Tomorrow I'm racing in a half marathon, the Motive Bison Stampede (linked in the title). My last race went really, really well and for some reason that has made me really worried about the race tomorrow. I averaged 8:35 mile pace in that 10 mile race and based on that a pace calculator predicts that I should be able to run the half marathon (13.1 miles) at an 8:38 pace.
By comparison, last year I ran this race at a 9:54 pace. Have I really gotten that much faster? I'm having trouble believing it, but today I ran a couple of laps at 8:40 pace and it was very comfortable. So I'll find out tomorrow.
One notable feature of this race is a HUGE hill at around mile 5 that is very steep and about a mile long. A half mile later there is another good sized steep hill. Half of the race is still left after those hills and the danger is that you kill your legs on the hill and suffer for the rest of the race. At the bottom of the linked map is an elevation profile that shows the hills. The key to this race is the hills between mile 4 and mile 7. The rest of the race is pretty smooth.
I get a lot of experience running hills in my neighborhood. A lot of people make the mistake of leaning back when going down hills to control their speed. This has the unfortunate effect of pounding your legs and killing your leg muscles. The right way to run down hills is to lean forward and try remain relaxed and smooth while controlling your pace. This allows you to pick up your pace without much additional effort. Going up hill isn't big mystery. You lean forward slightly and shorten your steps to try to keep you leg turnover up and try not to have a heart attack.
My my plan is to run 8:45 pace for the first 4 miles, pick up my pace down the big hill at mile 4 to keep my heart rate up, keep my heart rate below 175 going up the next two hills, and then try to run an even 8:40 until mile 10 after which I'll try to finish at around an 8:35 pace.
It's been hot this week but a cold front came through last night and cold air has continued to blow into the area. The predicted low tonight is 35 degrees so I think that conditions for the race will be close to perfect for me. I've read that 55 degrees is the ideal temperature, but I've had my best performances in the low 40s. I think it's because I'm fat and have more insulation. Anyway I'll probably be running in shorts and a long sleeved technical shirt with running gloves and a hat.
Useless statistic of the day: I ran 696 miles in 2005 and have run 810 miles so far this year. At least that is what my Nike running log says.