Half

Halbmarathon Ingolstadt 2015

Background

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.

Packet Pickup

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.

Race Prep

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.

los gehts

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.

Looking rather upbeat after 500 meters.

Looking rather upbeat after 500 meters.

21 Kilometers

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.

Looking to throw a jacket!

Looking to throw a jacket!

In the meantime this little man was doing some running of his own (away from Mom).

In the meantime this little man was doing some running of his own (away from Mom).

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.

Trying to do some mental math.  What is 42 subtract 1?

Trying to do some mental math. What is 42 subtract 1?

Finish Line! 1 minute behind gun.

Finish Line! 1 minute behind gun.

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.

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Ipf-Reis Halbmarathon 2014

Build Up and Arrival

On May 10th, 2014 I completed my first half marathon.  I had always said that people were not smart if they ran for that long at any given time, but it seemed like the next step in my triathlon training if I ever wanted to complete a 70.3.  Thus, I found one in my area at the first of the season, and adhered pretty well to a half marathon training schedule after completing the 320 kilometer Brevet.  As previously mentioned, most races here in Germany take place in the afternoon.  This has advantages and disadvantages.  One of the disadvantages is that you have all day to think about the fact that you have to run 21 kilometers.

The packet pick up for this event was a few hours before and took place in Noerdlingen.  The packet was actually a draw string backpack.  I enjoy it when races actually give useful items.  After picking up the packet I wandered around Noerdlingen while my boys napped in the car with my wife.  I started to get a little hungry and purchased a little pastry in the city center.  One of my favorite things about doing events here in Germany is seeing the different little cities that I would otherwise not visit.  Noerdlingen falls into that category, and was a quaint little city with a nice city center and a circumferential wall.  Pretty cool.

Goals

This half would of course be the longest distance I had ever run, and my goals developed into 4 fold over the course of my training.

  1. Finish
  2. Sub 2:00:00
  3. Sub 1:52:00
  4. Sub 1:50:00

The long runs of my training had ramped all the way up to a time of 1:45:00, and though at that slower long-run-pace, I only covered 17 kilometers, I felt pretty confident going into the race for the first goal.  I had also barely received the Garmin fenix2 in the mail 2 days prior and set a virtual partner pace at 5:13 min/km.  If I kept that pace I would be able to make it across the line sub 1:52:00 thereby meeting  Goals 2 and 3.  Goal 4 would be the driver for me during the run.  Basically I knew I needed to get at least 2 minutes ahead of the partner, and then I would meet Goal 4.

The Course

Noerdlingen is located a little over an hour to the West and North of Ingolstadt.  This proximity was the main reason I chose this race.  During preparations, I had mapped the course out and looked at the profile and noticed with slight disappointment to see slightly over 125 meters of elevation gain in the 21 kilometers.  Other than that, the meandering course seemed to be fairly pleasant and made sure to visit the small villages along the way.  Running in Germany is overall a pleasant experience because of the numerous bike paths and well developed access roads that meander through fields and villages.

IPF-Ries Halbmarathon

Meandering course between Nordlingen and Bopfingen.

Excuse me, coming through!

Excuse me, coming through!

The Beginning

After looking around the city center, I went back to the starting area, met up with my family, and then eventually to the starting line.  After finding my appropriate group of runners with which to run (just under 2 hour pace), we listened to music and waited until the bullhorn.

The first of the race was a elbow and slalloming session, but I am pretty used to that by now.  As part of my race plan I wanted to get warmed up slowly and assure my HR didn’t spike too high within the first 5K.  After the first kilometer I got an autolap alert from the watch telling me that I was at a 5:08 min/km pace, and that was right where I wanted to be.  My HR was still in Zone 2, and all things were looking good.  I found a pacer and stuck along side for the next kilometer (5:11).  My HR was now into Zone 3, and I was pleased that the first 2 km had gone by so quickly.  Around this point I saw a shirt of a competitor that was written in English, so I asked him if he was American.  He responded with a thick Australian accent that he was German but had played soccer in Australia for 7 years.  It was really interesting to hear a German with an Australian accent.  He was the best english speaking German I have met to date.  He was also easy to pace with, though he ran like a soccer player.

