Sunday, February 5, 2006

2006 Ocala Half Marathon

I thought that instead of the normal stride for stride race report that I send out, I would turn this into a lessons learned / how to overcome uncontrollable events to succeed.

Let’s first start with what could possibly go wrong when you choose to run a race in a place you have never been to:

- Departure flight was delayed an hour on the runway, causing a missed connection, resulting in an additional connection stop and more time lost in travel
a Airline in Green Bay ran out of de-icing fluid
b Had to go from Green Bay to Detroit to Memphis to Tampa
c Instead of arriving at 1pm, I arrived at 5:30 pm
d Still had to drive 100+ miles to arrive at Ocala in time for race packet pick up
e No opportunity to drive the course to adequately prepare a strategy
f In ability to properly hydrate and fuel while spending the day in 4 airports

- Course description said that it had ‘Florida Hills’
a To a non-Floridian, I thought that this was a joke, referring to how flat the area was and that the hills were overpasses
b In reality, there was not a flat portion of the entire course. It was either climbing or declining the entire time.
c Course was mapped properly, but had a person that was to indicate an early turn, who left the sign on the ground as the lead pack passed her by
d The top 50 runners went an additional ¼ mile before realizing that we missed a turn
e Resulted in an additional length of ½ mile for the fast, but not for the slower runners
f Ran 13.67 miles vs. 13.1 miles
g Added time or distance not subtracted from official time or distance

So how did I do knowing that all of these things that had not gone as planned?
- Temperature was perfect, starting at 38 degrees at the 7am, pre-sunrise start time and no wind

- Unofficial Time (for actual 13.1mile distance)
a 1:28:26, pace 6:44 min/mile
b Reduced time by 1:22, or 7 sec/mile

- Official Time (for 13.67mile distance covered)
a 1:32:03, pace 6:44 min/mile

- Finished 12th/300 entrants

- Finished 2nd in M30-34

- Ran the 40th fastest half marathon time in the State of Florida in the last 14 calendar months for M30-34

- Ran the 2nd fastest half marathon time in the State of Florida in the last 14 calendar months for M30-34 at this race

So what did I learn and what can I pass on to you?
- Never fly the day before a distance race
a Arrive 2 days early to get used to the temperature, other conditions

- Training Plan Notes that I recommend for a half marathon
a Include long runs of more than race distance
b I did 5 of 13 of more (13, 14, 16, 18 & 20)
c When it comes to race day, the distance seems easy since you have gone longer (distance) in training
d This also gets you used to the time on your feet, and gives you a chance to work on your hydration/fuel strategy during the run
e An added tempo speed workout each week of at least 4-6 miles and at 15-30 seconds faster than race pace
f This made race pace seem almost easy

- Even effort is more important than even pacing
a Split times were all +/- 15 seconds off of average pace (6:44) were not a change in effort, but of terrain.
b Normally on a flat course, I am +/- 3-5 seconds off of average pace
c Slower split times were on hilly sections
d I did not raise the effort on these sections, but held back, which resulted in less lactic acid buildup, and better capability to have a hard push at the end

- You must drive the course prior to race day
a Being able to see the course and visualize the inclines/declines, can help to top of your race strategy

So the question is always, how did you do? I rate my race performance by breaking it down into five key components:
a. Preparation (Proper rest, strategic plan, training plan) 30%
b. Conditions (Temperature, Wind) 20%
c. Competition (Higher level can raise performance) 10%
d. Race Management (Water stops, course directions, certified distance measurement) 10%
e. Race Execution (How you execute your plan) 30%

The bad part is that you only control A and E. In order to have a perfect race, you need help from B, C & D. Luckily, preparation and execution is 60% of the total.

My score for this race was:

a. Score of 100pts * 30% = 30 pts
b. Score of 95pts * 20% = 19 pts
c. Score of 70pts * 10% = 7 pts
d. Score of 50pts * 10% = 5 pts
e. Score of 100pts * 30% = 30 pts

Total Score = 91

Anything above 90 is a near perfect race. Based on my new PR, I would say that it was a great day. On a flat, certified course, I think that I could have pushed sub 1:27:30 give my preparation and execution.