I am writing this on behalf of my girlfriend. Who had a small problem we would like to get your views about (the answer is probably pretty simple, specially if you take into account the very last consideration I am going to make, but we still feel curious about other people's personal experiences).
- She is 28, and quite small and light (155cm, and 50 kg)
- She used to be in a running team as a teenager, moved to swimming and other sports for some years and has been back to running for two full years now.
- She has run six half marathons in these two years and a lot of 5k-10k races. She can run 5k in 24minutes, 10k just under 50 min and the half marathon just under 1hour 48 minutes (last sunday)
Last sunday, we were running a half marathon and I was setting the pace for her. The first goal was to improve her PB (1h 50min) but we were pretty confident that she had improved way further than that.
- We woke up early and had a good breakfast 2 hours before the start of the race, as we usually do.
- The weather was very good for running, not cold but overcast, so as the minutes passed it was really confortable, we even got some sun but not too much heat. There was very little wind.
- We started "slow", that is 1h50min pace. She felt confortable.
- She drank a little water at km 5 and 10, ate a little gummy bear at km 8
- At km 10 we picked up the pace a little (5-10 seconds/km faster). She still felt well. At km 13 she ate the second soft candy. At 15 she drank a little again. All of this is standard practice for her at half marathon.
- At km 15 we had planned to pick up the pace a little more but inmediatly after we did she had trouble adjusting, her breath became a little laboured.
- We decided to keep the pace we had been running before and her breath went back to normal.
- A couple of km later (km 17.5) she started feeling pain in both her quadriceps, not cramping but general muscle soreness (similar to what you get on the day after you overdo your run).
- We slowed down a little (15/20 second/km) and finished with what was still a very good mark (and her PB), but she did feel some pain in the last part of the race.
- Final consideration, there have been quite a lot of people at her workplace with the flu lately and in the afternoon after the race her temperature was slightly high. Since then she has been coughing and sneezing frequently, so it is a pretty safe bet that her body was not at its best two days ago, but I still would like to know your views on this in case I am missing something important.
5k: 20:12 (December 31st 2012)
10k : 44:30 (November 6th 2011, March 18th 2012)
Half Marathon: 1:35:27 (February 3rd 2013)
I like half marathons! Seven completed so far and trying to get back on optimal shape to improve my PB. Once I complete my 10h half I will start thinking about full marathons.
You've taken careful notes and made adjustments along the way, but you've probably answered your own question. The body has only so much energy to spread around between athletics and immune response, so a whole truckload of gummy bears would probably not have helped her to push any harder.
Any time I hear that somebody is looking to set a PR, I can safely assume that two things are around the corner: overtraining and weakening of the immune system. Either could produce the results you describe, and both together almost surely will. The elevated temperature, labored breathing, and lack of the big boost in performance you were anticipating, are to be expected.
So rest up, don't be too hard on yourselves for being human, and live to fight another day. Maybe next time out will deliver the numbers you are looking for, but patience is key. Good luck!