The marathon pace run is probably the most important leading up to the race day. I tend to like them a bit more than tempo runs and I tend to enjoy track work, which at least is short term pain.
I missed last week's MP run that called for 12 miles at pace as part of a 15 mile run. I really wanted to do the 30K race, or 18.7 miles, mostly at pace. I figure that if you do pace runs by themselves, it's a much harder effort because you have to keep up the pace yourself. If you run it as part of a race, it becomes easier to get your head around it. So why not get the 5 extra miles if you have other runners to pace with, water stops and a route blocked off by pylons and volunteers.
I've run this race twice before, having done the 15K two years ago and the 30K last year. The organizers are tweaking with the race, having the 30K group start an hour before the 15K runners. I thought this was a nice tweak, I think a year ago we started 15 minutes after the 15K runners, which made for interesting racing.
I met up with Fran as we decided at the last minute to pace together. We both have the same BQ pace so we agreed on at least 13 miles at pace then we'd decide where to go from there. We saw Lee and his sister. Lee was going for his MP (which is pretty much as fast or faster than my tempo pace).
We seeded ourselves near the front, but back enough that we had to jockey for position. I lost Fran in the first 600 metres or so but he caught up and we started pacing together. We're both about 8 or 9 weeks out till our marathons so while we're in shape, I wasn't sure I was at peak fitness. As you can see, we're kinda trying to find our rhythm and pace (which was 4:38 kilometres).
The next while was in and around the Leslie Spit, a park that has asphalt, gravel and dirt. Not easy to make it around the varied surfaces but I was really thankful that we had lots of cloud cover and that the wind was nice. It was pretty humid, though cooler than I'd expected. I was taking fluid at every water stop but I tried to sip some of my own reserves.
I was a little worried about my body's ability to keep up the pace for a long period but by the 10K mark, I felt that my heart rate was settling and the pace was feeling appropriately comfortably hard. Fran was in a similar place so we kept it up. We stayed pretty silent running side by side, talked a little, traded split times. No matter what, it was a lot easier to have someone to share pacing duties. I took my first of two gels at the 10K mark.
We looped around the lighthouse and took a bit of running on gravel before we were again on proper surface. Bu the important thing was that we were very much on pace. By this stage, we were mostly passing runners as we kept up the running, even into a headwind.
As we made our way out of the park, Fran thought that he had something fly into his nose. A few kiometres later at a portapotty stop, it turns out that a fly had. Amazing. That's never happened to me. With that taken care of, we headed up Leslie and started east toward the Beaches. It was just the two of us and another runner ahead of us who we traded places with a few times. Otherwise, we still hitting our splits. I was feeling pretty good, again it was made easier with a running partner. Fran told me at some point that his heart rate was spiking and that he'd probably slow down after the 21K mark.
We hit the last kilometre together along the winding route around the Ashbridges Park. The half marathon mark was done in about 1:36:07 (I think our actual time was about 1:35:57). If that's the case, that was a much faster than planned half mark. Fran said good luck and I made my way through the rest of the race.
At this point, on my own, I decided to start eyeing runners ahead of me. I thought that maybe if I were to continue a strong pace, I should at least establish that I could run alone. So I started upping the pace to gain on a few runners ahead of me. You can see this in my splits for 22 and 23, when I did a 4:23 and 4:25, quite a few seconds faster than I'd been doing. I had gained on a few runners at this point when we hit the boardwalk. I was starting to feel the effort for those two fast kilometres and I guess they could have done me in, but I kept on telling myself that I didn't have much farther to go. Besides, it was kinda fun running around people on the boardwalk telling them to move because a race was coming through.
26K to 30K
The last stretch is the turnaround to the end. I was at this point passed about 5 runners and came across two runners. A woman and a guy, who we both passed. There was another male runner about 20 metres ahead of us but it looked like he'd continue his fast pace. So for almost the rest of the race, I slowly tailed the woman. It wasn't until the 27K mark, as we hit the one sharp downhill/uphill section, that I gained ground on her and passed her, only to be passed again by her about 400 metres later. We again fell into pacing, with me running either by her side or a little behind.
The last few kiometres is run on the same route as the 15K's last bit so we came across runners who were going at about 1:15-1:17 finish. Our pace had us going quite a bit faster, so here we were, blasting out 4:30 or so pace passing these runners. Some of them realized we were 30K racers and shouted out encourgement. One guy pushing his kid on a stroller told him that we were '30K runners', 'they're doing this speed for the whole 30K!'
That gave us a boost and we just gunned it to the end. With about a kilometre to go, I upped the pace to about 4:25 and finished strong. I turned back after the finish to congratulate the woman and shook her hand. As it turns out, she was the 3rd overall woman finisher.
03:35 (4:23 pace)
I was pretty shocked by my final time. I had hoped to do a consistent paced 2:19:30, but ended up with a strong 2:16:17 with a 4:32 pace (coinciding with a 3:11:40 marathon). Obviously, I gunned it in the last 9K since I lacked pacing patience, but it was gratifying to know that with another six weeks or so of quality training, that I was able to pump out this performance on a semi humid day.
Not bad at all. We caught up with a bunch of runners to share war stories about the sport for hours. Later, after two hours of beers and food, I ran home. In total, I ran 39K yesterday. Think today's run, if at all, will be pretty short.
Chip time: 2:16:17
Not to mention the blisters I've had to deal with.