#Training – 2016 – The Personal Best.

Part 3 and final post reflecting on this year training and performance. And now is performance and the aim for a personal best or the so-called “PB”. Yeah, after half a year of training or let’s say trying to with a few races more or less in-between, I really wanted to beat that Paris Half-Marathon time I had set back in March – 1hr31:08min.

It had been a great experience and I got it getting my PB there down 14 minutes on my previous 2015 time so yeah, it was already great, the original idea had been to break the 1hr30 barrier. This was the plan but I didn’t make it on my first attempt and no I would not wait to be back in Paris in 2017 to achieve it or that’s what I thought.

So back to July this year, Eiger had been a fantastic experience and a lot of souvenirs which made it a truly enjoyable race. From then, I just continued running the usual way, having let’s say 3 runs a week – 10/10/15km – when I could manage to keep them on my work calendar.

All year the working calendar proved something hard to manage. Of course, you can run anywhere, being going away quite a lot with work and keeping the will to do the runs before or after the working hours are done is sometimes hard to keep-up with.

So yeah, I more or less maintained that base training up to the end of August and had a break on the second week of that same month. I just felt tired and like I had no more to give so after a final Monday run, I just decided to keep out of it until the next week. It proved very good to have that little rest. Then I just took it easy up until September and that is when I committed and entered the Lausanne Half-Marathon and started thinking of the PB again!

September actually started on the last weekend of August which also saw me back on a bike since my accident in June. After two months of paperwork and insurance work, I got reimbursed and finally managed to buy a new bike and got it on time for the Tour du Canton. A sort of friendly tour around Geneva in which I got invited by my friend ‘Manda who I also run with.

So having started on the bike, I actually tried to sort of cross-train and replaced the usual mid-week run with a ride after work and getting a ride in the weekend schedule. This added to the usual running it started making the agenda quite busy, not more tiring I think.

Running and cycling do pair well and I actually think that it helped preparing the half-marathon. Clearly, the running was the more intense part of it with the usual 10km run being a way to push myself or speed while the 40km – or more – rides were a good way to get the legs working while keeping them fresh and also manage the cardio part of my training with clear long endurance.

So basically, September proved a good restart to training properly, although the first three weeks and weekends proved complicated with flyaway events – motorsport – which I had to attend so I tried as much as possible to run while being there and still managed to ride twice during this period.

The focus on strength and running really came on the last week with a strong run on the Monday, rides over Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, joining my first ever Triathlon Club de Genève training session. It was meant to be a track workout but proved to be a great trial with a great group of people and thanks to friend and training buddy ‘Manda for dragging me there.

Then October started with a weekend in Zermatt with friends for fun and raclette but we still managed to log a long trail run of 28km and 1627m of elevation in 3hr44:56min with who were to be my pacers for the Lausanne Half-Marathon, Romain and John. A great training along the Zermatt Ultraks course which builds strength as there are some heavy uphill phase and good and fast downhills as well. And yeah, the raclette was pretty much a great end to a good day.

From then, the first week was about managing to log more kilometers in with my last motorsport event of the year in Czech Republic. Fortunate was that the Monday proved the usual 10k run with the friends and then two morning runs over the week which were all about uphills. Yeah, I was attending a hill climb event, so the course was a great way to try and get better on long uphills. Something special, uphills tend to build the mental I guess and more when it’s in the morning as you just try to focus in order to get to the top. Long, painful and all in all some good training again.

Back in Geneva then, it was about getting more kilometers logged in while keeping the strength for two weeks, either running or cycling. Still going for 3 runs a week while trying to get a good ride on the weekend. Also, I went to the gym once a week in order to spin and do some more intervals on the treadmill as well as some core training done. There was also an added track session which I did in order to, as for the gym, work the speed.

Last week was to be the race week so I sort of relaxed the training. Getting some kilometers logged in still with 4 runs, Monday being the usual 8k at a slow pace – 5:16/km, Wednesday with a 10k at a fast pace – 4:24/km, then another run on Thursday morning with 7k at a slow pace again – 5:20/km and last a warm-up on the Saturday before the race with 5k at a very slow pace of 6:00/km.

