Sunday, April 13, 2014

Prague Half Marathon 2014 - Race Report

Prague Half Marathon was my first true race and first test of my form in 2014. Which obviously resulted in me being very anxious and excited about the race :) Since mid 2013 I have been taking my training and dedication to running to another level. That led to the volumes and speeds that would have been unimaginable even a year ago. Peaking at my first ever running training camp in Portugal :)

When I found myself sitting face to face with my mental coach on Thursday evening in full taper mode two days before the race I was ... puzzeled, nervous, did not know what to do with myself! Did not really reace since Berlin in September!!! I would like to thank Jirka here for helping me to put myself back together, trusting in what I invested in my training in the past months ... basically managing taper madness (I have written some taper tips when getting ready for Prague 2012).

To the race now ... I was really excited to go rock'n'roll. The Coach (the one thats puts my physicall training together) was little anctious about me being rested and recovered enough afther the very very intense training camp. I thought he was exaggerating - lesson learnt: The Coach is usually right. Way more often than I am, but I have to learn my lessons the hard way. I didn't talk with many people about my goals, but it was set inside my mind to go sub 1:30. Well, there have been few warning signals: Wednesday and Thursday I was feeling like being on the edge of getting a flu. Here I can prove how strong the mental attitude is. I simply pumped up the vitamins, fruits etc. and put in my head that being sick is not an option! This part worked out pretty wall.

Secret weapons for the race: Nike LunaRacer3 & brand new Royal Bay compression calf sleeves!

I also monitor my morning resting heart rate quite regularly, especially in the high intensity times and coming to a race. My resting heart rate is usually around 45-47, 42-44 when I am in the best shape and goes up to 50 when I am getting sick or am really tired and on the edge of overtraining. Well Thursday, Friday and Saturday it was 50. I tried to ignore it, didn't even tell The Coach.

Race morning coming up. I sticked with my usual routine. Apart from waking up one and half hours earliere than planned ... well I was nervous :) Chia seed "pudding" with bananas and finally Nespresso with caffeine and no decaf for breakfast. I was off for warm up with The Coach and Bohdan who trains with him as well (and did amazing 1:30:07 in the Prague Half!). Felt great during the warm up except that it was way colder than the original weather forcast promised.

After the warm up it was quick, back home to get warmer, luckily mom drove me to the start, so no public transport :) I was there little more than half an hour ahead of start, not much to do. Ran into few friends which was a pleasant distraction. I was really cold after the warm up so thinking about taking arm warmers, but luckily decided not to. It was warm enough in the race. As for the fueling I had about 2 scoops of Generation UCAN with protein about 1 hour before the race and then 1 scoop just before the start. Very happy with this option as I only drank water during the race and had no stomach issues!!! Finally, halelujaaaah :)

So there we were at the start, lining up in the A corral just behind the elites ... that feels pretty exciting. Wanted to stick around the 1:30 pacer, met with the ever present Enrico who as usual told me he would run little slower than I wanted and then ran away at 4th km :D And then we were running. Even in the front corral it was pretty crowded, but definitely much easier to run and not to shuffle pace too much. I did not want to be distracted by my Garmin too much. Unfortunately, I ignored it too much ... First mile at 6:54 (4:18 min/km) was little faster than expected, but still OK, but then ... 6:43 (4:10 min/km) and 6:32 (4:03 min/km) !!! At this stage I was sticking with the 1:30 pacer and that was my mistake I guess. This was way too fast for me for the beginning of a race. I am a true endurance monster and need an easy warm up ...

Just around 10 km mark ... things are getting hard...

Miles 4-6 6:49, 6:52, 6:55 (4:14, 4:16, 4:17 min/km) ... after the 10 km mark I started to "get it". To acknowledge my mistake and feeling that the pace was suddenly feeling much harder than it should have been. Same as at the beginning the pace felt really easy and I did not control myself to hold it in for the later stages of the race. From the half way point, it was hard work. Mentally and physically, when running along the Čechův bridge, which is where you come back just about 1.5 km before finish, I felt like finishing here. I guess you have this moment in any race where you just want to quit. Fortunately, I got distracted by Bohdan (the athlete that is trained by my coach as well) coming from behind. He started further behind, so I tried to stick with him and he adjusted his pace to help me. So as I am writing this I am getting aware that I was probably the cause for him not doing the sub 1:30 as he did 1:30:07 ... He helped me a ton! Not letting me to slow down, I was concentrating on sticking with him for about a mile or two and then let him go, did not want to slow him down.

Coming to the 15 km marker is where you kind of turn and go back to finish. There were two great runners Láďa and Péťa cheering on and taking pictures. That cheer up helped me a ton honestly!!! Thank you guys! Little side note about the atmosphere. Honestly I was really upset, such a silent and "boring" race. I had my name printed on my chest, at any foreign race you have total strangers cheering up for you. Not here, I got only cheered by people who knew me and also got few of rare, let's go girl! As there were not that many female runners at this moment.

Thank you Láďa & Petra for this photo!!!

Once you cross that bridge just after 15 km, you come back through office buildings and open fields and there is usually strong head wind, which was not the case here. Thank God! So putting one foot ahead of the other. Little rolling hills here and a lady looking really strong overtook me just before entering the tunnel just about 3 km before finish (who knew she was gonna beat me in 10 km next week and be the only one to run faster than I did). I looked over my shoulder and I don't know if there was another female runner or not, but I had a feeling like it was. And I know myself and know that this is the best motivation. It is tough to handle someone overtaking you when you cannot stick with them, but having someone closing up on you who had put too much energy to close up so if you can surge a little you still safe keep your spot. So this is what I did.

For the last 3-5 km I had again trouble breathing or felt like my sports bra was little too tight. I have never ever this problem in training and I guess it is because I never exert such a high intensity in training for that long, or I don't know. But I am totally getting a bigger bra to run the Prague Marathon in ... I was able to speed up for the last 500 m at least a little, but as you can see on the photo below, I was really spent at the finish:

After getting over being upset for not scoring the 1:30, I became really happy about coming in 629th overall out of over 8 thousand people who finished the race, 39th woman and 21st Czech female :) And knocking down over 5 minutes from my personal best is not that bad either. Lesson learned, way better to go out too fast in half marathon than to do it in a month time in the full marathon that I have been getting ready for all the winter months. Outcome: I can't wait to race the Prague Marathon on May 11!!!

Here is the link to my Garmin activity file:

As I write this week from the race, my form definitely went up after the race, so The Coach was right and there was not enough time to recover after the intense training camp ... another lesson for me :) 10 more days to work hard and then taper for Prague Marathon!!!


  1. AGAIN: CONGRATS!! you are amazing!

  2. In HM you cannot take off at you 10k pace. Your got tired and could not hold you form, you look to be overstridding, heelstriking, your head tilting:

    You should instead look like this all the way to the finish line:

    1. Thank you for the analysis, it is a pity you did not sign the post. As I stated in the recap, I am pretty aware of those things :) But thanks to pointing it out anyway.

  3. Takže jsem si to konečně přečetla :). Ten běh je teda věda ... ještě jednou klobouk dolů!

    A neboj, toho 11.5. tam určitě budeme!

    1. Děkujůůůů, a už se na vás 11. 5. těším, ať si Emma připraví hlasivky (o Tadeáše se nebojím) :)

  4. I have read this report and mostly runners get Marathon coaching for upcoming events. Thank you for share great experience with us.