Saturday, April 24, 2010

I race like Ryan Hall

The Boston Marathon was run late Monday night our time. A couple of online mates of mine were running — Flo and Robert. Both ran great times. I followed the elite race coverage after the fact on LetsRun.com. The women's race resulted in an exciting finish as Tatyana Pushkareva came from behind to almost run down breakaway leader Teyba Erkesso. In the men's race, Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot and Deriba Merga traded second-half surges until Cheruiyot eventually despatched the pretenders to win in a course record of 2:05:52. Ryan Hall employed an even-pacing strategy which saw him dropping off the lead pack when surges were applied, then suddenly appearing at the front of the pack when they slowed. He eventually finished fourth in 2:08:41.

It has occurred to me that I race like Ryan Hall — at least in long races, which I'll classify as 15k or longer. I try and run an even pace throughout the race, which is the proven best way to run a record time — in my case, a personal best. The thing is, I'm not actually racing! I'm running a glorified time-trial with other runners for company. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I'm not sure. I think I'd like to RACE! You know, sit on a rival's shoulder before throwing in a mid-race surge to break their spirit. Or run quietly with the pack (that's the local pack of runners I know who are near my ability) for a few kilometres before running a fast 2k split to get away, then surviving until the finish. This is the tactic Ismael Kirui used in the 5000 metres at the Stuttgart World Championships. He jumped away from a pack which included Haile Gebrselassie by running a 4-minute mile, then survived the chasers to win in 13:02.75.

My next major goal race is the "21k" at the Gold Coast. It's actually run over a distance of 21.0975 kilometres (13.109416 miles), but apparently the correct distance is too long to fit on the T-shirt. I'll be trying to run an M50 PB — 1:40:47 or faster, and probably use the Ryan Hall even-pacing method. There will be shorter races before then, both on the track and over the country. I'd like to be game enough to sometimes try Kirui, Merga, Steve Prefontaine, or Ron Clarke tactics in those races. In the next days and weeks various on and off-line friends will be running marathons in London, California, Oregon, Kentucky, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Canberra. Good luck to all!

24 Comments:

Blogger TokyoRacer said...

Get out there and race and kick some butt, Ewen!

8:00 pm  
Blogger Paul said...

Maybe employ some Rob De Castella tactics and sponge down your hamstrings to help you go faster. PB ;-)

9:08 pm  
Blogger Superflake said...

Proper pacing will get you the record. But it is good fun to break other runners by surging up hills when they can't.
P.S You forgot New Zealand.

10:08 pm  
Blogger Girl In Motion said...

Thanks for the shoutout, Ewen! So interesting about "actual" racing, as opposed to beating a clock. I've only started doing that this last year and never at the first half of the race, it's not till later that I dare even try. I have to hand it to those I've raced against, even those I've lost to - they made me run faster than had I not chosen them as opponents.

1:28 am  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

"Girl in Motion" has a point and so do you Ewen but that can be covered with a good hat!

No really Ewen, you have a lot more guts than you give yourself credit for.

I know that given the chance you would run down anyone and even bowl underarm to get the win!

While you may be a kind and thoughtful blogger I doubt that you would ever pick up a fellow runner with a pulled hamstring and carry them across the line like I've been know to do, (in my dreams). ;)

1:41 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

I intend to Bob!

Ah, thanks Paul, but I might stick to the Deek "run away from the field" tactic he used to win the '86 Boston in 2:07:51.

Flake, I might try some of your hill repeats so I'm good for that. How could I forget Christchurch? NZ is now there!

Flo, "actual" racing is usually more fun than racing the clock. I think we'll see some great racing in London tonight, and a fast time on the clock.

Scott, just for you I'll wear my bushman's hat with flyscreen in my next race. I'd do anything to get the win except bowl underarm! Now don't you go carrying any runners across the line this Thursday!

10:03 am  
Blogger Sling Runner said...

If I'm not wrong, Ryan's time was actually faster than last year's winning time. But Cheuiryot has other ideas. Will be interesting to see the London Marathon guys tonight. Whether it will be Wanjiru with his surges or Tadesse running even pace for the record.

4:04 pm  
Blogger strewth said...

You'll go great at the Gold Coast especially after all that carbo loading we have planned!

9:55 pm  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

Scotts right there is room for variety under 1 hat...I like the run hard for 2k idea and hope they cant catch you before the finish idea, reminds me of Phil Liggett and a breakaway from the peleton in the tour de France...
I'm working on racing less PRE-ish and a bit more like you and Ryan Hall, but for sure, surges, kicks, breakaways, and sometimes some PRE! moments will continue to be part of the fun of my racing, although I am going to try and tone it down a bit every now and then to get closer to the PB's. Appreciate your comments, and blogging...
some of my blogging friends did 3.01 and 3.02 at Boston last week, onme PB, and one very good effort from them both...

All the best with the Gold Coast plans!

1:55 am  
Blogger Robert James Reese said...

That's a really interesting comparison. I'd never thought of it before, but I race like Ryan Hall (running a glorified time trial) too most of the time. I definitely get enjoyment out of passing people, but usually I'm racing against the clock more than against other runners.

