Having bounced back from the illness that derailed the first half of my previous week of training, I was looking to get a solid week under my belt here. I ended up running a total of 81 kilometres (50 miles) with 849 meters (2785 feet) of elevation gain, with time spent running ending up at 6 hours and 39 minutes for the week.
This was a little less than I was targeting, but I am still happy with the work I put in. My wife and I were travelling up north for the second half of the week, to visit my parents and introduce the little one to my extended family. Getting your training in can always be a bit of a challenge when you break up from the ordinary routine, but I managed to get in some quality work, despite falling a bit short of my targeted weekly mileage.
I started the week off in an unspectacular fashion, with a recovery run home from work on Monday, followed by an easy run into work on Tuesday. After meeting up with a friend for a couple of beers that evening, I wasn’t feeling great come Wednesday, and I could only get in a short recovery run late at night.
Thursday I was back to normal, however, and I actually felt ready to burn a bit of pace when I woke up. As a result, I ditched my planned medium long run for a not too challenging workout on the track, where I did 6 x 800 meters at half marathon pace, off a 200-meter jog. A nice reminder for my body that it’s possible to run a bit faster.
We travelled north later that night, and I did an easy jog in beautiful conditions that Friday morning. Saturday was a full rest day before I closed off the week with a decent long run on Sunday, where I also did a few strides on the local track. The plan for this run was actually to take it easy, but after feeling decent in the headwind the whole way out, I felt absolutely amazing with the wind in my back running back home. I simply couldn’t resist taking advantage and ended up running the second half quite a bit faster than planned.
After a week of complete rest, I was really getting ready to go once this week rolled around. I finished my training plan for the next 23 weeks over the weekend and was ready to make myself a slave to the plan. On the plan for this week was 87 kilometres (54 miles) while my weekly total ended up at a mere 62 kilometres (39 miles) with 667 meters (2188 feet) of elevation gain across five hours and six minutes of running.
What happened? I was only able to follow the plan for a single day, before a bad case of the man-flu threw a wrench in it, and sidelined me for two days. Of course, even the most meticulous plans have no value unless you are able to adjust them according to the unforeseen circumstances that inevitably keeps you from following what’s on paper.
My philosophy when it comes to adjusting for missed runs is very simple, and is based on advice put to pen by both Jack Daniels and Pete Pfitzinger: If I miss a few days or even a week of running, I never try to make it up. I simply follow the plan from the point I pick it up again.
Getting stressed by missed mileage or workouts to the point that you attempt to make up for it is a recipe for overextending, and injuring yourself. Of course, adhering to this principle is much easier when you’re in the building phase, rather than the meat of your training, closing in on the date of your goal race.
Being twenty-three weeks out from my goal race, though, a little hiccup like this is nothing to get stressed about. So when Thursday rolled around and I was feeling a bit better, I was happy to get out there and just get going again. The coming week should be better, and hopefully, I will be able to stick the plan I’ve laid out.
Keitany and Desisa Take the Top Honours in New York Marathon
It was a perfect day for running fast in New York this morning, and Mary Keitany won the women’s race by obliterating the rest of the field and closing the race with a 66:58 second half. Finishing in 2:22:48, she just missed out on Margaret Okayo’s 15-year-old course record which stands at 2:22:31. Another Kenyan, Vivian Cheruiyot, came second, while last year’s champion Shalane Flanagan took third place.
In the men’s race, Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa won in 2:05:59 after breaking away from compatriot Shura Kitata, who finished two seconds behind, just before the finish line. Reigning champion Geoffrey Kamworor came third in 2:06:26, bettering his winning time from last year with more than four minutes. Desisa’s winning time was the second faster ever run in New York, just 54 seconds slower than Geoffrey Mutai’s course record from 2011.
Shalane Flanagan Retiring from Competitive Running?
Speaking to the press after finishing third in the New York Marathon, Shalane Flanagan indicated that she’s thinking about stepping down from competitive running. She says she will take some time to make a decision but said that “it’s more getting toward the time to serve others.”
Matt Centrowitz Leaves Nike Oregon Project
Another Olympic Champion has packed his bags and said “toodeloo” to the Nike Oregon Project and coach Alberto Salazar. Matt Centrowitz confirmed to Letsrun this week that he has followed Mo Farah’s lead and stepped away from NOP. “Centro” currently serves as assistant coach at the University of Washington.
