Monday, March 09, 2009

How to do everything wrong and still PB your half marathon

The last few days have been a lesson in what NOT to do when training for a marathon, particularly when the weekend's training includes a half marathon time trial.

So, on Friday (my day of rest) I may have spent the evening celebrating a workmate's engagement, getting to bed a little too late after consuming copious amounts of party food, bubbly, a glass of wine, a couple of ciders and a pie. I feel I have to admit that, because the reality of it disgusts me so much that I feel I have to write it down to prevent myself from ever doing it again!

On Saturday, very tired and a little hung over, I proved myself soft by swapping a Gearshifters ride (Makara from the Johnsonville side) for two RPM classes. My excuse? The weather was looking a little questionable and I couldn't face that time on the bike or the monster climbs up Old Porirua Rd and Makara hill.

I should have napped on Saturday afternoon but I didn't. We spent Saturday night in Waikanae at an opera night put on by one of Hamish's clients. This year the opera was Don Giovanni, and we sat around in costume in the garden while a DVD played on a huge outdoor screen imported from overseas for the purpose. I spent the last half hour trying not to fall asleep in my chair. We were staying in the host's spare bedroom but even so I didn't get to bed until around 2a.m.

I'd tried hunting for half marathon routes in Waikanae on MapMyRun, to no avail. The idea of running 21km along the beach didn't appeal and, besides, when I woke up I was feeling so exhausted that it wasn't even a possibility. By the time we got back to Wellington it was all I could do to pass out on our bed for half an hour then crawl to the sofa. It took till about 5.00 for me to convince myself to swap my half marathon run for Monday's 8km fast run. I drove down to Oriental Bay, switched on the Garmin, and went for it.

In the end Sunday's run wasn't too painful. It seemed to take no time at all to get to 4km and then I pushed it up a notch to negative split on the way back. I started to think I should have just run the whole 21km after all, but I had no fluids on me and no gels, so I decided to stick to my plan.

Which left today. I woke feeling extremely tired again and stuttered my way through a work day that ended up with my manager offering me a very exciting piece of work while I sat there feeling bemused. With that good news in the back of my mind I dragged that tired butt of mine off to the gym to get changed for the 21.1km run.

My half marathon PB, set in June last year, was 2.03. I wanted to see if I could beat it. I knew I had to stick to a sub-5.40 pace to go sub-2. I had no idea how I would handle that in my slightly-less-than-tapered condition. However the conditions seemed good. There was a bit of a Southerly, which would favour me on the return. I stuck a Leppin in my pocket, warmed up by running to the Meridian building, hit start on the Garmin, and ran.

In the end it came down to being a very mental game. Yes, my ankle was a bit niggly, yes my hip and IT band weren't terribly happy. Could I continue to push myself to keep going and not slow? How long could I hold the pace? For some reason I decided to target 5.30km's. If I crashed halfway then I crashed. Worst case scenario I'd have a terrible split but I'd still have a little change in my pocket to make it sub-2. Super-worst scenario I'd crash so badly that I'd limp back to the gym. It was going to be fun finding out.

I reached the 10km mark in almost exactly 55 minutes. At the halfway mark I was on just slightly over 5.30 pace. I downed a Leppin and waited to see if my stomach would explode. I got a little burpy, but the nausea stayed away. I wouldn't want to be scoffing those things down every half an hour, but it seems I can tolerate the Leppin in moderate doses. I'm fairly certain it gave me a boost of energy, though that may have been psychological.

The turnaround ended up being almost exactly at the old naval base. Cruelly, the Southerly had gotten up a bit and there was a headwind for the next couple of kilometres. I got a little Mad Dog on myself and decided I was just going to go for it. I wanted that sub-2. I wanted to be able to write this blog post.

After that I never really caved. Despite the headwind (even more cruelly, it hit again with only three kilometres to go), I just kept kicking it. I dug in with 100 metres to go.

1.57 and a little change. I PB'd by over six minutes after work and fatigued. Given race conditions and a bit of a taper I'm good for closer to the 1.52 the Macmillan calculator thinks I should be running.

Happy? Maybe just a bit!


Calyx Meredith said...

You are so hardcore Pip! That's freaking amazing. Yay you!!

Anonymous said...

Awesome job. You must have great mental game...I don't know if I could PR all on my own like that.

Sass said...

Hee hee, like I said in my text, OMG THAT'S AWESOME!

Kate said...

Also like I said in my text YAAAAAY!!! You are going to eat Rotorua for breakfast!

SUB6 said...

Congratulations on the PB! I know how good it feels to finally break that 2hr barrier. Sub4 for Rotorua??? :)

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