February 07, 2009

Preparing for the First Half

Tim and I were both lucky enough to secure a spot for the First Half Marathon in Vancouver next Sunday. The race sold out in a few hours and seems to attract top runners, judging from the results from previous years.

That should make for an inspiring race. The course looks good, see here.

I haven’t raced a half marathon since April 2008, when I ran a PB of 88:13 in the Sunshine Coast half marathon. It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster half year since then. But my last three races were solid, and I was glad to set a PB in the Victoria marathon.

I did a 10km in December, and one in January. Both were flat courses. The January race was very cold, with a few icy spots on the road making me careful about my footing. While I ran a relatively comfortable 40:26 in the December 10km, I struggled to finish in 40:36 in January. Both races fell short of my 39:51 PB, set in January 2008.

When I put my December 10km time into Merv's Running Calculator, I theoretically would end up with a 89:53 for a half marathon. I find this tool helpful to make comparisons of theory and practice, and to calculate a pace per mile or kilometre for a race.

This calculator takes into account that you fatigue as the distance increases, so it allows you to see what time you theoretically should be able to run for a certain distance based on a time you actually did run recently for another distance.

Using this tool, my half marathon time seems often to be slightly ahead of my 10km and marathon performances.

For example, I ran a half marathon in less than 90 minutes for the first time in September 2006 (89:29 on a certified course). My best 10km time then was 41:39(!), though the calculator shows my half time translates to a 40:15 for the 10km. (Based on my actual best 10km time then, the calculator suggest a half marathon of 92:35. The first time I ran a 10km in less than 41 minutes was in December 2007 - 14 months later - when I did 40:24.

My 88:13 time translates to a 39:40 10km and a 3:05:11 marathon, neither of which I have accomplished yet. My most recent marathon time of 3:07:10, run in October 2008, translates to a 40:06 10km and an 89:09 half marathon. Of course I'd like to aim to get close to 88:13 again, and ideally a bit faster. To do so, my pace will have to be 4:10 per kilometre, or 6:43 per mile.

My legs have been tired from the increasing volume as I prepare for the Vancouver marathon in May. But this Sunday, my long run is only two hours (40 minutes shorter than the previous two weeks) and next week my volume is light as well, with some short but intense speed sessions.

So I'm expecting to be on the start line more rested than I feel today. As always, I am looking forward to testing my fitness. My pace goal in the first half of the race will be 4:10-4:15, a relatively comfortable pace that should leave energy in the tank to pick it up in the second half.

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