The decision was made shortly after recovering from York last year to skip a spring marathon this year, focus on a fast half, revise my times for other distances and basically give mind and body a break from repeated heavy cycles of training in preparation for next autumns efforts.
And so Barcelona was chosen as the target of my endeavour, with a few local-ish tune up races to test fitness/ race tactics / kit etc., the second one and first road race being the brass monkey half.
The weeks training leading up to the race was as follows.
- Mon. 10 miles mixed terrain easy run
1:23:54 , 8:23 average pace
- Tue. 8 miles road easy run
1:09:23 , 8:40 average pace
- Wed. Training session.
2.5 miles warm up
4×2.5 miles @ race pace off 16 minutes ( averaged 5:27 pace the session)
2.5 miles cool down
Plus 1.2 miles run back from garage.
Total 16.2 miles.
- Thur. 10 miles road recovery
1:26:12 , 8:37 average
- Fri. 8 miles mixed terrain very easy
1:12:06 , 8:54 average including 6 x 100m strides
- Sat. AM 6 miles beach very easy
58:22 , 9:41 average
PM 4.1 miles very easy off road 38:43 , 9:33 average including 4x 60m strides 10.1 miles total.
- Sun. Race 13.1 mile
As you can see there was no real reduction of mileage, a slight reduction in intensity maybe , but Wednesday was a monster session that took a lot out and lining up the fatigue was still in my legs. This was good as I like to race tired in the lead up to a target race as it is good practice for the later stages of long races and teaches you to suffer and push through the pain.
Sound like fun?
I thought I was in pb shape although the weather wasn’t great, heavy rain and gusty winds, a very wet course with large section covered in puddles. I’d checked last years winning time and based on that reckoned a high 70- low 71 minute time would be good enough for top 5 or possibly better and so set off with purpose when the gun went, setting out my stall and going for it I was in the second group in good company.
The pace was quick but felt reasonably comfortable through 5 miles just under 26:40 which was just under 70 minutes pace, already I could see that the leaders were well clear and it became apparent that both the quality of the field was deeper this year and that I had set off too fast!
I had chosen to wear the flyknit Nike 4% which are great shoes but absorb a lot of water and the weeks miles were starting to make themselves felt in my legs, going through 10k in 33:20 my pace was weakening and I resigned myself to an uncomfortable last half.
Now I was isolated, my early group dropping me , soaked, freezing and feeling pretty sorry for myself I questioned if I was on for a pb at all, pushing as hard as I could and hitting 10 miles in 54:11 I was struggling and the last 3 miles were particularly hard and I had to really dig in really deep to keep myself going, splitting 5:36,5:34,5:34 and 0:36(4:57 pace) for the last 5k to finish in 71:31, a 17 second pb and 23rd place and 3rd v35 in what must be one of the best quality halfs in the Yorkshire region, I think about 50 people under 75 minutes. Bittersweet feeling, a crap day yielded a pb , but I was disappointed with my result, hoping for better. Ultimately I paid the price for giving too much and had to take 2 days sick when I can down with man flu , going to the well in training and racing leaves you susceptible to illness when you run yourself down, though it’s normal for me to do it once every cycle and I now know that taking 2 days off early beats 5 days off later!
Next up is the big race, Barcelona, with an extra month training in the bank, fresh legs from a proper taper and perfect conditions, hopefully!