Sunday, May 6, 2012

'Twas the season of the PB

As I head into off season/base training I can reflect on what has been the best and most enjoyably period of running in my life. I started the year as a disgruntled runner. I had a 48:00 10km to my name but just couldn't see where any improvements would come from. After some goal setting, nearly three months later targets are getting crossed off, and the improvements are coming thick and fast. Good times! After an awesome run at Wally Hayward, crossing off the first of my goals to run a sub 1:40 half marathon, I was ready to my feet up, but also start looking ahead for the rest of the year. So I got myself a coach. And who better than my father. He is very experienced having started a club when he was in London and now at UNISA. He is a fantastic runner with many many marathons to his name. Even in his mid 50s continues run amazing time, running a 1:24 half marathon as recently as last year. At his peak he was doing a 32 min 10km, a 70 min half and has a 2:30 marathon PB. I'm in good hands.

My first act as a coached athlete was however to ignore the advice of the coach. Though I ran pretty hard on Tuesday, I entered a 10km race in Pretoria, aiming to cross the first of my 2012 goals, to run a sub 45 10km. My logic was 2-fold. I was still on a high from the Wally Hayward. Also, the SA race calendar is very much centered around Comrades, so the runners taper in the month of May, the race calendar winds down. Likewise in June as the runners recover from completing one of the toughest road races in the world the calendar reflects this. The would be not be another serious opportunity to have a crack it.

So on Saturday morning I set of to Thaba Tshwane to do the 10km at the Jackie Mekler Memorial Race. The route was supposedly flat with a couple of undulations. It was freezing and the race was an earlier start than I have been used to, with 25km setting off at 6 AM and the 10 and 5 km races going 15 minutes later. To cut to the chase, after a steady first kilometre in around 4:40, I set of and just went as quick as my tired legs would take me. Racing so soon after the half was indeed risky. I could feel it on the climbs but I kept my splits constant, going through 5km in 21:15. I slowed a bit in the seconds half. By 8km I was really struggling but dug in enough to finish the race in unofficially a smashing new PB of 42:41 42:38. That's three minutes better than my previous best, and over 5 minutes quicker than what I started with in the new year.

Approaching the finish at the Jackie Mekler Memorial 10km on the way to a 42:41 42:38 PB

At the finish. Tough race but job well done!

The risk paid off and it meas I have managed to cross of two of my three 2012 goals. I'm really pleased that both were done comprehensively. Now I can focus my attention fully on training for the Soweto Marathon on the 4th November. The coach is going to put me on a 25 week plan starting on Monday beginning with six weeks of base building. The plan with gradually increase my speed through short and long intervals, bring in tempo pace, increase my stamina and end with three weeks of tapering. It's going to be long, it's going to be brutal but I'm excited. For now I'm going to reflect on an awesome 10 and a bit weeks where I learnt a lot about being runner, the value of having and sticking to a plan, and then reaping the rewards.


  • Taking 2:16 off my 10km at the Deloitte Pretoria 10km on 25th February to finish in 45:44 (4:35 min/km pace), a good omen
  • Finishing my first half marathon at the Slow Mag race in Benoni in 1:38:42 (4:41 min/km pace)
  • Improving my half marathon time by 3:4941 to finish unofficially in 1:34:53 1:35:01 (4:2930 min/km pace) and breaking (just about) equalling the 4:30 min/km average over race distance
  • Finally breaking 45 min for 10km and taking 3:03 3:06 off my previous best to finish the Jackie Mekler Memorial in 42:41 42:38 (4:16 min/km pace)

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