In terms of analyzing the race on Sunday, I don't think there's too much more to be said - essentially I believe my immediate synopsis of the race was accurate:
1. I went out too fast and probably lost some time slowing up too abruptly to allow the best runner to get to the lead around the 2nd turn.
2. The 2nd 200m was good. Overall my first lap of about 58.4 was a second or so faster than ideal, but all of this was from the opening 200m
3. I didn't run 70-80% of both turns aggressively enough on lap #2
4. My 2nd lap time of about 66.8 was WAY too slow. (however I estimate that at least 1-second of this was due to being unprotected against the wind coming down the home stretch in lane-2) I was 1:31 at 600m, and I know damn well that my last 100 was pretty decent. Yes the turn wasn't run as aggressively as it should have been, but there's no way that final 200m was 34-seconds w/o the wind playing a factor.
The slow 2nd lap was therefore due to a combination of factors: going out too fast on lap #1, not being aggressive enough, and the strong winds.
I'm not going to fault myself too much for any of this as you have to assume some errors will be made in the first race. Overall I'm very happy w/ the performance , I'm just looking at how I'd like to make some adjustments for next time. I believe that at my present fitness level I should try to run the race w/ 400m splits of 59.5/64.5 which would give me a 2:04. (obviously any improvements on that would certainly be welcome!)
Why not shoot for even splits? A couple of reasons - first, most if not all of the PRs of the top guys were set w/ the first lap being faster than the second. Typically the first lap is about 3-seconds faster than the second lap in these cases. Secondly, the more of a "speed" runner you are (i.e. the less of an endurance based or "strength" runner) the more important it is to run the first lap faster. I've seen this written in several texts/articles discussing 800m race strategy. Clearly at this point, I am much more a speed runner than a strength runner. I've seen it written that you don't want to have lap #2 be more than 5-seconds slower than lap #1, so I'll do my best to make the adjustments each race until I am under this limit.
The speed/strength discussion brings me to the final piece of information I got from this race - my speed may be slightly ahead of where I thought it was. I purposely slowed down at about 185m to allow the top runner to get to the lead prior to the turn, and I was still at or under 27-flat for the first 200m. Yes this was wind aided to some degree, but I wasn't going that hard here - had I been running a 400m instead of an 800m, that first 200 would have been in the 25.8-26.0 range. Assuming my 200 splits would be similar to those of yesteryear (meaning somewhere around 2.5 seconds slower for the 2nd 200m) that would give me a 400m time of low 54's. Certainly not a great time by any stretch, but w/o the benefit of any sprint work, plyometrics, heavy power exercises for legs, etc - this wouldn't be a bad time.
I told myself a while ago that if it were possible for me to run a 53.x 400m, I'd start dedicating a portion of my training for this event. I plan on adding plyos and power exercises to my training anyway after this season is over to help my 800m speed. If it seems like I can get under 54 for the 400m, I may adjust next year's focus from 800m/1500m training to 400m/800m.
I'm definitely enjoying my 800m training - I find the combination of distance work, threshold work, speed training, lifting, hills, lactate tolerance training etc to be a great way to improve overall fitness, and this diversified training always keeps things fresh and interesting . . . . . but for my money there is no race distance in the world more enjoyable than the 400m. It has always been far and away my favorite distance to race (even though I was a better 100m runner than 400m runner back in HS) I'd consider a good time for a 40-44yo to be in the 52.5-52.8 range, and I'd be a far cry from that - but if I can get under 54-flat, I'll start racing this event simply because I enjoy it so much.
Thurs, 5/28: Core work, abs, stretching rolling. 35-minutes x-train on the bike.