Aussie Aussie Aussie!

Aussie Aussie Aussie!

We chatted for awhile, and then he said that he should be running and not talking, so we stopped talking.  We stayed together for quite awhile and dealt with wind around kilometer 7 and rain around kilometer 9.  The temperature dropped rather quickly before and during the rain, and I was worried that I wasn’t dressed well enough.  During the heaviest part of the rain, was the steepest uphill portion of the run.  That was not fun.  My pace slowed to 5:17.

The Middle

Then suddenly, the rain stopped, and a slight decline helped my pace and the emerging sun made me quite happy.  My split was at 4:58, and I noticed that I had lost my Aussie German friend.  I was now passing people with more frequency and I started wondering if I was going too fast so I monitored my HR for the next few kilometers to assure I was still within mid to low Zone 4.  Things were feeling really good though and I developed a Pac-man style of running.  Slightly increasing my speed occasionally to catch the next person ahead of me.  Around kilometer 13 I started noticing the exhaustion (lactic acid) entering into my muscles and wondered how much longer it would be before I hit the wall.  The music on the iPod helped drown out the negative internal voices, and the spectators in each village were awesome.  At each aid station I managed to swallow a banana and a little bit of water.  I was impressed how much the banana helped.  It was just really hard to eat it on the run.  I need to practice that I guess.

Playing pac man at this point.

Playing pac-man at this point.

Where is the End?

Running with kilometers instead of miles seems to make the race shorter.  Obviously this is not the case, but if you think about it in terms of intermediary goals, 21 achievements is much more fulfilling than 13.  It is also easy when you run at my pace to figure out how much longer you will be running.   Around kilometer 17 I was waiting for anything resembling a finish line.  My pace dropped below 5:10, and I decided to see if I could push it harder.  I could only dial it up a little more during the next kilometer and then noticed the finish line in the distance.   Uphill?  Not much, but enough to make me tired.  My pace suffered, and my legs  started screaming at me and refusing to move faster.  Around this time I heard honking and my wife drove by with the windows down and screaming encouragement.  This meant she would not be able to park the car and get to the finish line in time to see me, but the boost was worth it to me.  One thing that I had never seen before in a race was Coke being handed out at kilometer 20.  Pretty interesting, and though every one else was drinking it very enthusiastically, I was not in the mood to vomit.

The End

Entering Bopfingen was relieving and yet I knew that last 0.1 kilometers were still left.  I picked up the pace as the terrain leveled and as best I could tried to pick off a few of the people that had past me in the previous 2 kilometers of slower running.

In crossing the finish line I failed to stop my watch with the first and second button push.  On the third it worked, and I noticed the time of 1:49:47.  I actually attempted a shout of jubilee, but it was barely audible.  I had achieved all goals.  I was toast too.  This was a great feeling.  The waves of endorphins started rolling in and came with consistent frequency and duration.  Those alone make it understandable why people do these longer distances.  I downed a few glasses of the liquids they were handing out and then started looking for the wife and boys.  I was ready to go home, and interestingly enough didn’t want to bask in the finishing line euphoria for long.   I had finished my first half.  The only question now is if I could do this distance after swimming and biking.  We shall see…

IMG_1753

Looking down to push that Stop button… Finally!

Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 9.47.41 PM Data Upheaval 

One benefit of running with the fenix2 was the large amounts of data obtainable for scrutiny.  Sometimes I spend more time looking over this data than I did doing the race.  Definitely loved the new fenix2 for running.  I enjoy the running specific statistics too, just need to figure out what to do with them and how to incorporate them into training.  Onwards we go with the learning.

More detail than you care to read about.

More detail than you care to read about.

 

The welcoming party!

The welcoming party!