Seven days ago I completed IRONMAN Cairns in 9:45 coming 15th in my a/g. My run of 3:45 was far off from the 3:30 that I was planning for and hoping for. Looking back at both the bike and run, I give it up to pacing. Something that even after 11 ironmans, and 31 marathons & ultras, I’m still working on. Being at the pointy end of the age-groupers means that much of what is written out there doesn’t apply to me. In fact, it can be more detrimental and I believe is really holding me back to the tune of at least 10minutes over the IRONMAN. And this season I’m going to change up my pacing strategy on both the bike and run which I believe will lead to faster times.
So today in the BP Alice Springs Half Marathon my plan was to go out essentially as hard as I could and just keep pushing it to see what happens. It was an experiment in pacing, fatigue, and fitness.
IMCairns was on Sunday. Monday was off. Tuesday was a 60min recovery spin. Wednesday was 1hr48min over cycle, erg, lift, and core. Thursday was 90min of core and cycling. Friday was a 29min run in which HR was quite high and I ran with Sydney. Saturday I wanted to run but only ended up swimming 2.5km in 50minutes and 60min of lifting. Nutrition was good all week w/out eating any meat since Monday night. My body let go of the extra water weight and carbs I was holding onto and I was coming it lighter than IMCarins.
We woke up at 6AM. I had a medium RedBull and English muffing w/ jam. The new course set at the shooting range was a welcome. It was cold and brisk in the morning so I wore shorts with a long sleeve top, gloves, and Brooks running beanie. We gathered at the line and I took off w/ the leaders. I was leading for 10-20 seconds and was tempted to scream out “I’m leading!” just for fun but held back. I stuck with Ben Bruce, Jamie Lines, Mark Russell, and another bloke for the first km to the Ross River Highway before turning right into what felt like headwind, ever so slightly downhill, and into the rising sun.
For the first 4 miles there was some excellent racing with Ben and Jamie taking off between 200-600meters up the road and then Mark, guy, and me. I stuck right on Mark using him to draw me along, block the wind, and get mentally tough. He continues to impress me with his run. I kept going thinking about high cadence but clearly running at threshold. 4 weeks ago I ran a 5KM race in Tucson, Arizona in 20:30 at 6:33/mile. And the first 4miles of this race were: 6:37, 6:47, 6:55, 6:32. So, I knew I was running at threshold which is a no-no for a half marathon because I was clearly running at 5K pace but I didn’t care, I was experimenting. 6:42, 6:44/mile and counting. There were mini-sprints, gaps, and catchups; it was racing! Coming to the 6mile mark I thought the course was long, then I realized the turn would be at the 6.6mile mark. I got to the half point in around 43minutes and though that was good, maybe a chance to go 1:28. The 3 of us were still closely bunched at the half where I had my 2nd waterstop but no nutrition during this run.
The tailwind I expected was non-existent, Mark started pulling away, and my legs were filled with Lactate Acid. That heavy feeling of running at threshold had creeped up on me and I was starting to struggle. 6:44, 6:56, 7:07, 7:17, 7:37 into the headwind climbing to Emily Gap before a decent and a slight walk at this aid station to get the water down. Having slowed down, the lactate did it’s job by clearing the free-radicals and I was able to pick it back up to the motivation of the 10k athletes cheering me on from the opposite direction. 7:12, 7:14, and with 1km to go, up the dirt path and finishing at the top of a very small hill at 6:52/mile pace.
I crossed the line in 1:29:17 knowing the course was short covering 12.82miles. .28miles or about 400meters short. But this was the first time this course was run and I still gave it all I could. There was a great medal given although Fiona got one that said “First place Female” on hers! Great job Fiona!
The medals are great, the pancakes were yummy, and the course was great. I’ve trained on this course multiple times with Fiona as we ran this course as part of the Alice Springs Running Festival in which I have run 3:29, 3:19, and 3:02 marathons. So anyone looking to do the marathon should definitely have been there today.
This was the 6th fastest run I’ve done, EVER, of this time or longer. It’s my 4th or 5th fastest half marathon ever having held paces of: 6:39, 6:42, 6:44, and 6:58/mile/avg in the past. But, I have run a marathon on this course at 6:56/mile which is my 3:02 PB and 2s/mile faster than I held for half that distance today…. I still haven’t been able to figure out what I had done when I went 3:02… I trained 29.5 hours that week leading into it!!!
ANLYSIS WITH TOOLS
I went 20:30 4 weeks ago and it was EXACT. So I plug this into the Jack Daniels PhD Running Calculator at: http://www.runbayou.com/jackd.htm and it predicts me to a 1:34:53 half marathon and 3:17:29 marathon. In terms of the full, I went 3:45 at IM. But, I had 2 bathroom breaks and you need to add 10% to your time which would have been around a 3:37… ok, fair enough. So then I take today’s run of 1:29:16 at 12.82miles and plug it in the Cool Running Pace Calculator at http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/4/4_1/96.shtml I convert back to a half and had the course been EXACT, I would have run a 1:31:16 half marathon. I take this, plug it in VDOT above and my V02 Max raises from a VDOT score of 48 to 50 which predicts me to run a 3:10:49 marathon; that is the current level of fitness I have and I agree with this number… 2 weeks after Ironman Australia in 2015, I won the Coober Pedy Marathon in a time of 3:19, so this makes sense.
But, there are questions.
Did my V02 really increase in 4 weeks while RACING an IRONMAN? No. I am an endurance athlete and do not train for short, intense, and anaerobic workouts… I’m training for marathons.
Did I go faster today than you should have? Well yea, I did. I went faster than I should have because I went out way too hard running at Lactate Threshold which is only sustainable for maybe 10KM, which is exactly where I fell off.
What did you learn? That I can go out hard and not let the wheels come completely off.
And fatigue? Well, after any endurance event, you have to recover. I spent the week doing that by getting good sleep and having a high quality diet.
Thanks to ASRWC for hosting, BP and Shane for sponsoring, the volunteers, and support. And see you next week and Deb Page’s event from Flynn’s Grave to Simpsons Gap!
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