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Richmond Marathon, Half, 8k Strategy

Richmond Marathon, Half, 8k Strategy
November 12, 2021 Michael Harlow

Good luck to everyone racing tomorrow!  As you approach the race, here are a few things to think through in your final prep.

Warm Up – This is very important.  For those doing the 8k, I encourage you to do around 15 minutes and the half marathon around 10 minutes (if you have trained beyond the distance).  The first half should be easy jogging and then do a 3 minute build down to goal race pace followed by a few 15-20 sec accelerations at race pace before the start.  I would start this about 30 minutes from the start of your race finishing at the race start to find your corral.  Once in your corral, stay loose by moving around, shaking out your legs, and doing some light stretching.  For those doing the marathon, you can get by with some easy dynamic stretching exercises.  You do not want to hold any stretches for longer than 3 seconds and think more about movements rather than stretching.  You may want to jog for 5 minutes easy as well IF you feel good about the distance.

Race Pace – Your goal should stretch you – something that you believe you can accomplish but are not 100% confident is possible.   This is how amazing races are run.

The 8k should be done in high zone 4 finishing in zone 5, the half marathon in high zone 3 -low zone 4, and the marathon in mid zone 3.  Please discuss your goal pace with the coach most in charge of your training so that we can help you dial it in best.

I like to think of running races as racing using your mind for the first 2/3 of the race and your heart for the last 1/3.  Do not go out too fast – trust that the pace is right for you and be smart.  If you feel great with 1/3 of the race left, you can start taking some risks and racing with your heart.  For the marathon and half marathon specifically, the race starts at mile 20 and 10 – until then it is one big (fast) warm up.  You want to make sure you have something in the tank at that point to bring it home at or faster than the pace you have been holding to that point.

Nutrition – Nutrition begins now!  Make sure you are choosing healthy nutrition choices, eating balanced, and drinking plenty of water.  Your last big meal should have been last night so now you want to eat small meals throughout the day, largely of carbohydrates – the largest meals being before noon.  Wake up as early as possible Saturday and eat a good breakfast (3 hours before about 500-800 calories – those waking up earlier can take in a little more) and begin drinking water.  Last 60 minutes sip a bottle of sports drink finishing up 15 minutes from start.   I suggest a small snack like a bar 45-60 minutes before the start if you ate early this morning.  Use the bathroom one last time.  If you want, this is a good time to take a gel with some water as well.

Those running the 8k, should not really need anything on the course if you pre-loaded nutrition as I detailed above, but if you get thirsty, drink.  Those running the half and marathon will need to consume fluids, gels, and possibly sodium to keep glycogen stores well maintained and not bonk.  You will want around 200-300 calories per hour with the first hour being a little lighter due to your pre-nutrition.  Plan to sip SPORTS DRINK at most of the aid stations and consume 1 gel every hour starting at the hour mark (accel gels are on the course).  In addition, if you have used electrolyte tablets in the past, I recommend these before the race and every hour you are racing starting at the hour mark.  You can carry these in a small Ziploc – bring extras in case you drop any of them.  Be aware of sloshing in your stomach…if you feel it, back off the nutrition slightly and let it digest.  If you cramp at any time during the race, look for sodium.

The Race Courses

 

The 8K is predominately flat and a fast course.  There is a slight downhill for the first .75 miles and slight uphill to the 3 mile mark but again these are very slight.  The 4th mile is downhill with a small incline at the end before you go into the big descent to the finish line at 4.25 miles.  The final 3/4 of a mile are screaming fast!!  Expect your legs to be tired for this downhill and want to reach out to brake yourself – don’t let them but rather stay tall and make “bigger circles” to land on your forefoot finishing with max speed.

The Half Marathon is also for the most part a flat and fast course.  The first 2.5 miles are flat followed by the Boulevard Bridge around mile 2.5 which is a good incline followed by descent.  Stay tall on the uphill portion and don’t reach out and brake on the downhill section.  Flat section following leading into Bryan Park for miles 5.5-7.5 where there are a few rolling hills but nothing killer.  The toughest climb in Bryan Park is right around mile 7 and then on the road after exiting the park.  You want to stay controlled through these climbs and leave some in the tank.  The rest of the course is relatively flat with 9-10.5 miles being a nice slight downhill stretch making for a good time to lift the pace slightly.  This is where those who have paced well will attack and make up a lot of time.  Be one of these people!!  The cheer station will be at mile 10 cheering for you!!  Miles 10.5-12.5 include a slight uphill to the left on West Grace Street at mile 11.25.  After that it is slightly downhill to rolling until you make the right on 5th street (after a quick right on 3rd and left on Franklin) with a little less than a ½ mile to go.  The finish is a gradual downhill building to a steep downhill for the last .2.  Expect your legs to be tired for this downhill and want to reach out to brake yourself – don’t let them but rather stay tall and make “bigger circles” to land on your forefoot finishing with max speed.  This could be one of the toughest sections if not done well.

The Marathon can be a fast course if raced smart.  The first half  Here is a detailed description:

Miles 1-6: Relatively Flat though net slight uphill

Mile 6-7: Steep Downhill.  Stay relaxed and focus on landing lightly under your body.  Do not get overly excited here but rather keep your pace in check as it is too early and some hills follow.

Miles 7-8: Huguenot Bridge…slight incline followed by flat section and then a downhill section down to Riverside Drive. Don’t push this hill…too early.

Miles 8-10: Flat along river.

Miles 10-11: Assortment of hills climbing up from the river with some downhill sections in there as well.  You have to be careful here and hold back because it is still early in the race.  Focus on your form through this section.

Miles 11-13: Downhill section followed by an uphill section to the half marathon mark.  This uphill section can break runners if you go too hard so settle in and relax – definitely do not push it to get a fast half marathon time!

Miles 13-15: After you finish the uphill section, you will find a flat section through Westover Hills.  The better half of mile 14 (beside Forest Hill Park) and most of mile 15 (Semmes Ave) are downhill and some of the fastest sections on the course.  Hold back though as the toughest part of the course will follow.  There is a small uphill as Forest Hill Avenue becomes Semmes Avenue.

Miles 15-17: Bridge.  Slight uphill and almost always comes with wind in your face.  Expect this and try to get behind someone and allow them to block the wind.  This will make a huge difference so don’t take this advice lightly.  Expect your pace to drop here and do not fight it – you will get it back later.

Miles 17-18: After the bridge, the road is slightly uphill as you approach Main Street and then make the left on Main Street.  It will remain uphill all the way to the right on Boulevard.  This is the key section of the course.  If you get through this section feeling good, you are doing great.  You have to stay in control until this point though.

Miles 18-22: Flat except for the hill over 64 by the Diamond which is a good incline followed by descent.  Stay tall on the uphill portion and don’t reach out and brake on the downhill section.  If you crest this hill feeling strong, you are ready to lay it down the rest of the race.

Miles 22-24: Slight downhill section.  This is where those who have paced well will attack and make up a lot of time.  Be one of these people.  The cheer station will be at mile 23 cheering for you!!

Miles 24– 25.75: Slight uphill to the left on West Grace Street at mile 24.5.  After that it is slightly downhill to rolling until you make the right on 5th street (after a quick right on 3rd and left on Franklin).

25.75-Finish: The finish is a gradual downhill building to a steep downhill for the last .2.  Expect your legs to be tired for this downhill and want to reach out to brake yourself – don’t let them but rather stay tall and make “bigger circles” to land on your forefoot finishing with max speed.  This could be one of the toughest sections if not done well.

You are all going to do great!!  Make sure you head to our Cheer Station around Mile 23 after you are done to cheer on everyone else.

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