This post is in partnership with Kaneka.
‘I’ll be happy with a sub 1.45’ I’d been telling people in the days leading up to the Phoenix Half Marathon. Having looked up my previous half PB and discovering it was from the North London Half in 2017, I knew it was a time I could beat.
But I’ve also been dealing with some serious mental blocks when it comes to running ‘fast’.
After coming back from my quad strain, I felt like I had lost so much fitness and would freak out anytime I saw anything with a 7 on my training plan. I have been so disappointed that I wasn’t trying to run a BQ this weekend (as was my original plan), and so lacking in confidence in my own ability, that I seriously underestimated my fitness.
However, after a chat with my coach on Friday night where she floated the number 1.40 in my head, I started to think about edging closer to her goal prediction and whether it would indeed be possible. I still thought about a sub 1.45, but wondered if I could actually get closer to 1.42/3.
The race starts at 6.30am, meaning an early bus to the start – thank you jetlag for waking me up at 3.45am before the alarm. A quick bagel breakfast and 1 mile walk from our Air B & B to the start meant that it was a very relaxed morning. Miraculously we bumped into Heather, Kindal and Mel in the line for the porta loos.
After a quick 0.5 mile warm up with Heather, we stripped off our throw away clothes and settled into the start area. I stayed with Mel who had kindly agreed to pace me for the first half of the race. I know that I go out to fast and so running with someone else to clockwatch was amazing.
The weather was perfect for racing, and as we took off into the dark, I felt good. Mel kept reining me in when I would start to run too fast (and wow am I thankful that she did, I think I probably would have blown up at mile 11 if not!)
- Mile 1 – 8.09
- Mile 2 – 7.50
- Mile 3 – 7.48
- Mile 4 – 7.40
- Mile 5 – 7.54
- Mile 6 – 7.45
Mel was great at getting me to slow down, walk through the water station so I could drink enough and made sure I stuck to my nutrition plan (gels every 4 miles).
She sent me on my way at the 10K mark, and I immediately ran too fast for mile 7 – 7.31. I freaked out that I wouldn’t be able to hold that pace for 6 more miles but the words from coach Ash echoed in my head.
“Fight. Don’t give up. It’s going to be hard. I want you to redline.”
So I kept pushing…
- Mile 8 – 7.36
- Mile 9 – 7.35
- Mile 10 – 7.39
- Mile 11 – 7.34
I had begun counting down in 0.25 increments 6 miles out. Knowing that they would be ticked off more quickly than full miles.
With just 2 miles to go I tried to pick up the pace…
- Mile 12 – 7.34
- Mile 13 – 7.13
- 0.1 – 5.41 pace
I pushed for that final stretch with absolutely everything I had. I didn’t know whether the girls who had finished ahead of me would be watching, and I wanted to make sure I’d left it all out there for the final 400m.
I could see the clock at 1.41, and I knew I’d started a little after the gun went but had no idea I had run a 1.40 until I saw a message from Ash. I had paused my Garmin but had been dry heaving so didn’t see the actual time pop up!
I found Aimee almost immediately, who had also run a big PB! We took photos with the PR bell and then met up with Heather, Mel and Kindal. Heather ran a 1.32 and qualified for NYC again! Kindal ran a 1.32.09 and Mel ran a sub 1.45 while ill! The girls were worried that something had happened to me as apparently the tracker had stopped at mile 6 – thankfully it seemed to be a temporary glitch as I had an official time!
I was SO happy with my time but also starting to get very cold. We went to collect our drop bags and took advantage of the free massages before watching the marathon finishers.
The girls friend Ashley came in second place, and another friend, Tam ran a big PB with a 3.13!
After spending some time in the finisher’s area and taking advantage of the free french toast, we headed straight for brunch.
I swear, no matter what race I run, I am always hungry when I finish. In fact, I think about the food I’m going to have post-race during the last few miles to get me through.
The French Toast at Butterfingers was everything, alongside Diet Coke. The best post-race treat!
This weekend was a HUGE confidence booster for me.
How I prepped for the race:
- Despite the long haul flight, I managed to sleep really well the few nights before the race.
- I drank a LOT of water pre and post race
- Carb loading plus plenty of nutritious food in the week leading up to the race
- I actually tapered in advance of the race, which I’ve never done before a half before!
- Ubiquinol loading
Ok, I hadn’t heard of Ubiquinol loading until recently when I was asked to trial it by Kaneka. I met up with their scientists at the National Running Show in January, and discussed the benefits of ubiquinol in athletes.
Ubiquinol is the active and non-oxidized form of CoQ10 (you might have heard about this co-enzyme in other supplements). It’s naturally produced in the body and is an important power supply to cells in the body.
Exercise and training can put a strain on the body and reduce
levels of Ubiquinol, meaning that energy levels within the body can drop. By supporting long term, sustained energy, ubiquinol can help with physical performance, delay fatigue and aid muscle recovery.
This study shows that German athletes that took 300mg Ubiquinol per day in the 6 weeks leading up to the 2012 Olympics had a 2.5% increase in power output versus a placebo.
Now 6 weeks is a long time to take 300mg – which is 3 x 100mg pills per day – and can get quite expensive (you can buy it here). The Japanese scientists at Kaneka suggested taking 100mg a day, and then ‘ubiquinol loading’ for 5 days prior and 5 days post race, with 300mg per day.
As I’m not as intune with my body as olympic athletes, I can’t tell you if the Ubiquinol made that difference. However, I do know that the today, the day after the race, I have zero muscle soreness…and I ran a close to 7 minute personal best.
I put in the work when it comes to running training, and have improved my strength sessions, but that extra 20%….the getting the nutrition right, sleeping, recovery and yes, supplements are something I haven’t always nailed.
With the fight to BQ, I’m doing everything I can to get there – wearing my Vaporfly 4%s, using the Normatec boots at the gym, going to bed earlier, making restorative yoga a priority and trying to improve my nutrition and hydration.
And Ubiquinol loading will be part of my BQ plan this Spring!