Saturday, 29 September 2012

Getting Back to Best at Battersea

(Posted 02/12/12)

Next up in my bid for qualification for London Marathon 2013 was a 10K. The last time I’d raced in a 10K was the very same race in August 2011. Sadly it was after this very race that I my shin splints reoccurred again and I was to be sidelined for a significant time. In order to improve your marathon time you need to be able to run your 10K splits in a certain time so I was doing this 10K to both get some race practice and to see how was speed was progressing since I'd started training again. One of my key training sessions in the build up to a 10K is going down to track and running 5 times 2km intervals at slightly faster than 10K pace with 90 seconds rest between each interval. 

It was an extremely early start in leafy Battersea Park. But the perfect conditions made up for the early rise. It was chilly but calm, crisp and beautifully sunny.

My aim in this race was to try and improve on last year’s time but also to try and get more consistent with my pacing, after my poor splits in Maidenhead.  This time I managed to resist the urge of charging out early. This seemed to pay dividends early in the race as I was whizzing past other runners who it seemed had made the mistake that I usually make. That said, my pacing still wasn't perfect with a whole 19 seconds between my slowest and fastest kilometres. I didn't go over 6 minute miles though and posted a decent time of 35:40, finishing in the top 10.

Post race smile

The finish was a little disappointing. In the final straight I was neck and neck with another guy. I turned on the booster switch and overtook him assuming that I’d be able to hang on but he trumped me with his own sprint finish and I’d already given too much. This actually turned out to mean I missed out on a trophy as they are given out for places 1-7 within each age group and this was a battle for 7th for males under 50. It’s not a bad feeling to have finished a 10K before 9am on a Saturday though!

Avg Pace

Time: 35:40 (SB)
Position: 9th/146

Click here for results.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

The Start of a Comeback in Maidenhead

(Posted 02/12/12)

The Maidenhead Half Marathon was my first race of any sort since as far back as August 2011. I’d chosen a half marathon as I’d decided to try and qualify for the 2013 London Marathon (confusingly you can read about this in a future post here). I had to pull out the previous 2 years because of my shin splint issues and I've been desperate  to qualify again. There’s only so many times I can stand and watch the marathon go past! However, having already missed the deadline for the Good for Age category which I qualified with previously, the only means left is a  UK Championship place. The qualifying time for a man is sub 1 hour 15 for a half marathon and sub 2 hours 45 for a marathon. My PBs are 1:17:08 and 2:47:51 respectively so it might not sound like I'm far away but it is by no means easy to take a couple of minutes off those PBs, especially as they are from 2 years ago.  Leading up to the race I had done a few weeks of training but I was really using this race as an indicator of where my fitness is and whether qualification for London is a realistic possibility or not.

For the first time I had Sarah join me on a race day. It was great to have the support as I have been used to going to travelling to smaller races like this on my own. It was relatively straight forward to get to Maidenhead from  London  as there is a regular train service and the start of the race was handily very close to the station. The only complication was forgetting my railcard and having to pay for a new ticket! The last thing you want in the build up to a race is a stressful situation like this. At least picking up my race number was a quick process despite the large numbers of runners and supporters who were congregated in the area.

A fast start is a false economy

The race was started in Maidenhead town centre by Gold medallist Paralympian Sophie Christiansen which was a great touch so soon after the Paralympics. There was a real buzz around the start with plenty of enthusiastic supporters lining the first straight making for an exciting event. I got myself into a good position the front pen and didn’t have to do much jockeying for position. The gun went and with all the excitement I made a familiar error starting the race far too fast. I was racing like this was a 10K instead of a half marathon. I passed Sarah on the first bend and we flew through the town. I regretted my eager start within a few miles when I really started to struggle to keep up my early pace. My mile splits (below) tell the story. There are a whole 45 seconds between my fastest and my slowest mile, which is not good for a fairly flat half marathon.

The course was flat and therefore fast, meaning there was good potential for a fast time. I must admit I don’t remember too much about the race itself other than the middle of it being a real struggle because of lack of race practice and my early pacing. However I battled through and managed a pretty fast last mile and even a sprint finish. In fact it turned out to be my 2nd fastest half marathon time. My time gave me the confidence that I wasn't too far off where I was a couple of years ago but also reminded me how much work there is left to do.

A well earned sit down post race and Sarah showing off my medal

Time: 1:18:51
Position: 25th/1829

Click here for results.