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)