Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 Ole Man River Half Marathon–Charts and Numbers

The 2011 Ole Man River Half PR – wow, what a lucky race.

As I am sure most of you know, everything has to be just right to get a PR. Why? Because it is the fastest you have ever run at the distance. A PR just won’t happen on its own (well, maybe that first year of running, but after a few years under your belt it takes a lot of work).

Race morning was a cool 40 degrees, very little wind but higher than normal humidity. For December, in the South, on a scale of 1 -10, I would give these conditions a 9 (maybe 9.5). A 10 would be 35 degrees, zero wind and no humidity. I want to be cold at the start of the race. But we were lucky with the conditions this year.

The Friday before and the days after the race were not what I would call ideal race conditions. I ran two days before the race and a couple of days after the race and it was tough – much harder conditions. Yesterday, during an 8 mile run (6 at tempo) the temperature was 65 degrees and drizzle (100 % humidity). In these conditions I would not have been able to maintain half marathon pace for even a 10k!

While no race PR’s are easy, this one might have been easier than some of the races in the past. Why? Because I paced myself better.

Even though it was a PR by 7 seconds the charts look very different. My average heart rate for the two races was within 2 BPM. 2010 was higher – 2010: 176 / 2011: 174. This was because of the blow up.

Boring stuff.  These charts are for me.  I am a visual kind of guy.


2010 – Notice the slowing at miles 2 – 4.  I was just trying to hold on.  The HR peak does correspond with the ‘fast’ at mile 5.  I am not sure why that mile was fast.  The difference between fastest and slowest miles was 20 seconds (6:26 / 6:46).


2011 – This was a better race.  The heart rate progression was linear.  Sure, the race got harder but there were not nay blow ups.  Also, the pace was a lot tighter.  The difference between fastest and slowest miles was 11 seconds (6:31 – 6:42).


This chart shows my average heart rate from 2010 and 2011. You can see that I went out too fast in 2010. I actually went out per the game plan but I did not have the fitness to maintain a 6:30 pace. That first mile was 6:26 pace. I still need to work on this because 2011 was also too fast but not enough to blow up (6:31 pace). By the second mile I had settled into my half marathon pace of just under 6:40. The difference was that in 2010 it was a struggle because of the blow up and in 2011 it was an easy transition to half marathon pace. I remember 2010 well; I was dying from mile 2 – 6 and just trying to hold on. This year I was running hard but strong and in control of my race. 

I was able to go out at an appropriate pace and cruise the first 10K.  I say cruise like it was easy – it was hard work, this pace is fast for me, but it is a lot easier than blowing up.

The question I am asking myself, could I have run faster if I had gone out quicker?

How do you pace your races?  Do you go out slow, fast or steady?