With less than 72 hours left to go before my next half, it’s time to try something new and strategize. For all my previous races, the extent of my strategizing has been to read the info email and figure out where and where to stand. Once the gun goes off, I follow the rest of the runners and listen to my body for when I need to hydrate, refuel or make a quick toilet stop.
I was looking at my Strava training log and admiring the green dots for every workout when I realized that I was doing myself a disservice by following a training plan religiously but not planning for the race itself. After all, isn’t the entire point of the training plan to not only complete the race, but to do so to the best of my abilities? With that in mind, I’ve taken the challenge to research and strategize before I even pack my gear. Although there are a lot of factors out of my control, I can do my best to prepare for them.
One of my most used complaints when running is “Why is it so hot?” or the its counterpart “Why is it so cold today?” When preparing for a race, if the weather will be cold, layers are a safe bet. If the weather will be hot, layers are most likely a no go. In my case, I am expecting a semi hot race day.
Southern California is in the middle of a heat wave. The temperature has gone as high as 103 this week. Besides making use of my trusty sunglasses and hat, I will make sure to not forget sunscreen. There are 6 aid stations along the course (2 of which are passed twice), so water should not be an issue. I have been prioritizing hydration this week. I’ve also
There is not much that can be done at this point from a training standpoint. This week has been taper week. Monday morning I woke up with a sore throat so my taper week has been even easier. I’ve been resting and staying hydrated. On Wednesday, I finally felt well enough to work out, I walked 2 miles on the treadmill at a brisk pace. For the next three days (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) I’m planning on running 2 - 3 miles at an easy pace to keep my legs active but rested for Sunday.
On the nutrition side of things, there is a lot I can do to prepare. I did not fuel enough for my first ever half marathon, and I suffered from mile 7 until the finish. For the second attempt, I made sure to eat a few extra carbs in the days leading up to the race. That time I made it to mile 10 before I started to suffer.
This week, I have increased my carb intake and have kept myself well hydrated. I have established a fuel habit before the long runs in my training. About an hour before the run, I eat about 200 calories of carbs and water. I do not take caffeine before I run. I plan to follow the same protocol on Sunday.
The course & pacing
The race organizers have provided a course description, elevation graph, and rest stop list on their website. Knowing where the hills will allow me to adjust my pace accordingly.
From the elevation graph, the net elevation gain is not very high. The fastest gain is ~50 feet in over a quarter of a mile (4%). Overall, the course has two “valleys” and two “hills.” Even though the “hills” are pretty tame, I am concerned that their length (~4.5 miles and 1.7 miles) will lead to a slow burnout. To prevent this, I will need to manage my pace to not tire myself out and use the “valley” segment to recover. Aid stations at miles 3.2 and 6.5 will be on my must visit list.
From my training, I have completed most of my long runs at a 12:30 min/mile pace. This will be my target pace for the race. That places my finish time at 2:43:00.
Post race: recovery and celebration
This is the part of the race that I have least planned. Besides taking a shower and eating at a ramen place in nearby Little Tokyo, I have no plans.