A Weekend of Two Halves

Saturday 5th March – and time to zip-up the mansuit and go after the sub 1:40 Half Marathon which I’ve been procrastinating on since getting 1:40:14 at Nottingham in September last year.

I’d chosen the Shakespeare Raceway Half Marathon for the attempt – flat, traffic-free and on an airstrip. And a rare Saturday race at a reasonable hour 12:00pm gave me plenty of time to drive up from Cardiff.

Around 300 of us lined-up at the start of a 4*5km lap course around the airfield with lots of tight turns and a drag-strip finish! My plan was to go out at 7:30 minute miles and increase my speed depending on how I felt.

Miles 1-4: 07:25, 07:31, 07:26, 07:23
Immediately I notice each mile seems slightly long, my pace for Mile 1 is 07:15 but 07:25 when I pass the marker. In fact, each mile seems to be +10s. Maybe it’s the twisty-turny route adding time on? Anyway it doesn’t matter – my HR settles down to around 166 which is approx 85% of my WHR – I know I can easily hold this pace. In fact, I have to reign it when I keep seeing sub 7:00 on the Garmin – there’s another Half Marathon to run tomorrow!

Miles 5-8: 07:23, 07:25, 07:24, 07:19
Bring it on… HR is stuck at 166 and we’re nailing those miles. I’m using a Garmin setup advocated by Paul The Builder on a blog entry Link (roll over me to see where I go) which I now always race with it’s not going to be sub 1:35, but sub 1:40 is going in a few minutes!

Miles 9-Finish: 07:19, 07:24, 07:18, 07:13, 07:43, (last split Mile 12-Finish)
I keep it steady @ 166BPM to the 12 mile marker then put the hammer down sprinting the final straight at 04:56 pace! Official chip time is 01:36:10. My Garmin makes it 13.35 miles but I don’t care :-)


Sunday 6th March – another half marathon, The Llanelli Waterside Half Marathon and using it as a back-to-back long run on tired legs as training for the 50-mile Cardiff Ultra in May.

Up early and legs felt great so I stretched them out on a 4.5-mile session in my Vibram Fivefingers before heading off to Llanelli. A dayglo, lycra clad 40-year old running around Cardiff at 5am in weird ‘lizard feet’ came as a surprise to some of the police still patrolling the remaining drunken mayhem blackspots of Saturday night… One of the Heddlu boyos shouted “London is it?” after me, “No – Llanelli at 9am” I called back – I’m surprised I wasn’t sectioned on the spot!

The plan for Llanelli was to cruise around “just” under 2:00 – so 9:09 pace. Yeah, right… The first mile came in at 08:42 with my HR sat at 139 – that’s recovery pace! A decision was made to keep it easy up to around halfway and then progressively increase the pace for the second half up to a maximum of around 155 HR.

So, that’s what happened… And the splits came out at
08:42, 08:35, 08:43, 08:19, 08:17, 08:30, 08:16, 08:17, 08:11, 08:05, 07:52, 07:41, 07:28, 00:31, (05:42 pace finish)

For a finish time of 01:47:33 and average HR 151

I’ve turned a corner with this running lark… :-) The base HR training over the last 4 months is definitely paying off and I’m already entertaining thoughts of sub 3:15 marathons at Nottingham in September.

But, for the next 3 months – it’s back onto the Ultra training so less speed, more time/distance.

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