Thursday, March 17, 2016

Oakland Half Marathon predictions & goals....

Honestly, my only real goal at ORF this weekend is to do my best and run as fast as I can and make peace with the fact that, barring some kind of miracle, it will be far from my best 13.1 ever.

But, I do like to have ballpark expectations so that I know how hard to push myself, so this is me sort of thinking out loud about that.

Using my December 5K & February 10K times, I used a few different online race prediction calculators & came up with numbers ranging from 1:41:30 to 1:43:00, which, frankly, seems WAY fast to me. But, that might just be because I've always been faster at the 5K/10K distances than longer ones. (Exhibit A: My 2012 5K PR of 20:44 predicted marathon & half marathon times of ~3:18 & ~1:35 respectively, and though I ran PRs at nearly every distance that year, I never came close to either of those.) But it does make me feel like maybe sub-1:45 (~8:00 pace) is not an unreasonable goal.

In general, the wild cards at this race tend to be 1) GPS reliability and 2) the weather. Everyone knows hat although the course is certified, we all tend to clock anywhere from 13.25 to 13.6, just because of all the buildings & that one tunnel in mile 3 (I think), and because the race starts at 9:10 in late March, there's always the possibility of a warmish race.

In a way, the GPS issue doesn't *really* matter. You run your effort level, whatever you've got that day, and it is what it is. Mentally, you just have to know that you're probably not going as fast as your watch thinks you are. So I will probably only use my watch to get a general idea of what pace I think I can hold in the first few miles, shooting for say 7:55ish, and if my body gives me a big giant NOPE, well, that's whatever it is. Such is life. (But, I am going to try to run hard and if nothing else try to spend some quality time suffering & generally working on my mental toughness.) My other thought re: GPS is that I will probably turn the auto lap off (since I already know it will be unreliable) & just try to hit lap as I pass the mile markers. (I've tried this a couple of times in the past--sometimes it works out, & sometimes I just don't have the bandwidth because I'm too busy, well, suffering.)

Weather-wise, things look pretty decent so far: Partly cloudy-to-overcast, not above 60F until 11am (when I should be done), and little or no wind. There's a 56% chance of rain currently, but give me rain over sun any race day. (Besides, it's not like I haven't had plenty of practice.) Still, you never know 'round these parts so mentally I'm trying to prepare myself for anything. (Warm weather, even a little warm, always seems to be my undoing.)

Lastly, there is the fueling question. It's been a while since I did this with any level of planning, so here's what I've got:

    Pre-race: Accel gel w/ protein -> 18g CHO
    Mile 2.6: cup gatorade -> ~5g CHO
    Mile 4: Accel gel w/ protein -> 18g CHO
    Mile 4.3: cup gatorade -> ~5g CHO
    Mile 5.3: cup gatorade -> ~5g CHO
    Mile 6.7: cup gatorade -> ~5g CHO

    ***1 hour mark = 56g CHO***

    Mile 8: Accel gel w/ protein -> 18g CHO
    Mile 8.6: cup gatorade -> ~5g CHO
    Mile 9.9: cup gatorade -> ~5g CHO
    Mile 10.2: cup gatorade -> ~5g CHO
    Mile 12: Accel gel w/ protein -> 18g CHO
    Mile 12.2: cup gatorade -> ~5g CHO

    ***Total = 112g --> ~64g CHO/hour***

(Those water stops looks sort of oddly spaced to me, but that's more or less what's on the map so I'm going with it.)

The background here is that I used to have no carbs during a half, then later about 6 oz of sports drink (so ~20g CHO) over the course of the race, and then I learned some freaking science & found out that 30g per hour is the lowest amount of CHO that makes any difference whatsoever in a race & really more seems to be better up to the point that it makes you sick at your stomach (a point that varies for different people). In the past I've done fine with 60g/hour, so that's what I've tried to race at the last few times I've bothered to actually make a plan. Matt Fitzgerald has a good explanation of all this in his book The New Rules of Marathon & Half-Marathon Nutrition.

Oh, and one more goal is to ABSOLUTELY refuel at Bellanico's afterward with this:

Country French toast with whipped mascarpone, strawberries,
huckleberries, & maple syrup. THIS IS HAPPENING, PEOPLE.


  1. You probably already do this, but I always have average pace showing, because current pace is often wildly off balance (especially near any tall buildings). Sometimes average lap pace is also helpful, though that's more important during speed work.

    Either way, GOOD LUCK!! And that food looks amaaaazinnnngggg.

  2. Your stomach is way awesomer than my stomach. If I can get down two gels on an empty stomach in a half, I'm thrilled. Three? Plus one before? It would not be pretty.

  3. Good call re: GPS/turning off auto lap. The Downtown area and that tunnel always results in massive Garmin confusion. Looking forward to seeing you and eating ALL THE THINGS! :)

  4. That French toast looks goooood! Hope you had a good race!

  5. Ahhh! How did it go??? Also, with that amount of sports drink, that seems like a lot of fluid...