Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ndakaini 2011 - Race Report.

This is a race report that I haven't looked forward to writing.
This lack of enthusiasm, I think, is caused by the fact that I sorta drew blank from this year's Ndakaini Marathon. Blank. Nada. Or maybe a refusal to face the facts that the Ndakaini race spread before our feet in broad daylight. Before my feet.
Lets get it done anyways. We can twiddle our thumbs and wipe our noses later.
So as agreed, we met in town and drove to Thika. It took about 1 and a half hours. GK and Mutwiri arrived shortly after us. The race was better organized but lacked adequate toilets. I had to use the bush, like many others. The parking was good, the bibs were excellent. The vests were of good quality but all too small in size.
Ogutu was good enough to be there for us just to take photos. Here I am enjoying the stretching.

We stretched and warmed up. I made sure I got both a good warm up and adequate stretching. Here is myself and Mark and Sikuku after warming up, just before the race.

Then we moved to the start line where I met GK, some elite runners (several) and some American runners.
As we waited and chatted, GK said we should not hold back because its disheartening to complete strong and know you could have done better if you gave it your all and didn't hold back. I agreed. The weather was excellent. We were good to go. I was confident of doing a 1:45-1:55 time. Here is the start line. Thin but dense.

Abel Kirui, the world marathon champion was there to give us some pep talk which he did. I didnt hear what he said. I didnt care. I was there for the gun. Then some politicians waffled out the customary dung and we couldn't wait for them to be done with the manure they were educating us about. And finally, the gun was fired. And we were off.
GK surged ahead but was within view. Sikuku, Mark and myself followed. I maintained a steady pace - nothing too crazy but fast by my standards.
I didnt want to lose sight of GK. After about 3k, I thought I lost Mark and Sikuku and I caught up with GK when I approached the 5k mark on the first hill and I passed him. When I looked back, I found my bro Mark on my shoulder. Wow, this dude is strong, I thought. On his Ndakaini debut and he is doing this great?
So Mark pushed me and I surged. He hung on. GK later came and passed me but stayed within sight. I passed him again after 12K and he passed me again when we were at about 14K. And at about the same time, there came a guy in a white top gliding easily while holding aloft a bottle of water. I tried to hung onto him and I did up to about the 18th K then I lost him and GK and some lady. On the heartbreak hill.
After 45 minutes, I felt fresh and strong and I surged. I dropped off some people and passed some and widened some gap between myself and Mark. After about 1:15, I felt even stronger and I surged. Some hamstring pain came and went. A stitch threatened but disappeared after floating around for a while.
I was running a good race! Everything was perfect. The humongous, sould-destroying hills were steep but I climbed everyone of them even though I had to slow down to near-walking pace. But the slight slopes or flat places I sped up and enjoyed it. At the steep downhill parts, I let myself go and avoided wasting too much energy braking. 
GK finally passed me at the last hill at about the 16th Km mark. The steepest, longest, meandering, soul-destryoying hill. Two guys passed me on the hill and I passed three. After that hill, I gave myself about 100mins jog for recovery then realizing that we were approaching the end of the race, I decided I wasnt going to finnish the race strong and return a poor time. So I gradually let go and sped up. I passed several people including the ones who passed me at the hill, some two ladies, some guy who ran like he was jumping and the lady who was with GK and the gliding chap. But I never caught up with GK and the gliding chap.
But I ran well. I felt good and strong and I didnt conserve energy too much. I passed one last guy with 50 metres to go. Here is me Mark, Sikuku and GK after the race.

Which brings me to my puzzle.
After running so well, how come I returned a 1:56 time? GK did about 1:54 and Mark came at about 1:58. I just dont get it. Sikuku had a problem with his ankle and returned a DNF.
So again, what happened there? I dont get it. The winner won in 64mins. And not 60 or 61mins. That  should tell you how tough Ndakaini is.

I told GK we are too slow. And I think I am right. And GK is right too that we need to work on speed sensibly or we invite an army of injuries to make us kiss running goodbye. Here is Ogutu and Mark & GK after the race.

