|My pulse rate cheat sheet|
I have this very silly theory for why I seem to do better in local races that I drive to than in big races that I have to travel to by train or plane. And it's not the obvious explanation that it might be because I am more nervous about the big races or due to tiredness from traveling. No, it's because I sing in the car on the way to a race. You know, loud embarrassing singing that would definitely not be happening if there were anyone else within earshot of me. I reckon that this warms my lungs up and gets me psyched up for the race ahead.
I lined up more or less where I thought I would place, as usual, miscalculating for the fact that so many people bunch up at the last minute. The gun went off and the first kilometer or so was a mad scramble to run at a decent rhythm with so many people around who had clearly overestimated their abilities. In fact I spent pretty much the entire race overtaking people, I think I was only overtaken by one person the whole time.
This was the first time I ever ran in the same race as Jonathan so I was determined to do him proud. I set my watch up so I could see my pulse rate and the time I had been running but I specifically did not want to know the GPS measured distance; instead I went by the markers by the side of the road. It required relatively simple maths skills to run at 3:50 per kilometer - I just had to keep track of how much under the minute I was at each milestone (kilometerstone) and try to be 10 seconds below that at the next one. I found it pretty easy to keep rhythm and I just kept an eye on my pulse rate to make sure it didn't go too far above the guide written on the back of my hand.
I passed the 10k mark in a net time of 37:36 which is a personal best time for me for a 10k race! I was already about half a minute ahead of pace and I was feeling good. I was so "in the zone" that I didn't notice my family shouting for me the first two times I passed them.
When I got to the 15 kilometer mark I started to breathe a little harder and, by the 16 kilometer mark, I was now breathing my trademark "locomotive" style. A couple of friends running on the other side of the road called out my name, presumably because they recognized my distinctive breathing. Now I was very confident I would break the 1:21 mark, leaving the challenge of breaking 1:20 for another day. I'm not sure whether I was running faster or other people were fading, but I was certainly having to make a big effort. I overtook one guy who slapped me gamely on the back and said "Go machine!". Once I got to the final 96m straight, I could see from the clock that I was in with a good chance to break 1:20! I summoned up energy for a final spurt by shouting and swearing at the pain and discomfort and ran through the arches with a time of 1:19:45 (net 1:19:37)!! Unbelievable. According to the splits on my Garmin, I ran the second quarter Marathon just a couple of seconds faster than the first quarter.
It just goes to show that, sometimes, it is a question of believing you can do it (consciously and subconsciously). I think that the speed work I have been doing lately in the way of series has shown the "central governor" part of my brain that I can sustain a pace of very nearly 16 kph for 21 and a bit kilometers. Very happy with that performance.
Now I just have to translate it into an equivalent Marathon time...
Youness - with whom we went to Morocco - came in fifth overall with a group of international standard runners. Jonathan missed breaking 1:13 by four seconds. Everyone else I talked to seemed to be pretty happy with their performance. I got a feeling, that 2012 is gonna be a good year...