Monday, August 24, 2009

A half marathon is a long way

I raced in the ACT Veterans' Half Marathon on Sunday. It was a cool and sunny morning, with a yacht-friendly breeze blowing across Lake Burley Griffin. I decided in advance to make good on my promise to Pre — I'd start fast and hold the pace for as long as possible. Somewhere around 16k I found out that a half marathon is a long way.

The race has three separate starts, and I was in group two (for runners expecting to finish between 1 hour 40 minutes and 2 hours). Surprisingly, my quick start had me nowhere near the lead of the group! I was probably in around 12th place after the 2k sign, which I passed in 9:04 (1:35:40 pace). I kept running as hard as possible, but inevitably began to slow down.

After 5k I was overtaken by Roger, then Speedygeoff. Approaching the Governor General's residence Helen caught me — I managed to run with her until the aforementioned 16k mark. Gary also went by around here, saying something typically cheery. I found myself thinking about Malcolm Fraser, and did he really say "a half marathon wasn't meant to be easy". Anyway, I finally made it up the last hill, and down to the finish-line in 1:45:18. A very welcome finish-line indeed! Obviously I have a lot of work to do if I'm to get down to 1 hour 40 minutes for the Melbourne Half in October. Some long training runs will help — let's get this party started!

5k splits: 23:40, 24:33, 25:14, 26:08 + 5:43 (1.0975 km).

Into the wind [photo by D Appleby]Being blown backwards near the finish of the Ski-jump 5k

Friday, August 14, 2009

A brief apology to Pre

Last Sunday I finished my 26th City to Surf. Aside from the rather esoteric 3000 metres on the track, the City to Surf is my favourite race. At 14k, it's long enough to require some endurance, but short enough that it doesn't resemble a slow and painful tooth extraction.

New sub-3 man Scott Brown has been kind enough to nominate me as southern Canberra's answer to Steve Prefontaine. I've taken this on board and have decided to run all races out hard, in front — because (in the words of Pre) "winning any other way is chicken shit!"

This is the tactic I used in my recent Calgary ski jump 5k. Except that I wasn't "in front" — I'm too slow to ever be in front, but I can still race out hard, and bugger the consequences. These were my thoughts as I was chatting to Adam prior to the start on a beautifully cool and sunny day.

Sometime between that chat and the gun firing to send 63,000 runners charging down William Street, I reverted to type. I couldn't force myself to race out hard, so as I ran up to the Kings Cross tunnel, I said under my breath a brief apology to Pre — "forgive me this one time".

My conservatism resulted in a good race. I was relaxed and enjoying the day. I even threw my arms in the air in time to Enter Sandman, belted out by the band on the roof of the Golden Sheaf Hotel. I didn't die running up heart-break hill! I had time to look around and marvel at the people I was running with — from young teenagers to grey-haired ladies and a man pushing his child in a three-wheeled stroller.

I ran a strong last 4k, rushing down Military Road with my friends, and even managing something of a sprint for the 300 metres of Queen Elizabeth Drive to the finish. A 67:18 chip time was slower than last year, but I was happy. Maybe next year I'll listen to Metallica before the race, and that'll fire me up enough to race like Pre!

That's me in the middle!Me with my friends! This photo was in the C2S gallery but now it's gone. Was I too ugly?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The ski jumps at Calgary

One day I'll get the hang of this racing game. Last Saturday I placed 40th in a local 5k "road" race — it was actually an out and back run on a flattish bike path next to Lake Burley Griffin.

I started with the intention of running something close to 21 minutes (I would have been happy with 21:30). After 500 metres or so I thought I had an achievable pace going and was feeling good. Then Roger (20:27) and Geoff (21:20) glided past. I ran more or less with Heidi for 3k, and was managing to hold a gap of 30 metres or so to a couple of young girls from my club, Lili and Caitlin.

The last 2k was not a pretty sight as Heidi and the two girls disappeared over the horizon. I've made a chart of kilometre splits — it dramatically shows my wheels falling off one by one. My race looks like the profile of one of the big ski jumps at Calgary. I know because I took the lift to the top of the biggest one in 2003.

The other two lines on the chart show a better way to race a 5k. The middle one is from my all-time 5000m PB. The bottom line shows the splits Ron Clarke ran in 1966 on his way to a World Record. I'd like to run an M50 PB this coming track season. To do that, I need something under 4:15 kilometres. I'm inclined to keep my starts like the lower slopes of the Calgary ski jump, and hopefully flatten it out as my fitness and speed improves.

Running up a ski jump is slow!Running up the big ski jump at Calgary is not easy!
[ Splits - 4:11, 4:13, 4:35, 4:43, 4:51 ]