For quite a while now I’ve had two major running goals – a sub-four hour marathon and a sub-100 minute half-marathon.
In the span of two races in three weeks I’ve managed to achieve both of them.
To say I’m a little bit shocked would be like saying Donald Trump is a little bit of a racist.
Most of you who follow this blog are already well aware of my nine week let’s-go-from-being-in-bed-feeling-shitty-to-running-a-marathon plan (but please feel free to relive my former ramblings here and here). It seems the slightly bonkers marathon training has had a positive impact on shorter distances.
It also seems I am developing a new race day routine for achieving personal best times.
First, choose a pace setter and then immediately fall behind.
I couldn’t get near the 1.45 pace setter before the start due to a badly timed toilet stop and the amount of people in the seeding pen (in the marathon it was sheer weight of numbers that blocked my path early on). When the gun went off – or in this case the bloody enormous cannon – it took me thirty seconds to cross the start line and my opening kilometre of 5:30 put me forty seconds back of the pace flag.
Next, feel heavy legged in the early part of the race.
It took me five kilometres or so to get back on track with the 1.45 bus (in the marathon it was probably more like 10km). For that entire time my legs felt (if you’ll bear with me being technical) crap. I didn’t feel like I was running with any fluency and my expectations were not high.
Third rule of race day…get in front of your pacing group by some weird accident.
In the marathon a burst of energy after seeing my family at the half way point accidentally got me in front of the four hour bus. On Sunday there was some confusion at a water point which I skipped past. In both cases getting in front gave me real impetus and the added game of trying to put daylight between myself and the bus spurred me on.
After you get in front of the pace group it’s just you against your watch.
I had my virtual pacer set at five minutes per km which is effectively 1:45 pace. By the time I hit the 9km mark I was about two minutes up but with the only climb of the race to come over the next 2km. I set myself the challenge of maintaining that gap all the way to the summit and through a combination of heavy breathing and some nifty footwork to sidestep those runners who decided to stop dead half way up the hill I managed to clock two consecutive kms of 5:04. With a decent downhill to come and a very familiar (and very flat) last seven or eight kays to finish…anything was possible.
When I checked my splits after the race I saw I did my first 10km in 47:45.
Happy with that.
What stunned me was that my next 10km was just under 45 minutes. Sure there was
some downhill, but to put it into context my best recorded 10km race is a shade over 46 minutes.
And so out of nowhere I was a kilometre from the finish line and it was no longer a case of can I break it? It was simply a question of by how much.
Guess I’m going to be needing some new goals 🙂
If I can get this far in three months who knows what a full season can hold. Right now I’m thinking that by this time next year I should aim to…
…break the forty minute barrier for 10km…
…break the 1:30 barrier for a half marathon…
…break the 3:30 barrier for a full marathon…
…put my Two Oceans Ultra demons to bed and get all 56km done…
Are they ambitious targets? Absolutely.
Are they any harder to achieve than what I’ve achieved since July? Nah. I don’t think so.
For any fellow runners reading this post, I hope you are all nailing your goals. Let me know what they are – would love to hear from you.