There we go!

There we go!
Pushing the Nitro Button

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

2011 Nick Beer 10km Race Report

The Great Orme in Llandudno, North Wales, could never be considered and easy run. With 700m of climbing it doesn't take any prisoners. At least the weather was looking good for a reasonable run and a pretty straightforward destruction of my PB. The last time I did this race was 2 years ago. I had completed the course in 53min 33sec. It had been the second race I had ever run. I missed out on the race last year due to a family issue but this year I was going to take my PB down in a big way.
If you’ve read my 2011 Pier to Pier race report, you’ll know that the weather had really hurt my chances of a sub 45 min 10km but this time the weather was set fair. My prep had been great. I’d tapered properly, running for less than 1hr in the previous week.  As I said the weather was almost perfect. I would have preferred a slight drizzle to cool me down even more, but the big danger – the wind – was looking very easy.
I met my friend Richard just before the race for a warm-up. Richard is a pretty quick runner. He completed this course in 43.22 just last year. Unfortunately, Richard was involved in a car accident just a few months ago which has given him some difficulties running. So it wasn’t clear how well he would perform.  We just jogged very easy for 400m and I did a few strides on the return.
As the clock came round to 12.00pm the horn went and the first runners started. I crossed the line after about 1 min and turned my watch on. I felt really strong from the off. I suffered in the first half mile from runner congestion which added about 30 seconds to my time. First 1km in 4mins 45 sec. My heart rate was already in the mid 150s. The next kilometer continues the uphill and was completed in 4 min 41 sec. My cadence was averaging 172 per minute. My normal cadence on the flat is nearer 180 in these shorter races but the ascent of the Great Orme is not to be taken lightly. Even though it climbs a mere 500 ft over the first 4km it feels relentless.
 I had hoped to get to the top of the Orme within 20 mins. This would have given me 90 seconds to catch-up on the long descent down onto the West shore of Llandudno.  On this occasion my slow start meant I was at 21 min 20 seconds when I reached the top. It was clear to me that the 45min target was out of the question. Now all I had to aim for was as good a time as I could on the day. As I descended off the Orme my pace was a pretty consistent 7.25, still to slow for my original target but fair as the climb had really taken it out of my legs. My average heart rate was in the 160-165 range, normal for me on a 10km. The most interesting part of this race is the run up Church walks. Even though the climb is just 100ft in total, over half a mile, it needs to be planned for. The number of people who have to walk up this hill is crazy!
Anyway, my ascent of Church walks was well below 8 min pace so a fair time was still on the cards. I had been chatting to a guy as I ran down the far side of the Orme and this had helped to keep my heart rate in check. Now as I passed the 8km mark he was finding it hard to hold on. The final 500m of Church Walks is a decent onto the North Shore Promenade. This comes at a great time for the tired runner. If you’ve pushes the boat out getting to the top of the hill you can choose to take it easy and recover while still keeping a sub 8 min pace. This is what I did. Kilometers 8 and 9 were completed in just less than 8 min pace. I didn’t have a target time in mind at this stage. I was just running as fast as I could without burning all my energy. At this stage in a race I find it useful to spot someone up front that I think I can catch. On this occasion I had noticed a guy run past me down the back of the Orme and for this reason I had him in my sights! As the final km started I estimate that I was about 50m down on him. As I spotted the 500m to go sign I had reduced that to 20m. Strangely, no one had past me by this time so I felt I must have been going strong. I passed him just before the final 250m sign. In front of me were 3 runners. One young guy who looked a lot faster than me, an older guy who was just holding on, and a woman who is well known in these parts for wearing luminous kit! It’s at this point in any race that you find whether you’ve got anything left in the tank. I targeted the crazy lady and “pushed the nitro button”!  I had the amazing feeling that I was flying! As I crossed the line I found that I was! My Garmin showed a pace of 5.16/per mile. In addition, I saw, for the first time ever, 180 on my watch as a real max HR!
Lessons learnt from this race are; Set a reasonable target time and my training needs to be more specific! Next race is the Chester Half Marathon in May J

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Race Report - 2011 - The Pier to Pier 10km


The weather at 1pm on Saturday 15th January 2011 was terrible! There was a constant rain with strong easterly winds gusting up to 40mph! My youngest daughter, Emily aged 10, had completed her 3km fun run earlier in the day and had improved significantly on last year’s time with a time of 20.48, over 2 mins faster than last years time in much worse conditions. So as I lined up at 1pm I was feeling very proud of her and not a little worried that my target of sub 45min was going to be very tough to achieve.
We were held on the line for several mins and, with the terrible weather I felt like an Emperor penguin dutifully guarding my egg!  The shot was fired at 1.01pm exactly and off we went. This year there were 275 finishers, as against last years 372. In this sense the weather had been helpful in clearing the field for the more hardened runners.
Early in the race I was trying to keep my HR down while trying to achieve my 7.14 goal pace. I hadn’t warmed up properly so I was taking a few chances. Mile 1 went in 7.14 exactly with an average HR of 149. The second mile included the assent of the Little Orme. By this time I had spotted a friend who was running the race I had always been a pretty quick runner. I decided to try to follow him. This helped pull me up the hill at a good pace, mile 2 in 7.24. I was well on target with the hardest bit of the race behind me.
The beginning of mile 3 is the decent from the top of the Little Orme. This was an opportunity to drop my HR while putting in a nice quick mile. Mile 3 was completed in 7.15 but my HR had not dropped as I had hoped. This was partly due to my lack of high cadence downhill training and partly due to the cross wind that was now pushing us to the left. The wind was such that I and the other runners had to lean to the right to avoid running into the sea wall! As mile 4 continued the road turned right into the wind. I had run in these conditions before but not at 7.15 pace! Mile 4 was completed in 7.22. I was about 20 seconds off my pace. While I was trying to keep the pace up my HR had leveled out in the 165-170 range. This for me is 97% of my maximum HR! I tried to push one more time and I felt that there was nothing left. I needed to take a walk break to get my HR down. I decided to take a 30 sec walk break. This helped my HR drop from 168 to 159bpm. I knew the 45 mins target had gone by this time but I was going to give it everything I had. With the walk break, mile 5 was completed in 7.40 with an average HR of 165. It was now time to get the pace back up and hang on as long as I could! This section of the course includes a decent of about 30ft over 400m. There was only one runner ahead of me that I could chase so I tried my best to get to him. He had to have been 15 seconds ahead of me going into the last mile of the course but I was going to catch him….. Mile 6 was completed in 7.34 with and average HR of 168. I had no idea of the time in the last 320m. All I was doing was trying to catch the guy in front of me………As I crossed the line he was 1 second in front of me! I had completed the race in 45.54. The last .2 of a mile was at 7.13 pace and an average HR of 170bpm. Who said having a heart condition would slow me down J I finished in 93rd place this year as against 137th place last year.  I had improved in both my time and in my position in the field. I hadn’t achieved what I had hoped for but I had pushed myself as hard as I could. Never before had I gone so hard that my legs still ached 3 days after the race, and anyway there’s always next year and  “sub 45 and beyond!”