Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Taper Workout and Race Plan

This morning I ran my last workout before the marathon, which included a simulation of the first five miles of the race, ten minutes of jogging, then 3x1000 on five minutes. I started a short, two day carbohydrate depletion phase yesterday morning, so I was a bit leery of attempting a confidence-building workout like this with a less than full tank. All in all the workout went well, though the first mile out the door on an uphill at close to race pace was a little tricky. If it's hard not to overdo it while just imagining the race and running at home, I'm sure being in the throngs of people on the Verrazano-Narrows bridge will be even more difficult. I ended up running 6:09, 5:55, 5:56, 5:56 and 5:53 for the effort, and I definitely felt more relaxed during the last two miles than I did for the first three. Finding the heart rate at 157 for the last mile seemed like a good sign.

After the simulation I jogged up to the track at the nearby junior high and broke into the first 1000 straightaway. Mystery Coach was looking for 3:10-3:20, which he noted as a hard, 4-5 mile race effort. I tried to lock in on the first repeat, but the legs were a little rusty after jogging easily up to the track. I was a little bummed to read 3:21 for the first result, but I wasn't interested in pushing the effort any harder. The 1:40 rest interval really seemed to help, so the same effort netted me 3:13 for the second rep, and the heart rate was back to 120 at 80 seconds into the rest interval. The last repeat felt about the same as the second one, so the 3:14 wasn't too surprising. I definitely felt good jogging home, knowing all the preparation for NYC was finally in the bag.

I'm planning on an easy jog and a joyful return to carbohydrates tomorrow. I don't seem to take to this depletion thing too well, or at least my brain doesn't. This morning after the workout I managed to leave the burner on after cooking my eggs and then proceeded to freak out after "losing" my NYC marathon info booklet and bib card. Thankfully Kiera kept me from burning the house down, and by the time I arrived at work she had also emailed after finding my NYC documents.

Friday morning I'm on a plane at 7am with my pal Lucas, who is running his first marathon. We have an apartment rented in Manhattan where we'll meet up with Catlow, Jason, Toby an his wife Jen, who are all traveling to NYC from Tucson. Jason is running his first marathon as well, though with his fast times at shorter distances he's earned a clean, "sub-elite" space on the front of the orange starting line. Toby managed a blue, "professional" start with his previous 2h37m marathon, and Lucas and I will leave from corral A on the orange starting line.

As far as a race plan goes, I have every intention of running a personal best, and if things go my way I'll try to squeeze under 2h35m. The training has gone very well, I haven't gotten sick in the past few weeks, and I have no complaints of soreness or any injury. Yes folks, I'm saying I have absolutely no excuses. Mystery Coach put together a plan that's made me feel more fit than I've ever been, and for the most part I've been smart enough not to overdo it. While it's true that the stresses and effects of travel, accommodations and weather can't be predicted, I'm heading to the city with high expectations and with great friends, so I anticipate a great weekend.

Instead of just trying to hit 5:55 for each mile, I'm hoping to ease into the race for the first 5-8K, and I'll try to mind what I've been learning from this spreadsheet as far as adjusted splits for the ups and downs on the route. If you look at the pacing tab in the excel file it even gives you the option of choosing how fast you get up to speed and how much you anticipate fading at the end. Pretty cool, though I'm only using it as a guideline. Mostly I'm noting the noticeably slow and fast splits in hopes of keeping an even effort throughout the race. In the past I've been a bit of a pace monkey, which has meant braking and giving up free speed on downhills while working too hard to stay on pace during the uphills. With the undulations in mind ahead of time, I hope to stay under the red-line a bit further into the race than usual.

For nutrition, the strategy calls for a gel 15 minutes before the start, then gels at mile 7, 12, 17 and 21. I'll take on sports-drink and water in about even amounts, and I'll stick to my usual strategy of hitting most of the aid stations but only drinking small amounts at each in an effort to aid digestion and absorption.

Having a real kitchen while in NYC should help me with getting the complex carbohydrates I'm used to on Saturday, which is something I've had trouble with when traveling to marathons in the past. I do hope to meet up with blogging minimalist and media personality Ian for a meal on Friday night. We'll also be in the same corral for the start on Sunday. I know Duncan will be covering the race, so I'm hoping to catch up with him too if he can tear himself away from Catherine The Great.

