Running longer and faster… a few thoughts…

Race Report – Copenhagen Half-marathon (World Championships) 2014/03/29

Planned: go for under 1:27 and closest to 1:26, the better 🙂

Actual: 1:24:58 – new PB by 2min41 sec since Semi de Paris two weeks ago (March 2nd, 2014), on a fast and flat route…and while experiencing a World Championship as participant! 🙂

Place: 126 – all women 🙂 / 9 – category “women 35-39” / 1215 all runners 🙂
SO.EXTREMELY.HAPPY of this result in the Danish capital. Definitely far under what I was expected and thought even possible, beating my 2014 half-marathon objective by far at the same time… Fun and sun all the way, lots of effort but surely no pain, this is so far the greatest ever run half-marathon I have done! Perfect weather conditions, great final two weeks preparations, body and mind in sync and ready for a nice “one-of-a-lifetime” race… Truly got more than expected! Even could see the elite women receiving their price right after I crossed the finish line…the same line they crossed for the World Championships!!!
Still great feeling afterwards, not fully tired and ready to enjoy both sun and a good meal!
Ambiance of London or Berlin marathon… running a bit away of the elites, but meeting them at start and when our paths met during the race… Perfect outside-of-the-country outing for a Saturday 😉

Splits

Splits

Splits

* adjusted lap on Garmin
(from Garmin: km-marks not exactly at the Garmin beeps, but should do):

First half: 42:14
Second half: 42:45
Average pace: 14.96km/h – 4.01min/km

**********************************************************

BEFORE THE RACE

3:xx am – Woke up during the night, not too well and really sweaty… Not sure it would be fine a few hours later for running 😦

7:25am – Awaken without alarm, but kind workers outside building/repairing I-don’t-know-what (but seriously… a Saturday morning???). Sunshine already 🙂

8:00am – Breakfast with apple juice,red juice and green mix and banana and little bread. Had eaten enough the day before and did not feel needing more in the tummy.
Drink almost every half hour, but took the safe side (i.e. Not too much to avoid pit stops during the race…). Laying in the bed reading about everything and nothing after breakfast. Not always I can have a lazy morning 😛
(And surely, most of the reading was about running…like when to take optimally an energy gel during a half marathon…could be handy today, I thought…or what splits to have for diverse finish times…).

10:30am – Last drink and banana before shower and getting ready. This is a World Championship… If I can’t run fast, at least I will look pretty!

Not much time left before start...

Not much time left before start…

11:25am – Now turning around a bit in my room, sending final thoughts so they are not bothering my head during the race and jumping into my shorts, singlet and fast running shoes. The weather forecast is pretty nice: 12°c at start, 13°C for the two following hours. Unsure the arm sleeves will follow (even though it would look real cool!).

11:47am – Leaving the apartment (without arm sleeves), having painted Swedish and French flags on the front of the thighs, both calves and on my arms as well. So at least some of those country cheerers will cheer for me (maybe). Have written my splits on my hand. Sun glasses on. A bit late, took a street I did not recognised, felt really lost and a bit stressed. Followed the few “yellow bags” on the street, hoping they took the correct direction….

My dream splits...

My dream splits…

Yippie! Sun is shining!

Yippie! Sun is shining!

11:58am – arriving a few 100m from the starting line and hear the opening ceremony. Real cool feeling! A WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP…. and I won’t be a spectator… Stop to photo the elites warming up… Really cool again to be sooo close. They ARE running the world championship..

Before race - with the start in the back

Before race – with the start in the back

French elite men team

French elite men team

Elite men warming-up

Elite men warming-up

Find my way to the starting corrals and then took the looooong way to the baggage trucks (way too far, if I may give my views). Because had to go aaaaaaall the way back after (i.e. From the last start group to the first one… remember? 30,000 runners? Yaaa, you get the picture!). Similar feeling as in Paris, going against a human wave and then sloooowly back. Quick and last visit to the loo before the race. A bit early but do not want to wait the last minute… and there was almost no queue neither where I stopped. Great (!) to queue for the loo with all the male runners having the standing pee-stuff close-by. Cannot think of any other events where you would consider this as… yes, normal…!

Wow, so many people on this side as well!

Wow, so many people on this side as well!

