Right, so it's race week again. It feels like only 5 minutes ago and I was here, but it was actually 4 weeks ago when I was only 7 days out from the Shepp Half Marathon. This time, it's the Sri Chinmoy Yarra Boulevard Half Marathon that's only 144 hours away.
I generally like race week. It's all about just kicking back cause you know you have done the work, keeping an eye on the diet and just enjoying a few steady sessions to freshen up a bit before race day.
Coming into this week though, to be honest, I felt like crap. I had felt flat and tired for a week or 10 days or so and Ruley had been amending my program accordingly to try and freshen me up. As a result, my stupid head started going into overdrive and I was worried that I hadn't done enough work, or the right key sessions, and that race day was gonna go all pear shaped.
Anyhoo. The week started as normal with Monday as a rest day. Even with the lighter weekend (as I had the kids), the rest day was scheduled as I had mentioned previously, I was still feeling flat.
Tuesday, I awoke to hear wind and rain belting down on the roof and that quickly decided the morning's session for me - a sleep in. What was to be another of my favourite sessions (the 2km intervals), turned into an evening session with Ruley. Now this was interesting. You see, he is into his Kona taper, so he says "Come down and we will do a nice steady run/swim combo".
So after a nice little warm up jog (at 5.00min pace) that felt like a walk to him, we measured out 500m on the garmin, so we could do 500m repeats at race pace. For Ruley, this was like 3.30 odd pace. For me, it was supposed to be around the same pace we had done the warm up! Watching him disappear up the road, I pushed a little harder and ended up doing 4.24k pace for the first interval. A nice gentle jog back to the start for another few intervals completed at 4.20, 4.13 & 4.13 p/km pace respectively.
It was at this point that Ruley said one more and then we would head in for our swim. One of the disadvantages of being deaf as a post, funnily enough, is that you can't hear shit. So, I heard Ruley say "last interval - let's smash it" and he took off like a scolded cat. I was off after him and managed to cover the 500m in just a few seconds less than him, in what turns out to be 3.41/k pace.
When he turned around to see me so close to his heels (and he, meanwhile, barely raising a sweat) he was quite surprised and remarked that I was moving pretty quickly for that one. In between dry heaves, I managed to get out "well, you said to smash it". It appears, however, that this was not the case. After all he IS on a taper and he had said "last interval - no need to smash it". Fark!!!
Into the pool for a short sharp session with a 400m warm up, followed by 8 x 50's and then one of my favourites, the 400m TT. I friggin hate this session, but it's nice to see the times coming down - albeit slowly. This week saw another small improvement of 6 seconds, down to 7.19. A little 200m cool down and it was all over for another day.
Wednesday was a nice little roll around with Team P&W. Not sure what the crew had been into, but for some reason, this particular day it was on. Right from the get go, it was off at a cracking pace even with a bit of wind to contend with. Most of the crew were pulling some nice strong, solid turns. A few had no choice but to sit on, but they all did a great job to hang in there. Heading around towards the finish line, the pace was continuing to ramp up and with close to 5km to go, the Rabbit launched.
Sootie was on his wheel quick as a flash and I settled into third wheel. Looking down at my computer I could see the speed hovering between 44 and 45km/hr............and it just didn't deviate from there. I stuck my nose out into the wind a couple of times to try and pull a turn, but there was no way I was gonna be able to get over the top of the Rabbit, so it was tuck back in and enjoy the tow home. A total of 44km covered in 1.19 at an average of 33.1 (inc. the rollup to the start and home again).
Thursday morning was the normal "Little Runners group" tempo run which has now extended out to approximately 11.4km. This has grown from what was originally a few years ago a 7.6km loop to Mooroopna and back, with various extentions over that time and building to the current run as mentioned out along the boulevard and back.
For me it was 57.58 for the 11.4km at an average of 5.06, interestingly the same pace as the Shepp Half mara nearly a month ago. The difference was I felt like absolute crap! 3 days out from my next half mara and it just felt like hard work. Splits were a bit all over the place, ranging from 4.51 (the last km) to 5.19 (km 5). And of course, I pondered over this all day..........and the more I did, the more it did my head in.
