I moved my last MAF evaluation run before Connemara from Thursday to this evening as I won't be able to make the track on Thursday and the track is the only place where terrain and distance remain constant. The only difference in weather conditions compared to previous evaluations was the light rain falling for most of the run. My legs were a little tired from a steady paced lunchtime run and I was a little unsure that the evaluation would show an improvement over the last three weeks. I told myself that the work was done and that the result will reflect reality - no place to hide. Unlike a time trial or evaluation race I could only push as hard as a 140 HR would allow.
The first mile in 6:51 was more or less the same as last time. The second mile in 6:52 told me that I was holding pace pretty good. The third mile in 6:51 brought to mind the above image of all the cherries (times) lining up - Jackpot. The fourth mile came in 6:53, still pretty good. The last mile in 6:57 was the only blip indicating a slight drift in pace. Admittedly the average HR of 140.4 was higher than the 140 recorded 3 weeks ago. Still I managed to reduce my heart beats per km by 6 to 600.
Certainly concrete proof that the 100+ mile weeks paid off in terms of endurance training, which is my main goal for Connemara. The longer that I can maintain pace for a given heart rate over 39 miles the better. While my first mile was a second slower than last time, my average pace of 6:53 was a 5 second improvement on the 6:58 average on 10th March.
I cooled down over a few miles with Joe and Michael who is returning to running following a period of "quite contemplation".
Roll on Connemara. I have 12 days to think about my race strategy -
Do I go out "relatively" hard and hold on for as long as possible? or
Do I aim for even pacing? what pace is even pacing? and will I still run the risk of falling off that pace? 39 miles can be very unforgiving if I fuck up the pace at the start.
I could go out conservatively and pick up the pace after 20/26/30 miles. Is it possible to pick up the pace after 20/26/30 miles of fatigue induced fog.
Do I run by heart rate? what should that HR be? Is it average or max HR? Do I run the first 13 less than 140, the second 13 less than 150 and the Sky's the limit for the last hilly 13?
So many questions.
I think at the heel of the hunt i'll be running by feel and chuck out all the figures, my body will know what it is capable of.