Three weeks after La Transjurassienne, back on the road and on the usual swim bike and run diet, that’s what February has been about aside from the professional working duties of course.
Following on the result and the finisher mood of La Transju’, things were straightforward with exactly a month to go before the next competition of the year. I hadn’t raced a half-marathon since the end of 2017 more or less as I don’t believe the last leg of a half-ironman or ironman to be either a true half-marathon and marathon in racing terms. One could argue that but I believe that they are part of the whole distance and given the two others and prior disciplines, that has yet to reflect a true performance, at least at my level.
So I decided to go back to Paris where I started as a runner back in 2014 for my first ever race and result. Different days or goals back then of course as I was a complete different person, weight was an all-time high, I had only been running for six months I guess and I used to smoke a pack a day while considering water as the best source for hydration and electrolytes. Good days? Possibly as things were very different but that’s it for the details and throwback to my previous life.
Week 20 – of 40 towards Frankfurt – was the start of the work towards Paris, cross-country skiing had been a good training during December and January in order to build endurance and base, hours spent in the cold and on the slopes does prove a benefit when getting back to full swing. 9 sessions and full swim, bike and run week with a little over 10 hours of sport duties got me started, nothing very specific to running but more like getting the schedule right. Recovery from La Transju’ was surprisingly good so I was very happy when it came to putting the effort and hours in.
This followed with more or less the same training for the week after but with a preference towards running for the following week. I also had to get to the UK over the weekend for professional duties so I had to scrap the possibility of cycling. The load was short of 10 hours and specific speed work started over the Wednesday and Thursday with back-to-back sessions on the road and then track. Getting to run 10k on an evening at almost race pace and ensuring the intervals are done the day after is not an easy task if considering the swim on the morning in-between. Yeah, I’m learning even more that you can’t sacrifice the bigger picture for a lesser goal this year but I guess it will pay off.
Third week of the build-up got a bit bitter, load got up to 13 hours and full schedule with cycling included along the speed work but I guess the fatigue hit a little. It’s a struggle at the time but recovery is very important and I do have problems in getting the professional life, training and all sorted. Along with the days in the office and load I sometime have to appreciate things differently if the times or goals are not always achieved, that is part of the game and what happened that week when I hit a wall and exploded on my usual track day Thursday night…
Not happy, I could not get my head around being a little slow on the Wednesday night, a 15k session at 3:53/km where I hit wind on the way back – I only understand it now… Then, I just could not sleep but got to swim the next morning and went excessively hard – although I enjoyed that – and then exploded on my first intervals with tired leg on the Thursday night. It was still my fastest kilometre of they year with a 3:21/km pace that night but one instead of six; I just gave up and got home but could not sleep again… The rest of the week got together, I had a great day cycling on Sunday, headwind, and little ramps were all I needed to prove my legs were in good shape but tired yes.
Then came week 23 and the tapering started. That’s also when I took time to appreciate where I was before Sunday and the race day. Not having run that sort of distance in a while and having built a little since the last one, I of course thought I would achieve fantastic when I entered but one has to appreciate and understand the whole picture here. By saying that, I mean the training load is at an average of 10-12 hours a week at the moment, swim bike and run considered. In the end, that Paris race may be great to take-on but I also had to take a different approach as I looked at the last few weeks and the training, surely, I considered a personal best but the fantastic thoughts I had for it were scrapped.
Altogether and as Sunday happened I received the instructions from the coach who took the time to look at all the training, considered my test references and he worked out a goal of 1h22:12 (3:54/km) and I took it. Conditions were tough and windy as hell on the day, I probably got started a little too fast but in the end reached the finish line with a personal best and a time of 1h22:37 (3:55/km) which is in line with the expectations.
Appreciate; understand where you stand and look up at that bigger picture, which is the key to getting better yes. In the end, I felt good over the distance, the stride and pace were good, nothing like the last time I raced the distance, as I felt destroyed at the end back then. Overall, I am improving and that is what is important along another personal best of course and I survived the wind, way too much wind that day!
Full details of the race here on my Strava profile – 2019 Semi de Paris