Senin, 20 Februari 2012

Seville Marathon post mortem

As you can see I was 50th in my age group (I would have been 20th if I had been born just two months and a day earlier) and in the top 200 overall out of 5,500. Not bad!

Here you can see how my Marathon times have been improving. To make it a little bit more realistic, I've added in a dotted line to show what my expectations at the time were. The disappointments and surprises have got smaller and my overall time has got faster.

The dotted line is what I was aiming for; the solid line is what I achieved
I didn't go by GPS during the race but it is a reasonably good tool for post race analysis. I've plotted two graphs here: one is of my average heart rate per kilometer (against the theoretical optimum) and the other of my average pace per kilometer. To conserve brain power, I decided to follow a very simple strategy in the race. I ran the first half keeping my pulse as close to 163 bpm as I could and then I tried to maintain the same pace for the second half, knowing that my pulse rate would naturally climb as a result of fatigue. What is interesting to see is that my pace started to go a bit off the boil in the second half and in just the same places where my heart rate was a bit below the theoretical limit. Once I decided to grit my teeth for the final 7 kilometers, my pace started increasing every kilometer as did my heart rate over the theoretical limit.

Now this theoretical limit is based on my maximum pulse rate (191) and statistics gathered by my trainer from optimal (personal best) performances of hundreds of runners. Alternatively, you can base the same analysis relative to the anaerobic threshold which, in my case, is at 178 bpm. This paints a different picture as you can see below.

So I think there are two potential sources for a little improvement. The first is to go back to running to my heart rate in the second half of the Marathon, as it is a more reliable (and immediate) guide than pace. The second is that, while I don't know if I could realistically maintain 169 bpm for the first half of the Marathon without paying for it dearly in the second, given the way I finished the race yesterday, the graph above does make it look as though there is some margin to push a bit harder a bit earlier. I can't say that I could have run the last bit of the race much faster but the fact that I held it together and was able to work at that cardiovascular level without any muscular problems gives me the confidence to think about "starting the race" earlier than 7 kilometers before the end.

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