Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Race Strategy Decisions- A Test

This Saturday, I'm running the Alston-Bird Corporate Cup Half Marathon in Charlotte, NC. For kicks, I mapped the race route using the course map they provided in order to look at the elevation profile.

I was not surprised to find that the race is hilly with a net loss of about 17 feet. All this means is that I'll be waiting for the Race Director to claim it as, "Charlotte's premier downhill Half Marathon!" The hills don't really surprise me, as a lot of this course is run on Charlotte's Thunder Road Marathon.

By my estimation, I can also look forward to running a bit more than 13.1 miles on Saturday. This also does not surprise me, and I'm sure I'm in for lots of bragging from said RD about how the course is "100% certified". Which in RD-speak means the course is about 1/2 mile long to prevent some tangent running mofo from cheating.

Anyways, I'm curious to see, given this race's profile, what racing strategy YOU would take.

Perhaps there are more options than this, but would you:

1. Run a faster first half (or 10K) and hang on.
2. Try to run negative splits (start conservatively and speed up).
3. Run an even paced race.

This is a test, people. You have 2 days to turn in your work.


  1. That looks like a nice loop to run:) The hills seem a little scary to me...but thats just me!! I am sure that you are going to kick some butt on Saturday:) I don't know what to tell you on my homework assignment as I have only run in two half marathons so far. I am interested to read what your other comments will say:) I could use a little advice too!! Have a great day!!

  2. I would run the first half at goal pace. The begin attacking that hill at mile 7, gliding the downhills to recover and continue that assertive approach to the finish. I know you know that those hills are pretty kind, you can sink your teeth into them and keep a good pace going. Enjoy the (hopefully) sunny weather this weekend!! Be strong, patient and assertive as the run builds. Success is yours.

  3. I get test anxiety - I am already sweating!

    I think the half is a tricky race because a LOT of it has to do with conditioning. If you feel strong and trust your training, go for goal pace at the start but if you're been a wee-bit undertrained, like me going into the next 1/2, then just hold back some til you feel good. You don't wanna death march the thing at the end.

    GOOD LUCK!!!

  4. Keep in mind I have yet to do a half, but I’d stick with an even pace. As for the hills, they are only 100ft over a mile. You should try trail running in Yosemite; you do a thousand feet over a mile making those bumps in Charlotte will seem like nothing. Good luck.

  5. Thanks for stopping by my blog! And yay...let the full fledged obsessing begin!

    As for my strategy? Uh, I'd run the tangents like a mofo ;) From what I've been told, that's how official courses are measured...shortest distance possible on any given route, so I'm not surprised it came up long on that map.

    As far as OTHER strategy? Balls-out, of course! If I ever figure out another way to race, I'll let you know :) Good luck!

  6. I think the answer depends on your comfort level and fitness level. Ultimately, I think the answer lies within.

    Good luck!!!

  7. I would listen to Sean no matter what. :)

    Actually, he does have good advice there. Run at goal for the first half and the reevaluate. You'll have a good feel at 7 or 9 if you're going to blow up or if you can keep pushing to neg split.

  8. Oh, and good luck BTW! :) Hopefully the weather holds and it isn't crazy windy.

  9. If it is USTAF certified, then the tangents are figured in. (usually curbs are considered off course and out of bounds).

    If it is 100% certified, I would be a little curious. If it were USTAF certified, they would state that.

    Personally, I have never worried about such things. The races I run nowadays have rather subjective distances, and distance has been added to those who complain.

    The more half marathons you do, the more you figure out the intensity in which to go out on. I just know it by feel.

    Put yourself in the position to PR, if you think you can, and asses the stress and intensity every mile split. You should know by 3 or 4 if you can hold it for 13.

    Good luck.

  10. Sorry I'm too late to help! I'm a little surprised Matt didn't point out 100 ft/mile elev. change is considered flat in his races. How to handle the course depends upon whether you're better at downhill or uphill; if hills fry your legs, this course could kill if you go out too fast. I'd suggest an even-effort rather than even-pace race.

  11. Sorry, I am late for the test. (Just saw your post on Razz's blog and decided to check out yours.) I hope you did well, let us know.

  12. Looking forward to the recap!

  13. Nice new pic :)
    I hope you kicked that half's butt! Looking forward to the recap.

  14. THANK YOU so much, everyone, for these great tips and encouragement! It was a great race:)