Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Learning from Failure

So, the half marathon didn't go that well. I ran 1:34:35, only my third-best, or alternatively, second worst, half-marathon time. I was pretty disappointed as I finished, and as it became clear that I wasn't going to go close to 1:30, I didn't even try to do a lung-bursting sprint at the finish. Because of timing of the respective race starts, the finish area was being flooded with Round the Bays fun runners, all smiley and "participating". I ate my free banana, drank some water and stalked off in disgust.

To be fair, I did go a bit quicker than I had in training -- almost two minutes quicker than I'd previously managed to the traffic lights at Cobham drive. However, I had wrongly estimated the course, and that stretch was not one third of the race as I had thought. The turn around point was about 1.5 km further on than I'd thought it was.

So the real problem was that I hadn't trained well enough or long enough and wasn't strong enough to make it up on the day. If there was a positive, it was that the cardiovascular system was fully intact. I didn't do any gasping, 'thank god I've finished' routine at the end, just crossed the finish line and wandered off looking glum. The problems were with the legs and the general musculoskeletal system.

On Monday the results were in the paper and things looked slightly better. The winning time wasn't that fast, at 1:12. I came 105th out of 574 runners. Only 50 people went under 1:30. I don't know whether it was a moderately slow course or whether there just weren't very many serious runners taking part. The conditions were reasonable in the end, although it was a little warm. The temperature reached 23 degrees during the day, and during the race it was maybe 20 with around 60 or 70 percent humidity and some pretty strong sun. Sweating out fluids and salts may be extra tough on the muscles of the amateur runner, and perhaps there's something in the fact that may two winter half marathons have been faster than my two summer ones.

Anyway, the lesson is that if I want to achieve a better time I'm going to have to be a little more serious about it, and I'm definitely going to have to train at a longer distance than the race itself. Time, discipline and motivation are key -- and at least the first may be easier to muster now I'm going to be a poor student.

On another note, last Sunday I managed to get up early enough in the morning to take part in the Meridian Gutbuster race, which heads 12km up and down the tracks around the Karori Sanctuary, with a total elevation gain (and drop) of 400 metres. I had no ambitions for this one, merely hoping to maintain a running-like motion for most of the race, which included some pretty brutal climbs and drops over some rather rough terrain.

Relatively speaking, I probably did worse in this race than in the half marathon, with a time of 1:08 and a placing of 87th out of 294 runners. But to be fair, I haven't done much hill training and almost none at all off road, and I ended up enjoying it more than I thought -- so much so that I might do some more of these.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Last Minute Running Update

So, the race is tomorrow. Last weekend I had my last training run and it didn't go well. I was a little stiff from previous exertions, and found it a struggle. Three indoor football games later (all of which came close to qualifying as my worst of the season) and I'm tender in a number of areas. Sleep and diet haven't been that good in the last week either, so overall I'm not confident.

The one thing looking good is the weather. A moderate northerly is looking likely in mild early morning conditions. That should make for some blistering times given the southern bias of the course. I'm just hoping to struggle through to a personal best, but it will be touch and go.