10:00 am  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

Based on my many marathons, I'd recommend a bet each way - ie, even pace for the first 75% of the race and then lifting if you can to race whoever is around you for the last 25% of the race. Which famous marathon runner was it who said that the race doesn't start until the 35km mark?

11:49 am  
Blogger bill carter said...

Hi Ewen

I actually started laughing when I read about your racing tactics, because they are exactly like my own. And it comes from our competitive nature. I honestly have a hard time even doing recovery runs with other runners because it always seems to turn into a race. I do fortunately get to do an 8 miler every other week with the Brooks Hanson B team, but that ends up being a race as well.
Glad to hear you are doing a 21k as that is such a great distance and I think you have real opportunity there to have an excellent result.

Take care Ewen!

8:49 pm  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

Happy Birthday Ewen! Hope you had a nice day.

9:18 pm  
Anonymous Joe Garland said...

I don't know that I've ever really "raced." Even running track races in the end they've been time trials even if my competitive juices flow in the final stretch. Same with cross-country in which, as someone not in the lead pack, the objective was to run as fast as I could and then pick off as many people late as I could.

Now, while I'm competing against others in my age-group in a big race, I know that if I push it too hard too early I'll blow up and that will do me no good. So it's a little weird, running a time trial within a race.

5:10 am  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

I think the best way to run a long race is to;
Run within yourself the first half, then put the hammer down and focus on catching each runner in front of you one by one!
It's not nice to see runners pull ahead of you early on, but the second half is pay back time as you come flying past like the 'Terminator'
Happy terminating :]

11:01 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Sling, I think you jinxed Wanjiru and Tadesse!

And lots of carbo loading after the race Strewth :)

Jonathon, I think being less PRE-ish will get you faster times - especially in the marathon!

Robert, that's interesting. Certainly racing the clock paid off for you at Boston. Racing other people is probably more of a fun thing in small town races like we have in Canberra, where one knows every person (and how they run) in the race.

Jog, I think Deek said that. The men's race in London started at 20k! 2:02 marathon pace between there and 30k!

Bill, you racing the Brooks Hanson B-team reminds me of Brendan Foster when he'd run a club 10 miler as a second run of the day - for him it was a training run; most other runners used to taper and treat it as a race.

Thanks Scott. Yes, a nice day and perfect weather!

That's interesting Joe. With your track background I thought you would have "raced" more, especially in 8s and 15s. Picking off runners in the second half (or terminating them as Rick likes to say!) is racing. Maybe not as creative as the racing we see in elite marathons these days, but still racing.

5:24 pm  
Anonymous Joe Garland said...

Speaking of racing, I posted a clip to your comment on the Penn Relays of a great race from 1971.

10:27 pm  
Blogger Thomas said...

My "racing" tends to be what Rick just said. A "time trial" first half and picking out runner after runner from then on.

Maybe try that one first.

1:13 am  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

The natural way to race.
if you think about it we were designed to track, chase and gradually catch and terminate our prey with a final all out effort, as in this video;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=826HMLoiE_o

3:07 am  
Blogger RICK'S RUNNING said...

ie, wear your opponent down in the first half then go in for the kill, each runner you pass in the second half is a free meal!!!
use your animal instinct :]

3:19 am  
OpenID canute1 said...

Ewen, I still take delight in the memory of your planned campaign against Lily and the eventual coup de grace. But that is only possible when you know your opponent. I agree that hauling back the people ahead in the second half is the next best thing.

7:42 am  
Blogger Jog Blog said...

Ah yes, I think you are right - Deek said the marathon race begins @ 20km. You could take a mix of his (elite) and my (ordinary) marathon type advice and go even paced for the first 2/3rd and then race the last 1/3 of your next 1/2 marathon. If that goes well, wind it back to 50/50 in the next race. And then 25/75 after that. Before you know it, you'll be the one they are all chasing and racing!

8:46 pm  
Blogger Ali said...

You are the Aussie Ryan Hall!

the only distance I seem to be able to pace myself if a half. All other distances, short or long I do something stupid.

5:26 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks for posting that clip Joe. An exciting race and example of a clash of two different tactics.

Thomas, yes, I usually try and race like that. I often wonder about what tactic to use to beat a rival who might have a superior kick-finish. The person who sits on you and then blasts past in the last 100m. Do I try and get away at the start? Maybe surges? Or run for home from a long way out?

Rick, I'll think about that when I'm chasing down my fruit and vegies for the "kill" ;)

Canute, yes, those sort of races stick in the memory! I wish I could surge like Lily! I think I'd have to practise for it. Or practise for the mid-race "60-second-lap".

Jog, no, I think you were right and he said "30k." The elite marathon is different now to what it was in the 80s. You've got Wanjiru surging from the start or Kebede running a sub-29 10k in the middle. I wish I was fast enough to be "ordinary" like you and just run away from my rivals ;)

Ali, thanks. And you're the Canadian Benita Johnson ;) I want to do (seemingly) stupid things, like sprinting in the middle of a race.

4:31 pm  

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