Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Marathon race plan 2016

The 2016 Honolulu Marathon is upon us, time to make a race plan. This year my training plan was very straight-forward. I did a 16 week plan starting in August just after Tinman. I had to double up to get in some bike miles in preparation for the Honolulu Century Ride in September, but after that it was all about running.

During the year I got a bit deeper into Chi Running. I even bought and read the book. Happily I had already adopted most of the form elements through the Newton style running. What I got from Chi Running was more attention to balance, less effort, and more relaxation. The result was, at least in how I felt, a faster cadence and pace at a lower effort.

Another thing I did that helped was to join Jason Fitzgerald's Strength Running team. At this level there is still no one-on-one coaching, but there is a great on-line discussion group and monthly webinar coach's meetings where we can ask questions. I got a lot out of it; glad I joined.

I have been very fortunate in avoiding training injuries. Or being sick, for that matter. I can't recall the last time I crashed on my bike. I recall a few mishaps running barefoot on the sand, but nothing that held be back. This fall my luck ran out. I did something that upset my right ankle, enough to severely curtail my run mileage mid-way through the training plan. It has improved, but there are days when I still feel a lingering pain. Like a noisy neighbor, you learn to live with it.

Just as the ankle came back I had another setback. Not really a training injury. A dead tooth. But, I offer the argument that a heavy training load compromises the immune system, and what kills a tooth is a bacterial infection. It turned out that the tooth was cracked, which provided a pathway for bacteria and nutrients to get down into the roots, and I cannot blame the crack on training. Whatever the cause, I was at first incapable of running, but even after the infection went down I decided hard training was a bad idea because my body needed to fight the infection. The result was that I had to drop back on my long run distance and ramp up again, so I never made it to 20 miles. The good news is that the long distances I could do finally felt good.

Last year I did a 5/1 run/walk. It worked, but this year I decided to go straight run. Which really means walk the steeper hills, walk the aid stations, and try to keep running as much as possible. Given my bumpy training all I can say is, we'll see.

I have the nutrition thing down pretty well. I carry a two flask Fuelbelt, with both flasks carrying concentrated Hammer Perpetuem. Given my planned duration I should have four scoops per flask, but I find that concentration hard to take in, and since I am comfortable with a three scoop flask I will go with that. Since I am not carrying water I can only take on fuel at the aid stations. I did all my short runs without any fuel, just a bit of water at the parks, and did fine.

Just to be clear, a normal concentration would be 1 scoop per 16 oz. bottle. I will be putting 3 scoops in 6 oz. of water, times two flasks. This is approaching the concentration of a gel. I take in about  1 oz. every 30 minutes, along with four to eight oz. of water from the aid station. Perpetuem is not high in electrolytes, so I usually take 1 or 2 Endurolyte tabs per hour.

On all of my recent long runs I was comfortable at a 17:30 pace. Still slow, but different from previous years in that I am holding that pace at a much lower effort, at the lower end of heart rate zone 2. I know I can run faster. 16:30 is doable. Even 15:30, which gets me just into zone 3, good for half marathon but too high for a marathon, for me anyway. The big unknown is how well I can sustain that 16:30. So, my plan is to hold back until we come down off the Diamond Head hills, past the Aloha gas station and the gradual uphill after that. Where the course starts a long gradual downhill around Aina Koa is where I will test my form by let my legs rev up a bit. I have to remind myself that on the way back that same long climb up to the Aloha gas station is a leg breaker. Go too fast early and end up walking all the way from Waialae Iki park past Kalani High School.

If I can maintain a 17:30 overall I should finish in 7:40. Last year I did 7:37, so of course I will try to beat that! My PR is 17:25:41 back in 2014. To beat that I need to get under 17:00. I did last year, until that climb up to the Aloha station where I fell apart.

One thing I keep telling myself is that those 17:30 pace long runs were done slow on purpose, so that I could continue training during the week. Sunday is race day. Nothing to do in the afternoon, nothing to do for many days. Don't hold back. A little pain and suffering is to be expected. At the same time, do not run so hard that my calves cramp up solid. Start easy, then go hard in the second half with whatever is left in the tank. Back off a little around Wailpe to rest the legs for the climb up to the Aloha station, expect to suffer there, then go as fast as possible down Kealaolu and Kahala Ave. Hang on going up Diamond Head, then run it out to the finish.

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