My totals for this week were zero. I spent zero minutes running zero miles with a total elevation gain of zero. Cross training? Zero. Many runners, both more and less accomplished than myself, will scoff at taking a full week off from running. And that is fine because what works for me might not necessarily be the same thing that works for someone else.
Despite the fact that I count running as a net contributor to my overall well being, I have come to the realisation that I need substantial breaks every now and then to make sure that I don’t burn out. The solution for me up to this point has been to schedule in two full weeks throughout the year where I do not run at all.
These breaks always follow a big goal race, and I spend the week recuperating, reflecting on my performance in the race, and my training cycle overall. And, then, a couple of days in, when I start getting restless and itchy to get out there and run, I start planning my upcoming training cycle. Planning out a block of training, thinking about goals and how I approach each and every week to try and maximise my chances of realising those goals, turns my motivation up to eleven.
The result? When the week comes to an end, I am at the edge of my seat with a plan in my hand, and absolutely aching to get out there and the do the work laid out in the plan. Sure, I lose a bit of flow from the extended break from running, and those first few days I don’t feel very comfortable running. But that extra bit of motivation is well worth it to me because at the end of the day I need those breaks to remind myself of why I choose to run.
Welcome to the first instalment of the Run161 Road Running News Roundup. Once or twice per week, I’ll share a handful of headlines from the world of road running so that you don’t have to trawl the web to stay up to date on what is going on. If you have suggestions for headlines that should be included in future editions, hit me up on Twitter, or send me an email.
Abraham Kiptum Sets a New Half Marathon World Record at Valencia
Step aside Zersenay Tadese, because Abraham Kiptum from Kenya has usurped the half marathon World Record earlier today in Valencia. The new record 58:18, five seconds faster than Tadese’s old record which had stood since 2010. Kiptum, whose marathon best is 2:05:26 from Amsterdam a year back, closed out the final 10k in 27:16 and bettered his own personal best by nearly 30 seconds en route to the new World Record.
The fact that four runners went under 59 minutes says it all about the conditions in Valencia today. Ethiopians Jamal Yimer (58:33) and Abadi Hamis (58:44) took the remaining two spots on the podium. The two African countries grabbed all the top 10 spots, with a total of six Kenyan runners in the top 10 to Ethiopia’s four.
Cold and Windy at The Frankfurt Marathon
Kelkile Woldaregay from Ethiopia took first place in the Frankfurt Marathon today with a winning time of 2:06:37. Martin Kosgei, Kenya, crossed the line only three seconds later to claim second place, while his compatriot Alex Kibet came third in 2:07:09. German Arne Gabius came in as the top European in 2:11:45, while my countryman Andreas Myhre Sjurseth gets an honourable mention after finishing 17th with the time 2:17:12.
It was a joyous day for Ethiopia, as three of their runners took all the podium spots in the women’s race. Meskerem Wondimagegn claimed the win in 2:20:36, and she was followed by Haftamnesh Haylu and Bedatu Badane who finished in 2:20:47 and 2:21:32 respectively.
Middle Distance Runners Rock the Roads
Australia’s Stewy McSweyn isn’t resting on his laurels during the break track season break. He set a new home soil record for an Australian in the 10k, and a new course record, as he took first place in the Burnie Ten with a finish time of 28:03.
The Ingebrigtsen family also ran a 10k on the roads, as they joined Norwegian road race Hytteplanmila as a pit stop on their way to Flagstaff from a training block in the highlands. Henrik and Filip duked it out for the victory, with the former grabbing the win with a late surge. Henrik came in at 28:41, while Filip finished in 28:47, and both beat Sondre Nordstad Moen’s old course record 28:50. Youngest brother Jakob had to sit out the race with a cold.
Gjert Ingebrigtsen Discusses Family Dynamics in New Book
Speaking of the Ingebrigtsen family, Gjert has released a new book this week in which he reveals details about dynamics within the runners of the group. Writing about the lead up to important championships, Henrik is described as emotional, Filip the quiet stoic, while Jakob doesn’t get a word in edgewise.