On the food, the whole week was about eating well and balanced, protein, carbs, fibers, veggies and a hell lot of bananas. I also tried to hydrate as much as possible along the whole week. Energy was to be a key and bed time was important as well so did a bit of both with dedication.

Beer is not the answer, it's the question and the answer is yes. #PreRaceMealsBeLike
Beer is not the answer, it’s the question and the answer is yes. #PreRaceMealsBeLike

Now the real deal came-up, my running buddy Romain had been planning a 1hr27:00 goal for that race and he had paired with John to pace him. I joined the group, let’s say from mid-September or let’s say that I was interest to get there as well in that timeframe. The initial thinking was of course breaking the 1hr30:00 barrier but setting it higher was a way, I presume to push myself harder.

Honestly, I was doubting it. I had stopped smoking, yeah, something I didn’t tell you about I guess, a month prior to the goal. I had committed to getting better and that was to play a part in the performance but still, I did not know if I could hold the 4:07min/km pace up on the D-day. But the start line came along.

Morning of the race was about breakfast, bananas, bread and peanut butter and a lot of coffee and sport drink. Then heading for the meet-up time at the train station in order to head to Lausanne. Romain, John and a whole lot of other running buddies from the Geneva Runners group were there.

The start was to be at 1:45PM with bib collection in Lausanne prior to another train to the real start. I probably was quieter than normal times but I guess that was the stress part so just ate a little bit more up until 12:00PM and got myself in the heat of the race. Weather was looking good, a cool day, sun was shining, a perfect day and afternoon to race.

And #boom, off we went. Taking the start, I settled right behind Romain and John who were to pace the run. As said, 4:07 would be the pace to hold from the start. As usual, it proved a packed start but there was room and the first three kilometers were about getting in the rhythm for myself and getting ahead of the 1:30:00 official pacer.

John made it clear from the beginning that if sticking with him, it would hold our pace and therefore goal so we pushed and passed him as soon as possible and the race pace really started. Holding it proved a real push, trying to get the best stride and cadence together while keeping the upper body and breathing strong.

Fifth kilometer was the first judge and we got there spot on with a first split in 20:39min, the pace was strong but we were on it, 4 seconds off the exact split. So focus was on and speed as well, it felt really good and John was truly a great addition. Being with us, it was like running with a coach and on the run, it would also prove fantastic with him speeding ahead at the refueling points through the course in order to bring us the water.

Second split, on the tenth kilometer proved to bring the mental strength with a time of 40:35min, again we were spot on and a tiny bit ahead of the exact split. From then, a switch or something went on I guess, the three of us were going strong and I then decided to push more from the eleventh kilometer let’s say. Trying to get it going around 4:00-4:03 per kilometer.

I went on strong and the mental took over with the main focus being to try and focus on the road while keeping Romain and John behind me. Not really pulling away but trying to keep it strong ahead for the mental.

Third split was to be the key, fifteenth kilometer and my usual fatigue barrier but reaching it with a time of 1hr00:52, I guess I was just good, the course was perfect, the view was and had been fantastic but yeah, there was an element of fatigue. By the eighteenth kilometer, I could feel it properly. First time that I was holding a pace of that sort, the upper body was falling down even if the legs felt good but breathing was proving harder by then and it was the last refueling point which I reached with a single kilometer time of 4:16. I stopped for five seconds, took a drink and threw two over my head.

By then, John and Romain were right behind me and with a certain will, which I still wonder where I found it, I went for it again. I saw a girl, one of these proper runner which was ahead of me and in sight and I just tried as hard as possible to get the pace back down to the goal. I got my upper body up again, the breathing technique was pushed to the maximum and nineteenth kilometer went back to a 4:04, twentieth with a 3:56 and last but not least, last kilometer and hardest one in 3:58.

And yeah, I made it ahead and with a strong time of 1hr26:11min. That felt just bloody awesome even if I could hardly breathe by then and that I was completely finished! Romain with pacer John went very good as well just 36 seconds behind me with a result and time of 1:26:38min. And actually, these were the two guys I really had to thank for the result, they went, they pushed and they kept it strong the whole way with a special note for Romain who made it over a serious cold during the build-up week and who almost died over the finish line. But yeah, awesome, that was the word and it still is.

6:08min gained over my early March time, that wasn’t bad.. #OhYeah

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