Sunday, December 10, 2017

Back on the road

After the completion of my big goal of running a full marathon, it was interesting to get my mind back to other interesting running goals. I generally wanted to develop a better "aerobic base" for my running next year - this is to make the body more efficient and enduring for any kind of running. I had a few particular goals, too, I wanted to do more social running and also make breakthroughs in my running of particular distances.

For 5km running, my plan is to take part in "parkruns" from time to time to push for improvements in my 5km running. Parkruns are free, timed 5km runs in parks around the world. Auckland has about four different parkruns, and I've already been to Cornwall Park's and enjoyed it enough to go back. My goal is to be able to reliably break 20 minutes on most courses. As it is, I've only broken 20 minutes once on the waterfront.

For half marathons, I'll take part in some of the half marathon series that are around every month or two. My goal here is to slowly bring my time down closer and closer to 1:30, with my first goal being to reliably run a half marathon under 1:35. My last big race of the year was the Omaha Half Marathon, which I did this morning. I'd committed to it once I felt my recovery from Auckland Marathon had gotten to the point that I could train again. It was an interesting race.

I'm not sure if my pacing problems are any bigger than anyone else's. Pacing is thorny. Individual to races and individuals. I blew my chances of a good time at the Auckland Marathon through my over-optimistic pacing. Several other 5km/10km races this year failed too for similar reasons. To get to the intermediate target of a 1:35 finishing time, I had to average 4 mins 29 seconds per km over the whole race (4:29). But this race, I thought was the best most strategic pacing I've ever done. After the 5km, I wasn't overtaken; I overtook a lot of good runners. It went something like this: The race starts with small tracks near Omaha beach and near a reservoir. I was conservative, just using little bursts to get in front of people, keeping around 4:30 pace and then it was onto the beach. Sand-running is generally slower than track running and this section went for 2kms and my pace was about 4:55 for the duration. I was overtaken by some on the beach and I chose to not mind slipping back. From my recent training runs, I knew I could sustain 4:20-4:30 pace for the middle sections if I'm not too tired. My overall pace once I left the beach was 4:36 but then I relied on moving from one bunch of runners to the next making sure that I was cruising with a group before moving onto the next one to keep my desired pace. For the 14km after the beach, I maintained an average of 4:26 which dragged my overall pace to 4:29. Right on!

But that's when disaster struck. The route of the half marathon crosses many other race routes and somehow I got confused and went down the wrong road. I realised it pretty quickly but wasn't sure where I'd gotten it wrong and I managed to link up with some other runners. Unfortunately they weren't runners from my event. After 21km came up on my app, I knew I was nowhere near the finish line. I asked a few marshalls but they were unclear how I could get back. Instead, I decided just to run this second race path and get to the end... I ran 27.5km with a terrible half marathon time in the end.

It was embarrassing but I proved my theory and my fitness. I wish I could run it all over again.

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