I remember back when I was getting ready for my first half marathon. I was terrified. Were my clothes ready? Was the weather going to be perfect? Was everything charged to 100%? Where would I park? Would I be able to get to the start 3 hours early just in case? Did I have enough fuel to last? Where were the water stops? Did I taper perfectly? How many carbs did I eat leading up to the race?
I laugh now. I was concerned with perfection. Race preparation? I don’t even remember how to run a race, let alone prepare for one. This time around I want to finish pain free and get myself to jazz brunch with the ladies after! I know when I’m back in the swing of things, I’ll be a little more concerned with perfection; running a half marathon in Syracuse in February? You’re not interested in perfection if you’re that crazy.
The weather for Sunday looks more promising than any weather we’ve had in the Northeastern US for the past couple of weeks, thankfully. I know a high of 31 degrees Fahrenheit is enough to make plenty turn to the treadmill, but that’s practically shorts weather after this winter. So we’re looking at 31 degrees, 1-3 inches of snow expected, and winds of 12 mph. Well, it could be worse, right? [Funny story: At 3:00pm EST when I started this post, the above was the predicted weather – ice was not mentioned!. Now, at 9:10pm, the weather has changed again to the below. Oh, and at the end of last week? It was calling for 44 degrees.]
I think the worst part of this race is the fact that my longest run so far has been just over six miles. While I’m feeling so much more prepared injury-wise than last year at this time, I can’t shake this terrified feeling. I’m terrified to have a repeat of last year where I get half way through and have my ankle flare up. I’m not sure how long it’ll take to shake the feeling of “Will this be the run that derails me?” but I’m anxious for that moment to come. I think I’m rounding the corner and Sunday will propel me over the little hump holding me back, but I know I’ll still be a little reserved.
So, what’s my plan, you ask? Good question.
I’m going to see how it goes. I know that my warm-up will only consist of inverted hamstring stretches, World’s Greatest Stretch, and ankling. I’m running twice as long as I have in a year so my warm-up will be included in those 13 miles and I have no regrets. In fact, I might just hang out in the warmed tent until they start singing the national anthem and then walk up to the back of the pack at the last minute.
I have a few approaches I can take to Sunday’s race. I guess if I had to choose, my plan is to start with approach one and then transition into approach two or three, depending on how my body feels as a whole. I’ve already come to the conclusion that I will be outside for more than two hours, which really irritates me because it’s cold. Plus it hurts my ego and serves me a huge slice of humble pie. Ultimately I just need to stop being a pain in my own ass and get over it. It isn’t the end of the world. I’m finally running. Stop whining. Sigh. Easier said than done.
Approach One: Non-stop, but slow
I’m going to start here. I plan to think of the race in four sections, each just over 3 miles (specifically, 3.25 miles). My comfortable pace is currently around 10:30/mile and I figure that’s a perfect starting pace. I’ll get my legs moving, the blood flowing, and try to keep a conversational pace. If I can’t sing to whatever I’m listening to, it’s too hard, too fast. If I feel good after the first segment, I’ll try to pick it up a little. It’s going to be a struggle to stay in “easy pace” for this long, but I want to settle into a good rhythm early without exerting a ton of energy. If I reach the next segment and have a little more to give, knowing I have the entire out and back to do again, I will. Finally, the final 3+ miles is just going to be to push a little harder each mile into the finish. If my eyes can see 2:00 on my watch after quick math, I’m going for it.
Of course, this depends on the weather, too. If the wind is killing me on the way out, I’ll take it slow during the first and third segments where I face the same direction. When the wind is at my back, I’ll make up for it.
Approach Two: A walk sandwiched by two 6.25 milers
If I get half way through the race and my feet are sore and my form is falling apart, I’m going to take a moment to regain my composure. It’s not worth continuing to run if I’m starting to get lazy or tired, that’s when injuries happen. I’ll run about 6.25 – 6.5 miles, take a short walk break of half mile or so, and pick it up again. Or, I’ll take a moment to start back with some form drills: ankling, marching, skipping — whatever can get my body moving properly again.
Approach Three: Four run segments separated by walks
If any part of my ankle or calf starts to feel like a too much impact could make things bad, I will run/walk the heck out of this race. I don’t anticipate this to become a problem until the second half, based on my longest runs thus far, but in any event I’d be looking at about a quarter mile of walking for every 3 miles of running. Realistically, if I have to take this many walking breaks, I’m probably looking to approach four, the non-approach.
If the non-approach becomes the approach, you know I’m injured – DNF. Since the course is an out and back, I will be at the start approximately half way through the course. By six miles, I should be able to tell how the rest of the race will be… I hope. I’d really hate for things to go sour at mile 9 when I’m on the opposite end of the course because then I’m just walking back, freezing and pissed off.
So that’s basically where my mind is at. I’m only running twice this week, along with the CrossFit Endurance class. I didn’t taper for the race because it’d be really unnecessary based on my training thus far but I did cut back to just two runs. I may not be racing, but it’s still a lot of miles and I need to be smart.
If all goes well, my base mileage going into Buffalo Half Marathon training (not base building!) will start on March 2nd at around 15 miles. That will be the best base I’ve had when starting official training for a half marathon. Here’s to hoping the next post you’ll get to read is a happy recap on Monday during my well deserved day off!