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I’ve got to make it on my own

December 5, 2016

I’ve got a little time here in the Tokyo airport before I board and figured I should write a blog about Fukuoka marathon. Usually I’d wait until I got home but home is much busier now.

I’ll recap my training in November… At he start of the month I raced the Road2Hope 10km in 29:40. It was a decent race but didn’t give me a feeling as though I was on a path to PB in the marathon 5 weeks later. However, I think that race sparked something and afterwards things started to click a little better.

I was dealing with nagging pain but nothing that stopped me from training, just enough to knock my confidence out of place. One particular workout I ran 26km at 3:08/km that led me to believe my endurance was coming around. Not long afterwards I ran a session of 5 x 1500m where I averaged 4:06, the last one in 4:00. Going into the workout I felt if I could average 4:15 it would be a step in the right direction. I knew after that session I was fit but I still wasn’t confident my body would hold up over 42.2km.

Enter the taper. Once I brought down my volume in the last 2 weeks I started to feel much better and felt as though I could manage a good marathon without breaking down too much.

Ever since I paced Eric at STWM I’ve been grinding on my own. It’s harder to stay on pace running solo but knowing the pace Fukuoka sets at the front I figured it would be good practice to push solo.

Travel to Japan went smooth and I was getting 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night this week (something that has alluded me the past 2 months). I was walking around a lot during the day and getting in my small runs which felt better each day removed from the 13 hour flight.

There was mention of a 65:00 (through halfway) pacer from a translator at an interview I did. This was an interesting development as there is usually only one paced group at Fukuoka marathon. When I went to confirm with the elite athlete coordinator it turned out to be a 64:30 group, targetting 2:09:00 (which would set up the fastest Japanese time this year).

I contemplated using the 64:30 group (the lead group was supposed to be 63:30). My plan was to feel it out and if it felt fine I’d tag along. I would be more inclined to run with that second group if it was windy.

Race day was wet and felt much colder than the 16C weather they were calling for. When I went to warm up it was raining hard so I made the decision to wear half tights because I don’t like sopping wet shorts. During my warm up the rain let up to a drizzle and the wind died down. All of a sudden the weather was looking much more promising.

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I got off the line well and found myself in the first few runners. We were running about 3:00/km so I started to let up a bit and by the time we left the track a few laps later there were at least 30 guys ahead of me and it felt as though they were running faster than their schedule. Too fast for my liking and I decided before 2km I was going to forge my own pace. (Looking at results later they were 15:02 for the first 5km, so fast that they joined the first group).

I was hoping someone else would have wanted to run 3:05/km. Nope, no one. In fact there was one guy with a 65:XX half PB who went out with the leaders in 64:24.

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Trailing the leaders.

I told myself I had prepared for a solo run so might as well get to business. I didn’t want to force an unsustainable pace so I was pleased when 3:05/km felt comfortable. It has to feel comfortable in the first 10km or else you’re screwed. I passed 10km in 30:50, bang on 2:10:05 pace. I just told myself to do that again.

30:47 for the next 10km and still feeling in control. I was passing runners by this point but I got no help whatsoever. Usually they would try to latch on and here and there some of them stayed in my wake for a few minutes. I went through the half in 1:05:03. Bang on 2:10:06 pace and outside the top 25 racers.

My next 10km was 30:47 (1:32:26 for 30km) and I was still feeling good. I was getting all my bottles and taking down all my fluids. In fact it was my best executed fueling race ever. Mentally I was in the zone. I have never had to be as “on” in a race as this marathon. Compare it to Berlin where I pretty much shut off my brain for the first 27km. Or STWM where I ran with guys until 37km. This time I couldn’t have even a slight mental lapse.

When I started passing more and more runners I had to remind myself these guys were going slow now. I couldn’t use them, I had to crush them. One by one they were coming back to me and struggling to keep a similar pace as they had been running for the first 25km.

After 30km my calves started to get really tight. By 34km it was a problem and I was having trouble staying on pace. At 35km I knew the record was slipping and I would need to dig deeper. Energy wise this was possible and within my abilities but my calves were not working and every time I went to pick up the pace I felt it in my calves, in a really bad way.

Somwehere around 38km I knew I was going to have to fight for a PB. Soon after I was fighting for my second fastest time. There were 3 guys up the road so I used them as targets. It worked in the sense that I cut the gap down and was catching them. But I never quite caught any of them and I ended up tying my second fastest time of 2:10:55.

After a year of lacklustre results I’m really happy to have a result I’m proud of in 2016. It wasn’t weighing me down as much as it would have in the past because my life has been blessed with a lovely wife and son. No matter what happens with running it’s nice to know that there is something more special to look forward to. Having said that I think my family helped push me through the marathon. I figure if I’m going to take off to Japan and leave my family I better make it worth it!

I honestly feel this was my best marathon performance ever. Having to run solo and stay that focused was something I wasn’t sure I could do. I have more confidence that I can run sub 2:10 with pacers and competitors than I do being able to solo a sub 2:11.

Now it’s time for a nice break, hopefully I have the patience to keep my feet up for a few weeks.

 

Splits:

5K: 15:21
10K: 30:51 (15:30)
15K: 46:13 (15:22)
20K: 1:01:38 (15:25)
21.1K (Half): 1:05:03
25K: 1:16:56 (15:18)
30K: 1:32:26 (15:30)
35K: 1:47:56 (15:30)
40K: 2:03:54 (15:58)
42.195K (Finish): 2:10:55 (7:01)

Strava data

Top Ten:

1 Yemane Tsegay (ETH) 2:08:48
2 Patrick Makau (KEN) 2:08:57
3 Yuki Kawauchi (JPN) 2:09:11
4 Hayato Sonoda (JPN) 2:10:40
5 Amanuel Mesel (ERI) 2:10:48
6 Henryk Szost (POL) 2:10:53
7 Reid Coolsaet (CAN) 2:10:55
8 Dmytro Baranovskyy (UKR) 2:11:39
9 Yared Asmerom (ERI) 2:11:57
10 Kazuhiro Maeda (JPN) 2:12:19

My 2:10:55 ranks me second in North America on time. This is the 4th time in the past six years I’ve been ranked second.

From the IAAF recap:

“Hindered by steady rains, high humidity and relatively strong winds which severely impacted the performances, Tsegay’s time was the slowest winning time since the 2004 edition. The conditions likely affected the pacemaking, with none of the pacesetters reaching 30 kilometres as anticipated.”

 

 

 

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3 Comments
  1. December 5, 2016 6:12 am

    Awesome write up and epic performance. Never ceases to amaze me that runners go out way too fast, beyond their abilities, even at the highest level. The discipline and determination you showed is lesson for all of us marathon runners.

  2. December 6, 2016 11:04 am

    Really enjoyed this story Reid. You seemed to bring all your experience and maturity as a marathoner to this race. It’s a very long way to run solo. I see that you were on the track at 2:09 – damn, so close! What a razor thin margin. But you proved that all your fitness is still there. Hope you get another crack at it in 2017. Enjoy your feet up time.

  3. December 8, 2016 9:22 am

    Amazing performance Reid! Having to run solo, in tough conditions, and still come out with amazing time shows that under 2:10 is definitely in the cards. I remember at 2013 STWM I ran the last 22km completely solo and grinded a 2:34, I was happy with the time but the courage and determination it takes to run solo like that is what I was proud of, and you should be as well. Your absolutely right on in your write-up that when your solo, you really cannot afford to zone out, and cruise, you need to think about every little thing, it is mentally exhausted. Again, amazing performance!

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