|Progression of 10km and 5km times over the past year or so|
The last 12 months have been great, and I have been really pleased with the progress I have made, particularly in 2012 with a more focused and structured approach to training. The last six months of 2011 when really just foundational, getting some miles and setting some benchmarks. This year has been about taking big strides, really massive ones.
Improving my 10km has been a big feature of my first year as a commited runner, starting way back in August last year when I ran the Vodacom Country Challenge in 51:19. I knew I would get faster, but how much faster was what I didn't know.
This past weekend I got to find out. Post Wally Hayward, even though I have bee technically just base building, the increasing intensity of my training has meant that my times have been tumbling both in what I can sustain in training and come race day. Thus with the promise and flat fast route at the Hope Starts in Hatfield event, I knew that my PB of 42:38 was barring some disaster was going to tumble. It was not a case of if, but by how much!
The venue was The Fields shopping centre in the heart of Hatfield. I love shopping mall races. Most of the shops open their doors early to take advantaged of of the hundreds of runners and of course after the race, breakfast is there on offer. But I have a theory with the races. The constraint of having a fixed start and end point perhaps affects the distance measurement. Nothing worse that expecting weary runners to walk a long way back to the start. At an earlier event at the Jakaranda Shopping Centere in early May, I ran a sedate 64, having done is a training, but curiously my official time was a somewhat quicker 61:10. I didn't think much of it then but after Saturday's race I have an idea as to where that discrepancy may have come from.
I have been training hard and to be honest I am a bit tired but I gave this event everything. Almost too much. I set off at a very unsustainable pace, hitting the first km mark in 3:40, with 2km and 3km coming up on a downhill, that pace never relented and I went through 3km in 11:10. With that being 37:13 pace I was literally laughing at myself knowing that I was never going to keep that up. I consoled myself with that I was banking time. Something I always swear I am never going to do.
At this point we had gone past Loftus Versveld, that mighty rugby stadium, and were nowing climbing to had back towards Hatfield. This climb as shallow as it was put the brakes on that early pace as I slowed to a little of 4:00min/km pace. Four kilometres disappeared at 15:15, and went through 5km in 19:25. This is where things got a little fishy. The finish had been clearly marked at the mall and with both 5km and 10km following the same route, this point was still quite a long way from the end. Hmmm. I minded my own business as we split from the 5km runners.
The second loop was a little different around the stadium but with the same downhill portion, 4:05 pace reverted back to sub 4 min pace and I cruised through to 8km in 31:10 and then hit the 9km point in 35:10. With a little under 5min to get to 40:00 and 1km to go, a PB and a sub 40 was surely in the bag. In the first lap I had seen a 10 painted on the road close to the finish. At the start, a few of the faster looking runners, talking about running 32s were saying how they had the route was closer to 10.6km. Indeed I went past that curious 10 in 39:30! My legs were starting to give in and the end was not in sight. Clock ticked over 40, the 41 and I did the unthinkable and walked for about 10 seconds out of exasperation. Then got my legs ticking over again and finished in 42:08 on my clock but with an official time of 42:24.
So two possibilities exist here. The route was 10km and the boards were placed incorrectly. But each and every one?!?!?!? Or more likely the route was long, the boards were correct and the need to finish at the mall meant adding on an extra 5-600 metres was unavoidable. My footpod usually measures short, but in my lighter Zoom Elite's which allow me to keep up short, high frequency strides was in sync with the boards. It had me through 5km in 19:30 and 10km in 39:20, and measured a final distance of 10.67, somewhat in line with the rumblings of 10.6 km at the start. The official distance as it turns out was 10.5km.
I really felt good on the day, and felt fast and having been doing my tempos at around 4 min/km pace, I felt that with the route and with the weather that I could run a sub 40 10km. Unfortunately I will not know at least until the next race at the end of July. My priorities are shifting now though as it is now 18 weeks to the Soweto Marathon. Breaking 40 minutes for 10km is no longer the priority and now if it happens it does.
One thing I did take out of this race was adhering to a pre race pacing plan. Already aiming for faster than 4 min/km was beyond my PB which was at 4:16 pace. Of course having done a 5km at 3:34 pace and a 15km at 4:07 pace were signs that I am faster than 4:16 pace. However going out at 3:43 pace over the first three kms was suicidal. I could have perhaps managed 3:50 pace if I was a bit more conservative but in the end I managed around 3:57 pace which was still a huge improvement. That gives me a solid based to work off for marathon training. My goal was to get faster. Adding speed is potentially more difficult that adding endurance as opposed to get fit for long distance then trying to get faster. So getting the speed in the bank before getting ready for the long haul was always the challenge. And to have potentially taken 3:00 off a 10km time I achieved 8 weeks ago is just great.