The Holy Grail Of The Sub-100 Half

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.

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 10.32.22 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 10.33.14 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 10.26.39 PM

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.

12 thoughts on “The Holy Grail Of The Sub-100 Half

    • Hehe – thanks Mel. I followed the race up with a McD’s breakfast, half my body weight in chocolate and half a dozen beers. I only run to justify the food and booze 🙂

      Now save a couch spot and pass me a beer!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Well done Nik.

    My next goal for the half is to get close to 1hr30min in the next Great North Run. But I might bump up the distance and go for a marathon next year. I missed out on a place in the general ballot of the London Marathon, but I might enter the Edinburgh Marathon.

    I’m hoping that training for a marathon will have a similar effect on my own half-marathon time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Paul. Your exploits in the Great North Run this year inspired me to be honest and I have no doubt you can get to your half marathon target.

      You’ll be fine in making the transition to a marathon – the one thing I discovered over the last few months is that consistency is the key rather than crazy mileage. I did five miles four times a week and then a long run on Sunday which increased each week. I’m probably going to refine that to do three weeks of increments and then drop back in the fourth week – I think they call it step training or something. You’ve already got a lot of base fitness if you can clock a sub 1:40 so the long runs won’t be an issue – the furthest I went on a training run was probably 21 or 22 miles and I only did that once. In previous years I had good weeks and bad weeks so the consistency was never there and it led to problems on each of the previous three marathon race days.

      The big knock on for the half marathon is that it suddenly feels short and the mileage in your legs gives you a lot of strength in the second half. Good luck with it – keep me posted with how it’s going 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish I had the same enthusiasm for exercise, I’m very envious. My running exploits are mostly confined to either running out of time or running the occasional bath. Anyway, I must run, I’ve got work to do….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love reading your posts on your races! I’m so jealous! Definitely living vicariously through you lol I miss that moment when you know that not only are you ahead of your goal pace, but that even if you slacked off you’d still beat it! Which, of course, no one ever does because at that point you’ve got to see just how much faster you can go!! Or maybe that’s just me… I drive my husband crazy with my constant competition against myself. Every race has to be faster than the last. And even I place, if I don’t beat my goal time, I’m a little disappointed. I think there may be a part of him that’s actually happy I’m not training for anything this year lol….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jess, you’ve just given the kind of comment that only a runner could truly understand – your point about being ahead of goal pace and then not slacking off is SO true! Before Sunday’s race I told my wife I was probably just going to sit on the two hour bus and have some fun – that was before start-line fever kicked in!

      I don’t worry so much about every race being faster than the last because there are a wide variety of courses in the local races but I do like to see an improvement on the same race the previous year. My half marathon PB had stood at about 1:42 since (I think) early 2013 and that was on a flatter course. No chance I’m going to go faster this weekend – it’s a run through the vineyards which is part trail, part road and full of sharp little hills and slippery descents. Maybe I should take my phone, take some pictures, take it easy…hmm… 😉

      You’ve given me a good laugh this morning comparing our levels of crazy – thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • All the races we have around here pretty much follow the EXACT same route. Sounds like if that was the case for you, then you’d have the same mindset as me! That’s why my husband and I travel to other states for most of our longer races. It’s my dream to run in the Rome Marathon… I keep telling my husband I’m going to run it with a camera so I can take pictures all along the route… I don’t know why he doesn’t believe me lol

        Liked by 1 person

      • We have a lot of overlap for portions of races but we are blessed with some amazing variances in terms of half marathons and marathons – and of course our ultimate challenge the 2 Oceans Ultra (56km/35miles). We’ve got everything from fast and flat to one that basically points you at Table Mountain and says “Run. Turn in 10.5Km and run back!”. Amazing scenery too – beach promenade last week, vineyards and semi-trail this week. A real runner’s paradise – although definitely a place to start learning to love hill climbs…

        Rome marathon would be amazing…although I’ve always had a nagging desire to do Boston and New York. One day when I’m big 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s