Race report (Part 2)

I realise that were running slightly downhill so I decide to go with the flow and pick the pace up a little – Beep! Beep! My alarms going off, 181, still I’m feeling OK so I decide to press on (whatever happened to my plan?). As this is a loop course we turn shortly after 2 kilometres and start back around the town centre, it’s at this point that a slight uphill slope hits, as does a reasonably strong headwind. I try and tuck into a group moving slightly faster than me to shield from the wind but my alarm is ringing all the way, another glance shows 183 I know I can’t keep going at this pace but I don’t want to be exposed to the wind. Hang on or drop back? I hang on.
As we finish the first loop now on the slightly downhill stretch I begin to let the group go knowing that I can’t match their pace and ease back slightly to get my pulse back under 180 – but the damage is already done. I hit my first checkpoint at 7 km in 29:15 under 1 hour 30 pace, and that gives me a lift but I’m fairly confident I can’t hold the pace to the end. Climbing for the second time and back into the wind and I’m thinking “quick feet, quick feet” the logic being that if I don’t slow my feet too much then I’ll be able to maintain the pace. But I’m on my own now, completely exposed to the elements and still hitting over 180 on this second uphill stretch. I haven’t planned to check my watch again until two-thirds (14k) but I can’t resist a glance at 10k – 42:20 I’m still on sub 1:30 pace but at 13:05 for the last three kilometres It confirms I’ve blown it.
First half out the way and the next few kilometres proceed as previous i.e. trying to relax going downhill and pushing hard on the uphill stretches. I reach 14 k in 59:20, 30:05 for the second 7k and 17 flat for the 4 k since 10k indicating I’m not slowing as much as expected but the last 4k have been slightly downhill. I try and push on dreaming of a sub 1:30 but I’m almost empty (“quick feet, quick feet” still going through my head) still I know a PB is definitely on and that help me through a bad patch.
I’m hanging on through 17k and 18k thinking that at 19k maybe I can muster a bit of pace over the last 2k but in reality the early pace has taken too much out of me. Even through the last km I can barely raise my tempo (except for the last 10 metres to avoid being overtaken!). Across the line and I’m glad to finish, feeling that I’ve run hard and with 1:31:33 it’s a PB by almost 3:30 but ruing slightly the fact that I feel I possibly could have gone a little faster with a more even pace. Average HR for the race is a painful 181 (Somewhere north of 90% MHR depending which measure you use).
A good HR learning experience in that holding a level HR is only possible on a flat course but I think I’m learning all the time. Perhaps a level of 177-179 is a level that will still leave something left after halfway.
Still exceptionally pleased and now eight months into my running comeback (after a break of some 7 years) I feel I reached a reasonable standard and still feel (health & injuries permitting) on track to achieve my goals for this comeback year (break 1:30 for the half marathon and 40 minutes for 10k before the year is out)


  • MartinH,
    great report, I could visualise every step thanks to your detailed description. Congrats on your time, you're certainly going great guns.

  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    Martin, well done on the PB. You'll be cracking 1:30 in not time at all. Do you think you would have performed better without your HRM?
  • Martin,
    Great report - we've all been there, faced with the dilemmas you describe. Conditions sounded pretty tough.
    It's still a huge PB - even if you didn't hit the magic 1:30, so you've every right to feel pleased.

    The problems with your HR underline why I tend to use mine only for rough guidance in a (longer) race situation. The elevated HR at the start must have thrown your calculations out right from the outset. But there's nothing wrong with feeling nervous - if I don't get that awful pit of the stomach feeling while I'm warming up, it invariably means I'm going to run a poor race.
    I don't know how you felt during the race but from what you describe, I think your early tactics were sound. Living on the coast as I do, I've acquired a real hatred of running into a headwind, and if this situation arises in a race, I quite ruthlessly tailgate the runners around me (and I'm amazed how many of them just let me do it).
    For me, your problems began when you let the group go - especially if you knew there would be another upwind stretch to come. To me, there's nothing more soul-destroying than being left on your own racing into the wind (and here, uphill as well!) - it's so easy to lose concentration and let your pace drop significantly.
    Also bear in mind that, by and large, other things being equal, etc.... racing as part of a group usually has an effect on the HR - tends to bring it down a couple of bpm. How much company did you have over the second half of the race?
    On a course where both wind and slopes were a major factor, it would have been really difficult to judge "a more even pace" - I don't think you need have any regrets about your pacing.

    Sorry about the above - it looks like I'm pontificating. However, I'm sure I've got more experience of racing in windy conditions than most!
    In 13 days I'll get a chance to practice what I pontificate in the Hoylake 10K. If the usual prevailing wind blows that day, the last 5K will be entirely upwind - and my pacing thereof will be anything but even.

    Anyway, well done again - I'm sure with that time, if you can find a flatter, calmer 1/2M, you'll hit your target.
  • Thanks MM, Drew, Mike

    Drew - Its easy to look back in retrospect and think that maybe I would have gone better without an HRM (easy once the pain of racing has subsided!) but in this instance I feel I possibly genuinely would have raced a little better. The alarm going off definitely put me off in the early stages when through the first third of the race I actually felt fine and therefore could have pressed a little harder. I wonder how much of the tiredness at the end was as a result of running the last third in no mans land.

    Mike - I should have stayed with the group - no doubt - that's a key lesson.

    Another interesting fact is that I'm still adjusting to racing in Euro's i.e. everything marked in KM - miles were so much easier - still at least KM's pass more quickly.
  • well done, grt report and times I only dream of! I guess I could pace you over the first 200m!

    Our similarity extends only to an addiction to calculating speeds and times whilst running. the math keeps the brain distracted form the physical effort.
  • Excellent MartinH,
    a great race report and pb! You look as if you have the ability to definitely reach your target of sub 1.30 before the year ends.

    One of my race downfalls is I always seem to get detached from any groups of runners and end up running in no mans land. It's something I want to try and work on as I know it's a little easier to keep a pace if running with others. What I find is the group in front is normally just that little too fast and the group behind too slow. So do I push and try and cling to the faster ones with the risk of 'blowing up' or drop back and risk a slower time or just stay on my own?
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