Fortunately, a bit of a chat with Ruley set me straight a bit. Apparently, one is not expected to run at race pace for every single run. In fact, not only is it not expected, it is encouraged! I know that I really know nothing about all this stuff, but it appears that the recovery stuff needs to be ultra conservative. Even more than I think. Probably explains a fair bit as to why I have been feeling so flat - every session for me is treated as flat out, so now it's coming back to bite me on the arse.
A suggestion from Ruley to take Friday off was met with a fair bit of gusto. After all, it is taper week.
Saturday was to be a gentle-ish 45km on the bike, followed by a nice gentle 1000m in the pool. Heading down to the starting point, a few of the other guys were all on a 90km TT session. It was my intention to just sit on with a few of those guys to get my mileage in and then head home. The wind was a bit nasty and I found myself in a bunch of 5 as the rest of the crew were on their TT efforts. Unfortunately, I found myself on the front for 60 of the 65km beside Ruley, who tapering or not, was still smashing everyone, so the ride turned out to be a touch longer, and harder, than I initially expected. Fortunately, French toast and coffee at Friars soon rectified this.
Home for a quick change and then off to the pool for a nice gentle recovery swim of 1000m. For this session it was broken into 5 x 200's which were completed in 3.46, 3.59, 3.51, 3.45 & 3.43. It was only several short months ago, that I would have struggled to get anywhere close to 4.00 for each interval. Technique still tends to be fairly ordinary, but strength continues to improve. Surely I can just muscle my way through 3.8km?? Some quality spa time as recovery and then a solid carbo loading of Lebanese pizza for the upcoming race the next day. Not my idea, but Ruley suggested it, so it's gotta be good right?
So, Saturday afternoon was spent getting my gear together for the race the next day. Given I was to be up prior to 4am and in the car by 4.30, it was important to have everything ready as I wasn't gonna be rooting around searching for stuff at that time of the morning. Whilst I tried to get to bed early, it was about 9.30 when the light went off.
The alarm woke me at 3.50am and a quick shower to wake up and then some breakfast. Into the car and on the way by about 4.30. Last time I had travelled to Melbourne on race day I had left at 5am and only made the start line with about 10mins to spare. It was my intention to get there with plenty of time to get organised. Sadly, this was not to be the case.
Heading out of town, I plugged the address (Kevin Bartlett Reserve, Yarra Boulevard) into the Garmin and it started pointing me south, so generally in the right direction. I stopped at Wallan for a quick coffee and then back into the car. Estimated time of arrival according to Mr Garmin was 6.50am, so heaps of time. hitting the outskirts of Melbourne, it was telling me to head left on the ring road. Ok, I am thinking. Edgars Rd, High street etc will get me there eventually. It's all good - I know this way.
True to it's word, Mr Garmin delivers me to the Northern end of Yarra Boulevard and I find my way winding my way around it on what turns out to be a fantastic day once the sun had risen. The million and one bike riders must have agreed, cause they were all out heading both directions on the boulevard.
So after following this bloody road for what felt like an eternity, it just..............finished.
I had no idea where I needed to go and by this time it is 7.15. It was time to go "old school" and the melways came out. Turns out that Yarra Boulevard is about a million miles long and split into a few different sections. The northern end I found out later is known to locals as Kew Boulevard.
Shit, Shit, Shit........onto Hoddle Street, then Swan and finally I am at the right end of Yarra Blvd, but by now, all entrances onto it are closed. Nowhere to park. Shit, shit, shit!!
Eventually found a spot and it it now 7.48am. Still not organised - haven't even pinned my number on yet. Found an awesome volunteer who pointed me in the right direction and told me it was a 6 or 7 min walk to the start line. So, I am literally running towards the start trying to pin my number on. Was also trying to scoff my dose of caffeine (via no doze) and put some anti chaffing cream under the arms.
Line up for a leak at 7.56am, walk out at 7.58. Manage to get my back checked into storage and look at my watch............Shit, it's 8am and I hear the announcer say go!!!! Jesus, all this way and I've missed the start. I look around and see a few others standing around with blue race numbers. It appears that the organisers are running a few minutes late and its the 10k's that have just started.
I jogged down to the start line, managed to get approximately 30 seconds of leg stretches done and then the starter got us underway. I couldn't have cut it any finer!!!
