4 weeks to go - Race Pace

3 runs this week 55km, a bit slack/busy. Started off with a 20 mile race, a 10k recovery the next day but my legs/body decided they needed a break so ended up taking 4 days off, ending the week with a 14km trail run, this was my biggest break since the start of the program. Sunday was a 20 mile (5 lap) race in Hyde Park. The idea being was to run 18 miles at race pace. This is the idea of Frank Horwill, legend coach in British distance running. Many of his articles can be found on the Serpentine website and are worth a read:

http://www.serpentine.org.uk/pages/advice_frank.html

Back to the race, like most days of the year, 24th March was another cold one. According to my Garmin the temperature was -1 C with a wind chill of -7 C. 2 pairs of gloves and a hat were definitely needed. The idea was to use race conditions to determine what my ideal marathon pace time should be in 4 weeks time. 5-10 seconds per kilometre doesn't sound like much but heading out too quickly on a marathon can come back to haunt you. Going 10 seconds quicker per kilometre in the first 10k early can easily cost you 1 minute or more per kilometre in the final 10k. This is why it's so important to get it right. So what did I learn?

The stats:

My time was 2h16m29s which put me in 7th place (1st Vet!)

I ran 30.5km (19 miles) in an average 4:09/km (The first 2km were used to warm up)

The 5 laps were reasonably even but the last one was slowest

I used 3 gels and took sips of water at 2 stations

Drinking out of a bottle on the run is tricky, as is opening and eating gels

Average heart rate peaked at 167 at 9k and levelled out between 159-164 for the rest

I weighed 72kg before and 69.5kg at the end of the race

After 3km I was running on my own

My legs felt heavy through the last lap

My heart rate monitor kept distracting me / needed pulling up

I could feel my left hamstring at the end of the run

I learned:

The end of March does not mean good weather. After a bit of digging I found an article stating that running in -4 degrees will add 2% to your run time. I'll take that for starters.

I went too fast too early although only slightly

Excessive weight loss and feeling sluggish towards the end suggests I didn't take on enough water or gels. One exercise physiologist suggests a 2% loss in body weight equates to a 6% decrease in performance over 5-10k. I doubt it is this significant over a marathon but it should be easy to improve on the day. Although it is more important not to over hydrate - this can be dangerous. (See below link)

It was a race situation but I didn't get any race like nerves, I hope on the day this will provide an extra boost

My left hamstring can play up with high intensity exercise and on some long runs. It does this because my right side is weaker and I lose form sooner on the right causing my left hamstring to work harder. This has improved with core exercises, with 4 weeks to go it can still improve.

I won't be using a heart rate monitor during the race

So I feel I learned a lot from this race I have half marathon in 2 weeks, between these 2 races I should finalise my Marathon pace.

A quick word on nutrition too, this piece by Matt Fitzgerald gives a great summary on marathon nutrition, challenging many previous widely held beliefs on food, drink and marathon running:

http://running.competitor.com/2013/03/nutrition/the-new-rules-of-marathon-nutrition_67841/1

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