Friday, April 8, 2011

Race Strategy: Elizabeth 8K

Tomorrow I'll be running the Elizabeth 8K, my last tune-up race before the Big Sur Marathon. I've never run an 8K before, so I'm guaranteed to PR, but I'd like to really put up a good time. The weather is slated to be a bit warmer than I'd like, around 57 degrees, but it should still be comfortable. I searched around on the Garmin site and found this record of a runner's race from last year. Mainly I was interested in the course's elevation profile, so here it is:

The small jags are probably just GPS artifacts, but the larger patterns make it clear that the course starts out with an uphill leg, it's flat for a bit, then there's a long downhill and a long uphill before a flat-to-downhill finish. What does that mean for strategy? Overall the course isn't actually that hilly, with a cumulative gain of 178 feet. The easy 5.68-mile recovery run I did today, for example, has a gain of 266 feet. The UNCC homecoming 5K, where I PRd, has a gain of 338 feet in just 5K! I also think the course plays out a little better for me than the St. Leo 10K, because it has a nice sustained downhill which should allow me to get a bit of a rest in Mile 3 before heading uphill in Mile 4.

So what's the strategy? I'd like to run Miles 1, 2, and 3 at a 6:50 pace. While Mile 1 has a bit of uphill, it's also Mile 1. Mile 2 is flat, so I should be able to sustain that pace, and Mile 3 is downhill so enough said there. Then on solidly uphill Mile 4 I'll do the best I can — if I can keep up the 6:50 pace, that would be ideal, but even if I slow down to, say, 7:10, that's okay, because Mile 5 is flat to downhill. I should at least be able to get back to a 6:50 pace, if not go faster, assuming I'm feeling relatively good that day.

That would put me solidly under a 7:00 pace, under 35 minutes for the whole race, which would really feel like a PR — I'd be running this race at about my 5K PR pace. Today's 5-mile recovery run felt good, so hopefully it's not unreasonable to think I can do well tomorrow.

Details of today's workout are below.

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