I was (obviously) never a boy scout, nor do I have any special connection to them, but their Always Be Prepared motto is one I can get behind 100%. It is rare that I voluntarily get into a situation for which I am unprepared; this goes for regular life as well as running. I tend to go over every possible scenario in order to prepare myself for the worst case, and when travelling I have an extremely difficult time packing because I want to bring everything.
Now that I am only two full days away from running my goal half marathon, I want to make sure I am prepared. While I’m not super confident I will be able to get the finish time I want; I feel like I have prepared well. When I look back on my training, I know I put in all the hard work my training plan called for, and I’m not having any “well, what if I did….” thoughts. I did my speed work, my long runs, and I ran hilly routes as often as possible (including using the treadmill hill programs). Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I know I will be able to run a strong race. Hopefully, a strong race will mean sub-2 hours.
In addition to the running, I’ve tried to prepare mentally by coming up with some sort of race strategy. I babbled about my indecision yesterday, but after days of pondering, I think I’ve come up with something that will work:
* I have a list of paces I would like to hit. Let’s call this my wish list. For the majority of the race, I’d like to run 9 min/mile. I will start slower, and work my way down to that pace over the course of the first 3 miles. Then once I hit 10 miles, I will attempt (the impossible?) to pick up the pace. My last mile will (unrealistically?) need to be my fastest.
* I am going to run by effort. My watch is set to show distance only on the first screen. I will check in after each mile to see how my pace matches up with my “wish list” pace. Based on this comparison and how I feel, I will adjust my effort. This should allow me to adjust my pace naturally when running each mile instead of being a slave to the watch.
* I am going to eat two gels during the race. I will have the first gel at mile 5 (cherry chocolate w/ lots of caffeine) and the second at mile 10 (salted caramel w/ reasonable amount of caffeine). I am terrible at eating the gel while moving. I slow down a lot, and in my last long run had to stop and use my shirt to wipe gel off my face and hands. My plan is to eat them slowly (over a 1/2 mile maybe) in order to not mess up my rhythm (or clothing).
* I am going to carry my own water. I’ve been running with my camelback, so it’s not really an adjustment. It’s nice to run without anything and I don’t think I need to have water between the water stops, but given my gel eating issues, I’d like to have access to water whenever I want it. Plus it is always kind of fun to just zip by a water stop while everyone else is attempting to grab cups and get some water in their mouths instead of just down their shirts.
* I am going to bring my iPod shuffle. I might not turn it on, and will only put it in one ear (the course is open to traffic), but I might want some music in those last few (fast) miles.
Aside from the mental game, there are a few other small details that need to get worked out before a big race. And, I think I’ve got those covered, too:
- What to wear: Shorts, Knee-high Socks, Shirt (exact socks and shirt TBD based on weather)
- What to eat for breakfast: White bread toast w/ strawberry preserves and a banana
- What to have for dinner the night before: Some kind of pasta w/ a bit of sauce and some bread.
- What time I want to get to the race: At the start of packet pick-up – or whenever Jeff says is good.
I haven’t actually laid out my clothes or bought the food above, but I’ve made all the decisions, and that’s the hardest part. I guess I’m pretty much ready to go. I’ve even painted my toenails Lickety-split Lime – I think it sounds fast!
I’ve read every email they’ve sent, I’ve read the athlete guide twice, and every word on the race website (even race director bios). I’ve reviewed the race route and (scary) elevation profile a few times. I know roughly where the big hills appear, but I might check it out a little more. I don’t want any of the hills to surprise me. I want to be prepared to see them when they show their ugly faces. It may not make much sense, but I’m sure I will run up them faster if they aren’t a surprise.
How prepared are you on race day? Have you ever gone into a race unprepared? Do you ever over prepare for anything? Is it even possible to be over prepared?