I live in Kakamigahara so this was my local race. The first race I ever did was the Kakamigahara 10K, back in 2011. This year they added a half-marathon to the already popular 10K and 3K.
One month earlier I set a 1:30:07 PB on a freezing, snowy day in Inuyama. To beat that, and go sub-30, I prepared an ambitious plan of progressively faster intervals starting at 4:25/km pace and finishing at 4:00/km. The running app on my phone gave me feedback so I knew exactly how I was doing.
This was the first race I’ve ever done that started in the afternoon. In fact, it started at 1:00pm with the sun beating down upon us. Temperatures soared to 19C and the cloud that was forecast never came. The only reprieve was a cool breeze.
I lined up nearish the front, but the start was crowded and slow. I did the first kilometer in 4:58, which already put me 33 seconds off pace. The next 9 kilometers fluctuated between 4:16 and 4:23, giving me a 43:53 first 10K. Not bad, only 20 seconds behind schedule, but I wasn’t comfortable at all. My mouth was dry and I really didn’t feel like I could go much faster. So much for running a negative split!
The first of four water stations wasn’t until about 9km. I took two gulps and poured the rest on my head. I was way behind my teammate Sako-san, who even when taking it slowly after a 6-hour trail race the previous week could easily cruise through a half in under 1:30. At the turn around, I was about two minutes ahead of Nathaniel, and Keith was a few minutes behind him.
The second 10K took me about 46:30. I felt heavy legged, and while the massage insoles I had put in my shoes were doing a remarkable job of preventing my usual ball-of-foot pain, I was getting nasty blisters on my toes. My calves, too were starting to fail me, and I really felt like I was plodding along. I even found myself in a mid-race chat with Tsubouchi-san, who runs in a Pikachu hat. He knew me from YouTube and actually appeared in one of my other race videos.
I wasn’t at all surprised that I had fallen so far behind pace, but I became increasing concerned about how I will fair in next month’s full marathon in Kakegawa. I will need to average 4:59 to go sub-3:30 there, and here I was running 4:45s at the end of a mostly flat half-marathon!
The one big hill in kilometer 20 agonizingly put me over 5:00/km pace, but I had just enough in reserve to run a 4:28 final kilometer. That burst of speed, although not quite the 4-minute kilometer I had planned, was enough to get me in under 1:35:00. I ran 1:34:53 to be exact, my fourth fastest half-marathon time.
Nathaniel and Keith also struggled, but kudos to another teammate, Mariko, for knocking 5 minutes off her 10K PB.
I will be hoping for a cool, cloudy day in Kakegawa next month. I will conjure up a more realistic race plan for that one and share it with you here in advance.If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!