Sub 1:20 Half Marathon

Heleneholm’s Half Marathon

Time: 1:19:19
Goal: Sub 1:20:00

On Saturday April 12th it was time to try out my running form and see if my speed training had paid off. This season is all about speed, pushing myself to be faster on the half marathon distance and below.


Since October my main focus has been to improve my speed and progressively increase the distance to be able to hold a 3:45 km/min pace fairly comfortably for the half marathon distance, 21.1 kilometers. I started with 5x3min (5min RBI) at 3:45 pace and slowly increased the time to 5x8min where I switched to 3x10min and up to 3x15min. Meanwhile I’ve been approaching my 10k race pace similarly, really pushing my threshold engine.


The race is at a comfortable 10:45 am so there is no early-bird, before-sunrise wake-up call. Instead I have a regular Saturday breakfast with the family. Then I drop off my son at my mother’s house since my wife has a race of her own at the hair stylist.

2014-04-12 10.10.37After a quick change, some chitchat with friends from my triathlon club and a warm-up of 6-8 minutes of light jogging and four race pace sprints it’s time to give it all. I line up at the front, thinking there aren’t that many that will shoot off at a 3:40 race pace. I am wrong. 20 guys charges off around the the track, two track laps before we head out on the two-loop road course.

Soon the group of lads disperse and I find myself running with a guy from the local running club (Heleneholms IF). We exchange some words about the weather conditions and agree that they are close to perfect. The sun is shining, there’s a soft breeze and the temperatures are typical for April, about 12 degrees Celsius.

I feel good. The 3:45 pace feels like a comfortable jogg. My new friend doesn’t agree and drop off, but soon enough I find another guy to hang with. He’s not from the local club, but also agrees on the fine weather. Let’s call him friend number two.

First half of the first loop is mostly uphill, something I notice clearly on the downhill on the later half. All of a sudden we are at 10 kilometers and I realize that I have a new personal best of 37:20 for 10 kilometers. I must be in good shape because I remember vividly how I felt after my 37:24 10 kilometer race last year.

Second lap starts good, but now I let friend number two take the lead. I have been in front of him almost the entire first lap. We pound on and at about 17 kilometers friend number two increases the pace slightly. His strength surprises me and for about 500 meters I follow him, but then I feel a sharp cramp in my inner right thigh. I take it down a notch but soon tries to catch up to him, but when I go faster than 3:45 pace my body says no. It’s like it has been programmed to only go at 3:45 pace. Well, I can’t blame it, that’s what I’ve been telling it for the last months. So I have to let friend number two go and switch back to cruise control of 3:45 pace.

Four kilometers of cruise control feels almost too easy to end a half marathon, but my inner right thigh doesn’t want to me go faster. I’ve never cramped during a half marathon and although I am happy with my time, I would have wished to suffer a bit more towards the end and really been able to dig deeper into my potential. Next time.

My GPS Garmin tends to be a bit faster on race courses
with many turns and corners…