Far away...close to the baggage trucks

Far away…close to the baggage trucks

not far from the baggage trucks

not far from the baggage trucks

12:20am – Not a chance to warm-up as I wanted so took a front place to see the elite women starting. And this, my friends, is just beautiful to see. One moment they are here and PANG! They are just gone!!!! (Will meet them again while reaching km2… They are by then at km11….)

12:32am – Going back to the start group “under 1:30”. Had seen the pace setters for 1:25 with their green balloons and thought either I place myself back and close to them so they hold the pace for me ooooor I set myself further front and run like h*ll hoping they won’t pass me during the race… Took the second option (without the “like h*ll”-part).

12:42am– So now I am in my start group, surrounded by giants (ok, I am not that tall, but not real small neither… But still those guys were just like…like their heads could touch the clouds! And from where I stood, looking up, their heads DID touch the clouds…). Red everywhere, either Denmark or Norway…or other countries I could not remember… Felt a bit odd in white at first. But so many around were also in white (because white might be the new red, or?…). New check to my shoes, deciding not to tie them differently, even though felt liiitle tight on the right shoe and liiitle loose on the left shoe… Or was it all in my head?….

12:4xam – Elite men going to the start. Wow! Impressive! Cannot see much but enough to spot a Swede among them. Heja Sverige! Countdown starts way too soon… No warmup apart from running on place and jumping 5 times… I know, have to work on this warm up-part for such races…

12:53am – Smiling right, smiling left, feeling the wave moving slowly forward aaaaaand…

THE RACE

12:55am – START IS GIVEN!… But liiitle happens really. Still slowly reaching the start line and pressing “Start” on my watch. Estimating it took 30-40seconds to reach this line, just have to keep this time difference 😉

The first km was slow… well, appeared to be slow. Because by the first left turn, my watch indicate 3:2x for pace!!!! Not much pushing as such, but so not much place to run. Had spotted a few women around me before start and planned to keep up with one of them, when we start to have a stable pace. To reach km1, I choose to take the blue line path, completely on the left. Quite good because most if the people are in the middle. Passing the first km in 4:05. As planned. BUT knowing there is always a distance difference “real vs Garmin”, so I had in my head to aim for having 2sec faster than planned on the Garmin. This should compensate for the distance difference, I think. Having run this part yesterday, I turn the gear up and reach km2 @3:50… Ok, maybe I had a gear too fast here. Distance difference with Garmin being approx.20m. Seeing the elite women passing by on the other side of the route… and yes, you slow down to watch! The following stretch to km4 goes well. Taking a glass water, more to clear the mouth because 1) the glass is half full and 2) it does not work drinking at this pace! Passing a couple of gals, feeling the pace might be too fast to hold for the whole race, but guys! This FELT good to run at this pace, so if this would mean having a dreadful second half, I was actually ready to pay the price if having this feeling at the start!

Km5 is reached faster than expected, won’t complain though. Almost in sync with the Garmin. But turning towards km6 seems really long and some head wind starts to play around. Or side wind. Unsure. Reaching km6 and noting there is a greater distance difference, so “lapping” it on my watch and checking the avg pace. 3:58 (!!!). But while passing km5 the total time corresponded to 4:02-pace. So my plan is to keep 3:58 as avg-pace throughout the race, which will mean ending at 4:02 official pace… Yes, sounds complicated and really that I should be focusing on the running instead… But this is the running! Trying during this length towards km7 to take the back of tall guys as wind-shield (I knew those tall guys from the start would be handy to have somewhere in the race…). Unsure it did much, but from time to time I could feel their pace dragging me forward. Then km7-8 felt really warm & hot, not much shadow. Seeing the other runners on the other side of the street and realising I have done more than 1/3 of the race. Youhou! Still pounding the pavement at avg-pace 3:58 on the watch. All good!
Had an eye on a Swedish gal from IF Linnea ahead of me since a short while. Just have to keep up with her pace I thought. But got closer and closer, quick “looking good” and a smile back (thanks!) and off I went. Took my gel a little before the water station at km9.1 and two half-full mugs of water. Once again, questionable choice to have plastic mugs instead of water bottles. When I pass this station, and not that many have passed it before me, it is already full with mugs on the street and slippery already… Still 28.900+ runners to pass by this water station… You get the picture!

