Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My half marathon challenge: Strategizing #2 of 5

As my readers may recall, I've set out to do a series of five half marathons this spring as part of my fiftieth year celebration.

The first in the series was nearly three weeks ago and resulted in a huge PR. Lots of the credit for my improvement goes to my training and pacing partners, David and Chuck. Pacers definitely help, and I would have slowed a lot in those final difficult, wheezy, heart-rate-outta-control 2 or 3 miles if they hadn't been urging me on.

So realistically, I don't expect to get a faster time at this Saturday's half marathon (especially since this will be a hillier course in warmer weather). Nevertheless, there's a couple things that I would like to tweak to see how that affects my performance, and try to get as close to my previous paced time (2:26) as possible.

1. Start slower. Try to hit my target 11 min/mile pace on mile one and stay right there on every consecutive mile. I started a bit too fast last time. Try to keep the heart rate under 170 before the 10 mile marker. (Last time it went over 170 by about mile 7.5 and continued climbing after that).

2. Drink more. Try to get down at least two small cups of fluid every 3 miles. I think I got a bit dehydrated last time and that affected my heart rate and my performance toward the end. Balance the water with one salt capsule at the start and one halfway, same as last time.

3. Carry less. No waist belt this time. No water bottle no course - chug a little water at the starting line and toss the bottle. Just a number belt with a couple gels taped on.

4. Wear less. I'm going for shorts to keep my legs air-cooled throughout the race, even if it's quite cold at the start (forecast says about 48*F). It won't kill me, and may help the muscular endurance a bit. I'll still keep my head and arms and hands covered, though.

5. Less gel. I took 3 GUs last time at miles 3, 6, and 9. I still had a struggle for the last couple of miles and had severe adverse gastrointestinal problems the rest of the afternoon. If it had been a marathon it would have been fairly disastrous. It's a shame, since I did like the flavor of the lemon GUs! I'm going back to 2 gels (possibly another brand, we'll see) at miles 4 and 9 this time, or else take along 2-3 ounces of my homemade gel in a flask and just take a little nip every two miles.

6. Keep running, no matter what. No walk breaks except to take on water, fix gear problems, or maintain heart rate under 170 on steep uphills. (I have nothing against walk breaks, I just find in a race of this distance they slow me down. I'll still probably use them for my fall marathon).

Those are my thoughts and plans right now, subject to change right up until the starting gun. (Revising the plan mid-race is usually a bad idea, though, I've found.) Comments?


21stCenturyMom said...

My running store guy says to consume a gel every 45 minutes. That means you only need 2.

I recommend you run with the same gel you used before. No one likes surprises on a race.

Good luck!

Nancy Toby said...

Well, if I'm not doubled over by GI cramps the afternoon after the race, that would be a *nice* surprise, wouldn't it? That's what 3 GUs and not enough water did to me!!!

Ellie said...

Sounds good -- you go!

Julia said...

Looks good to me!

Bigun said...

as long as you keep learning...realisticly, gel is only supposed to replace your carb stores, which by some accounts don't fully depleat until the 2 hr mark. The 45 min rule sounds good - get it in your system so that at 1 hr you can start using it, then take as much as you need. I'm 240, and felt pretty good only taking 2 and a little gatoraide for the whole half - probably no more than 300 calories "in" total. Eat right before hand...those are the really important calories. My crummy 2 cents...

TxSkatemom said...

I like to carry my water bottle myself on my belt pack, actually, it lets me skip right through the water stops until I run out ~ mile 8 or so, at which point I refill at one stop with half water/half gatorade and that does it through the end. I usually take about 2-3 oz every mile. I don't usually take gels, but if I've thought about them, I'll take a pack of the boys' fruit snacks at about mile 8,too.

But you've seemed to work out all that stuff for yourself over the course of trial and error. You'll do great, hills and heat be danged!

TriGirl 40 said...

Nancy - Sounds like you've thought it through carefully. And you've worked hard. Good luck on Saturday and wishing you a wonderful race!

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

if you fill your gel bottle with gel, you can put a little water in it - helps it go down a little better.