Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Nordkirchen HalfMarathon

The Nordkirchen HalfMarathon was to be my final pace test before the upcoming Münster Marathon. With 4 weeks to go it is ideally timed to show just where your current training puts you.

My preparation in the week before this one was hardly optimal. Id been suffering from an upset stomach that only came right the day before the race. It meant that id not actually done any running at all during that week, for fear of being caught short. Still i knew my prep before that was good, so decided to give it my all.

On Race day it was overcast, we even had a couple of light patches of rain, but it wasnt cool, in fact during the rae it was 20-21°c and relatively humid. I should have adjusted my pace expectations accordingly, but i didnt, i knew that I was able to manage a 4:15 pace since id done that in training 3 weeks earlier, only thing is that was at sub 10°c

I warmed up for the race with some light jogging and a little bit of race pace running, and then returned to the start area with about 10 mins to go. The Race organisers announced that there were over 300 participants, an increase over previous years. I meet a couple of guys from my running group we wished each other luck then headed for the start line.

It was surprisingly open in the first couple of rows, so i just walked up and took a spot in the second row, The countdown started and then we were off. Once again i got pulled into running a little too fast in the first km, but then managed to settle down into the 4:15 pace that id aspired to holding too.

I managed to hold it over the first 7km, In fact at about the 7k mark i mnaged to catch a glimpse of the leaders on a stretch of course ahead of me, first time thats happened on anything other than a very small loop or a long section of out and back. But the warth, and the light head wind started to take its toll and i started to drop off my pace. I had been holding onto a guy running just in front of me, but he managed to put a few meters gap on me, id pulled it back a few times, but i couldnt that time, and then the gap grew as my pace slipped.

I worked my way through the next few km, I was begining to regret the pre-race meal id had some 5 hours before. Apparently traditional italien cabonarra doesnt make a good pre-race meal, especially not if your portion had plenty of pancetta in it. I took a gel at km10 just before the drinks station and did a walk break of 2-3 seconds to make sure i got enough fluids with it.

The next section from km 10 - 13 werre my worst. I was running alone, on some long straight sections of course with a headwind again, my pace slipped back to a 4:45 in this section. It was complicated by the tree cover interfering with my garmin, meaning i wasnt actually aware of what my true pace was...

At around km13 i got passed by another runner, and managed to tuck in behind him, and pick up the pace for a while. I couldnt hold with him fortoo long, but it did give me the confidence to run at a higher pace. My legs were really starting to hurt at this point, and at km15 i knew id have to run sub 4:30 the rest of the way to beat my PB, It was there i had that moment in the race where you need to decide to dig deep and give it everything, or pack it in and just run the thing to the end. I was close to calling it quit with pushing, but i didnt. Instead i concentrated on keeping my legs turning over.

The final couple of KM had quite a lot of twists and turns, not really ideal for running fast, and the there were quite a few places where the ground underfoot was pretty uneven. I found the km 18,19, & 20 to be the toughest. My legs were really hurting now, and i was cramping a little in the lower stomach area. But i was still on pace to come in somewhere around or before my PB...so i kept on racing.

In the final KM i realised that i was catching a couple of runners ahead of me. I like having a target to chase down, so that gave me a good little boost over the last KM and i closed the gap on the closest one finally pulling him back just as we entered the track for the final 300m. I kept on pushing knowing that id never catch the next guy who was still a long way ahead, but not certain if id crack my PB. I crossed the line breathing really hard before colapsing on the inner field a few meters past the finish line.

It took me another 5 mins to get my breath back and fight of a little dizzy spell. I looked at my garmin, but the time only showed to the minute... 1:34:?? I groaned, Id been hoping for a 1:30 at the start of the race and here i was as buggered as id even been and not even sure id beaten my old PB. Eventually i clambered back to my feet and walked over to the refreshments grabbed a couple of drinks some pieces of fruit and then checked the race results on a monitor set up showing them live.

Turns out Id run a 1:34:02 which is a new PB, by about 30 seconds. Id also just missed out on a place in my age group, comming in 4th, the guy that was in front of me that i didnt manage to catch nabbed 3rd. I finished 33rd overall. At the time i was pretty dissapointed that i hadnt managed to get closer to my goal of 1:30, But now with a bit of time under the bridge, Im pretty happy with the result. I still shaved a bit of my PB in fairly warm conditions. Heck the fastest man didnt break 1:20, whereas in the race where i set my previous PB 24 men went under that, So it wasnt a fast course on the day.

For anyone that is still interested here is the tail of the Garmin.

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