I have the advantage that I have done the "Fling" before. Twice. Still, I do not know what my finishing time will be. To tell you the truth: The optimist in me is expecting a huge massive juicy PB. But the more pessimistic part of my personality does not even finish the race. Frankly I have experiences with both: massive PB's and DNF's. And I can live with that.
Back to my previous post. As a reference point to measure my race pace during the coming event I choose Rowardennan. It it almost half way and there are splits which can be used and abused for comparison.
That "half way" point is a very important milestone in Marathon Races for example. And I found it always useful first of all to "be there". That is half the work is done - phew!!
Secondly I can check how I feel, and how fast I am. Measured from that data both the subjective feeling and the objective time I can make a prediction about the second part of the race.
If I reach half way point in a fast time, but feel exhausted then I know I am in trouble! So I do work towards half way point with the objective to feel OK when I get there.
For the Fling that means to find a half way point. I would not take that from the actual horizontal distance. Rowardennan is not that half way point. Don't get me wrong, there are drop bags and support and there are useful splits taken which is all important. But it is not the half way point. The second half of the race is harder than the first half. So I would go for another few miles before I allow myself to think that the first half is done.
There is an inspiring discussion initiated by Hardmoors 55 winner Stuart Mills.
His Slightly provocative motto "Run as fast as you can, while you can!" Stuart Mills (2010) sparked fierce discussions amongst ultra runners.
If that motto would come from a 100 meter runner, a 200 meter runner or even a 10k runner, no one would actually bother commenting on that.
But as far as the ultra running community is concerned the opposition seems to fear for the lives of the innocent inexperienced runner who would pick up that motto and ran straight into hell and never come back. But let's be honest, what's the worst what could happen?
But the male species in particular has that motto in its genes and bloodstream anyway. Starting slow is not sexy. It's boring, almost embarrassing. No one has to tell the young inspired male first time marathoner to start fast. He will start fast anyway. And so will the novice ultra distance runner.
I would still plead for the evenly paced run. Let's have another look at the "elite" runners. Due to the lack of decent half way splits in ultra races let's take Berlin 2009:
What does that tell us?
Firstly a group of six runners passed half way in almost the same time (that group was actually much bigger than that but many of those runners had to drop that pace). And guess what, in that group all of them went too fast apart from Francis Kiprop. This is just how races go. You do not follow your splits. You follow a group of runners. As simple as that.
Furthermore Haile Gebrselassie slowed down significantly in the second half. But he still won the race. So what does that tell us? Should he have started slower? No. Because he was going for the World Record. And he knew (trust me on that) that he had to start that fast if he wanted to maintain a chance to break the WR.
All that does not tell us too much about the right pacing, does it? Some slow down and win, some speed up in the second half and only come in second. Confused?
What is obvious however if you look at the overall common relation between first and second half of the race for all those runners is the fact that we are not looking at almost randomly scattered dots requiring computers of the size the Met Office is using to analyse that mess.
We can see CLEARLY that the pace gradient for all those runners is an almost straight line. And even with some runners running the second half faster than the first the overall conclusion must be that the first and the second half is evenly paced.
There are ten thousands of runners starting the first half slower. And there is big money to win! So why did no one catch up? So much for the theory of starting slow.
Evidently the ratio between first and second half is between 48 and 50%. Which is, lets be honest. Half/half.
I am convinced that running an even pace MUST be the answer to long distance races. Muscle efficiency, breathing, blood flow, organs, stomach, brain, why should that complex system work better when it has to serve both a slow and then a fast moving body?
That applies for a fast start and slow finish (Stuart Mills) as much as for a slow start and a fast finish (Peter D.).
Still, what is that ideal pace then? On race day that is? For me? What are my splits?
Frankly the trouth could be in both theories. My subjective feeling could tell me I am going slow (but in fact I am not). Or I feel to go too fast, but in fact don't.
I just don't know...