38th place, 1:06:51. Not what I had hoped for but not awful. I was out in the pack which was slow, 5:06. I stayed on the pack to about 5 miles going 10:00(4:54), 14:54(4:53), 19:42(4:52), 24:40(4:57). Miles 5 and six I was slower but still felt strong and fairly easy I could feel my coordination threatening a bit so I was thinking a lot about my form and posture but it wasn't impacting my running. I hit 6 miles in 29:39 with a 4:59 mile. Then I started to struggle. My breathing wasn't bad. In fact it was pretty good. A couple of times I would start to feel a bit of strain but not much at all but my legs were heavy and not very responsive. I slowed to a 5:12. I would basically spend the next 5 miles bouncing up and down between 5:06 and 5:12. I would try to push and my legs would just have no fight quickly but since my breathing was good I would be ready to push again a few hundred meters later but it would only take 50 or a hundred of pushing to be slowing again.
Obviously I had hoped for more but I had also been quite sick so I had a feeling sub 1:05 was a big ask. Immediately after the race I was actually feeling pretty satisfied with the effort and happy that I had been limited by fitness rather than coordination which is good.
The more I thought about it however I was a bit more disappointing. Generally speaking as the event doubles in distance I tend to slow by about 5 to 6 seconds per Kilometer. So my 5k road best is 14:20(2:52 per K) my road 10k best is 29:32 (2:57 per K) my half marathon is 1:03:44(3:01 per K- faster course) I felt that before I got sick I was getting close to 1:05:00 but that being sick may have sent me back to where I was in late October early November. Thing is I ran a 14:40 on a fast road 5k in late October. That would point to a ballpark of 1:05:03 to 1:05:25 for the half marathon. That is just ballpark but to end up in the high 1:06's seemed a little crazy. The course and the conditions were perfect.
Thinking about it more I started thinking about my debut half marathon at BAA in 2005. I ran 1:07:28. I have no doubt looking at workouts that I am in better shape today then I was then. The thing is the course in Jacksonville was much more than 30 or 40 seconds faster than the BAA course. I would guess more like 2 minutes.
So now I had two things saying I should have run more in the mid to low 1:05's. So what is the problem? Well first if you are in shape for sub mid 1:05 and you try to run mid 1:04 you will likely blow up a bit and run slower than 1:05mid. But a minute and a half slower? That seems extreme.
I did some digging around on feeling like your not breathing heavy but your legs are holding you back and everything said the same thing. Good aerobic fitness and poor anaerobic fitness.
My first thought was not possible. It was a half marathon that is an aerobic event.
The more I thought about it I began to think it made a lot of sense. When I was sick I continued to run and even do some longish runs but I didn't do any workouts. The only two workout like things I did were 2 miles long at half marathon pace not anything that was going to build up much latic acid to be flushed. Looking back at my training the last time I did a workout that would have involved flushing lactic acid was a half marathon paced tempo on December 5. A month out. Even that wasn't really very anaerobic at all. Really the last workout that would have had a significant impact was my Mona Fartlek on November 30th. One day shy of 5 weeks before the race.
On top of that aerobic fitness is slow to build and slow to retreat but anaerobic fitness is comparatively very fast to build and very fast to retreat.
Still the half marathon is an aerobic event. I kept hanging up on that. So I went looking back at some of the training I had done in the past to see when I had done similar workouts and what the results had been and what the workouts had looked like before similar results. I came across a print out I had made and highlighted of a post by Renato Canova talking about the need for marathoners with very high amounts of slow twitch fiber to do anaerobic work, extensive anaerobic work during MARATHON training! The reason is that though you don't raise the blood PH very high during fast aerobic running the muscles actual are producing a lot of lactate. Your body needs to be using this lactate as fuel, one to reach its full potential but two to keep from steadily building up the PH of the blood and slowing you down. He said this was unnecessary for most of his athletes because as athletes with more fast twitch and a lot of slow twitch B fibers they already naturally processed lactate more then well enough for half marathon and marathon racing.
This hit me in the face. I have never had my muscle fibers biopsied but my assumption based on my speed (58.8 lifetime 400m best) and my predilection towards longer training and racing has been that I am in the high 90% slow twitch fiber range.
I honestly believe if I had raced before I got sick I would have been in the low 1:05's. I also think that low 1:05 is a better assessment of my fitness right now. If I had managed to stay healthy perhaps I could have slipped under with 3 more weeks of good workouts but that was going to be a big ask and frankly not getting sick as a teacher in winter in New England is a big ask.
It is certainly possible that there is another problem but if there is it is stranger or more unusual. When I'm in a field in New England and I see a large four legged animal eating grass but I can't quite identify it I'm guessing it is a horse or a cow or a deer. Sure a zebra may have escaped from a zoo but it isn't my first guess.
So where to go from here?
I am taking this week basically off, 4 miles each day with the dog- she still needs to run. Next week I will get back on my 2 week modified complex training system.
Monday-am 4 to 6 Pm 10 to 12
Tuesday am 4 to 6 PM mona fartlek
Wednesday PM 15 to 18 miles
Thursday am 4 to 6 PM week 1 - 3 miles of sprint float sprint, week 2- 2mile to 5k tempo followed by hill repeats
Friday- same as monday
Saturday week 1- 30k to 40k FAST(fundamental tempo) week 2- easy run and 4 to 8 mile tempo run
Sunday- week 1- easy run or easy double, week 2- 22 mile run with last two miles fast- marathon pace.
I will race a couple times probably in February as rust busters and one for sure will be an indoor 5k. I've run sub 15 at least once for 13 straight years and I want to make sure to knock one out early since I'm fit in case I get sick or hurt later in the year.
I might look into a half marathon in March. I really like the distance and I'm glad to be back able to do them. Also a March half marathon gives me a nice chance to check on my theory about the lactic acid being the problem.
Depending on how that goes I would probably look to either a late spring marathon (grandma's?) or to a 5k to half marathon racing season in May and June.
Overall I'm very happy with my fitness coming into this hear and I am excited about my coordination, my ability to stay mechanically healthy, thanks to yoga, and this complex training program because it hits all the systems but the weekday workouts are such that I can get them done around work consistently.
For the last 8 years starting in 2008 my number one goal has been to run a marathon again without losing coordination. For the first time last year this was something I felt was possible. It didn't happen but I made huge steps towards it. I did 4 or 5 real marathon workouts without losing coordination. I did the best long runs I have done since 2007. This year I really want to run a decent marathon. When I was young I had so many crazy life goals. The sort of things that if/when I told people about them would make me seem crazy. I have to a degree accomplished so many of them.
I am so lucky to have Melissa. I am so lucky to have our family. I have checked off so many running goals along the way. But in doing that I have seen a set of those goals that I know for sure are possible and I would like to get them before time runs out. A long time ago I set down some times I felt I could walk away from the sport with satisfied that I had run close to my potential.
I have met some I haven't yet run others. I would love to get in shape to get one or two more before father time starts beating on me too bad.
More than anything I would like to run a fast marathon again. What is fast? That depends greatly on the course. For example I would tell you my debut of 2:15:28 wasn't super fast given the course, one of the fastest in the world and the conditions, near perfect. My 2:14:56 was quite fast considering the course. Anyway you slice it I want this to be 'the year' for the return. That said I also really want to continue to enjoy the huge gains I have made and the ability that I have now to actually race half marathons and to do so many of the workouts that I have missed for so long.