Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Illinois Half-Marathon Post Race Analysis

It's taken me almost a week to settle down and reflect on my poor performance at last weekend's Illinois half-marathon. I ran a 1:41:24 (7:45 pace, 289/3097 overall, 14/130 in age group). Damn. Worst I've done at this race. One of my worst overall at the half-marathon distance. I was dreaming of a 1:36 or 1:37. Thought a 1:38 was very doable. If everything went wrong, I thought a 1:39:59 (sub-1:40) was still reasonable. Nope! We had perfect weather (overcast, no wind, mid-40Fs). I had no excuses. So, what happened?

I was better trained than last year. That should be a positive. Well, at least I had more long runs (10-12 miles). Not quite as much speed training as last year. Last year, and this year, I went out too fast. But this year I had a long fade that I never recovered from--not even for the last mile. Last year, I was re-energized at the end and pushed hard with an uptick in pace. This year I slowed down from mile ten to the finish. Steady slowing. Nothing helped me. I had 2 running gels (mile 4 and 8), loud music, pace team (that I lost by mile 7), fresh shoes, good taper, no injuries.

Toward the end, I felt like I was pushing harder, but I did not increase my pace. I didn't even hold my pace! Very discouraging. Why so poor? First, all my friends say this is still a good time. Blah, blah, blah. It's not bad, but it's not good for me. Minute slower than last year. Nine minutes slower than my PR. And we had perfect weather! I think there are three main variables that led to my relatively poor performance: aging, lack of race speed, lack of long runs.

Aging. Every year I'm getting older. That generally means slower. To fight aging, I need to work even harder. Strength training. Endurance. Speed. More miles. I'm convinced I still have a few good races left in me. I simply need to bring extra discipline, commitment, and renewed training. Next year I'll be ready.

Speed. I dabbled in speed in this training cycle, but never really had a focused program. Some intervals here, some tempos there, some race-pace efforts when I remembered. I think the main missing ingredients were long tempo runs and longish race-paced runs. Next year.

Long runs. I felt good about my long runs this year, but they did stop at 12 miles. I need to get in several 12-15 mile runs. As a self-proclaimed ultra runner, I should be able to toss in longer runs with no trouble. Fifteen miles is not that long! Just do it. Next year I will.

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