New turn to reach km10… Seeing the clock indicating 40:xx – no chance for PB on this distance (for today), but decent time indeed. Soon reaching half the race and still having my Garmin on 3:58. Got a bit worried for short second, maybe my watch was ACTUALLY stuck on a dummy avg-pace and my stupid mind was stuck on it… Got to turn towards km11 and THIS.FELT.GOOD! Estimated having passed the first 10K in 40:20?30? and this meant still keeping a good pace.

Halfway done, halfway to go! The long stretch to km11 was nice; I knew what was after km11! A bit disappointed not having cheering Swedes at this spot as expected. But lifting/waving up the arms is turning the crowd into cheerleaders! Noted as well to my surprise that this stretch was actually upwards… by seeing the other runners from km2 running downwards… Did not noticed the downhill when I was there…
Turn right after Oslo plads and time to shine! Quick calculation: could I get the final 10K in 41 minutes, that would give me under 1:26… Ok. My calculations at this point of any race can be questionable,… but entertaining! Real hot part here. No shadow, passing the museum of art and turning left (yesterday I skipped this part and continued straight forward). Feeling nice flow for the body but the legs despite being string do show little signs of… fatigue? boredom? too warm?… Well, do not stop to ask their view and get along with the race. Had passed another guy from IF Linnea. Feeling good to start now with the giants runners being less. At least I can see the road 😉 To km13 and end of the street, take protection behind guys again. Decide to do a “complete body check” when reaching km14.
Forget doing it as I recognise the street from yesterday… until we turn right again so check point is set at km15. This time checkpoint felt good..no, great! My time splits on my hand indicate I am just a few seconds above the time for a 1:25 finish. Decide to take Dextrosol at km16-mark.
Passing the elite water-station and shout at the Swede standing under the Swedish flag to cheer (& he did – THANKS A LOT). Extra boost if energy. Taking 2 Dextrosol when my Garmin beep for km16, but no sign of this km16… Even looking back to check if I missed it… Nothing ahead neither. D*mn, I hoped I really have a well-functioning watch so I am not reaching the next sign seeing km15-16 was actually 1.9km instead of 1….
And here came Fredriksberg allé…km18… Had read yesterday evening there would be flags and really the atmosphere of a World Championship and man! This WAS true. Imagine a long street with Danish flags on both sides, public cheering and seriously… YOU ARE part of this eminent event! Could not help waving and calling for more cheering. My countdown had started km17… Only 4km to go!!! (Ok, my countdown always starts at the starting line… But emphasis was today at km11 (only 10 to go), km13 (only …21-11-2.. Ya, need help in calculation when the sun is on the head and the sugar rush effect from gel-km9 has disappeared…8km to go), km17 was the latest one. But now! THREE little km to go. N.O.T.H.I.N.G!!!! New boost in the legs and feeling so good I even start cheering for the guys I am passing. Passing a short “street-stones” bit (thanks for this info “Tricky”. Even if it was short this “stone-part”, was good to know!). Passed by a short fast lady there. She looks tough so decide to skip this chase. Enough men can be passed until the finish line 😉 Waiting for seeing the Hard Rock café from yesterday as it indicate almost km20…but nowhere to be found…until I am just passing it. From this moment it is just all in. Passing km20 mark with a large smile and this last km I know it. The three giants of Running NGO (?) are no gentleman and pass me on the right and the left and stand as four really tight. Not a chance to pass them. Don’t care. Almost last turn right. This one IS tough. Mentally. The legs can but the head is a bit reluctant to continue. HELLO THERE!?!?! Somebody home???  The non-existent bridge does feel under my tired feet. Quick check on the clock. 500m left. Enough strength for a sprint could be found in Dubai after double the distance, and in Paris after a hilly km – so this one will be done as well. Km21 stands right at the turn to the right again and there.is.the.finish.line. 1:24:58..59…1:25:…doesn’t matter. Might not make it under 1:25 but sub1:26 is out-of-reach… Pushing close to max and hop! Finished!

Passing the finish line and stopping my watch. Unsure if having a smile in the finish photos, but my watch indicate… What? 1:24:59!!!! Quickly hoping there won’t be a similar time problem as Paris last year. But who cares? My watch shows under 1:25!

