Tuesday - 70min Cycle

Considering my half marathon this Sunday, I wanted to do some active recovery instead of running, and have as little impact on my legs as possible.

I was only targetting high Zone 1 heart rate today as I had just trained legs yesterday so my effort was very minimal. As expected, finised this session feeling good.

Thursday - 10km intervals

My speed workout today was 3x1km intervals at 7/10 effort. Trying to keep the legs feeling fresh without causing fatigue.

My interval splits were: 4:05, 4:03, and 3:59. They felt mostly comfortable. I don't expect to be doing anywhere close to these paces on Sunday but it was still useful to get in some faster paces the week of a race.

Thankfully my legs this week have been feeling much better so hopefully they stay that way during my race.

Saturday - 6km Shakeout

Very light and easy shakeout run this morning followed by a beach swim. Kept the effort on this run as low as possible and just paid close attention to how my body is feeling.

I like to use shakeout runs to mentally prepare for my races. They're a good way to burn off any nervous energy and just try to get in the right mental state for a race.

Sunday - 21.1km RACE DAY

Plan for this race:
4:00am: Maurten Drink Mix 160 + Sodii Electrolytes (in 500ml water) + Maurten Solid
5:15am: Coffee.
7:10am: Race Start.

This whole week I have been trying to settle on a goal time, one that is reasonable considering my current fitness and injuries, but also one that will require some effort to achieve. I knew from a few weeks ago that I would not be aiming for a PR today (1:23:58), so I figured sub-90 minutes would be a suitable target, however I felt even that to be too ambitious. Whatever. I stuck with it anyway.

With a target time of under 90 minutes, my average pace needed to be 4:15/km at the slowest. This was intimidating because during my recent workouts, I would never feel like I could hold that pace for 21km.

I woke up this morning feeling ready to run. It had been a while since my last long run workout and even longer since my last race.

The course was an 'up-and-back' course, starting with a gradual downhill before moving into some intense rolling hills. Thankfully I had driven along the route yesterday so I knew roughly what to expect in terms of elevation, but it's completely different sitting in a car to being faced with these hills during a run. Either way, I still think driving the course helped me prepare mentally so that I wasn't caught off guard thinking it would be a flatter course.

I started strong, hitting 4:14 and 4:04 for the first 2 kilometers. I knew my splits would not be even and so I tried not to get too caught up on sticking right on my goal pace. To push harder on the uphills and hold myself back on the downhills would just be wasted effort. Instead I ran to effort instead of pace, meaning I would typically slow down going uphill, and accelerate going downhill if it felt comfortable. This strategy worked mostly well because it meant I did not stress when I saw people passing me going uphill, as I would usually catch them on the other side going down.

The course was slightly a net uphill going out, meaning it was a net downhill coming back for the finish. This could explain why I found the first half to be the most difficult, to the point where I thought I would not be able to finish. My left shin was hurting and I felt massively underprepared. I pushed through, and had about 3/4 of a gel between 6.5 and 8km. For reference, this was my elevation chart with pace and heart rate data:

Once I had reached the turnaround point at halfway, I started to feel better mentally and physically.

Pace and Elevation graph from Mornington Half Marathon.

As the race progressed, I felt the early signs of a stomach cramp coming on. I decided to play on the safe side and not take another gel to avoid getting a full-blown cramp that would force me to stop. I didn't feel like I desperately needed another gel, but it definitely would've been nice to have for one final boost.

I think what really helped me through this point was my intentional carb-load from yesterday and the day before. Surprisingly I've never done a proper carb load before any of my races until this point, and it seems like it paid off today when I could skip my second gel to avoid a stomach cramp.

Once the feeling of an oncoming cramp subsided, I could again turn my focus to one thing: finishing strong.

My final 2 kilometre splits were 4:02 and 3:56, bringing me to an official finishing time of 1 hour, 27 minutes, and 20 seconds. Only 3 minutes off a PR that was set on a flat course.

Although I did not get a PR, I am still proud of this time considering my interrupted training schedule from shin splints and the doubts I had going into and even during this race. It has reminded me that a sub 3-hour marathon in Gold Coast is not completely off the table. I can hold a pace faster than 4:15 for at least a half marathon, I just need to work on improving my endurance over even longer distances.

Weekly Summary:

Total Distance: 37km

10 Weeks Out.