Thursday, June 6, 2013

Utah Valley Marathon Preview

It’s time for yet another Utah Valley Marathon. For a review of last year’s Utah Valley Marathon, follow the link. Here’s a preview of the 2013 Utah Valley Marathon from the guy who finished a mediocre 856 out of 2056 runners last year. 

We’ll see if I can run from mediocrity this year.

Goal time: 3:54

I included several factors when determining a goal time for this year’s marathon, not the least of which was the excruciating pain I felt last year towards the end of the race. According to every metric/race prediction formula/running expert magical prediction, this is a conservative goal. My half marathon times, number of miles at race pace, Yasso 800s and other random race time predictors indicate consistently that I should be able to log a 3:50 race time.

These indicators dictate, of course, that I train properly for the distance by completing all my long runs and mileage goals, which I have. Here are some tallies since January 1:
  •   I’ve completed 19 runs of 10 miles or more.
  • About half of those were 15 or more miles.
  • The three longest were 19.15, 20 and 20 miles.
  •  The two twenty mile runs were done on May 15 and May 22.
So why the conservative goal? Long runs. I haven’t felt particularly strong on the last two 20-milers. Considering how I did on those, 3:54 is a rather ambitious goal. My race plan, however, isn’t necessarily linked to time, but to effort, meaning there could be a significant swing (either way) in the results. 

By linking my plan to effort—as dictated by heart rate—I can account for weather and other things that pop up during a long race.

The plan

I’m using the results from last year’s race (4:12:57 finishing time) to shape my race plan this year. It is important to keep in mind that I am a more capable runner now than I was a year ago. I’m looking for the 4:00 pacer and letting him or her start out two minutes before I do, hoping to catch him around the half way point.

Miles 1-7: Other than the final 10-k, this is the most important section of the course. Last year I ran it in 58:35—too fast. I figured since it was almost entirely downhill that I could get away with it. I was wrong. 8:22 miles were still too fast.

This year I plan to steal these miles. I’ll strap on the heart rate monitor and not let my heart rate get above 147. This takes discipline, especially on rested legs, even more discipline perhaps than finishing the last 6 miles on dead legs. If I am able to master myself, these miles will seem like nothing more than a nice warm-up. 

Because the miles are downhill, I can keep the heart rate down without going too slow. If I
can get these seven done in under an hour (8:34/mile), I’ll be happy. I will not speed up, however, to accomplish it.

But wait. That’s only 12 seconds per mile slower than last year’s pace, which ultimately led to you wanting to hurl yourself into the canyon at mile 10. Yes, but I am a much more capable runner this year than last year, and if I’m not, that’s OK. I’ll run it slower. 

Miles 8-11: Last year, I ran these four miles in 36:19. Pretty good considering the two mile steep incline starting on mile 8. This stretch probably led to my demise more than any other part of the course. 

This is an OK section to run a bit slower than goal pace. And I plan on it. I will allow the heart rate to increase on the uphills. If it gets to 160, I‘ll slow down. Once I crest the hill at the 10-mile point, I will give my heart rate a chance to decrease before hitting my stride once again. If I can hit these four miles around the previous year’s 36:19, I’ll be very pleased. If not, I won’t panic.

Miles 12-13.1: Last year, I did these two miles in 20:05. Why so slow? I stopped at the porta-potties to take care of business. These miles are also characterized by hilliness. I do know that the first half of this marathon did me in. I finished it in just under 1:57. I had completed my last long run in training four weeks before the marathon. The longest run I had done during that month was 11 miles. I was cooked at this point. 

That will not happen again.

If I finish the first half in under two hours, I feel good about my chances of hitting 3:54, although the closer to 1:57, the better I’ll feel. This is true if, and only if, I follow my race plan—especially the first seven miles. I ran an 8:25 pace for 15 miles recently that included a 1:50 half marathon. I also nailed a 1:49 half marathon on an extremely hilly course not long ago. I ran a 1:52 half marathon on a recent 20-mile run (full disclosure: I flamed out the last four miles).

All these efforts involved wind, heat, hills or a combination thereof. Basically, what I’m saying is I don’t need to have perfect running conditions to bag a 1:55ish half marathon, even if it is the second consecutive one. 

The key, however, is to not burn up the first half. I’ll repeat this. The key is to not burn up the first half.

Miles 14-16: These miles, I believe, are mostly downhill. Last year I ran them in 27:18. Mile 15 was my last sub-9-minute mile. By mile 16, I was done.

At around mile 15, I’ll check my heart rate only to make sure I’m not red-lining. Otherwise, I’m running by feel.

Miles 17-20: The last significant uphill ends around mile 18, notwithstanding some hilliness to the end of the canyon—the canyon feels awfully confining at this point. I ran this section in 40:30 last year. If I run it in 40:30 this year, I can forget about finishing in under four hours. It’s during these miles I have to run that fine line between not burning myself out, but keeping up a fast enough pace.

Miles 21-26.2: Last year I ran 21-23 in 28:12. I felt great. I had pounded a Gu at mile 20 and was keeping up with the 4:00 pacer. I hit the wall, hard, at mile 23, running the last 3.34 miles in 42:09. I didn’t see the 4:00 pacer after the mile 23 marker. I just wanted to finish.

I have no strategy for the last 6.2. Whatever I have left, I’ll give. If it gets me across in 3:54, I’ll celebrate. If it gets me across in 4:00, I’ll celebrate. If it gets me across alive, I’ll celebrate.

Food and Drink

I made a big mistake by not eating or drinking enough the two days before the marathon. That will not happen again. Last year I stopped at every water station. I won’t do that this year. But I will make a concerted effort to eat more. I will grab a Gu at every opportunity and drink Powerade at minimum every other stop.

On second thought, my heart rate monitor's been annoying me lately. I'm just gonna run by feel.



  1. Best of luck, Trent! That sounds like a smart plan--wish I'd done something that smart in Eugene in April. Oh well. I hope you nail your 3:54 and more (I'm betting you will!).

  2. Thanks Terzah. Didn't hit the 3:54 but did set a 12-minute pr (4:00:55). I did negative split it, due to having to use the bathroom six times the first half.