I have participated in Tassuralli the previous year. I remember that I have not prepared enough. I felt hungry and exhausted my strength. This year I was better prepared and improved the time a lot. Now it is 1:50:36, a staggering 13 minutes better than last year.
Since early March I was running on Sundays and one time during working days in the forest, approximately 15 kilometers each time. This year the spring is colder but there is more sunshine. Thus the running is more enjoyable. Learning lessons from the past, proper eating was another important component of preparation. I consumed a lot of kebabs, meat steaks, and hamburgers.
On the day of the run I woke up to see the sun shining in the window. The sky was clear. It is an enjoyable feeling when you wake up and you realize that today something good will happen, that whatever obstacles you will face you will make it. The first problem was the missing bus. On Sundays their number is reduced but I found that out only one hour before the train to Seinajoki. So I had to run from home to a distant bus stop to take a different bus. Other than this, I arrived to the starting line quite comfortably.
There were lots of people, I think twice as many as there were last year. Learning another lesson, I started in the head of the pack to avoid unnecessary overtaking. However, those guys were really fast and ignoring a common wisdom that you should never start a long run fast I started at 4min/km pace which is too fast compared to 5-6 min/km, my average pace at the half-marathon.
So the odds were that I would not make it after quick start or that I will slow down in the end as it happened earlier. But I survived.
The race included two laps, 10 km each. Another difficulty was the lack of drinks, simple water. They gave us juice after 5 km and that was it. I expected refreshments after completing first lap, that is 10 km, but there was nothing! Ugh-ogh, I continued without stopping. The wind was blowing into the face, but I had to maintain the pace of 5-6 min/km because I wanted to improve the result. Overall, the tactics that I chose was quite risky. I wanted to run as long as possible at the higher pace of 5min/km, then slowing down to 6 min/km. But the danger of this approach is slowing down too much. That is, after making an initial effort you think, oh well I only need to recover doing 6 min/km and then I will accelerate again. But in practice the recover only slows you down entirely.
Anyway, in the second lap I was doing 6min/km until I arrived at the same spot where they had drinks earlier. Fortunately, the drinks were available on the second lap as well. I continued at the average pace of 6min/km to the final stretch of the distance that included hills. At the mark of 20 km the time was 1:44 but ahead of me were hills that I was climbing easily during the first lap but would I make it during the second lap? In addition to all the troubles my lace was undone! I stopped, fixed the lace and then continued. But the precious time was lost. I climbed the hills using all my strength only to see the electric watch showing 1:49:50 at the final stretch. I had to make those 100 meters to the finish line in 10 seconds like a world champion.
Loosing with pride, I only made it when the clock showed 1:50:05. Then I found out that that was not the finish line, there was another turn and a different clock. I walked that distance in another half-minute laughing. After the race I was recovering during four days. Only now am I able to write this post. The race was exhausting but I am quite happy. Aiming at another half-marathon and breaking the magical 1:50:00 time that I have approached very closely.
The results are here.