Do you remember, back in the day, when lights just had switches and it was all as simple as “on” and “off”?
It’s a week since the half marathon – the Royal Parks. Already the weather has taken a turn for the worse today’s grey skies and occasional rain contrasting heavily with the bright sunshine and 22C of just 7 days ago. Whilst the weather is different, my legs are still sore or more sore than I thought that they would be by now. I went for a run yesterday and laboured through 15.5km in just over 90 mins.
Last week’s run felt great though. I’d run 20k a couple of times in the build up the race but not in any particularly special time – 2h 8m or so. So when I started last weekend I was readying myself for a tough run at about 2h pace. With 200 days to go before the London Marathon I wasn’t ready for anything faster and nor did I need to prove I could go quicker. There’s plenty of time, and pain, for that.
When I looked at my watch and saw that I was through the first km in around 4:30 I was more than surprised. Bizarrely it wasn’t until the 10km mark that I ran a km over 5 minute pace. In all of the training I’ve done since I recovered from the knee operations, I hadn’t managed a sustained burst at better than 5 min/km for any distance longer than a km. The graph below shows my time per kilometre throughout the race (exported from SportTracks and captured by my Forerunner 305)
Most of my training runs in the last 3 months have concentrated on distances between 10 and 12.5km – and my lack of readiness to carry on running at pace for the rest of the face is evident as I got slower and slower. Of course, the weather was getting hotter and hotter too, which wasn’t helping.
I ran the British 10km at the end of August in 53 minutes or so. The first 10km in this race went by in 47:24. That’s pretty fast for me – in fact, I think it’s the fastest 10k time I’ve run in the last 10 years. The second 10km was a lot slower at 54 something.
I’d recommend the Royal Parks to anyone. If you’re looking for a late season race next year, this is the one to pick. It’s a better route than you’ll find anywhere else – running out of the main gates of Hyde Park, through the Wellington Arch and straight up to Westminster Bridge is difficult to beat. Once you’re at the finish the support team – who had been brilliant throughout – were handing out bananas, mars bars, ice cream, powerade and all sorts of goodies. There were a couple of forlorn looking store holders trying to sell hot food who were not getting any trade at all, such was the volume of free stuff being handed out.
Those who read the tales of my running exploits or who know me, also know that I’m a data nut. So I’ve pulled out the last two town centre half marathons I did, both a few weeks before the London Marathon in 2006. The first is the Liverpool Half from March 19th 2006:
Finish time was around 1:49 too – although you’ll see a pretty even pace throughout the run, despite there being an absolutely brutal hill around the midway point (down on the way out and then back up a short while later – it’s pretty clear where it went up from the point at km13 when I slow down above 5min/km for pretty much the first time (the first km I was stuck in a huge crowd).
The second is the Reading Half (from the 9th April 2006):
The speed pattern for this run doesn’t look nearly as neat, although it’s consistently much faster and it looks like I ran a negative split (a faster time in the second half than the first half), which is something I’ve always wanted to do in a marathon but never managed to.
For interest, there are the first 10k and second 10k times for me from each of these races:
Liverpool 1st: 49:50 2nd: 49:36
Reading 1st: 48:28 2nd: 47:49
Royal Parks 1st: 47:24 2nd: 54:39
I don’t know if there’s a story in this data yet – time will tell – but it’s interesting that, with just a couple of hundred km of running behind me after 2 1/2 years of recovery, I can run faster than I managed in the run up to one of my fastest marathons ever (3:51:00 was my finish time in the London Marathon 2006)
For those after the route map for the Royal Parks Half Marathon – you can find it at MotionBased from the picture below.
More in a couple of days …
Tomorrow is race day. It’s the Royal Parks Half Marathon. The last time I ran that distance was in Windsor Great Park in the run up to the New York Marathon in late 2006. I finished the Windsor run in a relatively poor time for me – 1:58 I think – and went on to run NY in 3:58, which felt pretty good. I didn’t run the Great North last week, although I’d half intended to – a friend had some spare tickets but in the end he didn’t go and so I didn’t either.
I’d be happy with 1:58 for the run tomorrow, or even 2:08. I haven’t yet got back into full training and recent pressures mean that there just hasn’t been the time to get more than 1 or sometimes 2 runs a week in.
I’m going to go out optimistically though and will even wear my 1:50 pace bracelet. Race days bring out the best in most of us perhaps, so I might as well shoot for a quicker time, knowing that getting round will be pretty good given that I’ve barely run in the last 2 years.
I’m certainly hoping not to look like the guy at left, who plainly could have done with a little Paula Radcliffe decorum – at least she stopped and went by the side of the road.
The real point of the run tomorrow though is as part of the preparation for the London Marathon on April 24th 2009. That’s a good 200 days away so I have plenty of time to get fit, get damaged or get good. Hopefully fit and good.
It will be 10 years next year since I ran my first marathon and I’m hoping to get back to the kind of time I could run then when whilst obviously 10 years younger I was a good few pounds lighter too. 3:45 would be great. I’m hankering after 3:30 but will see how that looks the nearer I get.
In the run up to previous marathons, time pressures have meant that I’ve run lots of 6.25km loops – 25 or 30 even – and very few long runs, maybe twice over 30km. To get to 3:45 or better, I’ve resolved I’m going to have to get some longer runs in more regularly – so plenty of 12km and 15km loops and then at least 3, maybe 4 runs over 3 hours. Pressures of work mean that this looks too optimistic right now, but we’ll see how things go – if I can get a couple of early morning runs in and then a long one most weekends, that might make the difference.
I’ll post here how I get on – a few commenters have expressed interest in how I’m getting on, so apologies for being silent on that.