The book also discusses a key workout just days ahead of the European Championship, a 10 x 300-metre repeat session, where Henrik went out guns blazing and couldn’t finish the session as prescribed. This caused a lot of frustration among the brothers, and the older brother lashed out at their father and coach for tailoring their training to the two younger brothers while overlooking Henrik’s needs as he was returning from injuries which saw him sidelined for almost two full seasons.
It all ended well, though, as they adjusted the session on the fly, and Henrik impressed his father by finishing the workout in a strong fashion. The workout obviously did the trick, as Henrik became the first person to medal in four consecutive European Track and Field Championships when he finished second behind younger brother Jakob in the 5000 metres event. Jakob, of course, took a historic double as he became the youngest ever gold winner in both the 1500 and 5000, while Filip was injured after he took a tumble in his 1500 qualification heat.
Galen Rupp has Surgery, Won’t Run 2019 Spring Marathon
The biggest star on the US marathon scene, Galen Rupp, misses out on the 2019 spring marathon season after having surgery on a troublesome foot. It was the left Achilles that caused the problems, and hobby joggers everywhere are speculating that the Vaporfly shoes are to blame.
After running Hytteplanmila last year, I was so pleased with the overall experience that I immediately signed up for the 2018 edition as soon as registration opened. A year has come and gone, and I closed off the 2018 race season by running Hytteplanmila 10k on October 20th.
To recap last year’s introduction, this race brands itself as the fastest 10k road race in Norway, and they normally have the results to back up that claim. Popularity has been on the rise since the first inception of the race back in 2005, and interest surged to another level when the race announced that the Ingebrigtsen brothers Henrik, Filip and Jakob would be making their 10k road debut here this year. Close to 3,000 people started the 10k this year, which was a new record.
My marathon debut this summer was followed by a rough return to running, and race results this fall have not been at the level I had hoped. Despite running a couple of 5k races, I was not able to reach my goal of going below 17:30. With my best performance being a 17:50, this forced me to reevaluate how I had been training following the marathon. I still had a half marathon to come, and then this 10k to close out the season just a couple of weeks later.
All the details of how I structured my training are in the weekly Training Logs, but the half marathon a few weeks back marked a return to positive race experiences. Even if I didn’t manage to go below 80 minutes as I had hoped, I felt good and knew I had raced well. This gave me hope of finishing the season on a high note and had me thinking that breaking 36 minutes in the 10k was possible. Doing it would require perfect conditions, and would be a significant improvement from my current 10k PR from earlier this year, which stood at 36:57. I got further encouragement by nailing my final hard workout before the race, which doubles as a 10k predictor session.
Weather forecasts were looking good as early as a week out, and for once the meteorologists were absolutely spot on. As I arrived by bus, a trip organised by my local running group, the fog departed and the sun shone through a light layer of clouds. Temperatures were in the high single-digit Celsius (around 45 Fahrenheit) with no wind to speak of. A perfect day for running fast.
The ever-growing crowd of runners displayed an expectant buzz as the start time approached, and many were talking about how the Ingebrigtsens would surely be taking down Sondre Nordstad Moen’s old course record from 2009. Jakob, the youngest, and perhaps the favourite, had pulled out after catching a cold. It would be up to the two elder brothers to better 28:50 and make yet another record part of the family’s long list of running merits.
Buoyed by the great weather and atmosphere, I was just aching to get out there and see what I was capable of. With about half an hour to go, I went out with a couple of other guys to warm up. A few kilometres and some strides later, I dropped my sweats and lined up towards the front of the big crowd of people ready to run. I was right where I belonged. I, too, was ready to run.
Boom went the gun! And… nothing much happened. In such a crowded field, it actually takes a while before you get going. So I tippy-toed ahead at a slow trot for about 15 seconds before I finally cleared the starting line. Everyone around me sped up, so I did the same, and we were finally off.
1k (3:24 – 3:24)
Once we start running, the entire field is simply too congested to try and advance. You are pretty much resigned to spending the first kilometre running at the pace dictated by your part of the pack, and I decided not to fight it. I was probably further back than I wanted to be, but I also knew that most runners get swept away by the occasion and start off at headless chicken-pace. Especially in this race where the first 1000 metres are downhill. To my delight, the first split was exactly what I was aiming for.
