It’s finally here – race week! Despite the nerves that I talked about in my last post (thanks for all your encouraging responses!), I’m very excited about this weekend. I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time and, so far, things are coming together nicely for a good day in Virginia Beach. Here are a few things that are on my mind this week:
The course: The Shamrock course is just about as flat as they come – this profile provided by the race organizers shows only about 10-15 feet of elevation gain over the course of 26 miles. The two peaks near miles 2 and 9.5 represent the Rudee Bridge that I’ll cross on the first out-and-back portion. After Mile 10 the course climbs very gradually for about 9 miles. Then comes the steady 7-mile downhill grade to the finish line. Mentally this is a nice boost – I can tell myself that if I can only make it to Mile 19 strong, the course works in my favor for the last, critical 10k.
The course includes a lot of wiggles and loops in the first 10 miles, and even contains a momentum-killing 180-degree turnaround between miles 5 and 6. Part of me wonders if these irregularities will make it harder to maintain pace through those sections, but they seem confined enough to not make too much of a difference overall.
Pacing: For the race, my Garmin will be set to show average pace instead of current pace. This reading will be more accurate and my goal will be to get that reading down to goal pace within the first two miles of the race. The longer I run, the harder it will be to affect that overall average. I’m aiming for a race pace around 7:11, which gives me some flexibility to reach my overall goal of sub-3:10 (7:15 pace).
Yesterday’s 10-mile run was my last chance to really feel out my race pace, and I’m happy to say I was right on target at 7:09. I’ve had several mid-distance runs where I’ve intended to run that pace but ended up going too fast. That might sound like a nice problem to have, but it’s easy to run half the marathon distance at a faster pace. But I need to know how to hold back at the opening of the race so I can still feel strong after mile 20. This weekend’s run not only felt manageable, but it felt almost easy. That’s exactly what I need in those first 10 miles.
This week: As far as the remainder of my training is concerned, my mindset is that rest is my job this week. The lack of running or cycling in my schedule doesn’t mean I will spend my time doing strenuous yard work. I plan to stay off my feet as much as possible. It sounds luxurious, but it’s critical that I come into this race well-rested and ready to go. I have short runs planned on Wednesday and Saturday to keep me primed, but otherwise I’m going to get a nice taste of the couch-potato lifestyle. I’ve got some reading and a movie or two lined up to help get me through the next six sweat-free days.
Preparation: This will be the first time I’ve traveled for a race, and I don’t want to forget anything. I’ve started working on my packing list, which includes doubles of all my clothing (including shoes), extra gels, and even my pre-race dinner and breakfast. I don’t like leaving anything – particularly my gastrointestinal happiness – to chance.
Weather: So far the weather’s looking pretty good for Sunday. The forecast now is cloudy skies and an overnight low of 55, climbing to 70 on Sunday afternoon. Hopefully that means the temperature will stay in the mid-60s for most of my race, which starts at 8:30 a.m. It’s probably a little warmer than what would be optimal, but hopefully the cloud cover will help mitigate some of the heat. The big question will be the wind, but there’s nothing I can do about that. I’ve trained in all kinds of weather over the past few months, so I should be ready for just about anything.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get up from this desk and go sit on the couch!Bike: 0/334.5 miles Run: 10.4/414.8 miles