There we go!

There we go!
Pushing the Nitro Button

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Shell Chester Half Marathon 2011

Training had gone well before this race. My taper was not quite so successful! My sleeping had been not so great – maybe in part due to caffeine withdrawal. During my taper, which had taken 2 weeks, I had dropped my mileage from around 50 miles per week to 25 miles in the first week and then 8 in the final week. During this time I had put 3lb of weight on and, with the higher intensity of the runs, I had soreness in my legs that had concerned me as potential injuries.
The weather on Sunday 15th was nice and cool. The only concern I had was the wind. As I’m quite tall and broad I find it quite hard to run into the wind. I had cut caffeine for the final week of the taper, which had led to some withdrawal symptoms! So as I approached Chester I took my sports legs (4) and 6 caffeine tablets 1 hour before the race. I had consulted a few friends on Buckeyeoutdoors concerning my heart rate monitor/strap.  The consensus was that I should try to run without referring to it, so I decided to run without it. My plan was to try to run a 1.42-3 finish time. My training, and other races suggested that this was possible. My fall back goal was to PB and my ideal goal was to go below 1.40!
I decided to do a short warmup as I had hoped to get into my 7.30-40 pace pretty quickly. As the race started, and I crossed the timing mat, the congestion was always going to cause me to drop some time.
Mile 1 went OK but the 7.57 pace was not what I wanted. Miles 2, 3 and 4 went perfectly with an average pace of 7.40. Cadence was fine at 85/6 including a 30 sec walk break in mile 3. Mile 5 was OK at 7.50 with a 40 sec walk break but my cadence had dropped to 83 average. At this time I decided to use my MP3 player to help keep my cadence up. The next mile, mile 6, was a bit slow coming in at 8.06 but this was partly due to me pulling my mp3 player out and setting it up. The effect of this was immediate. Miles 7 and 8 saw cadence back up to 85 average and pace was back at 7.40 average. Mile 9 saw the course turn back towards Chester and straight into the wind.  Pace dropped to 8 min with a 50 sec walk break. Miles 10,11,12 and 13 all included walk breaks and were in the 8.25pace area. As the finish line approached I put in a final effort which saw me cross the line at 7.30pace! I was completely out of it at the line. I felt as near as I ever have that I would blackout! After standing bent over for what seemed like a minute I went to have my chip removed and off to wait for my 2011 teeshirt!
My finish time on the watch was 1.45.59, and the distance showed 13.26, there was a lot of moving around the road to avoid congestion, though my official chip time was 1.46.02.
The race had been harder than I had hoped. My previous training had clearly helped but I am still waiting for the break through into the sub 1.40 area. My age graded performance was 58.72 which put me in 714 place in the race and 132nd in my age group. This was an improvement on last year as I had placed 750th with an age grading of 57.62 and 128th in my age group .
In conclusion, I am happy with my performance, I think I could have done better on a better day but I gave it everything I had on the day and I’m happy with that!
Over the last three years I’m happy that I’m getting better.
In 2009 I came 1341 in the age graded finish times.
In 2010 I came 901st and in this years race I came 832nd. Nice to see some room for improvement J
Next race is the Llandudno 10 on 22nd May – nice and flat – but again the chances of strong wind are high!

1 comment:

  1. Glad you heeded the advice by not wearing a heart rate monitor for the race. By similar logic you shouldn't bother monitoring your cadence either! There's no harm in doing so while on your training runs, but a race is a race!

    Though your time/pace didn't reflect it, given the wind in your face on the second half of your route I suspect on an exertion basis you came close to a negative split, so good job in avoiding an early race burn-out.

    Next race, in lieu of taking the time to get your MP3 straight I'd suggest you already have it all set at the start line (i.e. earphones in place, MP3 player all cued up to your fast paced playlist, volume set appropriately), such that when you need motivation all you need to do is hit the "play" button.

    Also, to help you get your cadence to where it should be (ideally ~180 steps per minute), I'd recommend noting your average cadence on each training run. VERY gradually (no faster than two steps per minute increase per week) seek to increase your cadence by shortening your stride somewhat (it's likely you're overstriding, as most runners do). In this regard I've found it quite helpful to wear running shoes that have a smaller heel-to-toe drop, ideally 6 mm. or less (I'm fond of the Nike Free, the Saucony Kinvara and the Newton training shoe).