Like I like asking, What are YOU going to do? Because I intend to run a sub 1:20 half one way or the other.
There are two things I will do in the short term: up my mileage and increase my speed runs. Our endurance is good so I will maintain the weekly long runs. The tweaking is to be done between Monday and Friday.
At any rate, I have just got a baby so training is off this week. I am getting a garmin that will help me rack my mileage and help me structure my tempo runs (based on my heart rate). Then I get some serious shoes. Then we continue chopping wood and carrying water.
And oh, it never hurts to lose some weight.
I am asking myself, can I gas out? How because in training, I recover from high speeds. I need to take one 21k training run and go almost all out (like 80%) and see what happens.


Still a sub said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Still a sub said...

Great work man. However, you guys were too careful, which is a good thing as you avoid injuries but a bad thing as you end up with that feeling, 'Had I run a bit faster ...' This time you bettered Ndakaini ...

GK said...

Congratulations for the new born in your family. The new born and a sub 2 hours Ndakaini Half Marathon are two good things happening very close to each other.
Thank you for the race report.

My report would be very similar to yours since we were running fairly close to each other. My race strategy was (1) run a sub 2 hours (2) run against myself (3) maintain a strong mental focus (4) run through hills sensibly as opposed to ‘attacking’ the hills (5) start out faster rather than slower (6) finish with a strong kick

As stated its disheartening to do the Ndakaini race like a jog and complete strong knowing you could have done better if you gave it your all and did not hold back. I started out fast and thought I had left you guys far behind only for you to overtake me on the first major hill. At some point you were about 80-100metres ahead but I chose not to lose sight of you. After going through two major hills I opted to change strategy so that I use landmarks to cover hills as opposed to looking down. This meant I run looking upward and forward as opposed to bending forward. The use of landmarks worked well for me as I was able to cover hills ‘faster’ and stronger. On downhills I let myself just go as opposed to braking which uses up energy.

Your being just ahead of me or slightly behind me really pushed me.

I was happy that my race strategy worked well. My post-race analysis shows that I may have further reduced my time by another 2-3mins. I felt abit dehydrated between 5 and 10kms which slowed me. I will use my lessons to prepare for Standard Chartered on 30th October.

Jack, you ran well and if you continue like that then a sub 1:20 will soon come your way. For now aim to be at the start line on 30th October 2011 at 7 – 7:30am prepared and fully rested. Going out too fast too quickly between now and then could lead to burnout or an injury which is frustrating. Remember the guy with a white top, black headband and black running tights? He did not appear to be running fast but was ahead of us even to the finishing line. Carl Lewis once said: “Relax and let the speed come out.” Just like famous sprint coach Bud Winter’s mantra, “Relax and win,” Lewis knew that if you try too hard, you cause tension and actually work against yourself. This concept was important for the all-out sprinting Lewis did, and is also important for you and I. Trying too hard and it may start to reduce the effectiveness of our efforts.


Jacob Aliet said...

Thanks GK. You also pushed me. And thanks for the kind words and encouragement. We have 4 weeks of practice. Lets see what we can do between now and then.

maQ said...

I do regret why I didnt push myself - I held back after catching up with JA. I dropped back and ran alongside GK for a while then a funny sensation came - I got pressed! I even wondered that with all the sweat my body still has some extra water for urine...WTF! I tried to ignore but couldnt hold no more. I had already damaged my bladder by holding on for too long when we were driving to the venue - the pain was a distraction so I let GK pass while I branched to a nearby thicket cursing and kicking...that somehow dented my momentum.
I also kept thinking of the final climb (after the 15km mark)so I held back to reserve some gas for it. I later realised I shouldnt have held back at all.
Cudos to that guy in black tight slack and a white top - he knows the science of running. He made it look so easy.
It was a good experience for me since it was my debut - next time i am sure to do a sub 1:50 if all things remain constant. Thanks guys for the effort. G.O. thanks for putting that memory in pictures.

Jacob Aliet said...

Thanks for the remarks Mark.
I got my answer today. I went for a 22K run. This makes my total mileage 80K this week. I had done a 26K on Sunday and two 16Ks on Mon and Tue.
I realized after about 16Kms that even though I felt strong, and even though I believed I was going fast, I wasn't. My legs were tired. My heart was ready and my lungs were ready but there was no "work" being generated from my legs to increase my heart rate. Thats what. We need stronger legs. Stronger legs comprise two things: a) Active and available fast-twitch fibers/muscles and (b) enough enzymes and mitochondria to wash away the lactic acid as it accumulates.
At any rate, I am putting aside mileage after this week and I will taper by concentrating on speed for two weeks. A