• Juan J. Arrieta

3 keys for race plan at Sarasota Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Sarasota Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro by going to https://www.bibrave.com/bibravepro and find full race reviews at www.bibrave.com.

Prepare everything in the afternoon and go to bed early

I plan to arrive in the early afternoon at the Fit2Run store in downtown Sarasota where packet pickup will be held . At this moment, I am fortunate that I do not need any running gear whatsoever, so I do not intend to do any shopping or spend much time on my feet there. I will pick up my packet, take some photos, and head to the hotel to check-in and prepare/lay out all my race-day gear before even going to dinner. That is the blueprint I will follow from now on because I have been recognizing the value of sleep and its impact on my performance both on training and on races. Therefore, I am prioritizing going to bed earlier every day, but in particular before training days and races. With a projected wake up of 5:00 a.m. on race morning, that means that if I'd like to get 7-8 quality hours of sleep, I need to be in bed, lights out, by 9:00 p.m. at the absolute latest. This is just one of those things that we can all do by simply recognizing where our priorities should be, then planning and following-through accordingly.

Be familiar with start line layout, get to it early, do dynamic stretches and warm-up

It is not a secret that arriving early to the start area of a race and going through a dynamic stretching and warm-up routine helps prepare us to be ready to perform as best as possible when the starting gun goes off. Being familiar with the start area is a great way to understand where to do those things. You can do that by reviewing the athlete's guide published by the race directors; click HERE to access it.

For this event, the start line will be located adjacent to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, and the following are the key times to keep in mind:

• 5:30 a.m. Race-day packet pickup

• 5:30 a.m. Gear check opens

• 6:30 a.m. Race start

So my plan is to arrive to the start area shortly after it opens, go through my dynamic stretches, run an easy, warm-up mile, confirm that I have everything that I need on me, turn in my warmup gear/bag, use the bathroom, and head to the start line, ready and focused to put in my absolute best effort and performance.

Start & stay hydrated, ease into target pace

I have checked the extended weather forecast for race morning, Sunday, October 20th, and the temperatures are currently expected to be in the mid 70s at start time. Therefore, I will be making an extra conscious effort all this week, but in particular on Friday and Saturday, to be fully hydrated and have my body ready to take on the challenge right from the start. My strategy then is to stay hydrated by taking in fluids at every aid station on course, which will be spread approximately 1 to 1.5 miles apart from one another. Check out the Athlete Guide prepared by the race directors for the specific locations on course where each station will be found. I have to make sure I stay on top of my hydration not only to be able to perform my best, but also to avoid leg cramps, something that has happened to me a lot as a result of a condition which causes me to lose a higher than normal amount of sodium and other electrolytes when I run.

In the past I have also made the mistake of starting out too fast during races. On those occasions, I believe I had been thinking too much and stressing about a particular finish time and what it would take to hit it, and it resulted on me pressing too much in the early miles. I ended up paying the price, not being able to sustain it through the end. My pace on those races actually got worse and worse as the miles increased. But I have learned and know I need to be patient and ease into my target pace over the course of miles 1-3 by focusing on my breathing and finding an effiient stride and rhythm. If it goes according to plan, something which is NEVER a given, my effort should yield great results and allow me to push successfully in the second half and tail end of the race.

So, wish me luck---Here's to a successful race in Sarasota!

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