2k (3:31 – 6:55)
At this point, the course flattens, and it is time to try and settle into a rhythm. I have to spend a bit of energy passing people now, as the field is going a bit too slow for my liking once we get started on the flat section. But I am feeling fine, and keeping up the pace without straining too much.
3k (3:42 – 10:37)
The third and fourth kilometres are the hardest of the race, on paper, because you have to pay back the downhill part of the start. I am still feeling relaxed, and when we start climbing I make sure to up my cadence, try to stay relaxed and not go too hard. The split plan for going below 36 minutes I made before the race involved going a fair bit slower than average at this part of the race, so the pace decrease doesn’t worry me.
4k (3:41 – 14:18)
A significant amount of runners around me are already struggling. Thankfully, the field has stretched out a bit at this point, and the road is wide enough that advancing is no problem. The road winds in both directions through this stretch, so I try to be smart and run the tangents. Carefully and deliberately, I’m veering from one side of the road to the other without losing rhythm.
5k (3:30 – 17:48)
The halfway mark is fast approaching and the pace of the pack increases as we leave the uphills behind and set out on the final significant descent of the race. I am still feeling alright, but find myself wondering if I am feeling a bit too tired muscularly considering that we’re not even halfway through the race. Did I not slow down enough on the uphills? Passing the halfway mark, I quietly celebrate a new 5k PR.
6k (3:34 – 21:22)
Slightly worried, I settle into a pack as we embark on the ominous “quiet before the storm” stretch of the race. This part ends with a 90-degree right turn that marks the start of the grind in earnest. Lost in thoughts about the hardship to come, I suddenly notice that there is a gap opening up between the two guys directly in front of me and the pack ahead. I can’t afford to get left behind in here, so I immediately move up to the pack ahead.
7k (3:38 – 25:00)
Crunch time! With a small, but steady incline, the next three kilometres will make or break my race. I struggled here last year, and the vivid memory of that experience has been replaying in my mind the last ten minutes or so. I settle into a rhythm and get ready to dig deep. To my surprise, I am feeling good.
8k (3:40 – 28:40)
One guy in a white long sleeve in front of me looks comfortable, and I latch on to him. The field has stretched out enough that we can maintain a steady pace while passing people. I switch my mind off and just let the guy in front of me guide the way. The hurt is coming, but I am ready to handle it.
9k (3:33 – 32:13)
If any thoughts crossed my mind here, they simply didn’t register. All I can tell you is what you can glean from looking at the split time, and that is that the guy in front of me apparently increased the pace, and I hung on.
10k (3:25 – 35:38)
Right now, every single interval session I have done over the past couple of years has been in preparation for these one thousand metres. I am relishing in getting reacquainted with that old familiar feeling of going to the well because I know that I am capable of pushing through it. There is juice left in my legs still, and I know that now is the time to burn through it. I up the pace, pass the guy who has been guiding me, and then a couple more runners. The pain is constant at this point, but I keep pushing.
Heading into the final two hundred meters, a full-on hill, I tell myself that, unlike last year, nobody will pass me on the hill. I give a final push! And then I start to fade, with half the hill yet to run. The low fall sun helps me by showing me the shadow of a runner approaching, and I remember my oath from a hundred meters back and give a second final push! I reach the finish line before anyone can pass me. I stop my watch before nearly falling over, and I have to support myself on the back of another exhausted runner who has hunched over. My finishing time doesn’t even concern me at this point, because I know I’ve run as good a race as I am capable of.
After catching my breath, I immediately stroll over to the starting area to pick up my sweats, throw them on, and go for a cool down run. Exhaustion and excitement overwhelm me, both on account of having just run perhaps my best race ever. My watch is showing 35:39, and later I find out that my official time is another second faster, but I am just utterly delighted knowing beyond all uncertainty that I have broken 36 minutes for the 10k.
Back in the gymnasium where runners meet up before and after the race, the crowd is growing once more. Most of the returning runners look happy, and why wouldn’t they be? They are runners who just got to run a race on a perfect fall day. Henrik Ingebrigtsen beat his brother Filip in a sprint finish, won the race and broke the course record, which is the talk of the crowd at the moment.
