Sunday, May 29, 2011

Preparing for a mountain marathon

One week from now, with any luck, I'll have finished my second marathon, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Here in North Carolina it's hot and steamy even early in the morning when I usually run. But in Steamboat Springs, they actually got some snow last night! The overnight low for next week is slated to be around 40 degrees, but it could end up being much colder than that -- perhaps even below freezing. Generally it warms up during the day, but I'll need to be prepared for a chilly start. As in Big Sur, we'll get bussed to the starting line, and although the wait at the start won't be quite as long, it will still potentially be very cold.

With that in mind, I decided to head to Goodwill to see if I could find cheap, warm clothes that I could just throw away at the starting line or a short distance into the race if necessary. Although Goodwill doesn't have a "sportswear" section, they do have sweatpants mingled in with "slacks," and fleece jackets in the "sweater" section. I found a pair of sweats and a very nice (if bright red) fleece jacket from the Grove Park Inn (one of the nicest hotels in the state), for about $8. Score! I still have an extra pair of $1 gloves from Big Sur, so the total value of my race-morning discards will be less than $10. If it turns out not to be so cold or the bag-check is easily accessible from the start-line, I might actually even get away with keeping some of these items for next time.

The rest of my gear for the race will probably be similar to what I wore at Big Sur: A singlet, shorts, shoes, and socks. I did order a pair of shorts from Race Ready that I might decide to wear during the race. Their shorts have a series of back pockets that can hold up to 14 gel packs (I'll only be carrying about 7), which means I wouldn't need to wear a belt at all. Depending on when the shorts arrive, I may end up wearing them during the race. One big change from Big Sur: I will not be carrying a camera. This race is all business as I try to break 3:30 and qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Details of this morning's run are below:

Today was my last long-ish run before Steamboat. The plan was to run just 13 miles at a fairly easy pace. Sometimes, however the best of plans don't quite work out as planned. Like it has been for the past week or so, it was a steamy morning, about 70 degrees at the start, but 90 percent humidity. There were about ten people waiting at the CVS for a DART run, and a solid portion of the group was interested in 13, so we decided to run the route of the Run For the Green half marathon that's held here in Davidson every Fall.

Todd, Tim, Matt, and Chris are all faster than me, and Amy Krakauer, who had just won the National Aquathlon, was also joining us. Yikes! We took off at just under an 8:00 pace, which normally is doable for me at that distance, but in this heat and humidity turned out to be quite aggressive. By the end of the run, I was lagging behind the group, running the last two miles in 8:38 and 8:39 on an admittedly challenging uphill section. Overall my pace was 8:09, not bad considering the conditions. The rest of the week I'll be taking things *very* easy in preparation for the race.

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