Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Oakland Plan...

Oakland Running FestivalMy ultimate half marathon goal for this year (and last year, and the year before that) is 1:39:xx. Up until I hurt my calf/Achilles two weeks ago, things were going fairly well, but even before I got hurt I wasn't feeling like I was in "peak" half marathon shape. I felt like a sub-1:40 was an outside possibility, but not terribly likely. On the other hand, I am frankly sick to death of my now-ancient PR, and shooting for that instead seemed like a reasonable goal.

For a week or so after I hurt my leg things were looking a bit dicey; last week I was just hoping I'd be healthy enough to run 13 miles in a row at all. But I took a bunch of rest days and the leg gremlins seem to have mostly worked thsemselves out, so I'm 99% sure I'll be ready to run & finish strong on Sunday. I'm back to following my program now (albeit on yellow alert), and it turns out that easy, low-volume race week workouts are good ones for transitioning back in.

Given that I've had some injury stuff and that the course may run long, I'm thinking of Oakland mainly as a dress rehearsal for other half marathons later in the year when I'll be healthier, better trained, and have more confidence in the length of the course. (There are rumors that it may go as long as 13.4.) Mostly I want to practice running negative splits and convincing my brain that yes, I actually can run sub-8:00 miles reasonably comfortably for a while.

So, for the record, here are my goals for Sunday:

  • Non-negotiable: Negative splits. It just has to happen. I've been doing it reliably in 10Ks, but I have yet to run an actual half-marathon RACE with negative splits. This is a big part of why I want to err on the conservative side for this one rather than going balls to the wall.
  • "C" Goal: Beat my (severely outdated) PR pace of 8:06/mile (I'm using pace instead of time because of the uncertain distance.) I recently did a nine mile training run at a 7:56 pace in the middle of a fairly high mileage week without working too terribly hard, so unless something goes really wrong, I should be able to PR (pace-wise) no problem. (Right? Someone tell me this is a reasonable expectation.)
  • "B" Goal: Average a sub-8:00 pace (sub-1:45 for 13.1). I think this is also pretty reasonable.
  • "A" Goal: Run every mile sub-8:00. If I have a particularly good day, I think this could happen. (I'll know within the first few miles, I think.)
  • "A+" Goal: Average a sub-7:38 pace (sub-1:40 for 13.1). Not impossible, but pretty unlikely, mainly because in order to even have a chance I'd have to run 7:40 miles right out of the gate. I really don't want to go for it, realize after six miles I wasn't ready, & crash & burn, so unless there is some kind of INSANE race day magic going on Sunday, I'll likely hold off on this for now.

My plan is to keep the pace brisk but pretty comfortable for the first six miles or so, which should take care of the negative splits. Based on my runs lately, I think this should mean somewhere in the 7:50s, but if things are hurting or I'm just having a bad day for some reason, I'll slow it down to low eights in the early miles in order to get my negative splits. If the 7:50s feel really good for the first few miles, I'll try speeding up a little, but no matter how good I feel I absolutely do not want to dip below 7:40 in the first half of the race. At that point, I should have a good sense of what I have left. If I'm still feeling strong, I'll try speeding up maybe 5-10 seconds per mile for miles 7-10, and the last 5K will be what it will be.

So. That is my plan.

Time / pace / etc. aside, this race should be a good time no matter what since a bunch of blogger types are meeting up at the expo & having a sleepover in Oakland Saturday night. Also, we will be wearing these:

Actually, I don't know how many of us will actually be *running* in them, but we'll definitely be putting them on for silly pictures at some point.

Yay bloggers. And silly socks. :)

What I'm Drinking This Week:

You know how some people like to come home from work & relax with a beer? For me it's often a glass of white.

Once upon a time we used to visit a winery in Paso Robles called Wild Horse (you can probably find a few of their larger-production wines in your local wine store), which made fantastic pinot as well as lots of other rare & fun varietals at reasonable prices. But then they started raising the prices, & as good as a lot of the wine was, it got harder & harder to justify buying.

The last time we there in 2009, however, they had a big 50% sale on certain bottles. It was on that trip that I picked up some of their amazing '08 Grenache Blanc. I never would have paid the $30 they were asking, but for $15, it was a great deal! Earlier this week I opened the last bottle -- crisp & dry, but full of flavor. This is a nice wine I'll really miss. Perhaps another visit to Wild Horse is in order...


  1. Sounds like an entirely workable set of racing plans and strategies. Go for it! Hope to see you there!

  2. Good luck! And yes, your pace-based goals sound totally plausible to me.

  3. Excited to see how you do!