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Race your pace half marathon

tl;dr version - 1:41:15, a PB by 1m22.

Dorney Lake is an amazing complex - a 2km rowing lake with massive boathouse. It's a measure of Eton's money that they have a place like that but I could well believe it pays for itself too (today being an example of how). I'd heard that the wind can be quite race-affecting - I reckon it took about 5 seconds/km off me on the boathouse-bound direction, but no more.

There was really only one thing I'd have done differently today. I had plenty of opportunity for a warm up, and I so I took it, and got to the start with plenty of time, ready to go. I should have started in front of the 8:00/mi pacer, not behind. I wanted to warm up further on the run, but really I think my first 5km were too cautious, and my 6th km was reckless. I should have been aiming for 4:45 every km (even if not achieving the first couple). Settling for 4:55s and 4:50s meant a lot of work to do so that when I had the opportunity, I went too far the other way.

It was a crowded track behind the pacer, and there were literally no proper escape routes for the first lap, and that was a mistake.

However, I was relatively consistent, so not sure how much faster I could really have gone. I got a proper blister in the last lap, and felt it oozing on the home straight, but just had to dig in, find some suitable form that didn't make it feel worse, and go for it. One big toe felt numb at one point.

My GPS refused to stop at the end (happened last Sunday too) and had been behaving funny before that. Might be on its last legs if I can't get the firmware update to take.

Points worth noting:

  • Start further ahead than you think
  • Try not to get blisters (might be too forefoot)
  • Consider a new GPS

Race time (hh:mm:ss): 
Race date: 
20/02/2011 (All day)
Race component: 
Race status: 

Race plan for tomorrow's half marathon

I will set my alarm for 07:30 when I will quickly dress into my cool weather running gear. Going upstairs for breakfast, I will put on my GPS watch, and then have a mug of coffee and some cereal.

I will aim to leave the house for 08:00, taking with me my backpack packed tonight with a dry set of clothes, and a set of race clothes suitable for warmer weather (lighter top, shorts). The bag will also contain my race number and timing tag. I will then drive to the race venue, which will already be in TomTom.

I hope to arrive at the race venue for 09:00 with an hour before the race starts. I will keep warm and warm up during this time, changing if necessary into the warmer clothes. I will also have a caffeine gel with some water at this point.

At 10:00 the race will start. I will aim to start at around 05:00/km and progress towards 04:45 as the field thins out and I warm up further. Each lap of the lake should take around 47 mins.

At 11:40, I hope to cross the line. I will do some gentle stretching and some easy walking before driving home.

Richmond Lock loop along the Thames

A write up from last week that I forgot to finish!

I love the first half of this run, but really dislike the second half - all the bridges, ladders, steps, corners really disrupt the rhythm.

Not sure I want to do this run again, but it mostly flat - suspect an out and back along the Richmond side (perhaps crossing on the way back at Kew) would be more enjoyable. The bit around Teddington on the same side is rubbish too.

Happy with my early pace, less happy with the 13-20km section, and managed to redeem myself for the last three km. Couldn't stop my watch at the end so pace looks worse for the last 400m than it was.

Richmond Park via the Thames to Petersham Gate, returning via Roehampton Gate and Barnes

Another fantastic long run, first three km with Peta whom I might have accidentally worn out by starting too fast. I gradually picked up the pace from 6:00/km to nearer 5:30/km, and once I got to well surfaced tow path I actually did 5:16/km.

Getting into the park and then going up the hills slowed me back down again, but just settled into the run and plodded up and then ran down. Before Roehampton I was a bit tired, but once I left the park the pace picked up again and I found running easy once more. I tried to pick up the pace towards the end again, and run the last two kms faster - I was somewhat successful and did the 23rd km in 05:28 which was the fastest since that earlier 5:16 in the 12th km.

Definitely noticing improvements to my technique, and how that makes me more efficient. Looking forward to more improvements and that translating into race results.

To the Windmill via Richmond Park returning via Beverley Brook

This run is a bit of a classic, I read about it in Runners World - I go along the river until just before Chiswick Bridge, then go up past Mortlake station and up to Sheen Gate, then straight through the middle of Richmond Park, out of Robin Hood Gate, across the A3 and then follow the Capital Ring to the Windmill in Wimbledon Common. I then attempt to find the underpass back under the A3 to Putney Heath, along there and then a nice long straight run down Putney Park Lane. From there I just head across Barnes Common and then along Beverley Brook to the Thames again, and back to Hammersmith Bridge.

This was a pleasing run for me - a bit further than intended but it felt good for most of the 18km. The natural hills made for good training, and I put on a burst for the last two kilometres to make it a progression run. That made it feel properly hard!

