Race report 8 September

Race: Volkslauf, Polheim-Garbenteich, North of Frankfurt, Germany
Distance: 30k (18,6 miles)
Date: Sunday 8 September 2002
Weather: Overcast at start, sunny throughout hotter than expected.
Course description: Single lap, undulating, unpleasant underfoot.
Time: 2:24:31
Approached this race with some trepidation i.e. didn’t really want to run as feeling tired from last weeks race and having not really tapered. Also feeling quite tired this week almost as if coming down with cold. Longest ever race for me and regarded as essential marathon build up.
A very useful, if unpleasant, learning experience nonetheless.
Plan had been to run under an HR of 165 (80% WHR) for the first 20k and then see what was left in the tank with a view to perhaps increasing the pace thereafter…..ha! The race has a half marathon that was to run alongside for the first 16k which was a little off-putting (as they began accelerating at about the 12-13k point). Anyway, I set my HR alarm with a range of 155-170 and within the first half kilometre I was over the upper limit – not a good start! Then things started evening out, I eased back slightly in the interests of self preservation to the point where I was hovvering around my target (dropping below on the downhill stretches but hitting broadly 170-172 on (the many) uphill sections.
First 10k in 46:55 and I’m feeling OK, although the time is a little slower than I wanted, preservation is the theme of the day. Weaving through fields, copses and small villages we hit halfway (15k) in 1:10:47 – although I’m noticing that I’m starting to hit the HR alarm even on the straights and I’m starting to work a little harder – but still OK. A remarkably uneventful 5k follows to two-thirds distance reached in just under 1:35 – I’ve slowed a little but nothing severe.
Into the last 10k with great relief (as its starting to get really hot) also my HR alarm is now permanently on, so I take the only course of action available to me – I switch it off! For the next 5k I feel fantastic, speeding up and starting to reel in runners, I begin to harbour thoughts of a sub 45-minute final 10k and perhaps a sub 2:20 finishing time – I’m running an HR of about 180 (90% WHR).
What happens next can only be described as watching the last remnants of a candle melt and the flame sink into the liquid wax.
The last 5k is through woods, made muddy by a thunderstorm the night before but with enough ups and downs to give Alton towers best a run for their money. I’m really struggling – not only have the wheels come off but so has the gearbox and the engine has seized. I’m surprised by the speed of deterioration but thank god only a few km to go as seemingly the whole field now seems to be swallowing me up! Still pushing 180 I reach the finish in a disappointing 2:24:31 and a last 10k of close to 50 minutes – I wish I had the split for the last 5k. Finishing average HR is 171 (85% WHR), which is my tempo HR!
So today I learnt that 30k isn’t a marathon but it’s still a bloody long way to run in race conditions. Despite feeling bad at the end of the race, I’m reasonably confident that with a taper the marathon should be OK although my target of 3:20 will require some care.


  • Oops - posted on wrong forum.
  • drewdrew ✭✭✭
    Martin, nice report! Do you think you hit the wall? Did you take any energy gels or drinks with you? The strange thing is that when I've had similar experiences my heart rate has always dropped dramatically, rather than increased.
  • MartinH,
    a valiant run. I totally agree that 30K is a really long way to run and makes for a very tough racing distance. Great report.
  • Martin, hard racing conditions, you were brave to do it! Is your marathon also a hilly one?

    Well done, and have a good rest.
  • Well Done old socks, excellent report and given the conditions then the time is admirable.

    I think it would be fair to say you perhaps went off too fast and should've listened to the HRM, however we all know how different it is to have a race plan and stick to it!

    I reckon you're on track for 3.20 marathon.This year I targeted 2.40 for 20 miles to achieve sub 3.30 marathon,(managed 2.43/3.31)
    Next year I'm aiming for a 2.30 20 miler (which you more or less achieved on Sunday) to break under 3.20 maybe even 3.15.

    Well Done again!

  • Enjoyed the report Martin - especially the candle metaphor.
    Looks like you hit the wall from your report. Even after 21 years I remember the "oh sh*t I'm going to have to stop - but please not where anyone can see me" feeling. Doing that sort of distance off-road is effectively going to make it the equivalent of a 20-mile+ effort.
    Have a nice easy week before picking up the intensity again - you need it & deserve it.
  • Thanks people.

    Laura - the marathon I've chosen is pancake flat and all tarmac, hence I weas keen to put myself through some difficult conditions to (hopefully) make it easier on the day.

    Drew - I wore my Camelbak so I was taking drinks along the way. I did also take some gel with the plan of practising eating on the move, but I couldn't find the right opportunity to and/or was feeling too queasy.

    Mike - the "oh sh1t" feeling definitely went through my head but with only about 3k to go at that point there was no way I was going to stop.
  • Brilliant report, Martin. And you finished what sounds like a very difficult race, in a time which may not have been what you wanted but is bloody respectable nonetheless. Well done
  • Well done Martin. I'm sure you'll have no problem on a pancake flat course. I think it's always difficult to race when into heavy marathon training as the legs never seem to be fresh. In fact towards the end I think they are permanently tired. Best of luck!
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