June 01, 2010

Practicing race pace

I finished the first week of my new training program. As expected, I enjoyed the sessions, especially because the training routine is different to the one I have followed for five years.

Change is refreshing and, on that note, my hair went from shoulder-length to a super-short pixie style on Friday.

My new program includes a marathon race pace session on most Saturdays and I did the first one this weekend. The idea of this session is to get used to your planned marathon race pace by running a certain distance at it, 8km this time.

My best marathon time is 3:07:10, which I ran in the Victoria Marathon in October 2008. That works out to a marathon pace of 4:26 per kilometre. Since then I've run another three marathons in 3:10, 3:10 and 3:11 respectively, which is a pace of between 4:30 to 4:32 per kilometre.

A difference of  5 to 7 seconds per kilometre seems minor but over 42.195km it adds up to nearly five minutes, which at my pace means more than 1km.

I am looking for an ambitious improvement in my marathon time so I have decided to aim for a 4:20 per kilometre pace in my Saturday race pace sessions. (That pace works out to a marathon time of 3:02:51 if I were able to maintain this.)

Starting this session with the expectations that marathon pace would feel pretty relaxed for 8km, I noticed soon that I was wrong and had underestimated how quickly you lose your top speed. The first 3km should have taken me 13 minutes but I was 45 seconds too slow.

So I sped up and managed to finish the remaining 5km at my desired 4:20 marathon race pace, feeling more like I had just done an 8km time trial than the relaxed pace I anticipated. Oh well, the marathon is still four months away.

This Saturday I am racing a 10km in Summerland, BC. I am planning to start at 4:10 pace and see how that feels, which I expect to be challenging given this weekend's session:-). The last time I raced a 10km was more than six months ago, so I am excited!

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