I'm currently reading a training book by Joel Friel. Joel makes a point out of race plans, and suggests that rather than just being a vague idea or a hope, they should be written down and padded with some positive thinking reinforcements. The idea being that not only does thinking things through help to remove nervousness, it also means that you can fill your head with positive thinking and can-do attitude, rather than the gnawing doubt that we probably all suffer from every now and then.
With that in mind, I took the time yesterday evening to write down how my HM in Blackpool on Sunday is going to go (not how I *hope* it will go, but how it actually *will* go). And now that I know how it's going to be, all the stress (most of it at least) is gone - the only thing left now is to go out and do what it says on the paper. Simplez!
I will have a lie in on Saturday, and after getting up and having a leisurely breakfast I will pack what I need to bring as per the packing list. Check-in at the hotel is from 3pm, so I will leave around 1pm. After I have checked in I will go for a stroll, find my way to the promenade, locate the start point and the area to collect my chip and number. I will treat myself to a nice meal, but nothing overly heavy. Maybe a steak or a pasta dish – carbs are good today! No alcohol, as that sometimes ruins my sleep. I might go to the cinema or read a book. I plan on taking a sleeping pill and go to sleep at 10 or 11 at the latest.
Registration opens at 8.30 and the race start is at 11. I will get up at 7.45, have a shower and a cup of coffee in the room, and then make my way down to the registration to get my chip and number. With that sorted, I will sit down and enjoy breakfast. Porridge if they have it, but otherwise a small cooked with eggs and beans. I want to feel sated but not sluggish. One cup of coffee max, and from 10 onwards I will only be sipping a bit of water.
When I get dressed I’ll smother my nipples (oooh baby!) in Vaseline; it’s a long run, and it’ll be raining, and I don’t want nipple rub. I will be wearing my running belt with both water bottles full, so I’m not dependent on the water stations. This will allow me to sip when I want and to have water before and after the gels. It also means I have somewhere to stow my rain jacket if the weather should decide to be better than forecasted. Gels in left pocket, empty bag for gel wrappers in right pocket. Gloves in right pocket. Buff on.
I will get to the warm up area for 10.30. It’s right next to the hotel. This gives me time to visit the toilet, and if there is a general warm-up then I will participate in that. Otherwise I will do some brisk walking, a few lunges, some high steps and some heel kicks. While I do want to get a bit warmed up, I know that the 2:15 I aim for is a longer run than I have done for a while, so I won’t go overboard and tire myself out. I’ll try to fit another toilet visit in before the start. A few minutes before start I will take my first gel of the day. This will make sure there’s fresh energy in the system when I get an hour in.
I know I can run 21 km. I have done it before, and I am trained for it. My strategy is to ensure I keep a steady pace and watch my heart rate. I would like 6:30 splits. Anything quicker is a bonus. I will keep my heart rate below 145 for the first 10 km, and let it slowly creep upwards towards 150 at the 15 km marker and 155 towards the 20. I will take a gel at 4 km, 8 km, 12, km, 16 km and 19 km. It’s a lot of gels, but they give me a boost, and today is not the day to worry about calories. For each gel I will slow down to a walk while I’m having them; my training has shown it only adds about 15 seconds to the lap, and it’s worth it.
I will finish strong and confident, but I won’t be sprinting and wrecking my body for the entire next week. I know that I am fitter than I was last October in Birmingham, so I will do well. This will be a PB. Imagine that. Me, who couldn’t run 60 seconds a year ago, not only completing a half marathon, but doing it twice and beating my own time from the first time.
By letting myself be guided by the heart rate numbers, which my training has shown me works, I know I will have run as good a race as I can. It’s the first 20 km that determines the time, not the last 500 meters. This will be fun!