trial run: WAC half

mystery route – original photo © https://pixabay.com/photos/road-fog-meadow-field-lane-lonely-4176019/

Last weekend we ran a trial of some of the hills along the Waterford AC Half-marathon route. Some additional off-route miles thrown in also to keep the workrate going. This week was all about as close to a trial run of the course as possible.

The final route was announced this week. Due to road closures the original route was not possible. Changes made to ensure safety of runners and to meet traffic management concerns. Some of the changes are quite welcome and others will add a little extra test to the route for the runners.

our trial run of the half-marathon route covered more or less the entire course with an extended finish and slightly altered start
our trial run of the half-marathon route covered more or less the entire course with an extended finish and slightly altered start

analysis

Target pace for the trial run was ~1:40 half-marathon pace or just under 7:40min/mile. Kept at conversation pace so that we wouldn’t neglect to soak up any of the segments, twists, turns, and of course hills. Observing exactly how much of a hit the hills had on pace, was the most crucial part of this trial effort.

steady running and attention given to the route means a proper trial well-run
steady running and attention given to the route means a proper trial well-run

Running off-pace doesn’t really provide a full impression of the impact. Your legs are fresher, you’re not struggling to hit target pace (or below), and you’re generally enjoying yourself. All the same, you can still tell a lot from this by the splits that you run below your off-pace target. Those are the banking sections – don’t forget them.

tidy charts with no surprises – plenty of climbing on this course though
tidy charts with no surprises – plenty of climbing on this course though

Good charts as one would hope from an off-pace trial. A little bit of peaky heart rate stuff going on around the hills. That’s ok though, we weren’t exactly crawling albeit not at race pace either. The elevation chart shows the extent of climbing for the route (ignore the last 15mins as this is not on the route).

mostly a zone-4 effort for the trial, I suspect lots of zone 5 come race day
mostly a zone-4 effort for the trial, I suspect lots of zone 5 come race day

summary

This half-marathon has always been (in)famous for the “hill”. Depending on the runner you speak with, this “hill” is either the one that came at the original mile 3 or the one that arrived at mile 10. The former being a punishing double-climb over ~0.75 miles when you’re just getting underway. The latter being a long ~0.75 miles continuous drag on tired legs.

This year, the route includes a new hill for all to enjoy. It’s roughly 0.6 miles and honestly, it looks like a ladder. A 30m climb over the 0.6 miles and what’s worse is that you can see it coming before you get to it.

We ran this trial route easy and took notes of the banking stretches. This is not a bad course overall but it is a thinking runners course. Nobody should turn up on the day without having prepared in some way with route maps, etc. Time can be saved on many of the mile splits; you will need to do so. Failure to bank time when opportunity presents will result in the loss of your goal time over the last 2 hills. The course is a great test and times will still be there for the taking. Fail to prepare…

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