Thursday, January 15, 2015

Foster City Ten Miler: The Race Plan

Friends, I am tired of posting about training.

I mean obviously I am going to continue to do it because writing about it & having virtual conversations about it helps me process how my running life is going (or not going, depending). But last month was CIM, which means that leading up to it I was reading all kinds of posts about people getting ready to race and setting goals and then later race reports about how it went and all I could think about was *GOD*, I want to race again.

I want to write posts about my big, hairy, audacious goals for x race/distance & travel plans & how am I going to dress and fuel, and after that posts about how awesome or heartbreaking it was, how I utterly smashed my goal or missed it by the tiniest hair & how I'm plotting revenge in a few weeks. In 2012 I ran nine races, eight of which I really, truly trained hard for & went into ready to kick ass & take names.

At this point it's been over a year & a half since I did that. In 2014, I ran a grand total of four races -- two just to celebrate being able to run again, one as a training run, and one demoralizing DNF. Don't get me wrong--things have been going pretty well for me this fall and winter in terms of just trying to build up mileage & get my aerobic base back, and I expect to get back to really, *actually* training for races in not too much longer. But it's required (and continues to require) a lot of patience.

*Taps foot compulsively while repeatedly checking watch.*

And lo, my first race of 2015, the Foster City 10-Miler, is nigh!

The closer this race has gotten, the more excited I've felt. I know I'm not in shape right now to race the way I have in the past (and hope to be doing later this year), but I'm still SUPER psyched to actually be putting on a bib & standing at a starting line for the first time since August.


My secret, kind-of-scary goal has always been to try to run the whole thing at goal marathon pace (8:00/mile) or faster. I know I'm in pretty good aerobic shape, but I haven't done a lick of speed work since July & only a very few GMP runs over the last few weeks, so the question for me right now is, how long can I keep up that pace?

And I go back & forth on how I feel about it. Sometimes I'll do a six-mile GMP run & think, "Wow, this is pretty hard, and I'm only three miles in," & the idea of doing seven more miles at that pace is horrifying. But then I'll finish the last mile & think, "Eh, I feel okay, I could totally go farther." Wash/rinse/repeat.

Overall, I'm optimistic about it. I think the difference between this and a goal race is that (if all has gone according to plan), I go into a goal race knowing what I'm capable of if everything goes right. There is no guessing. I have a goal pace & I try to stick to it from the very start, and if I happen to have a little extra left at the end, great. I don't take any chances until maybe the last 20% of the race. With this one, though, I don't really know, and I'm cool with that. It's totally possible I'll run 8:00 miles for a while, feel great, and negative split the whole thing; it's also possible that I'll hold that pace for a while & then 7 or 8 or 9 miles later, my body will go, "Sorry, that's all she wrote!"

I don't want to plan for that, though. I want to start at 8:00 pace & just do it until I can't--no "checking in" at mile six or "listening to my body" or adjusting based on how I feel. Nope; eight minute miles until I can't. That is all. And if I have to run 10:00 or 11:00 miles after that, that's cool! At least then I'll know where I stand.

I like to set goals for races, but since this one is more of a "see what I've got" kind of gauge situation rather than an all-out race, my goals have kind of a different flavor than usually. So here's what I've got:

  • D Goal: Don't have any sudden horrible pains/injuries & have to quit.
  • C Goal: Finish around 1:20 (8:00 pace) with fairly even splits.
  • B Goal: Run 8:00 pace for at least half the race, then negative split.
  • A Goal: ????? Hella negative split???? The whole point is to get in some marathon pace miles, so I don't want to run any faster than that until halfway. So I dunno, negative split and also not feel like death?


  1. that's reasonable. "Run X pace until I can't" could be a total disaster, but in this case it's a pace you've been running tempos at, so you know you can do it. I think your A goal should be break 80 min.

  2. I'm taking a similar approach to my half marathon. There are several other halfs on my radar this year, including one in June that makes sense to train for after resting post-Feb 1 race, so if my race day isn't ideal it won't be crushing. But I'd rather go out a bit fast and see what I'm capable of right now. At the very least, it gives you some knowledge of what your racing capability presently is!

  3. I like your no-holds-barred attitude. Run balls out until you just can't any more. It'll be a test but you never know what you have till you test yourself out.

  4. I love experiments! And this will be a great experiment to see how your body responds at GMP after several months of aerobic-only training. Good luck, look forward to the data!

  5. Good luck on Sunday. I'll be flying home so won't be there to cheer. The course is super-flat so enjoy it, but, as I warned Jen last year, you run up over a bridge at the end and the slope on that is BRUTAL and will make you feel like death, so be ready for it. Enjoy it though. Hammer time!

  6. Yes! Sometimes you just need to race, even if you're not totally ready!