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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Marine Corps Marathon Race Plan

So, let's not pretend that I'm not worried about the Marine Corps Marathon tomorrow.

I've been out of my rhythm for the last few weeks, and my mileage has, well, plummeted. Add to that the extremely low temperatures of tomorrow morning, and we've got ourselves a recipe for disaster.

Or do we? We do not. I run much more quickly in cold weather, and I'm going to call my mileage drop a super-taper. Yeah, that's the half-full version of it. I like that, let's go with it.

With that in mind, I've been studying the course map rather intently, and I'm feeling pretty good about my chances at a PR. Sure, there are a few issues involved, but I'm going through them now, hoping to avoid any issues by anticipating them.

1) Terrain - The course isn't too bad as far as hills or other terrain issues. Whereas both Austin and Seattle had rather challenging hills throughout the course, this time around, the ugly stuff is done early. The first two and a half miles are pretty much all uphill, but they're followed by a merciful drop to mile four. After that, there's a little up and down, with one more gentle climb from six and a half to seven and a half. Then, the hills are done (except of course for that .2 at the end). What this means to me is that if I can maintain my pace through mile seven, I'm good to cruise for the rest of the race.

2) Weather - I'm not going to say that the cold isn't a concern, but I think I can manage pretty well. I've gotten some gloves for the first few miles that I can drop without too much worry. Other than that, I don't plan to change things too much. I know what is comfortable for me, and there's no point in changing things now. I just have to make sure that I'm not bared to the elements too early on. Thank goodness for gear checking.

3) Refueling - There are surprisingly few water stops along this course, which simply means that I'm going to have to take water at every stop. I also have to manage my energy gel intake to go along with these stops. Put simply, I'm going to take a gel at every third water stop. I've figured out what time I should be getting to those stops based on the pace I'd like to run, and that way, I can have everything ready to go when the water comes into view.

4) Equipment - This will be the first race in the Brooks shoes, and I'm very excited about it. I chose not to go for my two mile tune-up today, because I didn't want wet shoes for tomorrow. The one other change that I'll be making is my new belt from iFitness. Not only is it wider than a Spibelt (meaning my narrow phone won't twist around), but also it has loops on the outside for gels, giving the whole thing a Batman Utility Belt look. While I'm a little worried about running with it for the first time in a race, it'll be better than any of the other possibilities I had for carrying the things I need.

In the final hours, there are only a few things left to be done. I'll have my last big meal in an hour or two, so that there's plenty of time for digestion. I'll lay everything out tonight and memorize my desired split times. If all goes well, I'll be sound asleep early, and ready to roll in the morning.

And at this time tomorrow, one way or the other, it'll be my first real off-season, and I'll be one marathon closer to 50.

Game on.

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