Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Blue Ridge Relay leg analysis: Leg 7

This year, once again, I'll be running the Blue Ridge Relay, as a member of team Stache and Dash. The race is on September 6 and 7, and I'm going to be runner #7, which means on our 12-member team, I'll be running legs 7, 19, and 31.

The total mileage for my 3 legs is 16.5, which breaks down as 5.6 for leg 7, 4.4 for leg 19, and 6.5 for leg 31. I'll have roughly 8 hours of rest between each leg, so my plan is to go fairly close to all-out every time, with the expectation that I will be slowing a bit each time.

Here's the info sheet for Leg 7:

As you can see, it's back-loaded with climbs. It's a net downhill route, with 773 feet of descent and 512 feet of climbing. Miles 3 and 5 look to be rather tough, but the other 3.6 miles should allow for some fast downhill cruising. My team has given me a projected pace based on my 10K times of 6:07 per mile for the whole leg. So how can I accomplish that?

I've made a spreadsheet to try to address the issue. Here it is:

I estimated the gain and descent for each mile based on the graph at the bottom of the info sheet, then made my best guess at what pace I could achieve for that mile. Basically I've got to run 5:40s on the downhill legs, a 6:50 for Mile 3 with its 120 or so feet of climbing, and a 7:20 for Mile 5 with 230 feet of climbing.

But my guesstimates from the graph don't add up to the actual vertical for the whole leg, so I adjusted each mile to account for that. As you can see, the adjusted gain for Miles 3 and 5 is now 151 and 231 feet respectively. I still think those paces are doable, but it will be a little more challenging to hit them. All I can do is try!

The other tricky aspect to this leg is the weather. This assumes perfect running conditions -- let's say 55 degrees with no humidity. But this leg will likely be the warmest leg I run -- I'm expecting to run it from 4 to 4:30 in the afternoon, and this time of the year, temperatures can be as high as 80 degrees in that area. Realistically if it's that hot I'll need to add a minimum of 30 seconds to my pace.

The other thing I'll need to be careful about is warming up. With a downhill start, I'll need to be getting up to speed quickly, so I'll need to make sure I'm properly warmed up, running at least a mile and possibly two before starting.

Next I'll give the rundown for Leg 19.

Details of today's workout are below:

Today I tried to combine a speed workout with a climbing workout, and came up with this concoction: 3 X (800, 400, 20 X bleachers). So I ran an 800, then a 400, then did 20 reps up the bleachers at Davidson College, repeating the whole thing three times. Felt pretty good, but the 800s definitely got tougher as the workout progressed. Hopefully all this hill work will put me in good stead for the Blue Ridge!

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