathon and decided to do it in memory of my dad that lost his battle with Leukemia 21 years ago.  I was able to raise almost $4,000 to help find a cure.  My three kids, husband, mom, step dad and mother in law all traveled to DC to cheer me on.  I knew this would be an emotional journey, but I had no idea how emotional it really would be.   

Ok so back to 10/27/13, I take the metro to the staging area with my NJ TNT teammates; we have almost 2.5 hours to wait around.  I take some pictures with Marines, bullshit with the girls and do everything I can to NOT think about the race.  Now it’s 7am and Holly, Jessica and I decide it’s time to use the port-a-potties and get in a massive line.  We feel as if we are barely moving, time keeps slipping by and we are all getting pretty nervous.  The sun has finally come up and we see swarms of people heading to the start… oh no, I have to pee and we still have people in line before us.  We see Marines parachuting in with an enormous 7,800 sq foot American flag we know the National Anthem must be playing but are too far from the start line to even hear it.  Finally we get to the potties, and now it is time to all out sprint to the start!!! We have to meet Margo (our TNT staff person) at the start to get all our “race day crap” We left it at the staging area, not expecting to be in the port-a-potty line forever.  I shed my throw away sweats and am now fumbling to get my watch started and my handheld fluids together.  I quick take a gel and wash it down with some swigs of Gatorade.  

Seconds later, the Howitzer goes off, it’s go time… the crowd starts moving and soon enough I cross the start line.  Holly and I are near each other, and now plan to run together till one of us feels stronger or can’t hold pace.  I know she is hoping for a 4 hour finish time. I secretly am too, but had full intentions to run with the 4:15 pacer.  I have no clue where the pacers are, so this is a perfect plan for me.  Coach Shannon and I had discussed not to start out to fast.  I was very conscious of paying attention to my Garmin in the first few miles to get a feel for the race.  Around mile 4 I felt a heavy strain in my left calf, and just hoped it didn’t get any worse.  The crowd support was amazing and before I knew it I was at the 10k mark.  My mantra was “it’s just a long training run” and I kept repeating this in my head.  At this point I’m feeling goodreally loving the run & soaking up the entire atmosphere.  But I know I have so much ahead of me, I see the faster runners now, since miles 6-9 are an out and back.  At the 7.5 mile mark we turn and it gets rather crowded, I feel my pace slowing, but there is nowhere to go.  I take a gel, drink my Gatorade and start to settle back into a good pace.  I know I’ll be seeing my family soon.  We mapped out the spots they would be and my husband will have another handheld with Gatorade for me.  There they are, I spot them around mile 10, and I see my step-dad first with the giant foam TNT hand I gave them.  Then I see my mom and hear her yelling “Go Kimmy” and we lock eyes, her eyes are filled with pure pride and I understand that look so well.  I start to get really emotional but am able to hold it in.  I give my three littlest fans high fives. Mike starts to run with me, he tells me I’m doing great, gives me my Gatorade and a quick kiss.  I give him my right arm warmer.  I am petrified to take my left one off, I’m certain while taking it off I’ll screw up my watch.  So I just roll it down. I know I should see them again around mile 17.  WOW, that was amazing to see the pride in all of their faces even if it was just for a few seconds.   

Ok back to running now I’m headed into Hains Point (miles 12-15).  I know Coach Sue (TNT coach) is stationed here.  We see her she asks how Holly & I are doing.  We both say we’re feeling good and she gives us encouragement and sends us on our way.  It’s a park with almost no crowd support, but as I enter I see signs lined up with photos and KIA dates of recent fallen Marines.    I read as many as I could, the tears were flowing down my face and I realized I was having trouble catching my breath.  This was gut wrenching, at this moment I thought so much about my brother that had served and my brother-in-law who is currently serving.  I have the utmost respect for the men and women who serve our country.  I remember thinking I need to get my head back into the race.  I see the Half Marathon mark coming up and my time is 2:01:10. Ok, this is good but not sure I can hold this pace.  I give Holly encouragement, saying “we got this” it’s only a Half Marathon left.  My legs feel good other than this strain in my left calf but it hasn’t gotten much worse.  I’ve been taking in lots of fluids and every 4-5 miles I’ve been having a gel or beans.  Mile 14 seemed to be my toughest mile; I needed some crowd support or something to get me going.  We were coming up on an aide station, hmmm… what do they have here on sticks??? I see Marines handing out tongue depressors with something … ah, Vaseline.  No thanks, I was all body glided up and feeling good.  I heard one guy actually ask the Marine where I put this.  Really dude, if you have to ask maybe you don’t need it because if you took one look around it was pretty obvious where the boys were putting it :).  This was exactly the little chuckle I needed right now to get me out of a fog.
I’m happy to be out of Hains Point and heading towards the National Mall now.  Mile 17 approaches and I spot my family again, this time the kids are jumping up and down with their “mom rocks” shirts on and “go mommy” signs.  I give them all thumbs up; grab more Gatorade from the hubby an extra gel and a rice krispie bar for a little later.  I know I’ll see them again at mile 22.  Wow I can hear the roars of the crowd as I enter the National Mall, I feel exhilarated! I’m not letting my calf bother me at all, I’m running strong.  I have my name written on my arms with a sharpie and on my TNT singlettons of people are yelling “GO KIM” and “GO TEAM” I love it, it propels me forward. I yell out thank you and give thumbs up! Holly and I are now running with another TNT participant Danielle.  

