Monday, November 28, 2016

Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon 2016 - Lessons Learned

London, England. Sunday 09-October-2016.

When the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon published the age group analysis I was 97th out of 173 over-60's. In the middle of the pack. That tallest bar in the middle of the graph. I'll take that, thank you. The average time for this cohort was 02:18:45 so I was faster than the average, thanks to the long tail. Happy with that too, as a first timer who only started running in February.

Things I have learned:

  • People sponsored the training. Sponsorship is for doing something hard. Doing training runs twice a week for six months is the hard part. The half marathon itself was a doddle, I just trotted along beside the pacemaker. The last couple of km I was chatting away to him. Over the finish line and wandered off to find Mary. No real after effects at all. I could not have done that without the training.
  • I can't listen to music. I tried it once and it threw me off my stride trying unconsciously to run to the beat. Instead I used my mental jukebox which had the right beats per minute. Mainly Little Eva and The Loco-Motion.
  • I can't drink. I tried it once and it threw me off my breathing. I need my mouth for air! The conventional wisdom is "keep hydrated" but, apart from that one attempt I ran dry. Even on the half marathon I literally drank about five mouthfuls of water from my neighbour's bottle. If I do a full marathon I will probably have to work on this.
  • I don't eat carbs. I went on a training seminar with sessions on nurtrition, pacing and a yoga class. The nutrition advice mentioned the five food groups and loading up on carbs for two or three days prior, not more. Looking at my diet I realised that I eat very little carbs. A couple of slices of toast for breakfast but the evening meal is typically a piece of protein grilled, baked or shallow fried and a heap of vegetable. No potatoes, rice, cous-cous nor pasta except once or maybe twice a week. So it was a real effort to pre-load before the race. I don't eat much fruit either. On the day my fuel was two slices of toast and a small granola bar.
  • I don't enjoy it. I just don't get the attraction of running. It's like being a hamster in a wheel. As someone commented - I deserve especial credit for doing it despite not liking it.
  • I don't get an endorphin high. Or 'runners' rush' or whatever you want to call it. My body doesn't seem to work that way. The first five minutes post-run are getting breath and pulse back to normal, then I spontaneously combust - sweat bursts of of every pore and drenches me - and then I feel relaxed because it's all over. If that feeling is this supposed euphoric state then all I can say is "sod that for a game of soldiers", the game's not worth the candle.
  • I was Billy No-Mates. All my training was done entirely on my own (49 runs totalling 360km). It was really weird on the day to be surrounded by 16,000 other people all around me that I had to dance around to keep my pace.
  • I am a human metronome. Looking at the splits there is less than a minute between average and target all the way through except the first. The only reason the first one is fast is because I had to catch up to the pace runner who had worked his way forward in the queue while we were waiting to start.
    • Chip Time 02:14:52
    • Split Time (Target)
      • 5km 00:30:26 (00:31:57)
      • 10km 01:03:28 (01:03:54)
      • 15km 01:35:05 (01:35:51)
      • 20km 02:07:59 (02:07:48)
      • 21.1km 02:14:52 (02:14:50)
  • I did OK for my age and a newbie. See opening para. There were only 173 runners over 60 which, at just over, 1% surprised me, I would have thought there would have been a few more.
  • Put your name on your T-shirt. Prostate UK send me the letters in my name for me to iron on my vest. All the way round complete strangers were shouting my name, "Go Mark!" and giving me high fives. That is why I have a grin in all the photos.
  • Top tip from the professionals. "If you can see your feet you need to look up".
Was it fun? I am tempted to say No but the smile on my face in all the pictures say otherwise.
Would I do it again? No but I will do a full marathon, this was a stepping stone to prove that end goal is plausible.

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