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Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Planning Stages

I've got a lot to anticipate this weekend.

Tonight, we open a show, and I'm very excited about it. I'm also very excited that I'll be able to get a little sleep starting next week, but for right now, I'm just pumped about having an audience. A show never really takes on its life until the audience arrives. When you hear their laughter or feel their silence, you know you've done your job, and that's when everything comes alive. I'll take the stage in a little over three hours, and I really can't wait.

Then, we've got little events throughout the whole weekend, including birthday celebrations, doggie training classes and runs with friends, not to mention two more shots at getting the show right. The curtain call for my weekend, though, is definitely going to be the Austin-American Statesman Capitol 10,000 on Sunday morning. I find myself getting obnoxiously excited about this little 10K, planning every step and wondering how it's all going to go.

My race day excitement comes from the same place as my opening night excitement: the audience. When you've got crowds, both on and along the course, your run takes on a whole new life. And when you've crossed that finish line, somewhere, on some website, there is a permanent record of your accomplishment. With that in mind, I feel I need a plan.

For a marathon, I figure I'm okay with the plan of "run exactly this fast" for 26 miles. The fact that it hasn't worked yet is merely an effect of my inability to stick to my plan in a racing situation. For a 10K, however, the differences from one mile to another actually force you to take a careful look at your race plan, and I have done just that. I have realized that my most difficult task will be easing my pace in mile three. If I can do that, I will definitely have a chance at achieving one of my New Year's goals, which is to PR at a distance other than the marathon. Here's the plan:

Mile 1: This is mostly uphill, except for the back side of the bridge. Fortunately, it's not that uphill, so I'm hoping to be right on goal pace for this mile. The crowd will thin somewhat, but I want to stay to the side, ensuring that I'm not basing my own performance off of those around me. For once, I want to be the one doing the passing in the final miles.

Mile 2: Here is where it starts to get interesting. This begins with a sharp uphill followed by a four-block downhill. It seems really nice until you make your left turn onto 15th and see the climb ahead of you. The goal here is to push that first up, ride the down, and use as much of that momentum as possible for that next up. The climb isn't done yet, so I'm not going to burn myself out.

Mile 3: Slow. That's the only way I'll survive. We travel into a great valley, essentially, topped off by a massive hill. The only real joy of this part of the course will be the knowledge that I'm not pushing myself yet, and it only gets better from there. This will be 10 - 15 seconds slower than my goal pace.

Mile 4: This is where it starts to get fun. Traveling slightly unfamiliar terrain (as I ran the trail by this part of the course, not the road itself), I'll do my best to let gravity have its way and carry me all the way down the hill, while still focusing on keeping my body forward. The decline is not nearly as sharp as the incline was, so this part should be awfully fast.

Mile 5: The lake. We travel parallel to the trail for a bit with only one little hill as you take the exit onto Cesar Chavez. The main benefits from the downhill are completed, but at this point, I should be locked into a pretty strong pace. I hope to be sizing up other runners to pass one by one, creating mini-races throughout the last two miles.

Mile 6(.2): The end. The only real surprise here is the last little hill on Cesar Chavez before the turn onto South First. With less than half a mile to go before the finish, I expect to encounter at least a few runners who started their kick a little too early only to be thwarted by an incline that barely shows up on the course elevation chart. Also, don't forget that the First Street bridge is somewhat of a hill itself. Once you crest the top, kick it home. You've got one sharp turn, but only a few steps after that.

As I say, the key to my success will be mile three, keeping myself in check and knowing that just because I feel good then doesn't mean that I'll feel good all the way to the end. It'll be important to keep myself from pushing those early moments in order to have the strength to push the back half the way I want. It's been so long since I've done a really strong short race, which is why I'm really excited for Sunday. More excited for tonight, but Sunday's on the mind, too. Whether it's theatre or running, I do love an audience.

Important difference, though: don't tell me to break a leg on Sunday.

Thursday's Workout:
1 Mile Warm-Up
4x800 on 1:00 rest
2:43     2:38
2:40     2:39
1 Mile Cool Down

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