Around mile 19I notice Holly is starting to slow down, soon she says go ahead and it’s just Danielle and I. I’m concerned for Holly, not sure what is wrong and I hope she’s ok but I feel strong and need to go ahead.  Mile 20 hits and we head over a one mile bridge.  No crowd support, it’s a long mile and ends up being one of my slowest at 9:40. I turn my phone on to get some tunes and hope it inspires me to move faster.  I’m trying to do math and since my Garmin is off by .3 miles and I’m in the middle of running a marathon it’s making it a tad more difficult to figure anything out! Finally we’re over the bridge and into the crowds of Crystal City with only 5.2 miles to go.  Danielle falls behind and I pick up the pace. I am feeding off the crowds, this is where I see my favorite sign of the race “Run now, poop later and never trust a fart” ha-ha, love it!! And the chick was wearing a whoopee cushion costume.  I was laughing out loud.  I’m at mile 22 now and looking around for my family, I know they will be here this was the plan.  I end up not seeing them.  (I later find out I was moving too fast and they were afraid they’d miss me at the finish if they went to this stop) Oh well, I eat the rice krispie bar and keep moving.  I run past the beer stop I heard people talk about at mile 23, not really what my body needs right now.  Excited to see a fluid stop ahead I get to the side and am sadly disappointed when I realize it’s a cup of Dunkin Donuts munchkins.  Believe me when I say I wasn’t the only one around pissed that it wasn’t water.  UGH, no thanks even if it is a hot Marine trying to hand it to me :).    

I hit mile 24 and can’t believe I have only 2.2 miles left and I’m done.  I’ve been on top of my fluids and gels this entire time and haven’t hit the wall.  The night before the race I read a post on how not to hit the wall.  Honestly it had never dawned on me that I could run a marathon and NOT hit the wall.  I thought it was inevitable and just a matter of time till you did.  You always hear about THE WALL… the freakin WALL. Obviously if I had talked to any of the TNT coaches about this I’m sure they would have set me straight but I never did.  I wanted to get a last bit of calories in, but couldn’t stomach another gel so I grab a handful of gummy bears from a stranger cheering us on.  These seemed to do the trick.  

Almost to mile 25 and I felt a cracking sensation in my right ankle.  Hard to explain what it felt like, but I knew it hurt like hell and was not a feeling I’d ever had before.  I wasn’t sure what to do, but knew I was going to keep moving as long as it let me.  Halfway through mile 25 and I was numb to the pain and I knew it was go time, if I had anything left I had to move it now, still thinking I could be under a 4:10 finish (you will soon learn I’m real shitty at math especially at this point in a marathon).  I’m shocked to see so many people stopping to walk at this point in the race; really the end is basically in site!! This is how I trained to finish strong.  

I hit mile 26 and the finish line is in site at the Iwo Jima Memorial.   This .2 miles is straight uphill and the crowd is roaring.  I hear the Katy Perry song, Roar being played on the sound system and find it very fitting.  I muster up all the strength I can and start weaving in and out of people up this hill.  I realize my family is in this crowd somewhere but I am in such a zone, I have my head down and I see many Marine boots lining the hill, cheering us on.  I look up and know I’m seconds away from realizing my dream and at that moment I run as fast as I possibly can over the finish line with my hands in the air I remember to stop my watch.  

My eyes flood with tears, pure tears of joy that I can’t hold back nor do I want to. I’m overcome with so much emotion I think about my dad and how much I miss him. I am so proud of myself and at this moment I know without hesitation I’m hooked.  This was one of the best days of my life!! I shake every hand of a large line of Marines until the last one placed my medal around my neck and salutes me.  I tell every single one of them thank you for their service.  At this point I realize I don’t even know my finishing time, I look at my watch and it reads 4:04:28!!!!!!  I told you my math was off :) Official time was 4:04:21.  I go to the Iwo Jima Memorial and have my finisher picture taken.  I then quick call Mike to see where he is, he says I just got a text alert you crossed the finish line already, I never even saw you finish.  Oops, sorry babe!  Him and my mom were on the hill, but just hadn’t seen me come up it.  Mike, mom and I meet up at the TNT tent and once again all I see is pride in their eyes.  We then head to see the rest of the family just outside the finisher area.  What a sweet reunion it was all the kids were excited to see my medal and gave me lots of hugs and kisses!!  

This race was about so much more than just running a marathon.  To me it was a journey that my dad and I took together.  Although he wasn’t with me physically his spirit was absolutely with me every second of the race.  I thought of him and all the other names I wore on my singlet that day throughout the entire race.   

I am so grateful for the amazing coaching I received from Coach Sue and Coach Shannon with TNT.  I was typically paired up with Shannon on my long runs and we clicked.  She taught me so much about hydration, nutritionpacing, etc. all the ingredients to make up a great race.  Without her amazing support I wouldn’t have had such a successful first marathon.  I can’t thank her enough for being part of my journey.  I look forward to working with Shannon again and her coaching me to a sub 4!!!! 

Division 347,  Gender 1554,  Overall 5773 
Official Finishing Time 4:04:21   
Garmin Showed 4:04:28 (I was late to turn it off), 26.52 miles 

M1 – 9:22 
M2 – 9:24 
M3 – 9:10 
M4 – 8:30 
M5 – 9:10 
M6 – 8:39 
M7 – 9:15 
M8 – 9:12 
M9 – 9:05 
M10 – 8:45 
M11 – 8:55 
M12 – 9:03 
M13 – 9:07 
M14 – 9:32 
M15 – 9:08 
M16 – 9:18 
M17 – 9:42 
M18 – 9:45 
M19 – 9:23 
M20 – 9:40 
M21 – 9:14 
M22 – 9:23 
M23 – 9:14 
M24 – 9:29 
M25 – 9:30 
M26 – 9:02 
M27 – 8:40 

Finish Time 
Finish Net 
Finish Gun 
Net Time 
Clock Time 
Time of Day 
Pace Between