Having had some time to digest the experience and look at all the data from my race, I am now convinced that this was, indeed, the best race I have ever run. In a race with a significantly harder back half, I practically ran even splits, equaling my month old 5k PR twice. This is right at the very edge of what I am capable of at the moment, at it feels fantastic that everything finally lined up and I was able to close out the season with a new PR that really shows what I am good for.
With the season coming to a close with this week’s 10k race on Saturday, this what a bit of a taper week in an attempt to reach race day feeling fit and fresh. I ended up running just 57 kilometres (35 miles) with 567 meters (1860 feet) of elevation gain, which amounted to 4 hours and 33 minutes of running.
I am starting to get a decent idea about what works for me leading into weekend races, so I try to stick with what I know for the most part. An extra rest day, two easy days and one slightly faster, before a short and quicker run where I touch in on marathon pace on the eve of the race has been the formula for me this year. I followed that to a tee this week, resting on Monday, an 11k recovery run on Tuesday into work. Wednesday I also ran to work, a bit faster, which really gets the heart pumping through some of those hills, before I did another easy morning to work on Tuesday.
On that Friday run, which was only 6k, I should note that I relax the pace significantly in all hills. The idea is to just loosen your legs by shaking out a bit, but you don’t want to go hard on the hills and possibly lose some freshness for the race the next day. Some people prefer a slower run with added strides, which I’ve not experienced too much with yet.
On Saturday I didn’t do anything apart from a warm-up and a cool down before and after the race. If you keep up with my Instagram, you know that it’s no secret that the race went very well! Stay tuned for all the details in the full race report coming later this week. This upcoming week is also a full rest and recovery week for me, with absolutely no running, and I will be going into detail about why I like to take an extended period totally off from running in next week’s training log.
One more week to go before the final race of the year, and I am mentally feeling very ready for a break at this point. With the coming week being a bit of a taper week, in an attempt to maximise my freshness for the upcoming 10k, this was my last full training week before the season break. Total mileage for the week was 95 kilometres (59 miles) and 1088 meters (3569 feet) of elevation gain across 7 hours and 45 minutes of running.
I kicked the week off with an easy run home from work, before I reintroduced the mid-week medium long run on Tuesday, with an up-tempo 20k morning run. These runs are staples of Pfitzinger inspired marathon training, and I like to keep doing them every now and then, even if I am a few weeks away from starting back up with another marathon training cycle.
Wednesday I did a very slow recovery run, before following that with a slightly faster easy run on Thursday. The big session of the week took place on Friday when I had a 10k predictor workout scheduled in the form of a very demanding VO2Max session. The session is 3x2k with just 90 seconds rest between the intervals, which I have found to be a very good predictor for what I am able to do in a 10k race. The hope was to run each of the 2k intervals in around 7 minutes, which I believed would indicate being capable of going below 36 minutes in the 10k. In the end, average split for the 2k intervals was 7:02 (3:31 min/km or 5:40 min/mile pace) which was a little slower than I wanted. Still, it leaves me with a slight hope of sub-36 this weekend, and anything slower than 36:30 will be a disappointment after that session.
Saturday was a rest day before I ended the week with a solid long run on undulating trails on Sunday afternoon. I came dangerously close to bonking towards the end of this run, which was an important learning experience as I am attempting to dial in my nutrition strategy as I start a new marathon training cycle.
After my half marathon, this week was all about trying to recover as well as possible. I still have one more race before I call it a day on the 2018 racing season, a 10k on October 20th, so I wanted to recover quickly in time to get in some quality work ahead of the next race. My mileage for the week ended at 62 kilometres (38 miles), with 686 meters (2250 feet) of elevation gain, for a total of 4 hours and 58 minutes of running.
Monday was another rest day before I followed up with easy running the next three days. Come Friday I started to feel better, and I decided to push the pace a bit on my way into work. This was a nice confirmation that I was now ready to do some higher quality work again.
Saturday was another rest day because I don’t want to get too eager while bouncing back from a race, even if I felt alright. And then, I closed the week out with a very short “long run” with a friend. We ran at a decent clip, especially considering about half the run was on trails, and I felt really good on the day. I was very comfortable, close to effortless, at that pace, which was another indication that I have now bounced back from my race.
