Sunday, January 8, 2012

BankTrust First Light Marathon 1/8/12, No Taper-Part1

   The BankTrust First Light Marathon of January 8, 2012 in Mobile, Alabama marked the second marathon of the Alabama 3N3 Challenge. I took the opportunity of having these 3 events relatively close together to experiment with a few different race strategies.  If you've found this page searching for a review of the First Light Marathon, click here.

Goals for the First Light Marathon
  1. Evaluate a "no taper & short rest" for an open-26.2 race effort
  2. Evaluate the Run/Walk race strategy for an open-26.2 race effort
  3. Pace for a sub-3 early and hold on for at least a Boston Qualifying 3:05:00

I will discuss each goal in separate entries with the last goal being the traditional race report.

  1. Evaluate a "no taper & short rest" for an open-26.2 race effort
First, let me qualify "no taper" & "short rest" as a single week preceding the event with a ~65% reduction in 8 wk average run volume while maintaining weekly cycling volume.  Also,I need to add that there is absolutely nothing scientific about this. I just had an opportunity to try some things while evaluate my performance.  It seemed like a better plan than "I'll just run hard."

8 Weekly Average Run Volume Followed by 1 Recovery Week and Race Day

   I've ran three open-26.2s.  The first with a traditional 3 week taper, then a 2 week taper, and now a single rest week. The races were all within the last 11 months, and the results were at what I consider best performance for that day.  My intention is to describe how the short rest effected me as compared to the traditional taper.  I will divide my perception of the short rest's effect into 3 sections: Pre-race, 1-23 miles, and the last 5k.

My typical pre-race mentality is that of a caged beast. Mid-taper, I begin to feel strong and focused. I become mentally excited about the race and welcome the challenge ahead. The one week rest left a large psychological deficit going into race day, I was neither tired nor prepared. Rather, I was "meh" and was faced with a lack of confidence in my ability to perform to my potential irrespective of my goal.

Please, no "woo-hoo'ing" early in the race.
Miles 1-23 were completely manageable despite having some cramping issues. I rarely experience cramps during racing or training, but I was napalm-ed with clusters in my calf, hamstring, and glutes.  I know a lot of readers will wonder about hydration and electrolytes (all in the race report,) but I tend to experience cramps from increased exertion relative to my fitness.  Considering my history, I attribute the cramping to the lingering fatigue I brought into the race.  Although there were issues, the cramps did not seem to effect my performance, and I felt I was able to maintain my plan.  My mentality was the bigger issue.  Psychologically I was beat by mile 16, far earlier than my typical 23.  I was at constant odds with my ability to continue to execute or revise my plan and doubted myself from the first 10k. Despite this, I was able to maintain pace, entertain myself with some race tactics, and properly manage the course elevation putting me into a good position for the last 5k.

The Final 5k was a different story. My marathon strategy is based on getting me to the final 5k in shape to suck-it-up and empty the tank. Unfortunately I was already on fumes as I arrived at the final 5k. I was still able to pick up my pace and finish strong with a 3:02:04 for a 9th overall award. However, the typical imperativeness I experience as I approached my time goal was far overshadowed by both my lack of motivation to continue pushing and my inability to physically respond to the request I was making on my body.
Couldn't be happier to finish the 5k
with a little 23.1 mile warm up.

This is my perspective on how a short rest versus a traditional taper effected my race performance.  It's worth noting that First Light was my best marathon performance despite my physical and mental perception of the event.  In the future, I will confidently use the short rest approach for  low priority races realizing I am gaining an extra week or two of training at the expense of 40 seconds or so an hour for an open marathon.  As I continue to race, I will undoubtedly build more information and be able to better predict how I will respond. 

I hope my experience helps you in some way.  Feel free to post comments, questions, or punch holes. 

The next post will address my Run/Walk race strategy for an open-26.2 race effort.

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