A year ago I performed an interesting experiment that seemed to indicate — contrary to my hope — that systematic training is preferable to unsystematic lack of training when it come to beating personal records in long distance running (see further). I did thus show up for the Sant Cugat half-marathon with over a month of training on my back. My goal was the same as last year — to set a new personal best.
There was some uncertainty in my goal setting. I was not sure how well I had recovered from the cold that I managed to get myself last week. I was pretty sure that I could finish the race since I had recovered enough to be able to breathe through my nose (being able to breathe trough ones nose is more or less a necessary condition to be able to finish a long distance race … but probably not sufficient).
In light of the uncertainty I decided to set myself a series of cascading goals. My main goal was to finish under 1:55:30. If that failed, my goal was to beat my personal best — 1:58:11. If that failed, my goal was to finish under two hours. If that failed, my goal was to finish ahead of the clown who overtook me in a very humiliating way last year (see further). If that failed, my goal was to beat my time from last year — 2:02:28. If that failed, my goal was to push the clown if he tried to overtake me.
The race started well. I got the feeling right away that I would at least improve over last year’s race. I ran the first 5k in 28:09 minutes (25:53 last year). I ran the next 5k in 27:03 minutes (26:06 last year). Note that last year I ran faster than I had planned due to a design fault in my brain which makes me unable to divide correctly.
Soon after the 10k mark I arrived at the hill that killed me last year. The hill where my engine overheated. This year the hill did not seem as tough as last year. Or was I perhaps tougher than last year? In any case, I managed to — more or less — maintain my pace and arrive at the top of the hill in a good shape.
After having run 10k I saw an old acquaintance of mine — the clown who beat me last year. We met on the track. Rather than feeling fear, anger and a sense of inferiority — as I have felt whenever I have seen a clown over the past year — I just smiled to him. Or smiled at him. I knew that he a 3km loop to run before he could catch up with me. Last but not least, I felt I was in a good shape and — barring any unforeseen incident — he would not be able to catch up with me.
I ran kilometers 10 to 15 in 28:02 minutes (29:24 last year). Although my 15k time was worse this year than last year I knew I would do a better job this year. I was far from being completely exhausted. I almost managed to keep up the pace for the next 5k and ran them in 28:51 minutes (34:08 last year). I even had energy left to switch gear and finish the last kilometer in 5:40 minutes (about 7 last year).
I crossed the finish line on a better time than last year; ahead of the clown; within two hours from the start; on a personal best — 1:57:49. I was thus very content with the result. Not the least was I content about having gotten over the fear, anger, and sense of inferiority toward people in colorful clothes, a white paint in their face, and big red nose.