June 22, 2011

Gearing up for the Scotiabank half marathon

In a few days it's time for the annual Scotiabank Half Marathon in Vancouver from UBC to Stanley Park. I did this race for the first time last year, finishing in 88:30, my second-fastest half and 17 seconds from my PB in the 2008 Sunshine Coast half marathon.

It's a great course that's especially fast in the first half as it has lots of downhill; a year ago I covered the first 10km in 40:42, or a pace of 4:04/km. While that was great, I struggled in the second "half", taking 47:48 to cover the remaining 11.1km. That translates to a 4:18/km pace.

As you can tell from the course profile, the first half is certainly faster, however, I think I can do better by lowering the difference in my pace for the first and second half this year.

To do so, I may need to ease my pace slightly in the beginning so that I can keep a faster pace at the end, in other words, slow down less--and ideally not at all. ironguides coach Shem Leong just wrote an article that touches on that topic, saying that many athletes would benefit from training their mind to focus better as they chase that extra 10% improvement.

Leong suggests you think back to your PB race, as you seek to better that performance, and writes,Chances are that you could have made significant gains from handling the low-energy patches of the race better; such as the moment you decided to ease up three-quarters into the run so it became a whole lot less painful ... Regardless of your level of fitness, there comes a point in every race when we have to decide whether to bite the bullet and suffer more, or whether to ease up and cruise for a bit.

You can read Leong's entire article here.

As I am gunning for a PB on Sunday, I am certainly focusing on dealing better with my low-energy patches in last year's race, clear in my splits here. Last year's 88:30 was a 4:12/km average pace (my 88:13 PB from 2008 was 4:11). This Sunday I'd like to end up at 4:10/km for a sub-88.

I believe I'm ready for it. The one uncertainty is whether my body will be recovered enough from the cold I've struggled with for the past two weeks. But I'm optimistic and looking forward to give it my all this Sunday!

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