This coming week will be all about getting in some last-ditch mileage and intensity ahead of my season-ending race, where I am hoping to better my 10k PR from earlier in the year. Anything less will be a big disappointment.
Skagerakløpet is a race put on by the local football club in the Norwegian town of Skien, a couple of hours drive south-west of Oslo. The 2018 edition of the race happened on Saturday, September 29th, and in addition to the half marathon I ran, they also put on a 5k and a 10k. More on that later. I had heard good things about the race, and first and foremost it was the promise of a quick course that lured me into driving the five-hour round trip to run the race.
After completing a full Pfitzinger 18 week plan peaking at 112 kilometres (70 miles) per week ahead of my marathon debut back in June, I have been kicking stones a bit with my training. Recovering from the marathon took longer than expected, and since that, I have hovered around the 90-kilometre mark (56 miles) in terms of weekly distance. The first month back, in particular, was characterised by a very unstructured approach to training. Since then, I have taken measures to make my training more efficient again, by planning out the workouts and overall structure for the week in advance, and making sure I run my easy runs and the appropriate intensity.
For a more detailed look into my training, check out my weekly training logs. But in terms of specific training to prepare for this race, I opted to use the final four weeks to get in four quality workouts at around what I hoped would be race pace, which was 3:50 min/km (6:10 min/mile) at a quite undulating loop. The aim was to progress from 2 x 4km with a 1k float by way of 7k and 9k continuous efforts and top out at an 11k continuous session a week and a half out from the race. I absolutely bombed that final session and had to tap out after just 7k. Not the confidence booster I was hoping for going into the race, but bad workouts happen.
As mentioned initially, getting to the race was a bit of a trip, with a two-and-a-half-hour drive each way. My wife and our six weeks old baby boy, or my support crew as I like to call them, joined me. The gun went off at noon, which meant we had to get up in the early hours because everything takes quite a bit of time when you’re doing it with a newborn!
Having suffered some gastrointestinal troubles in my running , I took this chance to test out a new race day strategy. This consisted of an early breakfast with a cup of coffee to get all systems going well in advance of the race, with the aim of hopefully not having to go during the race. Additionally, I drank a bit of Redbull and ate some light snacks in the car on the way there, to top off the energy stores.
Weather forecasts looked great in the days leading up to the race, with ideal temperatures around 10 Celsius (50 Fahrenheit) and lightly clouded with no rain. Unfortunately, on the morning of the race, the forecasts suddenly showed a fair bit of wind at the time of the race. Very much the opposite of what I was hoping for, but absolutely not within my control, so I tried to push it out of my mind. Arriving at the start, I met up with a friend who was also running the half marathon, and we warmed up together before heading for the starting area.
Although I knew it was a long shot, my goal for this race was crystal clear: I was going to give it all in an attempt to dip below 80 minutes. My plan was to try and stay at 3:50 min/km (6:10 min/mile) pace for the first 15k or so, and then try to push on in the final 5-6k to hopefully finish in 79-something.
1 – 5k
Just as with every other footrace in the world, most of the contestants start off at a completely unsustainable pace once the starter give us the signal. I make a conscious attempt to not get carried away, and start passing people after a few hundred meters. At this point of the race, it is all about trying to locate a pack of runners who will be running at around my goal pace. This can be a tricky exercise, but I quite quickly locate a trio in which I see two guys I overheard talking about going sub-1:20 before the start. My plan is to run a bit slower than average pace for the first three-quarters of the race, to avoid a blow-up if I’m not quite there, but I tuck in behind the trio to see how it feels.
Already in the third kilometre, I get a taste of what the race will be about. This part of the course is a long and steady climb with an elevation gain of about 17 meters (55 feet) and the whole segment is exposed to a significant headwind. I am happy to be sitting in a group at this point, and try to draft behind the others to give myself a tiny advantage.
Time: 19:11 total, 19:11 split for the first 5k
6 – 10k
Somewhere after the 5k mark, I realise that the pace is slowing down a bit, and I will fall behind my schedule unless I pick it up again. Going out on my own in these conditions is not an enticing proposition. But, I find myself running at a lower intensity than I want to be doing at this point, and I am unsure if I can make that conserved energy count later in the race given the current pace. I make a decision, and the guys in the group are thankful that I am taking my turn up front and eventually latch on despite the slight speed increase.
