Monday, October 17, 2011

Cape Cod Half Marathon Update: Race Logistics and Goals

In less than two weeks, I will be running the Cape Cod marathon, and now that I have more information on race day logistics, it is time to start thinking obsessing (even more than I already am) about every single minute detail!

Bib Number / Pickup: I almost missed the email because it hit my spam box, but thankfully their website said they sent out emails so I was able to find it. I am #25 - the bib number must have been determined by the order of registration. For NYRR races I will never have a bib number that is less than four digits long.

B Tag vs. D Tag: The Cape Cod Marathon uses B Tags. This means that instead of fastening a separate tag on the shoe, your race bib has the timing chip taped to it. So bending the bib or hiding it under clothing is generally a bad idea. I've only raced once with a B Tag and it seemed to work out, but it also helps that I'll probably be wearing only one layer for this race.

Baggage/Pre-race stuff: Apparently baggage will be stored in plastic bags in a truck. If I can't shower in my hotel room, there are available showers at the school so I'll pack spare clothes and shower stuff along with my phone.

Lining Up: All participants can line up in the staging area between 6:15 and 7:20. I'll probably make sure to line up by 7am if possible (after using the restroom, checking my baggage, etc).

Course Map/Elevation: The course has a small out and back in the beginning for the first few miles, then kind of travels south along the coast to a turn-around point, then more inland on the way back. According to the race website, the course is "generally flat except for some rolling hills between miles 6.5 and 9.5". The course will be marked with mile signs and turns indicated by "1/2" in white paint. For the first time, I'm a bit nervous that I'll miss a turn and end up getting lost somewhere on Cape Cod. Hopefully there will be some course marshals out there in case. In addition, the roads will NOT be closed to traffic, which will be a first for me. I can deal with running on the right side of the road, but I will not be happy pissed off if my goal time is compromised due to waiting for traffic.

Course Amenities: There will be two porta-potties on the course at miles 4 and 9.8 but hopefully I won't have to use either one. There will be water stations every 3 miles along the course, which is very important information when considering my fueling strategy. If I run at my goal pace, that will mean that there will be approximately 27 minutes in between each water station. I have gone that long in previous races, so I'm not extremely worried about it, but if it's much hotter than I predict it will be, I reserve the right to take my handheld, but I hope that won't be the case because I'd rather not carry anything extra. Assuming I don't have to take my handheld, I'll need to take my shot bloks just before hitting the mile 6 water station. It's a bit earlier than I would like to take them, as I usually take them every hour, but waiting until mile 9 wouldn't be the best idea. This week I am practicing taking water every 3 miles in Central Park, and if I can do it over easy runs, which take longer, I should be more than fine for race day.

Finish Line: Times will be posted at the nearby school. They also have a post-race meal, but I'll probably go out somewhere with my parents after I check my official time. I'd rather not wait until the evening to check them online if I don't have to, but at least I'll have my garmin so I won't be too far off in the worst case scenario.

My Goals for Cape Cod: I have decided on my A, B, and C goals. They are as follows...
A. Finish in under 1:58:30
B. Finish in under 2 hours
C. Finish in under 2:01:50 (my current PR)
D. Clearly something went very wrong. Re-evaluate, and then focus on getting sub-2 in either the Manhattan Half or the NYC Half early next year (and try not to spontaneously combust at the two hour mark wherever I am on the course)

Pacing Strategy: I plan on sticking to a 8:50-9:00mm pace until mile 10. If my garmin goes below 8:45mm I will immediately pull back. If I take 10-15 seconds to walk through both water stations, I will lose approximately 30 seconds total throughout the first half, which won't be a major deal since 9:09 is really the slowest pace I can do and still get sub-2. At mile 10, if I am feeling good, I will speed up and do the final 5k at around 8:40-8:45mm. If I am starting to feel tired, I will do my best to maintain 9mm.

I'll try and keep things in perspective and have fun, but I feel that if I was able to get so close to sub-2 in the Brooklyn Half (where I made tons of rookie mistakes), I should be able to achieve it this time barring any unforeseen circumstances. Training has gone very well this cycle, and I have managed to incorporate all of my speedwork and tempo runs in (with the exception of changing one tempo run to an easy run due to a cold). While a part of me knows that I should be able to do this, I'm too cautious paranoid to count my chickens before they hatch.

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