AFTER THE FINISH LINE

Checking again my watch…still this 1:24:59 staring at me! Shouting a bit (and heard some echoes from other runners 🙂 We understand each other! Walking a bit and stopping in front of the medal ceremony of the 2014 World Half-marathon Championships!!! The three ladies there are just glowing and look so beautiful, it brings me tears up to the eyes 🙂 Meeting with Lona from IF Linnea and chat a bit, smiling. Meeting two other of her fellow-club mates, including Mikael K with the largest smile ever on his face 🙂 Real fun to meet runners you have met in other races…
Then starts the long long long walk to get back to the baggage trucks. Receiving (finally!) my wonderful medal. A bit after take 2 bottles of water. Drink drink drink. Legs, feet, mind: quick body check saying that all is functioning perfectly. Receiving a couple of energy bars (I really find those disgusting, but after a race, I just eat them and swallow with water. Today was mixed with a delicious apple!). Was missing bananas and energy drink actually. Picking up my bag, getting a few after-race pics and then…. no it was not finished yet… long walk to get to the finisher t-shirt trucks. No sign whatsoever indicating where it was. Looked like a no-man’s-land, when earlier this morning over 30,000 people had conquered those streets… Getting my t-shirt (XS-size are already all gone!!! so have to be satisfied with a S).

After race photo - still smiling :)

After race photo – still smiling 🙂

One of the nicest medals I have won

One of the nicest medals I have won

Summary? Fast and furious! This was the greatest run so far for this distance. Body fine, mentally strong, weather ideal and great ambiance! Unsure if this was an “all-in” from start to end, but definitely focusing on the race and keeping the mind focus IS an art! The inside forces saying from time to time to take a rest fight against stronger ones keeping the legs moving, which is fantastic! Could not even dream of such a race experience for today!

************

Weather: 12ºC, Feels like 12ºC, 5 km/h ESE wind, Humidity 54% – definitely perfect conditions for running. Slightly chilly during the wait in the corral (as it was in the shadow), although having all those tall guys around is cutting from any possible wind and do not underestimate the human warmth when all are so close to each other! Sun shining during all the race, felt a bit hot (!) in some part and there was wind as well in some parts. But seriously, I would take those weather conditions ANYTIME for ANY RACE or ANY TRAINING!

Food: 8:00am green mix + red juice and apple juice + banana / 10:30am red juice 2.5dl + apple juice 1dl + banana // right after the race: 1 “before race” energy bar, 1 apple, 1 water bottle // 40min later: 2dl apple juice // 2.5later after: late lunch (entrecote, potatoes, veggies, coke, champagne, banana-split xtra chocolate sauce on the top)
During: km9.1 Vitargo lemon + water // km16 (?) 2 dextrosol // water at almost every water-station (zipping more than drinking)

Gear: ADIDAS Supernova blue line, MIK white singlet – shoes: ADIDAS AdiZero Adios Boost purple: 1st race and what a race! Those are fast shoes and really glad I have them onboard!

16/ effort level was not really constant to 17, first 2-3km were at a nice 14/15, enjoying the run 🙂 around km4 felt a bit overwhelmed and thought the pace was too fast for 1) being real and 2) being maintained throughout the course. So mostly mentally difficult 🙂 Thereafter a good 16/17, effort level constant like the pace 🙂 and this 16 felt easier effort-wise, than the 16 of SdP 🙂

 

