Monday, 2 June 2014

Pebble/WatchNote/iSmoothrun @ Copenhagen Marathon 2014

Aim: 04H30... although with a 1/2 marathon time of 02H00 I really should be capable of 04H10-04H15.
  • Shoes: Merrel Vaporgloves (minimal Vibram soles, zero drop)
  • Compression: CEP socks and sleeves, compression T-shirt.
  • Nutrition: 4 x 82g Snickers bars
  • Hydration: Camelbak, 1.5L Powerade.
  • Technology: Pebble Steel; NATO strap on adapters; iSmoothrun for iOs/Pebble; iPhone 5

Four months before
After 2 marathon training sessions in 2013 on the borderline to Achilles Tendonitis, I reduced the mileage in my four month training period by about 50% compared to Copnehagen Marathon 2014.
Accordingly, I was prepared to run either significantly slower times (insufficient training) or significantly faster times (less damage) than last year. I certainly did not expect what transpired...

The week before
This year I elected for a complete rest from running the last week before Copenhagen. My right achilles was still tender, despite my reduced training load, and I figured the best I could do was give myself a complete rest. Five days before I started carb loading, by increasing the carbohydrate percentage of my diet and increasing my calorie count to 2000kCal/day.

The day before
With 24 hours to go, I found myself checking the weather report every hour or so. Expected conditions fluctuated between very hot to very wet:

I had arranged to collect my niece in Århus, then drive to Østerbro in Copenhagen and pick up my start number at the Expo around 6pm.

Pebble Smartwatch, SmartwatchPro: pickup start number at Østerbro in Copenhagen... let's go!

Pebble Smartwatch, WatchNote: pickup details, metro line info all on hand!

The travelling went smoothly, and the Expo was bustling - I bought two pairs of CEP compression socks (the short version, as I already have compression sleeves) as I had picked up blisters from a half marathon in March, which I had run in regular supermarket socks... :-(

We went out for a Pizza & lots of fluids and I hit the sack about 10pm.

The Day!

Up at 5 for a quick breakfast of oats and half a liter of isotonic drink, slowly got dressed and by 0730 I was headed for the Metro, destination Islands Brygge. Arrived at 0800, dropped off my clothes and took my last drink. Walked quitely around, stretched a bit and heard a few more chapters of my audiobook to zone out.

Pebble, SmartwatchPro: start time and location... as if I could forget!

Pebble, WatchNote: backup pacing information, in case of GPS failure!

The race started precisely at 0930, and by 0944 I was crossing the start line.

Crossing the start line (right, green vest) 14 minutes after the first runners!

The route took us over Langebro into the City, through the center and out to Østerbro. I was on pace and running without issue by the time we headed back into the City at kilometer 10. Hot and humid.

The next few kilometers brought us through my old neighbourhood (Nørrebro) where we had lived almost 20 years ago, then back into the center of town, over some cobbled roads to wake us up and at 17km we were heading back out to Vesterbro. Still holding my target pace and running with no issues. Halfway was passed in 2:14:00 which meant I would have to run an even split for both halves to come in under 04H30. By this stage I had eaten 2 Snickers bars (890kCal) and about half a liter of Powerade (80kCal) and had expended about 1600kCal.

The long way back to Østerbro. Light rain started, which was a relief from the hot conditions up to now.  I could feel it required more and more of an effort to maintain my pace, and I began to switch off my mind from my surroundings. Couldn't stomach eating more Snickers or drinking Powerade, so I picked up water at the stops. On the upside, it felt pretty much like last year (no worse, no better) so I knew if I could keep on without an injury I should make it through. At 30km the sky opened and it started to rain heavily.

From 30k the hard work starts. Not fun any more. No thoughts. Foot. Next foot. Check pace. Shit. Push harder. Can't. C'mon, try. Can't. Just run. Foot. Next foot.

The loops at 32km takes you AWAY from the finish line, and it's hard not to swear. Dammit, same again at 35km.... pace starts to really drop. SOOO close at 38km but the sadistic bastards put in another loop, 3kms  AWAY this time! I'm beyond caring by now, just don't stop or I'll fall. Keep going.

Finally, finally there are no more tricks and the road leads over Langebro and the finish line at Islandsbrygge. I could walk now. Nope. I could...? Nope. And finally, finally...

Done. Urgh. F*ck.

Pebble/iSmoothRun paced me home in 04H35, average pace 6:26min/km....

...primarily using the Distance/Split average/Average Pace setup.

...using 30% of the Pebble's battery (100% at start, 70% at finish) with notifications etc. on.

Marathon number 3!

Post-race analysis:

  • Shoes: Merrel Vaporgloves are superb. Light, flexible, ultrathin, grippy - the perfect minimal running shoe.
  • CEP compression: no blisters at all from the compression socks, despite wet weather. I drove the 6 hours home immediately after the marathon with no cramps and no issues. I ran a short run 3 days after the marathon with some stiffness, but no more than that. No injuries. No achilles problems. I am convinced the support they give works particularly well for long distance running and recovery.
  • iPhone/Pebble Smartwatch: Pebble + WatchNote app are excellent for keeping relevant information (numbers, adresses, transportation, times etc etc. on hand. Pebble + iSmoothrun, with its multiple, user-configurable screens worked flawlessly at keeping me on pace. Kudos also to the extreme legibility of the Pebble Steel screen in direct sunlight, and its waterproof rating when sweating in a torrential downpour!
  • Time: I should be able to run 4H10 to 4H20. My three marathon times have been between 4H31 (Copenhagen '13) and 4H38 (Berlin '13). Each time the wheels fall off at about 32km. I probably need to do a few more long runs in training, but I think the main issue is energy - I need to improve fueling. I ran pretty much the same race this year (dark green) as I did last year (light green) and clearly I ran (sorry) into issues at the same place. Must work on this... c'mon, dude!