Sunday, 18 January 2009

The Brass Monkey...

It's been a little while coming but two years after running 80 minutes for the first time I've finally snuck under the 1.20 barrier with a shiny new half marathon pb of 1.19.35, crossing the line 37th out of 1280 runners and putting last year's 1.20.01 behind me :)

Having gone so close 12 months ago and also running 1.20 at the Great North Run at the end of last season I knew I was capable so rather than excitement my feelings this evening are more of relief and in a funny way a sense of closure. Over the last few years I've developed a rather annoying tendency of switching off before the line thinking that it's a case of 'job done' only to miss out on a target or position by the smallest of margins. Not wanting to suffer that fate in Lanzarote I said to H that my biggest goal today was to cross the line having given it my all, particularly if I had a pb 'in the bag' by the final mile... Kona qualification could come down to a single second and when you're racing other athletes (as opposed to the clock) the race may well be decided in the final 0.6 of 140.6 miles. I definitely achieved that today and for those who like these things here are my mile splits, not including the final 0.1 (with average heart rate)...

1 - 5.55 - 159
2 - 6.07 - 161
3 - 6.08 - 160
4 - 6.06 - 161
5 - 6.03 - 163
6 - 6.12 - 163
7 - 6.05 - 163
8 - 6.00 - 165
9 - 6.01 - 166
10 - 5.55 - 167
11 - 6.02 - 167
12 - 6.07 - 169
13 - 6.04 - 170

I'm extremely aware however that I've been a good enough runner to hit my target Ironman marathon split (3.20) for a couple of years and that the reason I haven't is largely down to my cycling ability being not quite up to scratch and today's result doesn't do anything to disprove that.

Too often you see triathletes trying to improve their run split by improving their running (I've often fallen into this trap - see last season) whereas the limiting factor is typically the fact that they're starting the run having already blown (see last season). A good analogy of this can be found in the housing market (bare with me)... a few years ago H and I were looking to move to the country and spoke to a few mortgage lenders, initially we were excited about the sums of money on offer but when we thought about our level of income and what we could actually afford compared to the maximum amount we could borrow there was probably a £75,000 difference between the two figures... thankfully we stayed true to our values and although we still live in the same small cosy semi we also enjoy the freedom that a relatively small mortgage, which we can comfortably afford, allows us... putting this back into the triathlon setting have a think about your target bike split for this year's A race... can you 'afford' to ride that fast or are you just 'capable' of riding that fast? Last year I was capable of riding a five hour bike split (not that my 5.09 in Germany would agree) but I certainly couldn't 'afford' it, hence being over an hour slower than my stand-alone marathon pb in my most important race of 2008. The big lesson for me being that it's no good just being able to ride your target split... you need to ride it easy... can I ride 5.40 at Lanza in 18 weeks time? YES ...can I comfortably ride 5.40 at Lanza in 18 weeks time? I'll let you know of May the 24th ;)

Anyway, getting back to today, what feels particularly good about this morning's performance is that my focus over the last few weeks has most definitely been on two wheels and with 500 miles paid into the cycling bank of Lanzarote earlier this month I'm confident that while I'm in similar run shape to 12 months ago my bike fitness is comfortably ahead. Unlike last year, Hels and I have no more running races scheduled for our Ironman build-up and from tomorrow morning we'll be free to concentrate on improving our pedal power in time for the first real bike test of the season at the Spring Ballbuster on March the 21st.

That's about it for now, well done to all our LBT and Virgin Active Road Runners friends who ran today and particularly to my amazing wife Hels for putting in a really positive and mature performance despite still feeling the affects of Lanzarote. It's really hard to do the right thing and hold back when all around you are racing hard, particularly if you're as competitive as she is... not running at all would have made her feel worse but going all out would have no doubt resulted in pain, frustration and most significantly would have worsened her already fatigued state. Thirteen point one miles at just under 7.30 pace meant she had a great training session without having to dig too deep, sometimes giving it your best means holding something back... my inspiration as always x


I think Hels has already talked about the rest of our brilliant weekend, it was great to spend time with Jonny and Kelsey and celebrate little Charlie Lack's first birthday in style this afternoon... a true reminder of what's important in life (and it isn't triathlon)...

We all take ourselves a little seriously sometimes so if you need something to remind you that the time on a race clock really isn't worth stressing about I'll leave you with something that my dad says to me (in reference to a great book I read about the British humanitarian and author Terry Waite) when I'm worrying about something not worth worrying about...

"It could be worse, you could have been chained to a radiator for five years!"

Yours in thought,



Anonymous said...

Great result mate. Much deserved. There's another gentleman's club entry. The next one is 1:15. Time to get that 10k down to 35mins now. Keep on truckin'


lord_lordy said...


Pushing to the end in an Ironman when chasing a slot can make all the difference. I did a big ride with a guy here last week - he got the last slot in his age group at IM New Zealand last year having passed someone in his age group coming down the finishing shute ! His coach has told him to race right to the line.

As for cycling being the key to a good run - I couldn't agree more. Most people have the speed to run what would be a decent Ironman split - the issue is can they get off the bike not too wasted. That comes down to bike training. A friend at the Tri Club was always fading on the run - I convinced him it was his biking that was the key to this. In the run up to IM Lanza in 2007 we did LONG (well over Ironman distance) together most Tuesdays and he did another at the weekend - come Lanza he had his best run, came 3rd in AG and got the slot !


Russ said...

Congrats on the new PB. Great way to start the year ahead.

To add to Steven's comment - cycling dominates my training to a large extent. I know a 3:10 marathon is not a challenge on its own, after 180K it is though. Definitely second the value of over-distance training both physically and mentally.

I think one of the best alterations I made to my program though was running off pretty much every bike. Again this has benefited my triathlon running both physically and mentally. I'll admit it's much easier to do this when you're in a warm climate though!

Kirstie said...

You whizzed past so quickly Tom I didn't get chance to screech "Looking good!" but you were, I think the 1:15 is not long coming.

Hope you enjoyed the burgers and Chocolate- opps! Was I meant to mention that?