Share these with your running friends doing the race, especially the first-timers and out-of towners that haven’t experienced the glorious hills.
1. When in doubt, eat! The half-marathon distance lulls people into thinking they can complete it without a little fueling. It’s not about assuming you don’t have enough stored energy to get it done. I’m sure you do have the energy stores to finish. But don’t you want to finish strong? It’s about subtly tricking your body into thinking that calories are coming into the system. You will feel better during and after plus your recovery time is decreased if you eat during the race. Personally, I usually have half a banana at mile 5-6 but that’s what works for me and it might not work for you.
2. Don’t underestimate the last 2 miles of the course. You will be slapped in the face with multiple obstacles all at once. Best to expect and prepare mentally for them.
- The course abruptly switches to pavement from compacted sand and pea gravel so your steps feel more harsh.
- There is suddenly little to no elevation drop, which will force you to slow your pace and change your technique.
- The temperature is much warmer because of the elevation loss up to that point, it’s later in the day, and there are no trees for shade.
- Plus, you just ran 11 miles, all downhill, so your quads are already not happy. Did someone say heavy legs?
3. Keep your turnover slightly quicker than usual to avoid killing your quads (as badly) before those final 3 miles. With the constant descent, your tendency will be to overstride, which will definitely demand more of the quads with each step.
4. Conserve effort in the first two to three miles. In most races, you don’t want to start out too hard in the first mile. In this race, the grade pitches rapidly toward 2% at the end of mile one and can get you running far faster than usual. As a result, you don’t feel the higher effort in the earliest miles that you normally would expect. Your heart rate is going to take longer to come up than on a flat course so that’s not a good indicator. Being downhill, the first 10 miles create more of a muscular demand than the average half-marathon while being less stressful to the cardiovascular system than usual. Check your splits at mile 2 and 3 and then adjust accordingly. I doubt many people will come through the 5K split and say “that was too slow.”
5. Bonus: Watch out for the cicadas. Especially if you are faster than me, I suggest wearing safety goggles and knight armor.