Thursday, December 10, 2009

White Rock Half - MENTAL WARGAMES 3 - Course Review

It's been an interesting couple of days:
  1. Trying to get over a cold I came down with Tuesday
  2. Toddler daughter has a raging double ear infection
  3. Packing up and preparing for two booths worth of stuff at the expo Friday and Saturday (Road Runners Club of America, and Heels and Hills)
So higher level of stress and busyness with no running since my 7 miles on Sunday. At least my legs will be very fresh, hopefully the cold will be totally gone, and my body favors warmer weather which is currently in the forecast.

Today, I reviewed the course map. I enjoy doing this before races - it prepares me for what's ahead, and it gives me something to focus on as I run through the miles.  Especially as I go into this hoping for a PR of a few minutes off my time.

This is only the second year of this course for the Dallas White Rock Half Marathon. I hope someone else may find these thoughts helpful.
  • Start to the left side of the corral/start area.  Why?  Because just a tiny ways into the race, and you take a HARD left turn.  Always run the tangents.  Why run more distance than you have to?  With a huge crowd, you can't cut that corner short if you are on the outside, and taking up the whole road means the outside is a very large curve around the corner!
  • Don't go out too fast, and I am making myself promise I will avoid being a "dodger", veering around other slower runners.  Save my energy, be strategic, pay attention to the paces of the folks in front of me.
  • First two miles are uphill, mostly gradual but one quick big one at Mile 1.75 - about 50 feet rise.  Mile 2 takes you on McKinney Avenue which has brick/concrete/asphalt/TROLLEY TRACKS?!?  Rather than concrete, or bricks (which all shift individually over time and put more stress on your ankles), shoot for running between the trolley tracks which I think I recall seemed the best surface for me.
  • Mile 2.75, enjoy the quick short downhill rounding the bend from Hall St. to Turtle Creek Blvd.  My body doesn't really warm up until mile 3, so muster a "Yeah!  I wanna be here!" inner cry even if in the claustrophobia and manic-ness of the crowd and stiffness still of the legs, I'm not sure at that moment that I really want to be. :-)
  • Mile 3.0, now a mile on Turtle Creek Blvd.  Relax, take deep breaths, enjoy the beautiful landscaping, wide open areas, large shade trees.  Look around and smell the proverbial roses.  Laugh that a year ago, when I was not training routinely, I did this race and yelled out to a runner friend spectating along here, "I don't know what I'm doing here!"  Slight uphill continues.
  • Miles 4 and 5, criss-crossing streets of pretty homes.  Slight uphill continues, about 75 feet rise over 2 miles. 
  • Right before Mile 6.0, you cross Central Expressway a.k.a. Highway 75.  For someone of my slower speed, this is that moment that you realize how spread out the field is.  Mile 9.5 is located just on the other side of the overpass we are all crossing.  As compared to my approx. 11:30 pace, the people I'm seeing on the other side of the road are 9.5 miles in with an average pace of about 7:15 - too awesome!
  • Mile 6.0 is uneventful except for the intersections when you can see runners one street down at mile 9.  Elevation is fairly flat.
  • Mile 7.0 starts a 2 mile out-and-back jaunt.  Don't cheat here anyway, but also because the split chip marker is often in sections of a race like this to catch those who would violate basic racing ethics.  I loved this out-and-back last year as it ended up being two of my best miles.  There's something about running head-on into a crowd of runners in the opposite lane that makes you recheck your posture, gait, and run strong!  I need to track down half marathoners I know who run a pace between 9:15 min/mi, up to 14 min/mi, so I have friendly faces to focus on looking for!  Flat through these two miles.
  • Mile 9.0 to 9.5 - don't trip on a speed hump!  They have them periodically on this street, McCommas Street, so don't zone out!  Here's a pic of the speed hump from Google Street View... Run in the middle of the road as I also seem to recall pretty good banking on both sides - don't run on a slant.
  • Mile 10.0 - enter the Katy Trail.  Mantra - it's all downhill from here.  Don't go crazy - keep the consistent pace, maybe increase a little.  75 feet drop over one mile.
  • Mile 10.5 - band and good spectator spot.  Hubby and baby will be here to cheer me on.  Gather the energy from the crowd because it's about to get a lot lonelier (wish I'd known that last year).
  • Miles 11-13 - At my pace, we're all getting pretty spread out at this point, and the bad part about the Katy Trail usage through here is that there are very few spectator spots.  Mile 12, assess how I'm feeling, see if I can ramp it up.
  • Mile 13.0 to 13.1 - Finish strong!
My personal mantras and preparations for this course.  May not agree with your assessment or personal mantras, but hope this was helpful to some since it helped me!

Course Map PDF from race website with the half marathon's elevation chart:

Course Map laid onto a street map from Dallas News but only marathon elevation chart:

See you at the finish line!  Happy Running!

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