Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Midsummer Night's Run 15k race plan and goals

Pacing. I've been pondering something for a while, since I read this blog post by Cody Beals. Cody is an elite triathlete who wins races, including a recent half ironman, so obviously we are very similar (*insert hysterical laughter here* I did babysit him once when he was a baby - my parents are friends with his parents - so clearly that is the source of his athletic gifts). From his post:

Even with a good grasp of your fitness, a rigid pacing plan based on numbers can only lead to under-performance. In reality, you have good days and bad days, rough patches and second winds and short distance markers and long ones. In my opinion, all that digital feedback only distracts from the feedback coming from your body. Which do you think is more important?

After last weekend's not so great 5k race, I'm really seeing the potential value in racing without pace feedback. It goes against all my data-loving instincts (how can data be unhelpful? MORE DATA! MORE!), but psychologically there are just so many ways pace data can screw with your head during a race. Oh no, I'm running too fast! I'm sure to blow up late in the race! Hello, self-fulfilling prophecy. Or what happened to me last weekend, where one sucky kilometer just mentally ruined me. If I hadn't known my pace, could I have held it together better? I suspect I could have.

And if I look at the data (sweet sweet data), what to do seems clear:

Moon in June, no pace feedback, 24:52 (PB at the time)
Canada Day, no pace feedback, 24:32 (new PB)
Colleen Lantz, used pace feedback, 25:52. (Wah-wah *sad trombone*)

In the back of my mind I've been considering going pace-less (kind of like pants-less but with less possibility of being arrested) for a while now. For races. I don't think I can bear to give up pace information on training runs (have I mentioned I like data?). I was chatting with Nicole and Sam about our goals for Midsummer, and Nicole flat out said I should consider shutting the watch down and just running. And I thought, why the hell not? I won't know if the no-pace thing will work in a longer race if I never try it. And why stop at Midsummer? Why not give this a fair shot and commit to going pace-less for my next few races and see what happens?

So, for my next few races, I'm going to run without pace feedback. I'll still wear my watch so I can review the split data post-race, but I'll set it to display something else, like total time or calories burned or something. Just typing that makes me feel weirdly nervous!

Check out my mad photoshop skillz. Would you believe I do graphic design sometimes as part of my job?
Goals for Midsummer? With this paceless approach, I don't really know! Before committing to this I was thinking I'd aim for a 5:20/km pace, which would mean a 1:20 finish. I'd be very happy with that, but I think I'll be happiest if I finish the race knowing I ran a well-paced race where I didn't blow up 3/4 of the way through and finished as strong as possible.

I demand a participant ribbon!

Fueling strategy. The big challenge with this race is how the hell to fuel for it. The race starts at 5:45 pm, which has me decidedly confused about what to do. I don't want to overeat during the day and then feel sluggish and gross, but I also don't want to be hungry and run out of energy during the run! And there's the pre-race nerves to consider, too, which always make it hard for me to eat. After consulting with Sam, I'm thinking I'll probably have a carb heavy but easily digested lunch of some sort and then eat a bagel and a banana late in the afternoon. I'll bring a granola bar to the race with me as an emergency snack, just in case; I often eat a granola bar before my LSD, so I know my stomach can deal with that.

I wouldn't normally take in calories during a 15k run, but I'm going to follow the scout motto and Be Prepared by bringing a gel as an emergency backup. I might need the psychological boost of SUGAR at some point during the race. And of course I will have my trusty Simple Hydration water bottle tucked in my spibelt so that I don't have to rely on the aid stations.

Outfit. Clearly the moment everyone has been waiting for! Since I want to run this race fast I've decided to forgo a costume (I know, booooo. I'm sad about it too). But I don't want things chafing or causing problems. I might dye a funky streak in my hair or something. We'll see. The outfit:

Top is Moving Comfort, found at Marshalls for $19. Score! It's a perfect tank for me - the built in bra is good quality, and it's not too tight or too loose through the torso. Skirt is an athletic style skort by Running Skirts that I got on sale. Compression socks are plain white, also from Running Skirts (and those were free, for some reason the first time I ordered from RS they included the socks in the package!). It's the perfect outfit for me, marrying my love of running fashion with my love of good deals and bargain hunting.

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