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Monday, September 27, 2010

My Half Marathon Routine

I start to think about the Half a week ahead. It starts to really get to me 4 days before and by the night before I am kind of a mental case.

This will be my 5th one. All of them have been very different in prep, style and result.

  • 2009 Calgary Half Marathon, May 31
    • First one
    • Really nervous
    • Really injured
    • Keener for:
      • food
      • hydration
      • preparation
    • I had no Idea how hard it was going to be, I thought I was dying from about 17k on.
    • Didn’t enjoy the race, was too tight and unreasonably focussed.
  • 2009 Harvest Hal Marathon, Oct 3
    • Registered late, as a replacement for Okanogan Half
    • Woefully undertrained, with no speed or technical runs of any kind
    • Only 4 long runs
    • Went in with the idea to just enjoy
    • Took my camera on the run for the first time
    • Was hard, but taking the time to soak up the atmosphere made a huge difference
    • 10 minutes slower than may half, 4 times more fun!
  • 2010 Hypothermic Half, Feb 14
    • Goal race for the clinic I paced for
    • Ran with group for first 16k
    • Ran with Liz for final 5
    • Was team cheerleader
    • Most rewarding race, had all runners cross the line happy!
    • Ate my way out of any beneficial results from the race
    • longest run (in time) ever.
  • 2010 Calgary Half Marathon May 30th
    • Was fairly well trained
    • Made critical error in fuelling, didn’t gel, relied on HEED. Big mistake
    • 4 minutes slower than 1 year ago, but the effort was 2.8 times more.
    • I realized I wasn’t going to die and have figured out how to suffer better and did.
    • Finished the last uphill km without walking at all.
    • Felt amazing to complete race on sheer will, forcing my mind to keep me running when I desperately wanted to stop.

So, what will this Saturday Bring?

Joy, I say. I think no matter the result, I am feeling really grateful for my ability to run. This will translate into a terrific run. Barring a major collapse in our spectacular forecast, I will be running the entire event barefoot. I will carry my 5’s, but will not use them short of catastrophe. I’d like to do better that my 2:08 from last year, but am not putting any time commitments on myself. I will put an effort commitment on myself, I will bust my ass to complete the race in the fastest time possible.

So with 5 days to go, I am already getting wound up. Did I ever tell you I love race day? The energy at the start is one of my favourite moments in life. I get goose bumps thinking about the last 5 minutes before the start and the first half hour or so of the race. I enjoy the company of strangers and friends alike. I can imagine their training to get to this point, and the struggles, injuries, and the high points as well. Running is such an honest activity, the start of a race is just so full of possibilities and hopes and giddiness!

I don’t really alter my regular living routine until 2 days before. I’ll start drinking more water and really considering my food choices with regard to GI issues I've experienced in the past. I will sleep well the 2nd night before the race as I am not wound up too bad yet.

The Night before I will spend an hour just getting my stuff together and placed where I won’t forget it in the morning. I get my race clothes ready and I pile them up in the living room (the family is always still asleep when I leave for races, so I get ready in the living room). I make my Electrolyte drink (I have been using NUUN in training and liking it) and put it in the fridge, I plug in my Garmin, make sure the camera battery is charged and there is a SD card in it. I pin my bib on my shirt. I also pack a bag with a change of clothes for after the race as I really sweat and really stink at the end of a race, so everyone appreciates this step. Hat (or Bondi Band) and Sunglasses are readied and then I check everything over again.

I then go to bed and toss and turn until the alarm goes off. I don’t sleep much the night before a race.

I get up at LEAST 2 hours before the start time. I make coffee, eat a PBJ toasted sandwich, have a biggish glass of water, get dressed, double check all my gear, put my NUUN in the backpack (I race half’s with a hydration backpack now, and love it) then drink 1/2 a cup of black coffee.

I then sit, stand, walk around, sit again, walk around waiting for the coffee to work. Most of the time it does.

I head to the race location with enough time so I arrive at least 45 minutes prior to start. When I arrive I check the weather, and make wardrobe adjustments as necessary. I have to be coldat the start of a race otherwise I will be overheated within 2km and I'll be hating the extra gear I have to manage/carry for the next 19k.

I mill around and be social for about 20 minutes. with 20 minutes to the start I'll go for a jog just to loosen up. I find on training runs that It takes me a couple km to get into an easy cadence and easy breathing. In training that's ok. I do this pre-race jog for 5-10 minutes as it gets that initial tough stuff out of the way and warms/loosens me up nicely. It works and I always feel great shortly after the start. I then go to the bathroom, whether I have to or not. Pay attention noobs! This is the best advice I can give you:  just go and sit for a couple minutes, I promise you, you will be able to ‘make’.

After my run and my pOp visit, I stand around near the start. I am one of those mid-packer guys who likes to start as close to the front as possible without embarrassing myself. I enjoy the mindless chatter at the start.

I find once the gun goes off I become a people watcher. I like to see how people manage the crowd, see who is really serious, and who are there for to catch up on the gossip with their BFF. (I secretly hate the people who race and chatter with each other the whole time).

After the race, it all depends on who is there with me and what else I have to do that day. After last years Harvest Half, I went and installed 5,000sq ft of sod. Yeah, it was a tough day… LOL.

I always reflect on the accomplishment. 21.1kms or WHATEVER you accomplish on any given day is worth celebrating. The photo below shows a road to the horizon. I would bet that 21.1kms is probably OVER that horizon. It’s significant, I rock, you rock. Let’s high five and tell each other how awesome we are! *WOoT*


When’s the next race!!!!?


  1. You POOP in port-o-potties?!1? Man, you're WASTING the one advantage God gave us dudes! A penis! We can STAND in those things and our @SSes never need to touch port-o-potty yuck. That's women's work! Because pOps should only be used for PEEING! Even WOMEN know that, and they don't even have penises! (Depending on how you define "have".)

    But you waste (so to speak) that penile advantage!

    Who's the noob now?

    Nice photo, by the way!

  2. I am already obsessing over it and will surely join you as a mental case the night before.

  3. Bring the green camera! Is a "Penil advantage" a technnical term?!

  4. Yes, it is a technical term. A god given right and a technical term.

    I agree Glaven, but if you go early enough, you can be first. And it's all about being first, right?

  5. I like what you say that the start has so many possibilities.

    There is one thing I have to admit to you. I was sucking air like a fully loaded jet taking off from Denver airport. I was in pain and running way to fast. A daughter and mother were gently gliding along in front of me talking about the curtains in the kitchen and if Bob will come over today! Then, oh, then - Barbara jogs by - "hey Margaret, I didn't know you were running today - is this your daughter?" then they talked for 3 minutes and Barbara then started lapping everybody! Meanwhile I am struggling for dear life to keep my respiratory system functioning. ... I could have smacked them with my Penile Advantage if I could have caught them!