Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Koln 2010...a tough day at the office

We arrived into Dusselforf airport at midday, following an hour delay at Dublin airport. The same day we went to the expo to collect my number. This was an impressive expo on two large floors. It was not much smaller than Boston.
On Sunday, race day, the race began at 11.30. This is the latest I have ever started a marathon and the heat was beginning to build. The forecast said a high of 23C. A bit warm but I still felt confident. Waiting on the sidelines for the handle bike race to begin and enter the 'red zone' for those intending to run the race in under 03:30 I spotted an Irish running celebrity in the form of Johnny Donnelly of fame. I thought he had almost finished his objective of running a marathon a month for four years for the Seachange charity, which provides microloans for communities in developing countries.
Uncharacteristically the race began ten minutes late but it was not too crowded at the start; the Germnans actually police the pace pens - fancy that! Consequently there was no one flying off at two minutes per mile pace faster than they could sustain over 5km nevermind over a marathon. Within no time we were crossing the Rhine and the first few miles went pretty well and right on target. Things were pretty uneventful for the first ten miles and I was changing places with the same five or six runners. Approaching the halfway mark took us back into the heart of the city centre and the support was excellent with people lined along each side of the street. The street was only about three or four runners wide and it was like running through a tunnel of noise. During the thirteenth mile I looked at my Garmin that registered a split pace of 06:11 but the HR remained fine. However, I backed right off and this mile, the fastest of the race at 06:40 also felt the easiest. I passed halfway in about 01:29:35.
A significant challenge at this time in the race was trying to take on water. It was quite warm now and the race organisers were providing water in plastic cups that split when you try and make a spout so you can drink while moving forward and avoiding pouring the water all over your face and up your nose. Perhaps this problem was what caused what was to happen a few miles later as I felt a few spasms in my right hamstring and then my left. I maintained pace until the nineteenth mile but then the wheels came off and my legs turned to lead. I am unsure if the cramps were related to my legs feeling increasingly heavy over the course of half a mile during mile nineteen. It was amazing how quickly I went from marathon pace to toast.

Photo by K Forsythe: All went south from here.

Suffice to say I knew there and then before I reached mile twenty that sub three was no longer possible. The final seven miles were something of a death march and felt longer than the previous nineteen. The crowd came into its own here and they provided great encouragement.

Photo by Approaching the end

Photo by K Forsythe: About a mile and a quarter to go.

Rather surreally, as we crossed the Rhine again to approach the finish a guy dressed in a Devil outfit, complete with novelty rubber hand beckoned me to high five him. What crossed my mind was how appropriate as I felt like Hell at this point. Over the crest of the bridge, across the Rhine, a left turn and I was done. I finished in 03:12:17. Not a happy camper and my second slowest marathon. However, Koln is an interesting city and the race is one I would recommend. Well organised, fast, reasonably aesthetic route and very good support from the locals. You cannot beat the post race food either; black pudding, bread, coke and non-alcoholic beer!

Photo by Cannot say I remember posing for this. Obviously delirious after the finish.

I choked down some of the black pudding and bread, coke and beer and thought to myself I better stop if I don't want to blow chunks all over the pavement, whereupon I almost stepped in the mess that someone else made making that very mistake. Oh, and post race shower facilites, which was great, so a quick shower and off to get an ice-cream and take a cable car ride.

Photo by K Forsythe: Cable car view of Koln

Well, I was pretty disappointed with my time so actually signed up to do Dublin in three weeks to have another shot at sub three. A long shot and not one everyone would recommend but worth a go considering the start line is less than two miles from my door. Now off to consult with Tim Noakes and Pfitziner & Douglas on how to run two marathons in proximity.

1) - 1m - 6:45(6:45/m) - 167bpm avge
2) - 1m - 6:49(6:49/m) - 171bpm avge
3) - 1m - 6:48(6:48/m) - 166bpm avge
4) - 1m - 6:46(6:46/m) - 169bpm avge
5) - 1m - 6:45(6:45/m) - 171bpm avge
6) - 1m - 6:47(6:47/m) - 171bpm avge
7) - 1m - 6:48(6:48/m) - 171bpm avge
8) - 1m - 6:48(6:48/m) - 172bpm avge
9) - 1m - 6:44(6:44/m) - 170bpm avge
10) - 1m - 6:47(6:47/m) - 171bpm avge
11) - 1m - 6:44(6:44/m) - 171bpm avge
12) - 1m - 6:49(6:49/m) - 170bpm avge
13) - 1m - 6:40(6:40/m) - 169bpm avge
14) - 1m - 6:45(6:45/m) - 171bpm avge
15) - 1m - 6:47(6:47/m) - 170bpm avge
16) - 1m - 6:49(6:49/m) - 170bpm avge
17) - 1m - 6:53(6:53/m) - 170bpm avge
18) - 1m - 6:54(6:54/m) - 171bpm avge
19) - 1m - 7:19(7:19/m) - 169bpm avge
20) - 1m - 7:48(7:48/m) - 163bpm avge
21) - 1m - 8:15(8:15/m) - 160bpm avge
22) - 1m - 8:30(8:30/m) - 158bpm avge
23) - 1m - 8:19(8:19/m) - 159bpm avge
24) - 1m - 8:15(8:15/m) - 159bpm avge
25) - 1m - 8:51(8:51/m) - 158bpm avge
26) - 1m - 8:37(8:37/m) - 158bpm avge
27) - 0.5m - 4:16(8:32/m) - 158bpm avge


Grellan said...

As your second slowest marathon Westley it's certainly fast. The pace really dropped off from mile 19 alright and interestingly your HR dropped by over 10 beats per minute so no problems with your aerobic capacity.

All the best in your taper for Dublin.

Thomas said...

If I remember correctly, Pfitzinger recommends you first recover from the lobotomy that made you decide to run 2 marathon in quick succession in the first place.

Apart from that, I reckon the heat got to you and that's what caused the problems in the second half of the race. We don't get 23C in Ireland, and if you're not acclimatised you're going to run into trouble (excuse the pun).

Good luck in Dublin anyway. They have 2 quality guys to pace the 3:00 pace group this year, which may help you.