April 26, 2014

SLO half marathon pre-race check-in

E and I drove down to Pismo/Shell beach on Friday.  It rained the whole drive, while we visited a local friend at her gymnastics gym, throughout dinner, and while we lounged in the hot tub after dinner.

And then, magically, just before we headed up, the weather cleared so we could enjoy a beautiful sunset overlooking the ocean from our hotel balcony.

We were in bed, asleep by 10 PM or so.  Oh, how an ideal date night has changed over the years...

This morning, I headed out for a quick 2 mile shakeout.  I did drills, 1/2 mile easy, a mile at target race pace (which felt good, effort wise), and a 1/2 mile cool down easy.  This ritual has worked for me in the past -- to help myself lock in to target pace the day before, and to ensure my legs don't feel sluggish at the start.

After the run, E and I hit up the hotel breakfast (I downed a liter of pelligrino), I went to the expo with my aunt (her first, she's a fan of Cliff Mocha shots), bought some good gear at 50% off, enjoyed a delicious cafe brunch, and took a tour of a tortoise and turtle preserve.  (Photos later).

We booked a hotel near the start downtown for tonight, so we checked in and I read and took a nap
(an auspicious sign, since I typically don't sleep that well the night before a race, having a good 9 hours last night plus a nap today is great!).

We enjoyed a delicious pasta dinner with my aunt and uncle, and now I'm trying to set reasonable goals for tomorrow so that I can execute on a smart race.

Turns out, it's a bit complicated to guess how tomorrow will (or should) play out.

The good:
-I've strung together 10 weeks averaging 29.5 miles/week since my last half marathon.
-I've lost 5-6 pounds since my last half marathon.
-The weather is supposed to be almost perfect for me --  48F at the start, 53F max at the finish.  Partly cloudy with a 20% chance of showers, 5-6 mph NNW wind (meaning crosswinds with a net minimal headwind on the way out and a minimal net tailwind on the way back)
-my 10K effort indicated I was in decent shape three weeks ago, and according to McMillan should translate to a 2:10 half marathon without too much trouble.
-taking half of Friday and all of Saturday to relax and prepare for the race is a luxury I rarely get to indulge in, and one that I assume will pay benefits in the race
-my aunt is going to be somewhere between miles 4 and 6 at the top of the hardest climb, waiting with a sign, Gatorade, and able to take my jacket (which I typically just tie around my waist once I warm up on a cold day)
-I carb-loaded fairly well all week, doing much better to pay attention to simpler carbs than I normally do

The bad:
-I haven't really had a good long run at anything close to what I'd like to target as race pace in this whole build-up.  The closest I can get is a 12 miler at 11:23 w/F, but that was on a *very* flat course.
-The hills on this course are insane. Last time, they killed me.
-My last long run was 9 miles with Jen and F, and the climb and descent were extremely difficult for me, resulting in a high-effort 11:14 pace.  I will be encountering more climb and descent than we did on that run in the first 4 miles of this course and it keeps going from there.
-Even with the lost weight, I'm still not back in my ideal 10 lb range, which means I'm still carrying more weight than I am used to racing with.
-I thought I had a reasonable A goal, but when I looked back to last year while running the full, I missed it by 4 minutes and I was much more fit back then.  Granted, it was a full, and it was very windy, but still, I didn't realize the goal was so ambitious.

So, after a bit of additional thought, here are my goals in order of attainability:

1.  To finish a good effort solid half marathon and *not* completely blow up at the end.  The main goal here is to ensure that tomorrow's run is a building block for the 1/2 marathon I'm running in Spokane in 3 weeks with my sister (which is relatively flat and net downhill).  I will re-assess my approach around mile 4 and slow down as much as I think is required to be sure I hit this one.   

2.  To negative split.

3.  To beat my Kaiser time of 2:20ish. (10:41/mile pace)

4.  To beat 2:15. (10:18/mile pace)

5.  To hit 2:10. (9:55/mile pace)

And now, to hydrate and read until I fall asleep...

Good luck to everyone racing tomorrow!

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