We are now on the second time around the 5k loop which makes up the course, and I become acutely aware of the fact that the 5k race has started. The course, which for the most part consists of relatively narrow walkways, is absolutely packed with other runners. I am glad that so many people have come out to run the race, but selfishly I feel a bit miffed as I expend a lot of energy weaving my way through the swathe of people. My head even drops a bit at this point, and I suddenly allow myself to think that sub-80 is probably not on the cards for today.
Time: 38:25 total, 19:14 split for the second 5k
11 – 15k
Our little band of four is down to three people at this point, and at some point, one of the two remaining guys steps on it and moves past me. I immediately try to hang on, but it quickly becomes clear that this guy has been running the first half of the race with brakes on. Hanging on is not an option, and in the process of the discovering that I also lost the guy behind me, so I am now well and truly isolated. I kick myself for not keeping my cool and expending so much energy up front to keep the pace up when this guy has been absolutely cruising behind me.
Either way, it is too late to change that now, so I try to refocus and settle back into my stride. The course is less congested on the third lap, but between the irregular hills, crass turns and wind exposed areas, any sort of rhythm is still hard to come by. In fact, for the entire race, no two subsequent kilometre-splits are within five seconds of each other, which illustrates just how difficult it was to settle into a rhythm.
Time: 57:41 total, 19:16 split for the third 5k
16 – 20k
Because of the uneven splits all through the race, ranging from 3:40 to 4:00, I have no idea how of how I am doing compared to my plan at this point. Regardless, the plan was to take up another notch at this point, but that is simply not something I am capable of here today. Instead, this part of the race becomes a bone hard struggle to avoid slowing down.
A couple of hundred meters ahead of me, I notice a guy I know is running the half, weaving through the 10k runners who are now out on the course. He is clearly struggling at least as much as I am at this point, and I make a conscious decision to try and catch him. I put my head down, and embrace the grind.
Time: 1:16:48 total, 19:07 split for the fourth 5k
When I saw that my time at 19k was exactly 1 hour and 13 minutes, I knew that sub-80 was not going to happen today. I simply did not have the legs to even battle for that through the final 2100 meters, and this was enough of a mental blow that I let my head drop a bit during the home stretch. In hindsight that was perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the race, which was emphasised when I was surprised by how much pop I had in my legs to kick in the final uphill towards the finish line.
A bit of an anticlimactic finish to a race that I would otherwise characterise as very well executed. My official finish time was 1:20:45 for a new PR, which I am quite pleased with given the circumstances. And that guy I was chasing through the final lap? I never managed to catch up, and finished about fifteen seconds behind him for 10th place overall.
Time: 1:20:45 total, 3:59 split for the final 1.1k
My wife and our little one greeted me at the finish line, and we went inside the local mall for some respite from the cold. I stretched and gathered myself for a bit, as she found my official finish time. Initially, I felt a bit disappointed to have missed out on sub-80 this year, as this was my last half marathon of 2018. After talking it out for a few minutes, however, I came to the conclusion that I did most things right on the day. I ran as per my plan, I just didn’t have the legs to up the pace to bring it home in under 80 minutes. Instead of a sizeable negative split, I only managed a three-second improvement as I finished the second half of the race in 40:21, versus 40:24 for the first half.
The one call from the race that remains questionable is whether or not I should have gone up and set the pace of the pack I was in as early as I did. The guy who sat back and then eventually upped the pace in the second half had a finish time of 79 low. While I had no chance of following him at that point, if I had sat back and waited a while longer, perhaps he would’ve been forced to up the pace a notch earlier.
To speculate even further, I think this performance is indicative of sub-80 shape in more favourable circumstances and on a faster course. Regardless, it is certainly an improvement over my previous half marathon, which I ran back in April on a much easier course. And at this point, I am just really pleased to get confirmation that my post-marathon training has not been for nought. And that sub-80 barrier? I am going to obliterate it next year.
For more detailed splits and much more data, check out the race activity over at Strava.