The first part of the course was a little extender of 550m out and back to make up the 1.1km, followed by 4 x 5km loops along the boulevard. The initial little spurt out to the turnaround point was fast and furious as people picked their way through the field. I was no different, completing the first km in 4.50. Over the next 25mins or so, I knew I was going to quick but.........I felt good.
As it turned out, a rookie mistake as I knew it would come back to bite me in the arse later on. My goal pace for the race was 5.02/km which would see a target time of 1.46.30. This would be a PB of 2.15.
I went through the 10km point in 49.30. Unbelievably, a PB for me. Admittedly, I've not run many stand alone 10k's and my previous was a few months ago for a Shepp Tri Club 10k of 52.20ish. My previous PB was 50.50, run as part of the Shepp Half mara a month ago.
I still felt really good at this point and it was about here that I got my ambitions mixed up with my abilities and I started to think that perhaps a sub 1.45 may have been on the cards!! Sadly, things went pear shaped not long after at the end of the 14th km, when for the 3rd time, I had just got to the top of the little climb that just seems to drag a bit. You can't call it a hill........it's barely a rise. But it just seems to suck it out of the legs.
To see it all in it's glory, you need to see the split times, as follows:
KM Time BPM
1 4.50 149
2 4.56 161
3 4.58 162
4 5.02 163 It was here I knew I had to slow down........but couldn't
5 5.01 166
6 4.55 167
7 4.56 168
8 4.56 170
9 4.55 172 Still going far too fast, but just felt really, really good.
10 5.00 171 49.30. A 10km PB. Phark you Chelios
11 5.01 169
12 5.05 169
13 5.08 170
14 5.07 171 Hmmmm, what was that?
15 5.13 172 Ouch........
16 5.14 172
17 5.20 173
18 5.20 174 I want my Mummy
19 5.20 176
20 5.33 178 Now channeling Cliffy Young
21 5.32 178
0.1 0.31 182 Please just let me go home......
+ 0.4 1.59 182 (according to my Garmin the course was 3.87m long)
Total time for 21.1k was 1.48.00 @ 5.07 average. Also an average of 169 bpm.
So, as you can see, at the 10km mark I was 58 seconds in front of goal pace. Doesn't sound like much, but it was enough to make me pay later. Effectively, it means I lost 150 seconds over the last 11.1km, most of which was in the last 7km. A good pacing lesson if there ever was one.
The good news??? Well, it was still a half marathon PB for me. Albeit, only just beating my Shepp half mara time by 45 seconds.
The best part of the day was the awesome pancakes put on by the Sri Chinmoy guys. Suitably replenished, it was then into the car and off to the Kew Recreation Centre for a bit of a soak in the spa and a shower before the 2 hour trip home.
Arriving back home to Shepp at 1.30pm, I was just in time to get down to the park for the end of our club's season launch and catch up with a few of the guys. A chance to share a few tall stories and have a few laughs. It was about this time that a few of the guys thought I might have still been a bit amped up! I must admit, the trip home was my own little "house party" in the car with the ipod smashing out some awesome tunes, and on reflection, I realised that during my rush to get to the start line I have inadvertently dropped a bit more of the caffeine dosage than normal - in fact, 33% more than normal. Ooops. So, I may have been talking a bit fast..........
Back into the spas for a bit more recovery time with a few of the guys and the traditional Sunday afternoon coffee. Probably the last thing I needed, but was good to catch up with the crew. As for the overdose of caffeine, it clearly works as I felt invincible for the for half of the run. Just need to get it to last for the second half LOL
Eventually came down off my high and got to sleep. Woke up Monday morning somewhat sore and I guess this is to be expected given I went a little harder than expected. Weigh in this morning was 97.5kg, a loss of another 0.5kg, and a total of 22.5kg in 28 weeks. And this was with a post race celebratory KFC binge on board!!
So, whilst it was still a PB for me over both the 10 and 21.1k distances, it was still good lesson learnt in pacing. Hopefully, I can put what I have learnt to good use in 2 weeks time when I front up for the half at Melbourne mara weekend.
This time though, I'll be travelling down the day before to make sure I make the start line with a bit of time to spare :)