London Marathon

When work's new charity of the year, the Prostate Cancer Charity was announced, I emailed our charity coordinator to see if they had any places. Unfortunately, they didn't.

Today I got an email asking if I still wanted a place! Of course I do! The London Marathon is the one event I've wanted to do since starting running!

Not long to go though - just 14 weeks to build back up to marathon distance. I should be pretty conditioned to running after last month's efforts, but I know I need to build up nice and gently - destroying myself with injury would not be good.

At least I know what the next three months' training looks like - a marathon training plan with some cross-training of cycling and swimming. FIRST should do the job, once I can actually do the long runs!

2011 training

How fortuitous. One of my favourite sports writers, Matt Fitzgerald, has done a 20 week iron distance training plan in this months Triathlete Europe. That takes about 8 weeks off my training plan, meaning a start in April rather than February.

Now obviously that doesn't mean I can doss around for the next three months, but I can go to Running School (a Christmas present from my lovely wife) and possibly even treat myself to a swim training day too.

I do need to get back on the bike and back in the pool in January though, I can't keep being slack!

I also learnt about Yasso Intervals today, which also totally fit with the principle of reducing variation. While they might not correlate with a marathon after 8 hours on the go, they should correlate with the 'add a sixth of the time' school of thought (so if I can do 3:30 800s, I should be able to do a 3:30 standalone marathon and 4:03 iron distance run leg)

Next step is to start formulating a proper training plan focussing on my key workouts and fitting in other things such as holidays etc, so I'm totally ready to start hard graft in April, while improving technique in the interim.

Goals for 2011

For 2011 I plan to do:

  • London Olympic distance in less than 2:30 (0:30, 1:10, 0:50, with transitions coming out of that somewhere!)
  • Richmond Parkrun in less than 0:22
  • Challenge Henley in less than 12 hours - this may not seem ambitious after a 12:17 Ironman Switzerland but there are a *lot* more hills. (1:20, 6:40, 4:00)
  • 6k pool swim in 2:00
  • Go sub 1:40 in a half marathon

How do I plan to achieve this? Obviously I want to improve my running, hence the improvements on my run times - this will be done by increasing frequency, and working on improving form, while minimising injury risk.

My bike performance should have a good baseline from last year, but I've let it slide - I need to do a lot of miles and that will mean rollers, turbo and long rides before summer even starts.

Swim will also be built on volume rather than technique - overdistance training, regular testing, plus some speed work. Biggest issue is probably feel for the water, so sculling, doggy paddle and distance.

Races planned for next year include: Richmond Half Marathon, Blenheim Sprint, London Olympic and Challenge Henley. No middle distance tri planned yet (Bala is the weekend after Blenheim, which might be a big ask, A Day in the Lakes is probably too hilly and badly timed for me).

I guess this means I'm not so ambivalent now.

Advent of Running: week 4

It's difficult to write this one up, but I have to admit, I was beaten by this challenge. The first day I didn't run (the 21st) was due to a slightly sore little toe (of all things), a very minor Achilles niggle and those combined with a lack of motivation to do more treadmill running meant I stopped.

I did worse than originally hoped, but I stuck it out longer than I felt I needed to given the weather. The point of the challenge for me was to enjoy running every day - I knew I wouldn't enjoy every run, but I didn't enjoy any treadmill run.

After I stopped, I meant to carry on running regularly, but my toe got worse (to a point where it was so sore that I could barely walk) so I rested it, and will barely run at all until it's properly checked out next week as running did seem to stop it improving, and it's much better at the moment but the underlying issue is still there.

I learnt a lot - I can run more often than I have done before. I'm not sure I need to though, unless I want to stop being a triathlete and start being a runner, which I'm not sure I do. Racing both sports will always mean I'm worse at running than I would be if I concentrated solely on running, but I suspect more injury and less enjoyment would probably also happen.

Of the runs below, the first was in snow, the second on a treadmill and the third on still a bit icy pavements (little enough to make me think it was a good idea, too much to actually be that good idea)

Date Minutes Distance Pace
Dec 19 30.0 5.1 05:58
Dec 20 30.0 5.5 05:30
Dec 22 42.0 7.0 06:00
Total 102.0 17.6  
Average 34.0 5.9 05:45

Advent of Running: week 3

A bit less distance this week, but a bit more speed. The last 5km run would have been a lot faster had it not been on frozen snowy grass.

Date Minutes Distance Pace
Dec 12 39.0 6.5 06:00
Dec 13 33.5 7.0 04:47
Dec 14 37.0 6.0 06:10
Dec 15 45.0 8.1 05:33
Dec 16 42.5 6.6 06:26
Dec 17 34.0 6.0 05:40
Dec 18 24.3 5.0 04:51
Total 255.3 45.2  
Average 36.5 6.5 05:38
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