February 12, 2011

Preparing for a half marathon

Tomorrow I'm racing the 'First Half' half marathon in Vancouver. I thought I'd write down some of the things you may want to do or plan the day before a race.

Picking up your race package.
Check the times, dates and place to do this. The First Half encourages runners to pick it up before race day and that makes for a much more relaxed routine on race morning. However, since I don't live in Vancouver, I've chosen to take the option of picking it up on race morning. I'll make sure to be well on time to do that.

Planning your pace. 
My plan for this race is to go as fast as I can, and hopefully go faster than I did in my most recent one, or even set a PB. The last half marathon I ran was the Scotiabank Half Marathon in June, where I ran 88:30. My PB is 88:13, which I ran in April 2008. My training has been going very well and I did a comfortable 5km time trial two weeks ago in 19:34.

It's always a good idea to check whether your event has kilometre or mile markers, and at which intervals. The First Half is marked at every mile and at halfway. I usually think in kilometre pace, so I make sure to convert this to my mile pace, with the help of a pace calculator such as Merv's.

Make sure you don't get carried away at the start, which is hard when everyone's excited and raring to go. It's so easy to run too fast in that first kilometre, and it always catches up with you later in the race.

I'll aim to run my first mile in 6:50-6:55 (which is slightly slower than my most recent half marathon pace), and that for the first 5km to ease into the race. If I feel good in the second half, I hope to dial it up a notch. I'd love to end up with an average mile pace of 6:42. That would be a PB, of just under 88 minutes. We'll just have to see how the legs go.

Race nutrition
Of course I'll put everything ready tonight so I don't need to think about it early tomorrow morning. I'll have an energy bar or two for breakfast, a coffee and a bottle of water. I'll also bring 2 or 3 energy gels in the race and take a sip of water at every aid station.

The weather's forecast to be cool and rainy. I'll wear three-quarter tights with knee-high compression socks, and a long-sleeve shirt. I'll use relatively new shoes, the New Balance REVlite which I love. Gloves for sure. Wish I had a waterproof pair but fleece will have to do.

Given the wet and cool weather forecast, make sure you have some dry clothing to change into as soon as you finish. My partner Tim will come, so I'll give him my clothes (in a waterproof bag).

If you drive to the start, make sure you plan your parking spot, even if you have a friend or family member drive the car for you. Tim will drop me and a friend, who's carpooling with us from Squamish, off so we can pick up our race package. Arrange a meeting place if you want to see each other before the race start, and agree on a spot near the finish for afterward.

Bring a positive and excited frame of mind to the race. Enjoy!


Unknown said...

Have a great race!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Margreet,
I'm using this nike app on iphone 4 which tells me exactly time and pace in km (could also use miles though). It uses gps to 'find' where I am. Handy.
I drink my water upfront. Don't take any with me. Last race I happen to miss refreshments half way... What kind of energy gel you take along? Jealous of your 90 min..., if I can make it within 2 hours I'm a happy man! Wanna run the Big Sur California 1/2 marathon this year. My 'debute'
Greetzzz, Jeroen

Margreet Dietz said...

Thanks Stacey!!!

Margreet Dietz said...

Hey Jeroen, my favourite gels are the Powerbar Double Latte gels. Today I had two. Before a race I drink about 500-750ml of water (though make sure to finish a good hour before the race start). Then I simply take water at each aid station, amount depends on temp. Big Sur - awesome! Would love to do that race. As for time, train consistently, stay healthy, and be patient - you'll be amazed how much speedier you'll get over time.