Lessons Learned

So Sunday was the big day, and my time was… 1:59:58… yes I broke 2 hours, as I’d hoped (and frankly expected) but I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of disappointment… and here’s why.

What happened after 15k?

So here’s the story. Up to 15k, I’m running just under 9/min mile. If I’d continued with my 15k pace, I’d have finished in 1:55:30, which is just a little faster than I was really hoping for. But around the 11 mile mark, I pretty much hit a dead stop and couldn’t get going again.My last 5k was just a little under 10min/mile, which is slower than my training runs.

Times are Inversed

For much of my career I’ve been a project manager, and one of the things people like to do at the end of projects is review how things went, and compile a list of ‘lessons learned’. This is usually a handy device for blowing off steam, telling people what they didn’t do and should have, how things would have been oh so much better “if only Bill in technology had worked a few more weekends”. On a slightly less cynical note, there are usually a couple of things than come out that are useful. So what are my lessons learned?

1) Nutrition

It occurred to me less than 24 hours before the race that I had not been ‘carb loading’ at all. My wife came home from work to ask what I’d been eating, and I realized around 4:00pm, all I’d had was an egg and bacon sandwich and a slice of cake. True to form, we dragged ourselves to Wholefoods and finally ate a meal around 8:00pm. I woke up hungry, and that was a bad sign. I stuffed some oatmeal down myself around 5:00am and managed to cram a couple of energy gels down just before and during the race, but if there is one feeling I can really say was overwhelming with 3 miles to go, it was the feeling of having no energy. You expect that after 22 miles, but not 10.

2) Core and Leg Strength

OK, so here’s an embarrassing admission. In the last 18 months since I’ve been running, I haven’t really done any core or leg strength exercises. So, starting tonight, I’m going to follow the Runner’s World Iron Strength routine (or at least a large part of it), which I’ll mention in my next blog. I have little doubt that my legs and core get tired after long runs, and that results in exhaustion when my lungs are still up to the job.

3) Speed work

Before the winter really kicked in, I was just starting to get to the track and get some speed work in. But after 2 months of solid snow and ice, I didn’t really manage to get much out of it before racing again. My overall pace in all my races has barely changed in the entire time I have been running. In fact, I’ve struggled to even see much of a change in my pace regardless of distance (see chart). I’m Mr Monopace!

Trending faster, but barely

OK, so the last 2 races were more than 2.5x longer than any previous – and from race 4 onwards (a terrible race in Jersey I’d rather forget), I was slowly getting quicker – but at the 5k distance, I still haven’t broken 27 minutes, or run an 8 min/mile.

So let’s see what these exercises can bring… I have a 10k on April 5th, and will be looking for a time to match or beat the 10k marker on this NYC Half.

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