Wrocław marathon

The night before the marathon Michał (my bro) and I went to sleep around 22:30. Woke up at 6:35, quick breakfast: pasta with vegetables. Two portions. No sweets apart isotonic drinks. Michał and Kasia woke up just after 7:00, and joined us for breakfast. Chatting, joking, preparing t-shirts, start numbers. Driving to the stadium on the other side of town. Around 8:30, Michał and I, are in. We were at the back of the pack. We walked towards the crowd with two pacemakers with baloons marked 4:15-4:30. At 9:00, boom, start. But the crowd took a while to move forward. Slowly, we walked towards the starting line. Then slow jogging, and then we crossed the start line. It took us about 4min to reach it. Not bad. Starting the wristwatch. Running. Wrocław marathon uses the net time as the official classifying time, which makes it fair for people at the back of the pack to compete on the equal footing with people up front the long “queue” of runners is city marathons.

So it started. The first 200-300 meters really packed and crowded. I was running faster than the crowd around me. This was the pattern until about 26th kilometer. I was running faster than everyone around me. Judging my pace was a bit hard, given I did not have good points of reference in a form of steady running people around me. At around 10th or so kilometer I have passed the pacemakers with the baloons marked 3:15. On 15th kilometer I met with Michal, Kasia and Hania cheering up on the street. Michał said that at this point I was about 20min behind the first runners. I felt good physically and continued with a steady pace through the halfway mark, which I hit at about 1:33. If I could maintain the pace, I should be able to break the 3:10 limit, theoretically. I felt it was possible, although I continued to struggle to find a pace and runners with whom I could relate to. From about 27th kilometer I had a very mild dip in performance, then again at about 32km. From 34km or so the struggle became unbearable. Not physically. Mentally. I could run, there was nothing stopping me running faster. I had no cramps, no serious pain anywhere, I was not running out of breath and I was doing fine, but I just couldn’t make myself run with a faster pace. It felt as if the problem was nowhere else but in my head. The pacemakers 3:15 caught-up with me, and I forced myself to keep their pace, which I did, and it felt manageable. It felt fine. Unfortunately about 4km or so before the finish I lost few meters and running behind them, chasing them, became quite hard. I managed to cross the finish line 2 or so minutes after them, so I wasn’t far behind, and I know I could have kept the pace, but I didn’t. Nevertheless, beating my personal best from Auckland marathon 2012 felt great. New personal best.

The new training regime: running at slower pace but longer distances, and building up a solid endurance base. It seems to work remarkably well. However, in the hindsight, I feel that 1 day a week or so, of speed training and high-heart rate workout might be necessary to combat the “mind” issues with sustained pacing and motivation. Definitely doing 3hrs training for 3hrs marathon makes sense – it conditions the body for the particular timeframe of sustained effort, and even though the trainings are at much slower pace, the body learns to cope with the physical requirements of activity lasting particular duration of time.

The other thing I have changed was that I did not went into sugar eating frenzy before the marathon and withdraw from eating energy gels until 22km, at which point I had the first “bite” of the energy gel. It seemed to work, too. I guess I should do more thorough analysis of sugar influence on performance.

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