Thursday, September 27, 2012

An unpredictable half marathon

I'm running in the Melbourne Half Marathon on 14 October. It's been 3 years since my last 21.0975 k race. In Melbourne in 2009 I ran 1:43:00. This year I'd like to run faster — hopefully under my M50 PB of 1:40:48. For me this means running fast for a very long time. I'm not sure that my recent training is pointing in that direction.

Canute blogged recently about his many months of preparation for the Robin Hood Half, in which he was originally targeting a time of 100 minutes. Although his aerobic fitness is better than at any time in recent years he's been finding it hard to complete the race-specific training. Key sessions were to be long runs with the last 5k run at half marathon goal race-pace (4:44 per km). He's been finding it difficult to maintain paces of 5 mins/km for any appreciable distance. I haven't done anything like that in training so can I be confident of running under 101 minutes?

My recent training has been okay without being brilliant. McMillan predicts a 1:40:44 half marathon if I run as well as I did at the Gold Coast 10k (45:11). Long runs have been a little on the light side: 15, 15, 20 and 20 over the last five weeks. Kilometres, not miles! I think I may attempt a long (15k) tempo run a week out from the race. Back in 1991 I completed such a run on the Wednesday prior to my half marathon PB — ran a lap of West Basin (15.5k) at 4:11 per km pace. On the Sunday I ran 1:21:38 which is 3:52 per km pace. So maybe if I could complete a training tempo run 33% slower than HM goal pace I'd be on target? That'd be 15k at 5:04 ks. I think that's possible.

Melbourne had better be warmer than the Bush Capital 16k!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

A 5k race on a beautiful day

What a day! Just about perfect Spring weather in Canberra: A cloudless blue sky; soft warmth from the sun (temperature during the race was 13C); fragrant smells from blossoming trees; a barely noticeable breeze rippling the lake. An ideal day for racing!

This year I decided to enter The Canberra Times 5k (normally I race the more popular 10k). Good decision — the number of starters was about ideal (a couple of hundred runners with the rest of the field being walkers). We ran for a very short distance on a road then cut to a bike-path, but even so, by that time I was in 'free space', running next to a couple of girls with a young boy just ahead. Once again I raced by feel, starting the Garmin then not looking at it until the finish. The start felt a little fast (lack of speedwork showing up there) and I wasn't surprised when Jill sprinted past well before the bridge.

Once over the bridge I settled into what I thought was the right effort level for a 5k race. I found myself running mainly with unknown young runners: girls, boys and teenagers. The only Masters runner I could see (besides Jill) was Gary, who had also sprinted off at the start and was running about 200 metres ahead next to a young girl (who ended up being the third female to finish). I eased past Jill just beyond the 1k flag then soon after we moved onto the road detour (a small hill around an old landslide). The 3k flag was on the beach just beyond the Boathouse and at this point I still thought I was moving well (my stride felt smooth). I was gradually catching people while enjoying the pleasing feeling of not having any runners overtaking from behind. Splits show my pace lagging in the fourth kilometre (I do recall the race feeling hard at this point). After we ran under Kings Avenue Bridge our race joined the slow finishers of the 10k for the last kilometre to the finish. Even so, there was plenty of running room.

I kept the pressure on but a young boy and a twenty-something man that I'd been catching surged away. The final 80 metres of this race are a little cruel as the field is diverted off the bike path up a grassy bank to the finish. I stopped my Garmin and was happy with what it showed — 22:34. Not sure of my place yet or how I faired in my age-group. The pace was the same that I ran for the Gold Coast 10k but there's something about this course that doesn't make it a super-fast one. So I'm happy with the time — 5k-specific training of the type that Pete Magill recommends will reduce it quite a bit over Summer. Bring on the track!

Splits: 4:26, 4:32, 4:28, 4:40, 4:28.

On the beach for July's Runners Shop 5k