Nine days. Count’em. That’s one day less than ten days. Drumming my fingers on my desk…..
Okay – so honestly – it’s time to start filling in the blanks for race day. There are two things that are missing right now – my race plan and my evening before and morning of plans. today I’ll make an attempt to tackle the first half of my race plan – the Start Line and my Pace Plan.
First things first. I’m old enough now to realize that once you get out of school, plagiarism is acceptable. Interestingly enough, have you tried to Google “Marathon Race Plan”? Nada. No wonder marathons are getting so popular. You can’t go anywhere and see all those things you really need to think about before tackling one. There’s a lot out there on race strategies, training plans, and the like, but nothing that succinctly puts it together in one place. Even though my marathon experience is limited, now that I’ve done it a couple times I know there are a few things that I can do to (a) reduce my pre-race stress, and (b) maximize my intended performance. Here goes:
Start line plan: I am the type of person who really needs to start the day out right. If I stress myself here, the rest of the day will be hell. But, this is a delicate balance. If I arrive too early, then I spend my time thinking about what is about to happen. If I arrive too late, then I stress about not having enough time to properly prepare. Here is the plan for this marathon:
- Arrive in my corral 20 minutes pre-start. This means I need to be in the start area with my pace group at 7:05 AM. This also means that I should be in the porta potty line around 6:45 to make sure I am adequately “watered”.
- Find somewhere to sit. Stay off my feet. Find the pace group. then find a place to sit.
- Relax. Visualize. At least try to relax. Visualize the proper pace. DO NOT start thinking about the course, mile 3, mile 6, etc.
- Stand up 5 minutes prior to scheduled start. 7:19 AM.
Race pace: Lots is written. Execution is the key. The big question here of course is the proper pace and the proper pacing strategy. My first marathon doesn’t count because I had no idea what I was doing. My second marathon I tried to keep an even pace from start to finish. That lasted about 14 miles.
I’ve been talking to a lot of people in my running club about this point in particular. There are two schools of thought. One says stay slow for the first half, then pick up just a few seconds per mile. This camp says I should pick the 5:00 pace group and go with them to the half, and then pick it up from there. The second camp says run comfortably for the first half and then decide what to do from there.If my goal is 4:30, then run with the 4:30 group and see where things lead you after the first half. The one thing they both agree on is that if the first half is uncomfortable, then rest of the race will not be better.
The best pacing plan I’ve seen lately was one done by Lisa (Discovering the Meaning of Stonehenge (a runner's journey)) for her recent sub-4 PR at Surf City. The key quote:
“Yes, there is the chance that I could have gone out at 8:50 and continued to be strong throughout and gone on to hit my BQ time of 3:50. But I didn't want to chance it. I have no regrets on how I ran this race.”
Wow. There it is. My entire professional life I’ve been trained in the discipline of the plan. Make a plan and stick with it. Don’t make a plan and deviate, unless you have planned the contingencies. A marathon is tough enough. To have to think about contingencies on the course won’t make it easier.
So here is my pacing plan:
- First half: I have signed up to go with the 4:30 pace group. Start. Cruise. Slow down. And then when things feel okay, slow down more. Keep the pace group in sight. DO NOT get out in front of them.
- Second half (up to 20 miles): Keep the pace group in sight. Cruise some more. At mile 15, focus on 3 mile segments. Make it through the 18 mile distance that was problematic in training (Yikes! How did that doubt filter itself in?)
- Third half (past mile 20): HTFU. Push just a little bit. Let the pace group go. Focus on turnover and breathing. Focus on the next three mile segments. Only two left – miles 21 and 24. Don’t focus on the Garmin. Don’t focus on other runners. Don’t focus on those passing me or those I am passing. Focus on the feel. Daniel-san. Booleezoo in. Booleezoo out. Koolozoo eyes. Relax.
- Finish strong. Arms up. Shoulders back. Don’t forget to SMILE!!!!!!
Tomorrow – food and drink.