I started specific training for this half on January 4th of this year. Sticking to my theme of free training plans, I scheduled a Garmin Connect Training plan on my calendar and had it push the workouts to my fenix 2. The plan I followed was the Half Marathon Level I plan with heart rate. I chose this mostly because of the desired 3 runs a week as I maintained my cycling volume through the winter. As for following the plan, I would say that the workout completion was around 85%. I have been wanting to mention an inherent trait of the workout feature of Garmin Connect and I think now would be just as good as any. Due to the way workouts are programmed on the fenix 2, I only have my watch walk me through the interval or interval-like workouts. When following a workout on the fenix 2 it removes the Auto Lap feature of a normal run which is something that I use to track progress. I have the Auto Lap set at kilometer intervals, and having it buzz or beep to notify me of the last Auto Lap is something I find beneficial. In contrast, when you are following a preset workout, the buzz or beep notification feature is employed to advise you of the next step be it an interval or rest cycle. So in order to still obtain those auto-lap messages for the Long Runs, Easy Runs, Tempo Runs, and Build Runs of the schedule, I stepped through those runs myself, or better said I controlled those workouts by watching my heart rate and pace. Along that same theme, my heart rate governed 90% of my workouts during this training schedule. I know that opinions differ as what to follow with a workout, but I made it a conscious effort to follow only heart rate to compare that style with my previous style of following only pace. I have liked the change, and have found it beneficial. By stepping through this training schedule I found myself as ready as I have been for any race to date. I attribute some of this readiness to my overall fitness gains from my winter training, but for run specific training I was very pleased by this schedule.
I really enjoy the packet pickup of each race, and I like it when the race makes it possible the day before the race. Picking up the packet the day before gets you into a good frame of mind for the mental preparation needed for each race. I accordingly picked up my packet the day before and perused the items they offered at discount. This is usually another good reason to pick up the packet the day before, as the selection is better and accordingly I picked up a few things at a discount price that I was eventually going to buy anyways. The pasta was good too.
Although I like the afternoon schedule of the races here in Germany, one disadvantage is that you have to wait all day for the race. This is usually OK for me, but due to the taper week, I was as wound up and full of energy like a coiled spring. Finally the time to leave the house arrived, and the with the whole family piled in the car we looked for a parking spot in the increasingly full lots of the Saturn Arena and Wonnemar. When we finally found one, it had started to rain, and we drug the kids through the rain to meet up with a friend of ours at the town hall in the middle of Ingolstadt. After a little while longer I made my way to the start line. I noticed a lot of people warming up, and I thought that in order to look normal I should do the same. I had no idea what I was doing, but I did a few high knees and some elevated cadence work and called it good. I figured running a half Marathon would be enough running for me for the day. I also noticed that my heart rate was already pretty elevated due to the nerves and excitement I always feel just before a race.
After a delayed start, the pack started slowly moving towards the starting line. I had grouped myself near what I thought was the 1:45 finishers. I started my watch at what I thought was the starting line and off we went. The course for this half was fun, and were it not for all of the people running, I would have really enjoyed it. I had asked my friend to take some pictures of me as I ran by and to my best bet estimated when I would be passing him. Standing near the town hall he would be able to see me pass 3 times. Looking at the pictures afterwards was interesting to see the increase in the discomfort in my face each time I passed.
As I started to tick off the kilometers on the course and see the splits on my watch, I was a little worried about how quick my heart rate had jumped into the 160’s. I was running in my normal Zone 3 or steady state pace, but my heart was already acting as if it was zone 4. This seems to be a theme for me as of late with my HR. It just seems to be 4 to 7 beats faster on race day when comparing it to a normal training day. This was somewhat of a concern for me as I progressed along because I was worried about the proverbial wall. I had set my virtual partner up for a 4:50/km pace (7:45/mile) and by kilometer 10, I was already 1 minute and change ahead of him/her. My HR was now in the low 170’s, and I kind of just had to go with it. Nothing was hurting too much, and though I stopped at the aid stations to get water and bananas, I really didn’t seem to need that much either. I was however, ready to ditch my jacket since it had stopped raining, and upon passing by the town hall another time I threw it too my wife who was a few rows back in the crowd.
The most difficult section of this race was around kilometers 13 and 14. Running along the top of the flood retaining wall didn’t allow for too many spectators to cheer you on, and it also seemed to stretch out forever. After that turn around, things started to pick up and my pace kept right in the same groove. Before long it seemed like I was running through the city center again.
This is the end
I have become accustomed to saying that a Half Marathon is 21.1 kilometers, and that last 0.1 kilometers is the toughest part. This is definitely true more mentally than physically. To add insult to this mental anguish, the finishing 100 meters of this course are on cobble stones. It hurts to run at high speeds on pave. In asking my friend to take some pictures of me, I specifically requested that he be there at the finish line to get the time clock as I passed under it. He did a wonderful job considering it was his first time doing action shots.
PR in German is PB
42-1 is 41! My watch had to let me know that I had obtained my goal and gotten a PR (1:41:18 officially). Not only that, but knocked off 8:31 in the process. I was pleased. Very pleased. After 5 years of doing this as a hobby, I am finally starting to see the gains I was hoping for 3 years ago. I guess specified training is worth it. I was also on the fast side of the bell curve for a change. Now if I could just realize these gains with my doggy paddle.