Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spring Forward- Race Preview

The Race
On Sunday, the first official race of the Banter 2011 Race Schedule kicks off. The Spring Forward race is held in beautiful Mendon Ponds Park, one of the major highlights of life in the Rochester area. The race is a 15k road race that completely misses the park itself, preferring to take advantage of the nicely paved roadways and the decreased traffic flow accompanying a Sunday morning.

With the (unreliable)  forecast featuring overnight lows near the freezing line and rain a possibility, I am pleased that I have paid money for this event. Otherwise, I'd be prone to sleeping in and sulking about the crappiness of my existence in pseudo-tundraland. The forking over of cash is enabling and empowering, meaning. I will be at the starting line, rain or shine (or snow), warm or cold, when the starter blows his whistle.

The course is advertised as hilly and I'm not one to argue with the claim. I did this race last year. Here is the hill profile posted on their website...
Now, here's the one taken from my Garmin...

Not bad. Notice how the course is rolling throughout the entire run and how the biggest climbs tend to happen near the end. This is borderline cruel.

The History
A year ago, I was completely unprepared for this race. Some of the ladies I coached were gunning towards their first 1/2 Marathon. One of them convinced me that this run was a good idea. "Sure," I said. "No problem. I'll get up and run with you." The ego was flaring up again.

I had every intention of starting out the race easy. I was thinking that 8:00 per mile pace was doable. What I didn't count on was the race-day mentality. See, in addendum to the male-ego gene is a small portion on the end which controls competition. The competition addendum states that people are supposed to be behind you, not in front. Make sure it happens.

Now, couple the competition addendum with the hill profile and you get a fast start. Having had this race basically thrust upon me, I had not trained for a fast start. It didn't matter. The ego gene had taken over and logic was left in the car with my extra sweatshirt. Both would be important later in the day, just useless now. Right around the one mile mark, I beeped in at a comfortable 7:12 minute mile with the heart rate steady in lower zone 2. It wouldn't last.

I'll save you the details of the rest of the race and allow you to glean them for yourself.
Banter Pace Profile

Banter HR Profile

I will give you some highlights. As you can see, the pace profile has an overall negative slope and gradually drops below the 8:00/ mile line as the race goes on. The HR profile has a positive slope, start to finish, and hovers around the 180 bpm mark, which is borderline zone 4 for me. Since this race is early season, I've done near to no training in z4 and the heart was not happy. At the 1 hour mark, there is a distinct drop in both profiles. This had absolutely nothing to do with me walking. Honest. It was my second wind, however brief, kicking in.

In the end, I finished with an average pace of 8:04 and an overall time of 1:15. This year, I'm hoping to do better.

Plan of Attack
As stated before, I'd like to have a 7:30 minute per mile average pace. In order to achieve this, I must have a game plan for race day. My plan goes something like this...
  1. Thoroughly warm up. I hate warming up for distance events. I would rather use the first mile or two as a warm up. But, since this is a non-priority race, I'll probably use it as a long run day. Warm up will probably happen before 7:00 and consist of about 2-3 miles on the treadmill (of which I also hate). It should get the juices flowing and adequately clean out the system.
  2. Control the first 4 miles. Given that the race starts out mostly downhill, I need to keep my HR down. I don't want to see much of Z2 until after mile 2. I don't want to see Z3 until after mile 4. Build into the process.
  3. Keep the ego in check. Yes, I want to beat that 5'4" girl running in pigtails and pink clothes. Yes, if that 11 year old boy beats me it will be a blow to my manhood. This is not about them. Let it go. Try and pass them at mile 9, not mile 2. Passing them at mile 9 still means I win. Remember that.
  4. Accept that I haven't done much speed work lately and 7:30 is lofty. The biggest success will come from building on last year's information and using that to my advantage. I will not accept walking. I will accept beating last year's time.
  5. Caffeinate. Modestly. I do like the jittery feel and how it hides most non-bowel related pains during the peak. Since I plan on using caffeine later in the season, I should start experimenting now on how it will serve me. It's better to get the system on line now than on the big day.
So there you have it. The first event is soon underway. Spring has arrived in terms of racing if not in terms of temperature. Time to get the body used to performing in groups, in the morning, and (hopefully) in comfort. I'll check back in after the race and let you know how it goes.

No comments:

Post a Comment