Saturday, December 23, 2006

An Early Christmas Present

The last fortnight has seen the introduction of a new series of runs in Sydney on Friday nights. Coolrunner Colin has started the Summer Twilight Series. There are 5 and ten K options. We've had about ten turn up to both races so far.

The first one was a fortnight ago at the Bay Run. I went out to aim at 52 minutes, but got carried away with myself and ended up running the 10K in about 50:34. It was a pleasing run; I wsn't expecting anything special and it turned out to be my second fastest time and my fastest for over a year.

The next race was on Friday night, and it was on home turf: starting at the Silverwater bridge and running back towards my place along my beloved Parramatta River path with a turn into the magroves at the ferry terminal to a 5K turnaround.

I announced on Coolrunning that I was going to have a shot at my PB (49:58), so this started a sub 50 bus. Cliffold and Haggis Basher joined me for the ride, and as the bloke with the Garmin I became pacer. I'd hydrated beforehand, as I knew a bubbler stop would slow me down too much.

We were in the teeth of a strong headwind for the first 2.5K, but we still managed to go out a bit hard, and the first K split was 4:46, so I told my comrades we needed to slow. That's when the magic happened. I'll let the figures tell the story: here are the Garmin's full 1K splits for the race:

4:35 (943m - 4:52 pace)

It was pure magic. at about 4K Cliffold stopped for some water but caught up quickly and was never far behind me. Just before the 5K Haggis Basher took off on us (I think he was toying with us anyway), but my race was perfect. I felt the legs starting to really fatigue at about 6K, and I made the decision at 8K to have a slower K; I knew the PB was in the bag if I didn't blow up and I wanted to make sure that didn't happen. I did slow, but I guess 5:03 was as much of a break as I needed.

In terms of pacing myself this has to be my best performance ever. I am really astonished by how even the splits were, and even more astonished that I ran the 10K in 49:11 - a 47 second PB. Cliffold finished three seconds behind me for an even bigger PB. I honestly didn't believe I had it in me, and a 2P said to me after the race "If you don't crack 1:50 in your next half I'll have to kick your arse"; I've got to be ready for it. I'm even having sneaking thoughts about having a serious crack at the SMC in January.

Now I must admit to a concern about course accuracy: my Garmin rarely measures short, and it doesn't drop out in this area. I'm still claiming the PB unless it's proved otherwise - I ran too bloody well not to.

So that's my early Christmas present: a brand spanking new 10K PB of 49:11.

The next few days will be manic. It will be my first Chistmas with the girls and it promises to be very special.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Central Coast Half Marathon - 2:37 PB

I didn't hit my goal time, but this race was a beauty. I took 2m37s off my HM PB and I know I threw everything at it. I'm proud of the result because I know I worked bloody hard for it.

I didn't get the sleep I hoped for on Friday night (most books say the important night for a good night's sleep is two nights before a race) when some poor planning had us out in the city until the early hours of the morning. I didn't get to bed until 2:00AM, and as per usual I woke up with the sun at 5:30.

On Saturday we meandered up to my folks place at Copacabana to find that all of my siblings and their spouses (one brother, two sisters and two brothers in-law) had descended upon the place. When we got back from the CR dinner (at a very cool place called Fonzirelli's) with our pre-arranged guests (Mouse & Nite_Time_Runner) space was at a premium. We managed to snaffle beds (I guess the runners need for rest and DJs position as keeper of the next family member helped us in that regard, and we settled in at a reasonable hour.

Sleep was not forthcoming. It was blowing a howling gale outside and a combination of that and nerves about the race meant I got little to no sleep whatsoever, so I was a bit tired when we fronted up.

The queue for registration was enormous, and it was raining when we got there, so we froze as we waited, but eventually we got to the front of the queue as they ran out of numbers, so we had our numbers written on our arms.

Eventually Ian (Nite_Time_Runner) and myself found Becky O and Portrunr (the other members of team 1:50) and we started together and a very chilly wait at the start line.

The first 3K were slow as the thin course could not fit the massive numbers that had shown up, so there was a lot of ducking and weaving.

This settled down after the first drink station (I gave this a miss as I had hydrated well and the weather wasn't dehydrating) and we settled into 5:12 pace for the next few K. We lost Becky at about 5K.

Soon after cardio system was not coping too well, so I told the guys to push on and that I didn't have 1:50 in me today, and I slowed for the next 2K down to about 5:30.

I'd started to feel a bit better at this point, so I picked up the pace again and ran to the turnaround and 500m beyond it back at 5:12 pace.

At the turnaround I'd forgotten that the finish line is actually a fair way past the start line, and when the Garmin said 10.1 at the turnaround I began freaking about the course being massively short. I carried this concern for the next 8K before realising my folly.

After my second wind burst had run out I settled back into 5:20 pace, and managed to keep that up until 18K. Becky O had passed me with about 5K togo, and she looked incredibly strong. I later learned she ran a 12 minute PB - wow, Becky!

At 18K the wheels started to fall off. I just lost it. I felt weak, and after two small hilss (just about the only ones on the course) I took a couple of short walk breaks. Soon after I vomited, and I considered walking it in, but I knew I was still on track for a big PB, so I pushed on. The reality is that I ran the tough two Ks at 6:00, so given that I was coming off 5:20s, the walk breaks cost me about 80 seconds.

With one K to go, the lure of the finish line started to pull me in, and I was able to finish the last K in a much more reasonable 5:33. My finishing watch time was 1:52:33 - a 2m37s PB.

I was completely trashed. I'd neglected nipple care, so I had a bleeding nipple, I was barely coherent, but I was bloody happy. The finishing line was a party - a large gathering of Coolrunners, most of whom had shiny new half marathon PBs. Eventually I stumbled over to my usual over-indugent post big race breakfast where most people commented on how shocking I looked. I even frightened myself when I caught a glimpse in a mirror.

I had a ball today - it was everything I love about running in general and Coolrunning in particular - it's about challenging yourself and achieving your own goals in events where other people are doing the same. The word race doesn't really do it justice.

So where to from here?

I'll take it easy for the next six weeeks. I intend to eat what I want for the next few weeks - the dieting has been onerous, and I'm over it. I'll adopt a maintenance program of running four times a week and I'll start looking at goal races soon. I'm thinking I'll try to find a flat half marathon for another attempt at 1:50 in about March.

The Bub is due on April 24 (so we're currently calling the child "Digger"), so I'm anticipating a drop off in training around that point, but I'd like to have a serious crack at the SMH half, as I haven't done it for 3 years, and my course PB is about 2:09.

Th only event I've definitely decided to target is C2S. I've not targetted it for a few years - it's been a race I've done between target races. This year I'm chasing 75 minutes. I want that red bib in 2008, and I want to earn it the hard way.