I’ve been so caught up in the excitement surrounding the announcement of runDisney’s new Dopey Challenge, that it’s easy to forget that I’m running my next Half Marathon in less than a week. This will be my 3rd trip to the start line of the More Magazine Women’s Half Marathon in Central Park. This was my first non-Disney race and it has been a really good experience the previous 2 times I’ve run the race. My training has gone pretty well, despite more treadmill runs than I wanted, and I’ve been thinking about how to approach this race. It’s times like these that I miss my e-coaching experience with Jeff Galloway (although I am planning to sign up again!).
At the Princess Half Marathon in February I missed my PR by about 2:30 minutes. (My PR is 2:29:39 and my Princess finish was 2:32:10.) I attribute that to several factors including the warmer than expected temperatures combined with Florida humidity after training in a cold climate. On the other hand I felt that I had juice at the end of the race – enough left in the tank that I was able to push a stroller around Disney World all day and add an additional 10+ miles of walking (according to my fitbit step counter). So maybe I *could* have PR’ed the Princess if I had a different race strategy. (Let’s set aside a few issues with my theory, including course crowding, inadequate pre-race hydration, the fact that I knew I would be walking around Disney all day after the race, etc.).
I chose to start the Princess at a slower than PR pace and then build up speed if I felt good enough. Unfortunately I “waited” too long to speed up and then realized that I wouldn’t be able to run the last 3 miles fast enough to make up the difference. There were several problems with my pre-race strategy. The first 5k of the Princess tends to be more open than the second 5k (which includes the part through the Magic Kingdom). Then there is the long stretch through Cone Alley where it is difficult to pass people. Starting faster and giving myself a little extra time margin at the beginning may have made up for any slowing at narrow portions of the course.
My biggest fear with starting a little faster is, of course, running out of steam at the end. I don’t really know if I can maintain 11:15 min/mile for the entire 13.1 miles of the race. Today I ran 3.1 miles at that pace on a hilly course in my neighborhood. It was the first warm day of the year and I definitely felt that a bit. But I’ve done a few tempo runs recently and seemed ok. For shorter distances at least. I really don’t want a death march for the last 5k!
I think my plan for now is to start the race around 11:30 min/mile pace using a very forgiving run 30sec/walk 30 sec ratio. After the halfway point if I’m feeling strong, I’ll move to a run 40 sec/walk 20 sec ratio which I used in my PR half marathon in October. I’ll have to speed up a bit after the first 5k in order to achieve my goal pace. Not sure I’ll be able to hold the pace on the big hills in the race. I guess only time will tell.
The advanced forecast for this weekend is looking good. Lows in the mid-40’s with highs in the mid-50’s. As of right now they are not predicting rain on Sunday. Hopefully this will help me achieve my goal.
My thoughts leading up to Race Day have to do with this: Is it better to start a bit faster and know that I’m either going to PR or crash and burn? Or should I start more conservatively and know that I’ll finish strong but might miss my PR?
As a general assessment of myself, I think I’ve tended to underachieve with my running because I haven’t pushed myself as hard as I could – both in training and in races. So maybe I should just go for it and see what I can achieve??? Start at an 11 min/mile pace and hope I can hold it for all 13.1 miles….