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Archive for May, 2012

I look up at the timing board at the Finish Line and see 3:13 and some change. Knowing that I crossed the starting line 1 min after the gun went off 3 hours earlier, I knew I had beaten my best marathon time by almost 10 min!  How was this possible? Well it boiled down to 3 things:

– A good training plan (the first I found that suited my needs) .

– A great running group to run with

– A friend that wrote in his blog that he wants to beat me.

The training plan: Ever heard of FIRST? The Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training. I probably would never have, as I am not a runner and I do not read any running magazine like Runners World. It is my friend and fierce competitor who suggested it to me. “The Less is More” training plan. Clearly something for me. It is basically a 3-run-a-week plan, but the sessions are tough regardless whether it is intervals, tempo and long. This training plan pushed me to complete five 32km runs (at a increasing tempo but still below marathon pace). This has in my view been the key to manage my negative splits and build marathon specific endurance.

The training group: I sadly have a track record of training mostly solo. I don’t like it, but so far I did not find a group that suited my needs and with whom I could harmonize well. This group I met (all dads bringing their children to the same international school in Wassenaar), was not only a group with a matching pace, but also with a good chemistry. It became “nearly” fun to wake up 2 times a week at 05:30 to compete our sessions in the dark. The weather in The Netherlands does not motivate me to go out. Without them I would never have trained as hard..and I would never have gone to Prague to run the marathon either… Sunday’s performance was all thanks to them.

The friend that wanted to beat me: Richard (alias The Silverback) is a Runner with a big R. In his view there is no other sport that is greater than running. Triathlon is a diluted version as technology comes in the way..For him running is pure, simple and addicitive. After coming back from knee surgery, his mind was set to recover strength, speed and endurance. We saw him pushing himself over the months, sometimes to the point where I thought he would not make it to the start of our marathon. But came May 15th, he was as ready as one could be. We ran 32 km together, like we always did during our training sessions; starting slow and progressively picking up the pace to ensure negative splits. We did nothing else on that day. The aid station after km32 marked the point where I left my friend – The Silverback behind me. I did not slow down to pick up my drinks and came out first out of the aid station. Usually richard would catch-up and we would run side by side until the next aid station (every 5km), but I did not see him this time. I looked ahead to see, ifIi had missed him passing me, but no. I did not look back and picked up the pace by around 10 sec per km. My legs felt good and I knew I could do the fastest 10 km of  this marathon (I did them in less than 44min) – The question I will never be able to answer is whether I kept too much in the tank before the last quarter of the race).

Start number: 1167 – CROTTAZ ALAIN
Category: MM40

Split Time min/Km Delta min/Km RealTime
Km 10 0:47:57 4,47 0:47:57 4,47 0:46:48
Km 20 1:34:05 4,42 0:46:08 4,36 1:32:56
Km 21,097 1:38:56 4,41 0:04:51 4,25 1:37:47
Km 30 2:19:30 4,39 0:40:34 4,33 2:18:21
Km 40 3:04:05 4,36 0:44:35 4,27 3:02:56
Finish line 3:13:46 4,35 0:09:41 4,24 3:12:37

I am paricularly happy about the negative splits results. 1:37:47 for the first 21km and 1:34:50 for the second half-marathon. 3 min faster! Needless to stay that I felt great for the entire course until km41 where my heart reate was clearly in the red and my system felt like an engine without oil. But I was so happy to have improved my running in the last 6 months that I clenched my teeth and motored my way to the finish chute. True joy at the finish line. I waited about 2 min to see Richard crossing the finish line in 3:14:27. He was over the moon. We both finished under the qualifying time limit to participate to the Boston Marathon. In the US they call such a result a BQ (Boston Qualifier). I have until September to think whether I will get a plane ticket to run over in Boston or not. It could be really fun and motivate me to further improve my marathon time.

I loved that race, not only because I performed well, but first and foremost because I was there with  Richard, Joel & Jim with whom we shared so much (trash talk) during our training sessions. Jim did not run on that week-end due to sustained foot injuries. It was hard for us, but even harder for him. He supported us the best he could, hiding his own disappointment and shouting at us during the course the we were looking good. We all knew it was a lie, but it did work wonders… Joel, did run after having recovered from his injuries. But he raced without have run for 7 weeks…His time is not important, but he can start writing books now. “how to run a marathon without training” or “training for a marathon is overrated”….or… “A week-end to remember”.


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In my head there are 2 big races in 2012 among the 8 or 9 that I will do. Prague Marathon & IronMan Western Australia. A marathon is usually more a preparation race than a milestone, but this time I am competing against friends with whom I have trained for the last 5 months. Prague is the show down. Before May 13th, day of the Prague Marathon, I decided to participate to 2 short racing events: A Sprint-Duathlon on March 18th and the Business Marathon Relay in Rotterdam on April 15th.

On the day prior to the Duathlon, one of my training partners asks me, if I can come along to support. I amsurprised and enthousastic about it. I cannot remember a time, where someone spontaneously asked to support me for a race. That gave me some additional motivation. I really needed that motivation on Race Day: cold, windy, rainy, muddy. About 100 participants on the starting line. All looking rather fit. I race the 5km run – 20km bike – 2.5km run in 1:05. Rather happy with the performance actually. a 4:00 pace-ish on the run and a 34 kmh avg on the bike…but I finished 22 of 50 in my age group…I cannot remember racing and finishing in the 40 percentile…ever. Conclusion: stiff competition.

The second race was more a social event. My relay partners were all working colleagues. It was a challenge I proposed to my team: get fit in 4 month and run the marathon relay in Rotterdam. Our team did very well on the 15th of April. We ended as 2nd team out of 28th from our company (only 45 sec behind the first team) and 13th out of 518 business team participating. Out time: 3:07. Great team effort. I enjoyed the day as one of the 116 colleagues from the company who ran on that day. I ran the 3rd leg in 51min25. It was about 12.7km, meaning I ran again around the 4:00 min/km pace. Happy with that. My speed is better than ever before. Still a long way to go until IM Western Australia; but a good start.

 

 

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