Saturday, 29 May 2010

Ninety-nine ten

One commenter a few months ago said he liked it if pastor-bloggers talk about some of their "outside" interests as it humanises us. Well, I needed no excuse to mention running again...

Today was the number three out of my "big five" of planned runs, climaxing hopefully in a marathon in about 4 weeks. (The big five are three twenty-milers (two down so far, one remaining) for the endurance, a "raced" (against the clock!) half-marathon to test my speed, and the marathon itself).

Today was the half-marathon. Because of injuries and travel arrangements, I haven't been able to race one since September 2007 - and that was objectively my best run ever: 1:36:40 (7:22 per mile). Everything went well on that day: perfect weather (cool, with a tiny bit of drizzle to prevent the body needing to spend much energy sweating), fresh legs, well-timed. Anyway, that was blogged back here.

Matching that performance would be tough, even given the 4 months of injury-free training this year since my January marathon. I don't know what a true equivalent performance would be; Eldoret is at a 7000ft altitude, and it is more hilly than the Derbyshire Dales - there's very little running that isn't up or down, and the slopes can last for dozens of miles. (Not uniform - every mile may be a net up, with almost no flat, but there can be some downs along the way). In any case, my best 10-mile time in training was 2 minutes behind what I did then. Today's course was up for half the distance, then turn round and come back down.

At half-way I thought I still had a chance, but the extra gears needed in the second half were not there - I accelerated some, but not enough for 1:36:40. The result was 1:39:10 - exactly 2.5 minutes slower. It did still include (by 30 seconds) my fastest 10 miles ever in Kenya (though assisted by a 200 foot net elevation loss!). I'm still really pleased; when I did that 1:36, it was the absolute limit of what I thought was possible, and had set a target of 1:40; which today I did meet, so no complaints.

According to the 1.06-exponential formula used to calculate an equivalent performance (raise the ratio of the distances involved to the power of 1.06) that could translate, all things being equal, to a 3:26 marathon. 1:36:40 translates to 3:21, but the actual result was 3:40 - though an injury got in the way. I think the formula is a big optimistic though once you go over 20 miles - it's a different ball game at that stage. And all things won't be equal: for reasons I won't bore you with, the planned marathon involves 21 miles of near-continuous uphill. I'm not quite sure what happens if you try such a thing, but I wonder if it could be more morale-destroying than 3 miles on Chesil beach. All being well, we shall see!

By the way, what are the benefits of spending 100 minutes running in a large circle? For me, I need less sleep, sleep better when I do sleep and have significantly more energy during my days. As well as finding it mentally relaxing which is always welcome when one's work does not involve many other mindless tasks.

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