Follow me as I go from back-of-the-packer to Boston qualifier.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Really Big Free Half Marathon Preview
The Really Big Free Half Marathon is coming up on November 3, 2012 in Henderson, Nevada at beautiful Boulder Beach at Lake Mead. Those who have been to Boulder Beach know that I just employed sarcasm. The scenery, I’ll admit, is nice. That’s not sarcasm. There really are nice views of the lake and surrounding hills. The beach itself is an eyesore.
Why did I sign up for this race?
It’s free. I like free things. I refuse to pay for races that involve distances I can do on my own fairly easily. I’m not saying running 13.1 miles is easy. I’m saying I don’t need the motivation of signing up for a race to do it.
It motivated me to keep running over the summer. It’s difficult to run in Las Vegas in the summer on account of shoe-melting summer temperatures. Knowing I had a race coming up in November got me out the door or on the treadmill more than normal during the summer.
How did I train for the race?
I didn’t really train for the race. I ran. I’ve done absolutely no speed work and very few tempo runs. Since July 4, I’ve been running with a heart rate monitor with the sole purpose of increasing my aerobic capacity. This has produced slower than average running. That being said, I have set a 5-k pr (twice) since the middle of July. And I’ve lost 10 pounds.
What is the course like?
There have been three courses so far. The first course was in Henderson starting near the Henderson Pavilion. Apparently, race organizers were unable to secure the proper permits and the race was moved to Lake Las Vegas on a ridiculously hilly course, which I’m glad to report was changed to the Lake Mead course, which still has hills but not as bad.
How have my recent 13.1 miles runs gone?
I ran the Lake Las Vegas course a few weeks back on a warm, humid day with tired legs. The course was brutal. It took me over 2:04 to finish it. The course was changed on October 15, a few days after my trial run. I wasn’t disappointed. I tried to recreate the new course this past Saturday, although the hills I ran weren’t as steep. I employed a strategy of keeping my heart rate under 142 for the first 3.5 miles to simulate the flat part of the course.
As the flat part of the run ended, I gradually increased my heart rate to the 150-160 range for about five miles. Once I reached mile 8, I made sure I didn’t get above 165. That wasn’t a problem. I rarely got it above 160. Once I reached mile 10, I stopped paying attention to heart rate and just ran. I stayed mostly between 160-168 with an occasional spike to 170. The last three miles were slightly downhill. Here’s how the miles looked: 8:36, 9:16, 9:14, 9:02, 8:58, 8:55, 8:32, 8:44, 8:35, 8:37, 8:39, 8:32, 8:17.
Four Possible Strategies
The go for broke strategy. This is the all-out from start to finish, complete the race in under 1:45. This strategy presents the possibility of not finishing, which isn’t that big of a deal since solely completing the distance means little. That being said, I haven’t trained hard enough for this strategy.
Go for a pr strategy. This would involve mental discipline. It would require going out not too fast on the uphill 6.55-mile first half. In order to do this I need to have confidence in my downhill running. I am familiar with most of the course and believe if I can reach the half way point in under 58 minutes without getting my heart rate too high, I can knock out the second half in under 52 minutes, breaking my unofficial pr of 1:49:55.
Go for the official pr strategy. I honestly don’t remember my official pr. It’s around 1:56 and I ran it the first half of the Utah Valley Marathon last June. This I could do comfortably.
Take it easy strategy. This would involve breaking my previous best half marathon time from nine years ago of 2:02:04. This would be an enjoyable trot through the Lake Mead Recreation Area but nothing to get excited about.
I’ve decided on #2. I’ve been running similar hills the past couple weeks and could run the 3-mile downhill right after the halfway point in about 21-22 minutes without killing myself before the last 3.5 miles. I think with the momentum and the camaraderie, I could knock out that last 3.5 in less than 28 minutes.
Factors that could change my mind include weather. The only weather that would cause me to alter strategy is wind, a possibility on the River Mountain Trail in early November. I don’t foresee the temperature making any difference. I’m used to 80s and sunny. Early November at Lake Mead will be between 50-70 at 7:00 A.M most likely. The narrowness of the trail may play a negative role, especially coming down the hill. It may also help me not move out too fast the first half.
The race is November 3. If you’re an experienced half-marathoner, let me know what you think.