Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Geeking out on the Rocket City Marathon

In four days, with any luck, I will have just finished the Rocket City Marathon. It's pretty clear to me that the folks putting this race on are serious running geeks. Case in point: The official course map. Here it is:

As you can see, there's tons of information here. Not only is there a detailed elevation profile, but the key high- and low-points are marked with exact figures. It's pretty clear from the map that Mile 8 and Mile 17 are the toughest, but overall these hills are pretty small compared to what I'm used to running. As a point of comparison, the biggest hill in the race stretches from Mile 16-17, with a total climb of 88 feet. You'd be hard pressed to find any two-mile stretch in the Thunder Road Marathon with less than 88 feet of climbing. My standard 6-mile run with DART has only one two-mile section with less climbing.

20 of the 26 miles at Rocket City have 25 feet or less of climbing, which is less than any of the miles on the DART loop.

None of this is to say that Rocket City will be easy — you can always make a race harder just by running faster. But it is to say that when I do a training run at marathon pace here in Davidson, it's a harder run than what I'll be facing at Rocket City.

Further geekiness: A mile-by-mile charting of the climbs in the race:

The big climbs are in Mile 1, 8, 17, 21, and 23. I think Mile 21 might be the toughest in the race — it's after Mile 20 and it can be demoralizing to have a significant hill at that point. But again, all these hills are small enough that they won't last long. If I can just maintain an equal effort — maybe run these miles at a 7:30 pace instead of the planned 7:15 for the race, they shouldn't pose too much of a problem. For me, the temperature is a bigger concern.

Which reminds me: Here's my updated temperature graph:

As a reminder, this graph charts the forecast for December 8 on a given day, not the actual weather on that day. Today's forecast is similar to the past two days, so the weather pattern may be stabilizing. Looks like I need to be preparing for a race that will mostly be in the high 50s and low 60s.

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