With 2 weeks to go until The Around The Bay Road Race my long run is trimmed today to the relatively modest half marathon distance. 21.1 kilometres but armed with hills and winds to test me still as I ease into my taper. Just like on race day this run will not be easy.
I set out hard. Not with expectation. But merely to see what I could do. As each kilometre goes by I resist the urge to look at my watch. I remind myself, this isn’t about time. Rather it is about maintaining my form. It is about relaxing my shoulders. And it is about the challenge. A fast time now would be great. But better to have the fast time when it matters most — on race day.
Would I hold this aggressive pace for 5 kilometres? Would I hold it for 10 kilometres? It doesn’t matter. For now there is no plan. Contrary to the espoused view that one needs a heart monitor to gauge their training, I would go by feel. As long as I felt strong I would continue to push myself.
With 5 kilometres left I steal a quick peek at the time. 1:21:39. If I complete the remaining distance in 28:20, I would be under the mythic 1:50 for the first time in over a year and a half. While this insight affords me the chance to slow down each kilometre by over 30 seconds and still finish in the 1:40’s, it instead has the opposite effect. I want to be even faster.
Resetting my focus I shake out my arms and re-dedicate myself to concentrating on my form. If I needed to slow down I could. Yet I wouldn’t for as long as possible.
With the mounting exertion, steams of breath begin to obscure my vision. A quick promise to myself to ease off of speed training for the next two weeks if I could but finish today’s half marathon in under 1:50 spurs me onward. My pace unrelenting, rather increasing steadily. Kilometre 17 goes by in 4:59. Kilometre 18 in 4:55.
By now the demanding segments of my run are behind me but fatigue starts to press in. Valiantly I fight. Although I had started the morning thinking I would shut down whenever I needed, I now steadfastly refuse to do so. Kilometre 19 elapses in five minutes flat but kilometre 20 sees me once again under the 5 minute mark at 4:57. A sizeable cushion has been developed as I need only to run the final 1.1 kilometres in 9 minutes to go under 1:50.
I round the corner and glance once again at my watch. 350 metres to go. I open up the pace. Forcefully I drive each footfall into the ground. A beep from my watch heralds the passing of the 21st kilometre. It went by in 4:43. 100 metres left.
Shoulders relaxed, arms pumping, chest up, I continue to drive myself forward. Just like on race day Rod.
Just like on race day.