The biggest problem I see for race morning is the ungodly long period of time between our 5am bus departure from the library in Manhattan and the 9:40 starting time. I usually like to eat a decent breakfast about three hours before racing, but the long ride and longer wait will most likely throw me off. Still, I'll make do.

For anyone interested in tracking me, my bib is 2054. In the U.S.A., NBC has a one hour recap of the race on at 3pm eastern on Sunday following the race. Lots of info on the race is available here.

I'll try to check in again before the race. In the meantime, many thanks to my family for their love and support, to Mystery Coach for his excellent advice, planning and counsel, and to all of you for reading.

9.25 miles, 5 mile marathon simulation in 6:09, 5:55, 5:56, 5:56 and 5:53, finishing HR of 157, then 3x1000 on 5 minutes in 3:21, 3:13, 3:14 (max HR 168)
Sleep: 7.5h 8/10
Legs: 8/10
Weather: Perfect again


Michael said...

Have a great race Mike, I'm really excited for you... all the best!

by7 said...

honestly speaking, this time I fell 100% good about your shape and training. You respected your body and arrive to NYC in perfect peak.
I bet the farm on a good race...
(pay attention to the bridges... they are really tough... especially after doing all the first miles on flat the first bridge hit you quite badly..)
in my NYC experience I did the silly mistake to start pushing the pace from Bronx "...because it was almost over..." so I hit the hills in Cental Park that I was already border line and they felt like a mountain..

Ewen said...

All the best Mike. You look to be in great shape for a sub-2:35 race.

Hope you packed the earplugs for sleeping - NYC can be a tad loud.

By the way, the link to the pacing chart has a space after shared/. Great resource to even out the ups and downs.

Thomas said...

I would have thought the taper workout does the depletion for you, so you don't have to especially deplete yourself for two days.

NYC isn't the easiest route to PR, but if you're in the best shape of your life you have to go for it.

Could you take some complex carbs in a tupperware container and eat them on the transport, 3 hours before the start?

Most of all, good luck! You deserve it.

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

Just an FYI, the race will be covered live on the internet at

It sure sounds like your preparation has been spot-on and the plan that MC came up with is an excellent one. I'm betting you are going to have a great race. Good luck and enjoy!

Quinto Sol said...

Go get 'em Mike!

Greg said...

Doesn't carb depletion suck? I've never even tried to run a hard workout during that phase as I just feel off.

Nice job on all accounts Mike. I think I learned a lot from watching you during this build.

Mark said...

Good luck Mike! You're fit, you're fast and may the wind be at your back. You will do well!

Wayne said...

Mike - i'm rooting for you here in the Netherlands. You're definitely fit and ready to go. Love the confidence and mindset you have going into the race.

Eric said...

Best of luck , Mike! Everything looks great, you're fit, and the plan is set. Now is the 'easy' part...execution. haha

Also, a quick warning:
2) If on the Verazzano you get boned into running on the lower roadway, make certain you run near the center of the road. Stay away from the sides unless you want urine raining down on you because even though there are 1,500 portable toilets at the fort, you guessed it, people pee off the upper roadway. There’s no place for it to go but down. “Bring a raincoat,” Missy told me.

Have a great race, and stay on the top deck!

Jesse said...

Hey good luck Mike! I'll be rooting ya on.

Ewen said...

Eric, you're alive!

How about another "Training [not] update"?

Grellan said...

Hi Mike I logged on to wish you well and have been tracking you on-line from 15k - nail biting stuff. Looks like you held out pretty well and got on the right side of your PB. Congratulations!!!

Wayne said...

Mike - great run on a tough course. Congrats and keep your head up.

Jesse said...

Good race Mike. I believe that's a PR right?

Marc said...

Mike - Congrats on the PR even though you missed your target. I hope you stayed on the upper deck of the Verrazano bridge.

Hey in the top 100! Well done. That's no small accomplishment.

Mike said...

Great job Mike! A very small percentage of marathoners can say they averaged sub 6-minute pace, and by my count you got there by about 4-seconds. (assuming the finishing time I saw on the website is accurate)

Enjoy your time out there!

by7 said...

PB ... congratulations !!! we wait for the race report

Thomas said...

Congratulations on a PR, Mike.

Eric said...

Excellent result, Mike! A solid PR and on a difficult course. Congrats to you and MC!

Ewen said...

Great race, PB and 87th place! Well done Mike.

Can't wait to read all about it, and how those head-winds, which slowed the early pace in the elite races, affected you.

Jesse said...

BTW- how did you like the City?