Race plan for Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon
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Recognize unusual start time and eat/rest properly
The start time of this race is 4:30pm on Sunday, something which is quite unusual when compared with the great majority of races that typically start early in either Saturday or Sunday morning. While this represents an interesting and welcome change to me for a number of reasons, at the same time I have to be smart and recognize that I need to plan accordingly, and not get caught up in a bunch of activities early in the afternoon or eat a heavy lunch. Both of those have the potential to derail my best-laid plans for a strong performance on this race, so I will plan to take it easy on Sunday, eat a good, sensible lunch around 11am-12pm, and then a nutritious snack around 2pm that will help me be fueled up and ready to go at 4:30pm. Gotta scope out where to best eat lunch and that snack ahead of time so that I can have and make the best choices for both and not be caught up scrambling at the last-minute for something that won't help me during the race.
Ease into target pace
One of the key things I reviewed with my coach this past weekend regarding this race was the plan for the first few miles. In the past I have fallen into the trap 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, so I pressed too much during the early miles. I eventually ended up paying the price, not being able to sustain it through the end and actually seeing it get worse and worse as the miles increased. For this race, I have a good idea and know what my target race pace feels like, and I am perfectly fine with easing into it. During my training I noticed that almost without exception, my first mile to mile and a half, my pace is slower as I warm up and get into a good rhythm. Once I find that efficient rhythm, the pace gets better and into a nice comfort zone. So for this race, I plan to follow what my training showed me and not worry about my pace and time is for the first mile or two. I will just be patient and find my efficient rhythm. Experience has taught me that if I can do that, I should be able to then sustain that pace for much longer and finish the race strong and on a very positive note.
Be mentally ready to deal with discomfort over the last 3-4 miles
Again, I feel confident that I'll be able to maintain my target pace for the first 8-9 miles of this race. But I also want to be prepared to dig deep and push HARD to the next level over the last 4-5 miles, and finish knowing that I gave it all I had with my absolute best effort. One way I will know I am reaching that "envelope" is the level of discomfort. It cannot feel like it is just easy cruising or a breeze. I will push until my body sends me the signal telling me that I won't be able to sustain that for a lot longer than 20 minutes or so (5k pace). My goal is to get progressively faster over that stretch and end up with negative splits, and in particular make my last mile be the fastest for the race. If that ends up resulting on a personal best mark, awesome. If not, at least I won't have doubts or regrets about not having given it my all.
So, wish me luck, here's to a great race in Vegas!