So anyway, as I was saying, after returning to Japan the first two days of training involved a short, slow and fairly painful run on Tuesday (later in the day after we arrived home) followed by an easy 18 km on Wednesday evening catching up with my mate Colin. These must have been a good couple of recovery runs because on the Thursday night I headed out with no particular plans but ended up warming into a fairly solid 16 km, a large proportion of which was at sub 4:10 and for a while verging on 4:00 flat pace. I then took Friday off and, with Chiba Marine half Marathon scheduled for Sunday, just had two very easy 4-km runs on Saturday to and from my brewing partner's place to bottle a tripel we had brewed before my trip.
So Chiba Marine. It is a mostly flat, mostly straight course and the conditions were ideal: cool and calm. But after a period of not particularly encouraging training, I had just about given up on my goal of snagging a PB in this race and was preparing to relax a bit and just run it as a solid workout for Tokyo. But with a couple of easy days before the race and lacing up the flats, I went out at a good pace and realized after a few km that if I wanted to suffer a bit later in the race that a PB might be on. I decided to hold what I was doing (about 3:55 to 4:00 per km) until 16 km and then see how hard I could race the last 5 km. A really good last 5km would give me a PB. While I worked very hard over the last 1 or 2 km, I did not pick up much more pace -- the climb up and over bridge between 18 and 19 km did not help my cause, but I suppose you pick up on the down what you lose on the up.
My gun time of 1:23:16 was only ten seconds slower than my Kanagawa PB gun time from two years ago. Close, but no banana. But when I looked at my splits last night, I discovered that it took me 41 seconds to get from the 21 km mark to the finish timing mat, a pace of 6:50 min/km, yet I was just about sprinting. Huh? A time of 20 seconds, 3:25/km, would have been more likely. If the course really was long by 100 m, I was denied a gun time PB. Bugger! Still, I am extremely happy to have run so evenly at that pace and been strong enough to finish hard. The fact I wasn't faster from 15 to 20 km, despite pushing hard, suggests I got the pacing about right and did not go too slow in the early part of the race. Splits were:
0-5k 0:19:37 0:03:55
5-10k 0:19:50 0:03:58
10-15k 0:19:42 0:03:56
15-20k 0:19:46 0:03:57
20-21k 0:03:40 0:03:40
last 100 m 0:00:41 0:06:50 ????
Hmmm...creates a bit of a dilemma for how to approach Kanagawa Half in two weeks. A marathon-pace supported training run or an aggressive tilt at a new PB?