Apr 10, 2009

Flying Pig strategy

I am in the final weeks of my preparation for the 2009 Flying Pig Marathon, in Cincinnati. I'm ready to go...I think. I hope. Hell, I don't know, I've never run a marathon before!

Basic info about the course: The course rolls along slightly through the first 5 miles as you cross the bridges and work your way back to downtown. Mostly flat. Then over the next 3.0-3.5 miles, it’s almost entirely uphill running, climbing a total of around 280 feet. After that, you pretty much cruise back downhill the rest of the way, especially miles 9-15. From 15 to the finish, it’s almost entirely flat-to-slightly downhill. Here’s the course map/elevation map, from the site this year. I assume they are using the same course as in 2008.


Basic info about me: My goal is to run a 3:45-3:50 (8:35-8:45/mile). I've had a tendency to get out too fast and not feel super-strong at the end. I am aware of this, and am determined not to let that happen here (I suspect fear will help in this regard). I will have my new Forerunner for the race, to help. Something I’ve not had in past races. I hadn't planned on using my heart rate monitor, as it can be mildly annoying at times, especially when it slips and I need to adjust it on the fly. I want to be as unincumbered as possible. No unnecessary distractions. But it might be useful on the uphill section, to make sure I'm not working too hard. By then, I'll have enough data to be able to determine an appropriate range to be in for that section. I'd like to think I can gauge my effort without it for 3.5 miles, which is why I still think I won't use it, but we'll see.

My thoughts: The first 8-9 miles are key for me, given my past history. I have to take it easy here, but not so easy I dig too big a hole that I can't make it up. Just get through them in good shape, and then I can look to make up any time on the back end. So I know I will not be “on pace” through mile 9. Hopefully, by expecting it, I won’t let it bother me. Miles 9-15, I can make up some time on this predominantly downhill section, while hopefully maintaining the same effort level. Miles 15-20, just get through them. Miles 15-18, maybe a little up & down. Miles 18-20, slightly downhill. I’d like to run this section without looking at my watch. Just run comfortably, and mentally prepare for the (pain at the) finish. Miles 20-Finish, almost home, it’s flat, and I’ll hopefully be psyched to have made it here feeling like I have some gas in the tank. Ain’t no stoppin’ now! Right?

So in a nutshell: Miles 0-9, go slow, but not too slow. I'm thinking...be "on pace" thru mile 5 (but no faster), then deal with the climb. Miles 9-15, this is the most obvious spot to make up some time while not burning myself out, since it’s downhill. Miles 15-20, cruise, maybe get a little time back, maybe not. But certainly don’t lose any time. Miles 20-26.2, get to the finish!

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