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Hampton Court Half – Race Debrief
Sunday 18 February 2018
By Ian Haylock
I just sorted out my Marathon PB last year at Abingdon, so this year I thought I need to tidy up the half. The marathon is a beast and needs to be respected. Like Mo says, You never stop learning and there’s lots to constantly monitor and evaluate : pace, hydration, fuel and managing the conditions (especially the heat). I always try to hold something in the locker for the 2nd half as the beast will sort you out if you don’t give it enough respect.
By contrast anything up to half marathon ( 5k, 10k, Halves ) you can pretty much go for if you trust you showed up in training and did the work. In the past I did the work but often fell short on race day – a combo of over training and not getting my head right. So this year I thought a) go on a plan and b) sort my head.
I had a quick look at the sub 1 30 plans on line and went with runners’ world. I picked the training up from week 6 of the 12 week plan. Another quick look and thought I can do most of this – pace on the whole looks fine. I had to up the frequency though from 4 to 5-6 sessions a week but to be honest, I’d only substitute a rest day for a 3/10 ( effort ) recovery day which was 3-4 miles @8 min/mile pace. The rest of the days were a long Sunday run ( I did these at 0800 hrs with the Shaef crew in Mo’s office ( Bushy ) , anything from 8m up to say 14m ) , tempo or intervals. Week 6 required a solid 10m in sub 70 and I got through it. The other hard run was a sub 1 32 half marathon 4 weeks before race day ( so 7 min milers). The double take was 1 week before race day, the plan said bang out a sub 40 10k which I’d only ever done once. In reality I reckon I could have gotten away with sub 42 but I wanted to get the confidence up. Out came the racing flats and I put in a 39 handle ( stitch after mile 2 but I stayed with it somehow ). The calves were in bits and they only recovered 2 days before race day. The week before was the taper. In taper week, the plan said keep up the frequency and intensity but cut the mileage. The last hard effort was Tuesday reps 8x400 @ 6.20 pace off 200m trot recovery. Then a couple of days of 4 milers @ easy 8 min pace with some strides.
0615 hrs, Sunday 18th Feb 2018: alarm went – time to get out my pit and go operational. Trust in the training. Cracked on with the admin and the pre race of porridge and 1x tea and 1x toast. Out the door, in the car and stopped 1mile short of the race location in Thames Ditton . Started a warm up trot and at 9 min mile the stitch turned up - not great, but better now than during the run. Arrived an hour early but it was Baltic, 4 degrees – so just milled about. It was so damn cold I couldn’t be bothered to get into the race vest and start the warm up routine – lazy. ( usually if I know I’m running 6.40 ish pace I need to get the system moving 20 mins before ). Finally took the layers off 10 minutes before the race and put in a few 100m strides to let the heart know it needs to wake up and go operational.
Off went the gun at 0830. I was in the 1 30 pen ( 6.52/ mile pace ) but didn’t want to go with the pacer – thinking it gets a bit too crowded and macho. So I took it to 6.40s. The first mile was quick at 6.30, so I though lets ease off to 6.40-45/m but I seemed to stay around 6.35/mile. I felt fine – I wasn’t going anywhere near lactate ( dip into lactate and the race is over early doors ☹ ) . Prior to the race, I thought if I go at 6.45-50 pace then I should certainly get sub 1 30 and a pb. But that was training on dead legs and after a week of taper, you don’t really know where you’re at – what the race pace level was. I was at 6.35/m pace and not 6.45-50 pace - that was my level, I’d become fitter than I thought in 6 weeks. I cracked on. 5k came and I was there in around 20 mins , 20.15 I think. 10k came and I was thinking 42 mins would to be a good time – I banged out 40:38. These were good standalone times for me so had to be careful I didn’t empty the locker completely. Got a reading at half way ( 6.55 miles ) and it was around 43:xx meaning the pressure was off. I’d certainly cracked the sub 1 30 – break even was about 7.15/m pace for the second half. So now there were 2 targets 1 27-8 hollywood time with the downside protected at 1 hr 30. The job was done, pressure off and I could relax. I came to 10m and clocked 65: 50 ( a 10 mile pb ) . All the time I held this 6.35/m pace, the breakeven to get sub 1 30 widened. Think now I only needed to run 8 min mile pace to get sub 1 30. Mile 11, 2 miles to go – I was getting tired but I figured hold on to sub 7 min mile pace – 6.55s and the 1 27 handle is coming my way ( Get in ! ) . Thoughts went to Kipchoge : ‘ Control your mind, or it will control you’. Ex Royal Marine Ant Middleton: ‘The only thing that will fail you is your head’. They were right, I’d always put in the work in training but I’d never finished the job on race day – this time I was going sort my head and sort out the 1 27. Finally I held on to the finish and printed 1 27:26. ☺ ☺ . Key takeaways trust in the training and mentally stay strong and tell yourself you’ve trained for this.
Today – falling apart. Everything is playing up – Hams, calves and piriformis…