HBF 12km 2017

#trainwithzac
Recap leading up to HBF 12km -2017
12 weeks before the race
My friend, whom I had previously coached for last year’s City2Surf, came to ask for a personalised training plan so that she could run a sub 60 min 12km. The amount of time wasn’t ideal but I reckoned we could pull this off and just within 2 days, she registered for the race! Had a quick recap of the workouts I gave in 2016, building on that foundation to give her the best stimulus she responded to.
11 weeks before the race
Another friend came asking for another personalised training plan, also targeting a sub 60min race. This is the first time I had coached him and on hindsight, it was a huge challenge both for him and I. We took 2 weeks to kinda understand where we needed to be
It was definitely fun to coach and find the most efficient way to get the most of the individuals.   
Training has its ups and downs, with times them doubting if they could actually improve their respective 5 and 10 min to finish within 60mins. To be honest, there were times where I wondered if I have given the correct stimulus to get the adaptation needed. This is definitely something new for me: From being an athlete to being a coach. The amount of pressure is no lesser than being the athlete. Now I start to feel for all coaches. We (athletes) weren’t the only one panicking leading up to the race!
2 weeks before the race
I have always been contemplating about joining this race because of the disruption in training due to plantar fasciitis. My longest run since the injury had been a 6km 6:00min/km jog along Mt Bay and I was struggling. After some thought, I registered for the race thinking:
1. It will be good to get in my first road race for the year,
2. To psychologically get over this plantar nightmare,
3. To pace my friends so that they could run their target time.
I started practicing my 5:00/km runs and to my surprise, I still have the legs to reach the pace comfortably. Next, I was worried about covering 12km. I started to do lots of tempo runs on top of the interval sessions.
1 week before the race
We got together as a trio and practiced some race pace running with thought through some situations which might happen on race day. We came out with a drafting plan, ways to get around people and also race day strategy.
Race day
The day started out really cold and man, my body sure hate the cold now. Stiff muscles from the spasms (spinal cord injury) got me limping around. This is my first race where I wore a running jacket and I still felt that it wasn’t enough!! Brrrrr…
Went to the starting pen and me (bring a seasoned non-elite starter) started weaving through people and got us in a favorable starting position.
The race started with a huge downhill, which was great to get the legs moving. Had to hold back a little just to make sure we don’t kill ourselves too early in the race. Things were going pretty well and soon we reached my biggest fear of the race: the tunnel.
While we were in the tunnel, there were no GPS signal, no road markers and lots of bad ventilation. It was a pacer’s nightmare. Lots of runners doing random surges, huge fluctuation of pace in the field and all I could rely on was my innate metronome. This is one of the best tranferable skills I have gotten from being a musician.
“Just gotta keep my tempo. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8.” That’s all I was thinking while in that slightly under 2km tunnel. All I could hope for was that when we exit the tunnel, the GPS gets going and I wouldn’t be running blind. Or, for road markers to be present so I can do the old school manual lapping, to check my km splits. Neh. None of that happened. There was no road markers (till much later) and my garmin didn’t manage to re-connect itself. It was giving me heaps of weird information and I did was necessary (sacrificing my strava data), stopped the watch and started a new run, in hopes that it will get everything working. It was a tall order to think and perform all these while only having one good hand. Was really struggling to get my spasm-ed left hand to open up and tap on my Garmin620 (first world spinal patient problems). Still, got that done and I continued pacing.
We continued running with lots of weaving to do as the course has merged with the 21km runners. Lots of choke points, tight turns, grass patches and sandy construction sites with some port holes. It was good fun but highly stressful that I could have been running at a wrong pace and I had to keep surging to a minimum to prevent my trio from getting dropped off.
At long last, I saw the 9km marker and that when I realized I didn’t have a total running time (because I restarted my run earlier *face palm). I reached for the Garmin and went to have a look at the world time and assuming we flagged off at 9:00:00am, we were 25 s behind our 60min target! I literally panicked and wonder what is the best strategic move to do. It was extremely challenging because I had to consider how the crew was feeling and if they were able to speed up so late into the race. After a 10-s silent debate within me, I decided to speed up and chase for lost time. Rather take the gamble than to cross the line at 60:02
It was a crazy 2km but eventually everyone came in below 59mins. 2 personal bests for my friends and a season best for me. Looking back at the data from their strava, I realized I have been really consistent throughout the run, hovering between 4:50-5:00 most of the time. Great to know the good old innate metronome is still working well, syncing to the race tempo while training with my Garmin .  =)
It has been a tough 12 weeks for these 2 and I am so glad they completed their training, came to the race and collected their well deserved “report cards”. Also glad that I managed to finish the race, putting this plantar fasciitis nightmare behind me. 
As I always believe. Nil Sine Labore.

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Desperately trying to stay warm pre-race

Never thought it would have been that challenging to be a pacer, having to constantly make decisions on the go, not for myself, but for the crew I am bringing through. Great experience. Would definitely do this again if I am given the opportunity. Who knows.. First para-pacer in an official IAAF road race? Can definitely consider that when I retire. Haha.
Done and dusted with the first road race for 2017.

Still trying to stay warm after our post race celebrations.