Sunday, November 29, 2009

White Rock Half - Mental Wargames Part 1

Decisions, decisions... what will the next half marathon (#8 for '09, Dallas White Rock Half Marathon) hold for me?

White Rock Half Marathon 2008 - 2:54:25 (a new PR at that time)
Current PR (Fort Worth Half, 11/8/09) - 2:36:23 - 11:56 pace
Eventual Goal - 2:30:00 - 11:27 pace
Yesterday I ran a new Personal Record at a 15K, an 11:36 pace for 9.3 miles.

Yes, runner friends tell me to not think about it and just run a good race on race day, and yes, I want to run whatever the day gives me. But I do believe that many of the half PRs I've had this year are more about racing smart than they have been about skill level (that is, slow runner skill level). All my mental strategizing typically ends up paying off if the day I am given is otherwise a good racing day (great weather, no tummy problems, aid stations have enough fluids, etc).

So the question I will be considering the next 2 weeks is... is hitting 2:30 feasible at the December 13 White Rock Half Marathon? If not, what's the goal? And I'll be documenting my thoughts as I go. Begin the two week period of MENTAL WARGAMES! :-)

I do have Houston Half Marathon on January 17. And many more half's next year. Which is the better strategy:

1) focus on taking a couple minutes off my PR at White Rock and then a few more minutes off at Houston
Pro: good mental boost from possible success of a PR at White Rock to help mental facilities at Houston
Con: what if the weather sucks at Houston? Houston 2009 was HOT! Not the worst in the world, there will be more halfs, but delayed gratification of goal success for sure.

2) shoot for 2:30 at White Rock.
Compared to my 15K yesterday, that means 8 seconds per mile faster that whole distance and then hold that pace for 3.8 more miles.

Pro: Duh! Hitting a huge goal finish time!
Con: While 8 seconds per mile doesn't feel like much, it might be too draining to maintain and I may find out it was a bad idea by mile 10 or 11, and then I may end up walking the last mile or two.

Yesterday I thought I would go for option 1. Today, I'm reconsidering option 2 because I found out my friend Wendy is one of the 2:30 pace leaders at the race, and a friendly face the whole way doesn't hurt, not one bit. Wendy is one of those people with a realistic yet positive attitude about things - a good person to be around when shooting for the goalposts!

I've asked her if the pace teams will be either a) running faster than the pace needed for 2:30 finish and then walking each aid station thus averaging out to the 2:30 finish time pace, or b) running the pace needed for 2:30 consistently throughout each mile, mile after mile. She said she'll find out at their meeting Wednesday night. This could make the decision for me, because I don't think I could hang with choice (a) there.

Hmmm, there will be many more thoughts to come in the next 2 weeks!

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