Above are my power outputs whilst running the North London Half Marathon (HM) at the weekend. This HM is a hilly one (elevation also shown above) and so presumably the ideal place to use a power-running device like STRYD.
I’m not sure how hilly it is in the grand scheme of hilly HMs but, for me, it was hilly. To me a hill is running on a river tow path upstream.
As it happened I had a non-STRYD equipment malfunction which, to cut a long story short, meant that my Garmin 920XT stayed in the car and I ran my first ever race with a Polar V800 as well as my first ever race with a STRYD as well as my first ever RUN with a new energy drink – ASDA own-brand I think, times are hard! Because I only had the Polar then my ANT+ footpod was not going to work and so any allusions of obtaining accurate current pace were out the window as a result. Although having said that, the current pace for the V800 is probably better than the 920XT (both without footpods).
I had the vague notion that starting off at about 285w would be a good strategy. Having previously overdosed with CURRANZ, BEETROOT JUICE, BICARBONATE and CAFFEINE I felt rather good. So the strategy at the start line was ignored after about 600m and off I flew. Never a good sign.
The Wembley start was obviously great. I’ve not really spent any time at the new Wembley so was quite impressed with the ‘village’ area immediately next to the station. There was a great atmosphere and organisation as is usual at most of these kinds of events. Perri Shakes-Drayton started us off.
You can see from the race elevation graph that the hills are NOT trivial. Especially so when I ‘forgot’ about the one at about 5km and hence I wasn’t really expecting a hill until near the half-way point at the Allianz stadium. Grrr. Planning.
Running round the Allianz stadium, to be honest, just brought home the grim reality that the first half of hills were to be broadly repeated as we headed back. I had managed the first 3 hills on the way out quite well but the legs were going a bit. I’m not really a hills’ person; unless a carbon bike is involved…and it wasn’t. So my average mile-powers for the return leg were all lower than the overall average ie I went off quicker than I came back.
It was a very strange and enlightening experience racing with a power meter. Assume for a minute it was accurate. Going up the hills I was going REALLY slow with lots of people overtaking but cresting and going down the other side I was running REALLY quite fast going past lots of people. It seemed too slow going up and too fast going down. YET I was passing people going down that had passed me going up and they were usually panting and puffing and struggling.
Hmmmm. Food for thought.
Plenty of free Lucozade Sport and water and super-excited kids cheering didn’t speed me up although they did help forget the pain for a little while 🙂
Coming over a hill AND RUNNING DOWN IT (good) with Wembley in sight is a great feeling. The end is probably only 3km away or so at that point. THEN someone in the crowd shouting ‘Go for it, it’s all downhill from here…honest it really is!’ was a relief and I felt about 1kg lighter. Actually that was probably because I was 1kg lighter having left a copious trail of sweat over the previous 19km or so.
Someone else later shouting “1km to go. Go on empty the tank!” whilst motivational reminded me I needed the toilet. Thanks Mr Stranger for that.
Of course the earlier crowd member was fibbing a little as there is an uphill bit leading immediately up to the Stadium. It is nice running around the inside of Wembley. It is an impressive stadium. A sneaky little sprint finish and we were done. Nice.
I actually couldn’t believe my time which was 4 minutes faster than a comparable hilly HM I’d done at the end of last year. And I was probably fitter last year and the North London Half was definitely harder. So a hilly HM PB/PR ??!!?? Do they exist? I’ll take it anyway, not that I do many HMs…they are about 15km too far IMO.
So whilst I may have ignored my STRYD power-device quite a bit it MAY have been a factor in both pushing me on during the return leg AND tempering my efforts at the start as I do tend to be more familiar with 10k/5k (obviously, look at the URL of the site !!). 4 minutes faster is quite a bit. If I really had taken the power levels more seriously at the start I may well have run a minute or two quicker still. Interesting.
I ended up averaging 271.5w. So for the flat Hackney Half in a few weeks time I will probably aim higher than that but, to be honest, mostly ignoring the power and going by pace and feel.
Summary: Great race and organisation. Good time of year, well suited to a power-based running device.