Sunday, August 13, 2006

Newark Half Marathon!

Today I sucessfully completed the Newark Half Marathon. Before I get onto that I'll just mention this weeks training.

I took Tuesday/Thursday off and only ran on Wednesday this week. I ran an intervals session 1 minute fast / 1 minute jog for about 3.5 miles. On Friday I did my normal gym session, but a little lighter on the weights.

So, the Half Marathon. Going into today I was slightly apprehensive wondering what pace I could sustain for the whole run. My practice half marathon I had done in a few seconds under 1:58:00, not far off 9 minute miles. I had not eaten that day, ran out of water, and hit the wall, so I had problems. I really was hoping to beat that today. The course is very flat for the first 9 miles. It's not quite as flat as the picture makes out, with a few long gradients, but certainly pretty flat. After 9.5 miles there is one climb, followed by a 1 or so gradient up to 12 miles. Then a downhill, a short flat and a short climb to the finish.

I arrived in Newark a little less than 20 minutes from the start. Slightly later than I intended, but sufficient to get a short warm up in. It was raining fairly hard and the heavans opened seconds before the start. The heavy rain persisted for most of the race, with the odd 10 minute change to light drizzle. At least it wasn't scorching hot!

There were race numbers up to about 950, but I don't know how many actually started. The gun went and I started off at an steady pace. Because I was uncertain how I would perform I settled on around the 08:50 minute mile pace. Lots of people came streaming past me, and I probably ended up in the back 1/3 of the race in a short space of time. I reined in the urge to go faster, and stuck to my race plan. I told myself if I felt good later in the race i'd push a little.

The first 4 miles of the race wound through the outskirts of Newark up and down streets in housing estates. Because of the weather hardly a soul was out to cheer us on though! The race was well marshalled but there were a few problems with impatient drivers tearing up the road beside us. Annoying, but nothing the marshals could do to stop them. I saw Anna and Alex a couple of times, although I spotted them before they spotted me. I have got to wear red in future apparently, it stands out more than the grey T-Shirt I had on.

The feeding stations started at 3.5 miles. There was one at 4.5, 5.5, 6.8, 8.5. 10.5, 11.5, 12. One dissapointment that they only served water and sponges, no electrolyte on any of them. However, I had a good breakfast of porridge oats and was well hydrated anyway. I took the small plastic cups of water, slowed my pace a touch and took a few mouthfulls before discarding the rest. Such frequent feeding stations meant I didn't have to take much in. Only at 8.5 did I take two cups, knowing there was a longer drag to the next water station. The miles went by pretty quicky, and at 7 miles I realised I was feeling pretty good. I had already come past a people who had blown up too early and were walking (after 2 miles in some cases!!) or had faded badly. I picked up the pace, edging the minute mile pace down into 08:49. This gradually came down and down over the next few miles until I was on 08:40 at 11 miles.

I passed a quite a lot of people on the hill section. Even though the hills were nothing compared to the ones I train on, they killed off the pace of some competitors. At 11.5 miles I picked up the pace a little more, and really strided out at the 12 mile downhill. I didn't look at my watch again, and continued to go past people right until the end, even managing a sprint finish to see-off someone who I had already passed, who fancied getting the place back!
I stopped my watch at the finish:

01:52:35 Total Time
08:34 Average Pace

I was really really happy with that. I'd not only cracked 2 hours, which I had more or less assumed I would, I had brought the average pace down to practically 8.5 minute miles. This bodes really well for New York, as it means with a bit more work I can try and run at around 09:00 minute miles for the whole 26 miles. It is going to mean some serious effort and some hard interval sessions, but today has given me a confidence boost and I'm sure I can do it.
I know I could have gone a little faster, earlier on now, but I'm glad I played safe and stuck to exactly my plan for the race. I'll know for next time.

Good Points:
Great finishing time, great average pace. Well hydrated and plenty of energy. I had carb-loaded with pasta for 2 days previous. My 3/3 breathing rythym worked well. I sounded very composed next to the hard breathing, spluttering people I passed. Slipped into 2/2 for the last couple of miles for a quicker pace. GPS timing was invaluable.

Bad points:
No electrolyte given out at the feeding stations. Arrived at the event a little later than intended, sothings felt a little rushed.

How to improve:
Confirm that electrolyte is supplied at NY feeding stations. I'm sure it has to be for that distance, but I want to be sure. Allow even more time in the mornings to get ready, and to travel to avoid being rushed. GPS is a must for NY, invaluable tool.

Three months more training to the NY marathon, I now enter training month 7 feeling happy and confident.

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