My 2014 running campaign started with a new and exciting approach: a heart rate monitor, a low-glycemic diet and a running pace dictated by whatever 155 heartbeats per minute gave me.
After 4 months my Garmin racing predictions were scary and my weight was the lowest it’s ever been. I felt great.
To evaluate my new approach I had registered for a lab session in February and then two races in May: a half marathon to experience my lactate/anaerobic threshold, followed by Stockholm Marathon three weeks later to see how I performed over the longer distance.
The summer was scheduled for speed development and the overall goal for all of this was to do a sub 3:15 at Berlin Marathon in September.
Being in the lab was good fun. I did two tests: one to determine my lactate threshold (increase effort over time while taking blood samples) and one being a so called “max” test (which means running until you fall of the belt).
On the 29th of April I did an easy 33km jog on 2:37:34. Average pace 4:46/km with an average heart rate at only 146 bpm. It wasn’t a flat course either. Elevation 329 meter.
This was without preparation (such as carbohydrate loading, glycogen-depleting and tapered training), without race adrenaline and in the morning on an empty stomach.
At that point in time, a sub 3:15 wasn’t unrealistic, and with 4 month left to Berlin Marathon I starting to think that I should target a ‘just above 3:10’ instead of a ‘just under 3:15’.
I was in my best ever form. Every part of my mind and body was with me… besides my achilles tendon… she decided to give in just a few days after that peak and just a few days before I was about to run the first race.
I aborted the half marathon half way. I felt strong but I wasn’t able to run on the intended pace (4:10) without my achilles saying no.
The marathon I aborted on km 29.
Most of the summer ended up being rehabilitation instead of speed work. I only ran 109km in May, 47km in June and 112 in July. Nothing like the levels pre-injury [below].
I increased the training again in August and September but without have had a longer stretch of continuity I reached the Berlin Marathon starting line with very low expectations.
My race strategy was to keep a pace of 4:44/km, but not letting my heart rate surpass 155 bpm until the later stages of the race. So no faster than 4:44/km or 155 bpm. A 4:44/km pace would give me some margins to be able to lose a few minutes at the end of the race and still shave of a minute or two from my 3:27 PB.
Someone told me a few years ago that the first 30k in a marathon is just transportation to the real race. It’s so true. It’s only when you reach kilometre 30 you know if you’re having a good day or not.
When I passed the 30k mark I was still in extremely good shape. So good that I was overthrown with deep emotions. Tears were not far off. I almost felt like stopping. The ‘I made it!’ sensation was that strong. This was my 4th marathon and I had never felt this good at this point in the race.
A few km later I had to start digging, which slowly crescendoed into 3 – 4 less glamorous kilometers at the end. Having to fight for just 15 – 20 minutes in a marathon is a blessing.
I passed the finish line on 3:22:48. For a couple of minutes I really couldn’t understand what just had happened. I was so convinced that I would have a horrible race, but instead I had a lovely one executed perfectly — just on the edge of what my body and mind could deliver on the day.
I had been very even. My 5k splits were: 23:59, 24:06, 23:46, 23:56, 23:55, 24:06, 23:59, 24:31.
First half was done in 1:40:57 and second in 1:41:51.
My average pace was 4:48… that’s maybe my only disappointment. According to my GPS watch i kept 4:44/km as intended.
But all of this belongs to the past.
No rest for the wicked.
For 2015 I’ve decided to have my yearly marathon penciled in early to be able to shift my focus onto the half marathon distance. This means I now need to keep up with marathon preperations throughout the harsh, cold, dark Swedish winter. Thankfully a sunny LA Marathon awaits me in March.
The fact that next years marathon preparations sneaked in on this side of the new year has resulted into a new PB for total kilometers in a year. This came as a surprise. In 2012 I ran 2012km. I remembered it being… a big undertaking. This year I just happened to beat it and I’ve been injured.
So far this year I’m up to 2001. So just one run away from breaking it. I will probably end the year on something closer to 2100.
However, I have to add, most km covered in 11 month still belongs to 2012, which actually also is 2012km.