This is the first time I can recall planning a race while concerned about my ability to finish due to an injury. I did have doubts about my first triathlon -- let's be honest and call it shear terror at having to swim 750 yards without stopping. That was 2014, when my swim pace was 5:38/100y. For Honu last year I had gotten faster, but only just fast enough to get to T1 before the cutoff time. I was fully prepared to have my race end on the beach. I did that swim at a 2:41 pace that left me two minutes to spare! But there was no injury dragging me down. Last fall while training for the Honolulu Marathon I pulled a little tendon in my left ankle that forced me to cut back on my long run mileage, but by race day the pain was long gone. My only concern then was endurance.
The problem this time is my old nemesis, my left thigh. This has been an issue for years, probably caused by scar tissue left behind when I broke my femur. The quads do not articulate correctly, the IT band gets tight, the rectus femoris muscle gets angry at the knee end. I end up walking as if I had a peg leg. And it hurts. If I am lucky the leg will loosen up as I run and stay loose until the end. After that I won't care if it locks up solid and I need crutches to get home. The big unknown is how long I will be able to run on Sunday.
That being said, here is my plan. For the GAR last February I decided to experiment with going out less conservatively. After the first ten minutes and for the next twenty I ran at a 15:02 pace with an average HR of 149. I felt fine at the time, but looking at those numbers I can see why I had to walk through the stadium parking lot. HR 149 is way up in my high zone 3, over my cycling LTHR of 142 and right at my running LTHR of 148. And that was only a nine mile race! Since this is a half marathon I should try to run as much as possible in zone 2 (126-135). I will let my HR climb up higher going up Monsarrat knowing that there is some recovery ahead, but if I can't run much faster than I can walk it, I'll walk it. My target HR range is 130-140 and my target pace is 17:25-15:24. I should strive to stay at the lower end of those ranges, HR 132 and pace 17:00. That gives a time of 3:42:51. My PR is 3:05:56 set in 2014; I was so much younger then!* I will start with a 17:30 pace and hold that for two miles, then see how I feel. By the time we turn around and are back on Ala Moana I should know how my legs are working.
I am going to try a new fuel strategy. I usually carry enough to be self-sufficient between aid stations. Last year I had one small Fuelbelt bottle (about 7oz) of concentrated Perpetuem (four scoops) and one bottle of water to be refilled as necessary at the aid stations. I ran the GAR without anything, just taking water at the aid stations. On my long runs I usually carry two bottles of Perpetuem at a lower concentrate, and just drink water at locations along the route. Two weeks ago I did a 14 mile run and added a Hammer gel at the halfway point. My finish felt stronger. Could be the placebo effect, but hey, if it works I'll take it. I always carry Hammer Endurolytes on long runs. Putting it all together, for this race I will carry the same as I used on that last long run, two bottles of Perpetuem concentrate, two scoops each, with a gel and eight Endurolytes, all taken with water at the aid stations. Aid station pacing varies a bit, roughly one every mile or two, which is about what I am accustomed to.
This will be one of the few times that Pattie and I are doing the same race. I am slightly faster than she is and I know she gets uncomfortable running with me, so we will start together and immediately drift apart. She has had more than her share of physical challenges lately, but she did have a great 10k a few weeks ago and may just ace this race. Or, we might meet up at the nine mile marker and call it a day.
* - I went back and checked. Sure enough I was running five days a week back then. These days I am lucky to get in three. It shows.