Before every race, I write a post about what I want to accomplish in a race and how I’m going to get there. For once, I’m kind of at a loss. I have absolutely no idea how Sunday’s half marathon is going to go and I don’t have a real strategy.
The last half marathon I ran was actually this same race, 1 year ago. It’s been a while since I raced 13.1 miles on foot other than at Oceanside 70.3. My PR at the half marathon distance was at AFC last year 1:52:24, which was about 10 minutes less than my time on that same course 1 year earlier. Last year at AFC I remember Asia and I saying that we would like to shave another 10 minutes off for the 2012 race, assuming we’d have a great chance after a year of hardcore endurance training for a marathon, half Ironman and full Ironman. Well as I’m sure you’ve gathered, the hopes of running a sub 1:45 half marathon (one of my 2012 goals) at AFC this weekend have been dashed due mostly to a more lengthy than expected Ironman recovery as well as general lack of interest in training.
My perception of my race performance at AFC this year has gone through highs and lows. Once I realized that sub 1:45 would have to wait, I thought maybe sub 1:50 could happen. Then I decided if I PR I’ll be happy. Then I decided I probably won’t PR. Then I went back to Sub 1:50. Asia and I usually have a goal in mind and we try to keep our pace steady for the entire race. The last two times I ran AFC I learned that the final 2 miles of the race are always slower than every other mile due to the pretty significant hill going up Broadway and 6th avenue. So in order to achieve any type of goal at this race, I need to run a few seconds/mile under my goal race pace to make up for the slowing at the end. For a sub 1:50, which requires an 8:24 average, this would mean that my first 10 miles should be closer to 8:15-20 (also to make up for the fact that I always cover more than 13.1 miles due to turns, etc). Not a single one of my training runs post-Ironman has been in this range and I only was able to get in one speed work session (4 Yasso 800s, all at about a 7:30ish pace). In fact, most of my post-Ironman runs have been in the mid to high 9 min/miles. Not looking good.
The heat is also not helping – I know we sound like idiots for complaining about weather in the high 80s but we aren’t used to such conditions! In addition to “extreme heat,” San Diego has been unusually humid – about 80-90% humidity. I return from even the shortest training runs soaked in sweat.
So, my #1 goal for this race is to HAVE FUN.
As for my pace, Asia and I keep going back and forth on this one. We kind of decided we’ll just go out at our sub-1:50 pace and see how it feels. If it’s miserable, we’ll slow down, but if we feel good, we’ll go with it. If we completely fall apart at mile 10 because we pushed it too hard, oh well. At least we tried!
A new nutrition/hydration strategy I have for this race is to carry a plastic water bottle with a Nuun tablet in it at the start. Since it will be hot and humid, I’ll be losing electrolytes through sweat like Woah and I’m not sure my 1 Gu every 40 min nutrition plan is going to be enough to compensate. I never drink the sports drink on the course at races because I don’t train with it so carrying Nuun to drink for the first half of the race will help. Also, since it’ll be so hot, I really need to make sure I’m hydrated and it’s hard to get down a solid amount of water when you are drinking out of a Dixie cup while running, or even if you slow to walk for that matter. Dixie cups were made for small children to use to drink while brushing their teeth, not for athletes attempting to run 13.1 miles in the heat.
So here goes nothing….
this has sort of been my outlook with the portland marathon. my heart just hasn’t been into training enough to make it a PR attempt, and i think i’m finally ok with that. there will be other chances!
just my 2 cents on hydration – you might give salt caps a try as an electrolyte replacement. it’s definitely not a bad idea to carry your own water, but s caps are convenient, especially in races, because you just take them with plain water and can rely on the aid stations. although, like you mention, sometimes those dixie cups are just not enough!
good luck this weekend!