************

AFTER THE RACE

Walking easy towards home. Chatting with another room-mate who is impressed I can still talk and walk and smile after a run… Shower, a bit more drinking of apple juice, finishing my packing and saying goodbye. Walking towards the restaurant found by Tricky, I see runners still aiming towards the finish line. Incorrect GPS helped only to make me get lost and then finally found the restaurant. Largest smile ever waiting for me as well as two glasses of champagne! First time ever I am celebrating this way a race…and what a race! Having so much talking to do, both of us, I am still amazed we got food eaten! Entrecôte with potatoes and vegetables and a coke (I know, some may have chosen wine, but seriously, I am fine with coke after a race! Even though Tricky tries to convinced me that wine as champagne are good carbs to re load!). Dessert is pretty obvious on the menu: banana split with extra chocolate, let’s be crazy! It really feels that this should be the meal after a marathon… not counting calories here, just saying! BUT this is a race to celebrate! We had both worked hard to get there, had planned to celebrate whatever the outcome of the race and we were both happy to complete how we did (Tricky ended in 1:31, after a week with knee-injury, forgetting his favo-water bottle but had a good warm-up before! Congrats again to you!).
After that, final hug when the train arrives and I am aiming back home…in a fully loaded train…No place to stretch the legs during the first 2 hours, then changed place and had my feet (in socks) on the opposite seat during 10minutes until someone came and sat in front of me for a short while… Tram homes, emptying the bags, quick shower aaaaaand… not bed. Was not tired AT ALL! A bit hungry so had cereals in front of the tv and then, when the clock indicated past midnight, I decided it was time to hit the pillow…
WHAT.A.DAY!!!

************

A few “after-race thoughts”

NOTE: same as in Paris: do not underestimate the time for bag drop off. It killed again my planning before race, cutting on the warm-up (OK, making the warm-up non existent…)

NOTE: same as in Paris: plan better the warm-up for this type of race. Not too late in the corral, but due to the long walk back and forth to the baggage drop, no time at all nor place for warming up. Have to check how others are doing!

NOTE: gel in the hand? Worked perfectly. A bit sweaty at the start of the race, but due to the sun-cream…

NOTE: sun-cream blue factor 10? not to be taken. Feeling fine until started to run. After 300m, felt like scratching the skin on the legs…

NOTE: Had read about energy intake for half-marathon. I think I could have waited a couple of km before the gel, but then would not have had any water. So good to have dextrosol to get a kick (?) at the end (maybe)

NOTE: shoe question is solved!

The watch never lies...

The watch never lies…

Champagne and coke :)

Champagne and coke 🙂

Yummy for the tummy...

Yummy for the tummy…

Of course this is too much!!! so what?...

Of course this is too much!!! so what?…

7 responses

  1. What a fantastic run and an amazing time!! You did so super well! 😀 You raise some really interesting race specific points as well. Like you, I struggle with warm-ups at big city races, which is not idea. If you figure out a good way to do it, let me know! 😉 For a half-marathon I often just hold my gel as well, it seems to work very well for me too. For a full marathon, where I carry more gels, I personally use a belt. Such an awesome race, Kari, I’m so happy for you! 😀

    March 30, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    • Still wondering how to warm-up…at all before a race! Easier with marathon as you will have 41km to warm-up and 1km to run as fast as your warm-up has prepared you to! 😉

      regarding the gels, I am weighting the alternatives… next marathon is in two weeks, so testing and trying? not much time left really… will see how it goes!

      Thanks for the cheering!

      March 31, 2014 at 11:29 pm

  2. Congratulations, that is such an awesome time, it blows my mind. I don’t know how you’d keep a 4:00 pace for a whole half… that’s incredible.
    Your splits are so even too, and all your pictures are awesome.

    March 31, 2014 at 3:51 am

    • Hello there! Still cannot understand how I could hold this pace for the first half…and THEN for ANOTHER half! This is the time I can hold for 10km, I know that…but for a 10K-race!… hope this make the body and mind working well together and understanding what can be done 🙂

      Nice splits? the kindest compliments ever received 😉

      Thanks for the cheering during the past weeks of training 🙂

      March 31, 2014 at 11:31 pm

  3. Amazing work!! You definitely earned it! All those pre-dawn mornings paid off!

    March 31, 2014 at 10:35 am

    • Thanks a lot! Indeed, when motivation is getting a bit low (sorry, correction here: when the pillow is more attractive than the cold, dark and probably rainy or windy weather outside…) it is often great to remember such moments.
      Of course, even runs at insanely early hours, or in the rain or the storm or under heavy sun…all those are a part of the race and this is so worth it at the end… would do it all over again if I had to…(OK, maybe I would skip the 39km that was filled with tears, wind, cold aso… but still…if it was not for this one…maybe the results of Saturday would have been different 😉
      Cheers!

      March 31, 2014 at 11:34 pm

  4. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog, I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    half marathons 2014

    April 11, 2014 at 9:38 am

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