Monday, September 21, 2015

New York City Marathon 2015 Week 5/11

This week was all about the 10K race on Sunday, so with no long run there was a significant reduction in kilometres. I have to say that I was quite nervous about the race, getting more and more edgy as the week wore on, because I have allowed myself to fear that I am getting old or soft or both. This was going to be one of the key factors in deciding how I am to approach the Marathon in New York: push it or enjoy it?

My weight has been under 80 kilos consistently now for over two weeks, and I even ended up having to get another hole punched on my belt! As long as there is no corresponding drop in strength, the less I have to cart around the 26.2 mile course, the better.

I've also been improving my skills with the PowerBreathe device which I use to train my inspiratory muscles (i.e., those used for breathing in). I haven't been too consistent in using it - because, let's face it, in spite of only being 30 hard breaths, the sensation is unpleasant - but I have got up to 30 breaths at "5" (out of a maximum of 10). That may not sound too impressive, but you should try it! I genuinely believe that this helps my performance, especially in the last straight of a race when the sensation of gasping for breath is very similar. It's possibly just a placebo effect, but if placebos work then who cares?

To see how I was progressing, I did another of my 7K aerobic tests - the last one was only two weeks ago. This went a lot better although I started off way too fast and had to slow down progressively in order to respect the 172 bpm heart rate limit. I ran it about 5 seconds per kilometre faster. It may not have been one of my best times (26:11) but it was reasonably warm (17.2) degrees. For reference, the time I did at the same point in my training cycle for New York Marathon 2 years ago was 25:30.

With this in mind, I considered that I should aim to run the 10K a little slower than I had run it 2 years ago. It was a touch cooler but the last thing I wanted to do was "blow up" by going off too hard at the start, as I have done in the last couple of races I've run. I re-read my race report - which was just as well - and noted that the first half was significantly faster than the second half. In fact, I wrote down the kilometre splits from the previous time on my hand, but they rubbed off when I washed my hands...

That's me to the left with a green vest, black compression socks and sunglasses
In spite of being one of the bigger races in Madrid, I was treated as an "elite" athlete, being given access to the first corral. This year Chema Martínez was not running, nor, I suspect were a number of people who could give him a run for his money. We did have Arturo Casado - a 1500m European Champion - but he was running with the sub 40' balloon. What I found surprising was that there was a pacer for sub 35' - especially considering that the winning time was around 33 minutes and in fact only 10 people finished in under 35 minutes (and I'm, not sure the pacer was one of them). The fact that I had him in my sight for almost all of the race makes me think that he ran even splits to the tune of his GPS watch. Not to pick on him specifically - if only I was that fast! - but I think the point of a pacer is to run to an even effort (even if that effort is not the same for everyone) and should therefore take account of the hills.

They play a bit of a trick on you in the last metres of the race. As you run towards the arch, another one comes into view, and another one: the finish line is under the third arch. I just managed to squeak in under 37 minutes (36:57) finishing 20 seconds faster than two years ago, three places higher up in the overall rankings (35 / 8,326) and one higher up in my age group (6) just seconds behind the 5th placed age-grouper. It's easy to say now, but my memory of the race was one of being in control and of not suffering too much (my average heart rate was only 169, lower than it was during the 7K test). I just forced myself to concentrate on the task in hand and not allow my thoughts to wander onto such dangerous topics like "how nice it would be to just stop and lie down" or "what happens if I start to feel tired" etc. The 9th kilometre was a b*stard with a long drawn out climb, but the end was nigh so I just gritted my teeth and accepted the fact that it would take slightly longer than the others. Not a personal best but a return to form and a much needed confidence boost for what lies ahead. At the finish line I bumped into my friends Alessandro and Dani who both happen to be larger than average size  (and is probably why I bumped into them and not anyone else I knew!).

Monday: -
Tuesday: 6 x 1,600 @ 3:25
Wednesday: 60' @ 4:11
Thursday: 7 km test 26:11 (170 bpm average)
Friday: 40' @ 4:04
Saturday: 20' @ 4:17
Sunday: 10K race in 36:57 (169 bpm average)

Total kilometres: 55

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