But is that often difficult and painful second half of a Marathon or "Ultra Marathon" not part of the experience? Is the Marathon or Ultra Runner not looking for trouble? Is digging deep not what we want? A self inflicted self enforced self experience? And what is the worst that could happen?
Back to the Highland Fling: I had a good race last year. In particular the last section went well. Too well? There was no real struggle, but also no self experience. In deed I came to the conclusion that I had started too slow!
There are a variety of rules and theories to measure, compare and predict the "right" pace. Some say that you cannot start slow enough and to a certain extend this is good advise for beginners and experienced runners alike. As long as make the "cut" to the first check point and you are not disqualified because you have exceeded the maximum time limit.
There is evidence that a fast start and even a very fast start can be a good choice. Do not try this at home though I have to add since it can go wrong and spoil your chances if you do not know exactly what you are doing.
There is a general consensus however that a race should be paced evenly. And even a "negative" split becomes more and more popular as the "right" way to pace your race. But it does not seem to be in most of the humans nature to perform that way. You always start a race fresh and (hopefully) without pain. And inevitably during a long or very long race the body will suffer and wants to slow down.
What do the masters do? The winners?
Most of them will show the capability of sustain even splits. They still go fast though. Very fast in comparison to the mortal average runner. But if you put the numbers in the right correlation you may be able to compare yourself with one of those masters and follow his example.
Those splits from last year show that my race was in fact paced exactly like Jez'. And although it felt I was going too slow in the first half I was probably not. An interesting lesson.
But what would have happened if I had started a little bit faster then? I will NEVER know.
This year I will probably start the race very similar. The subjective feeling of running "too slow" should still be there. But I am hoping to go quicker. Just because I hope I have progressed since last year. Eg my running economy is better now. I will find out.