Archive for October 15, 2010

With another day off from running as part of my “mini-taper” period leading up to race day, I went over to the IBM Uptown Classic packet pick-up and got my bib on Friday.  Funny how much life changes in a year as the “signature item” in this year’s race bag was a infant sun shade to be placed on your car window.

Pretty cool for this new Dadathoner, who was in the market for just such a device.  Last year I’m sure I would have given it away around the office or to a neighbor with very little thought.  How quickly things change.

It is interesting to me how runners are “superstitious” about their bib numbers on race day.  I tend to like double numbers, sevens, zeros and ones as they all make me feel “Fast”.  I tend to dislike bib numbers with a lot of eights in them for some reason and fours and nines have not been very kind to me in the past.

But my all-time best marathon effort came at the 2009 Pittsburgh Marathon, running in bib number 2506

My bib number for IBM on Saturday?  205.

Looks pretty darn good to me.


After picking up my race bag I decided to drive the course as this will be my first time racing at IBM.  Previously racing a course is by far the greatest advantage, but if that is not possible, and I don’t have the chance to run even a section of the course before hand, I at least like to drive it in my car.

Knowing where the turns are located, where the uphill sections come and especially how long an incline lasts if it disappears around a bend ahead provides a great mental image for me to draw on during the race.

I like to know in advance which miles are going to prove to be the most challenging as well as if there is a mile or two during the race where I can let my hair down a bit (obviously just an expression given my hairstyle) and push it hard.

This 6.2 mile course really does seem to be broken up into 6 bite-sized mile-long chunks.

Mile 1:  This part of the course takes runners uphill from the starting area through a quick left, right jaunt – followed by a curling ¼ mile out to Burnet Road.  Burnet road continues south uphill to Kramer Lane where the runners will make a hard right and run into “The Domain”

“The Domain” is one of the new mixed use – for lack of a better word – shopping Gallerias.  Luxury Condos and townhomes are interspersed with upscale restaurants and shops.  The course spends a lot of time on the “grounds” but not a lot running through the heavily populated shopping areas.  There is a good spot around mile 2 outside of Starbucks where I think Landry and Dawn have a chance to see me on Sunday, but the course itself will feature a lot of “alone miles”.  I will definitely be racing wired for sound on Sunday. 

This mile is basically uphill, nothing crazy, but definitely a spot where I will not be able to bank” a lot of time.  Coming in right on goal pace of 6:26 will be a win here for sure.  I’m hoping we can bring it in right around 6:30.

Mile 2:  This will be an opportunity to run back down most of the elevation change that we encountered over the first mile.  It features one tight left turn, followed by a quick right, then the run through the shopping district.

Due to the downhill nature of this stretch and the gathering of spectators, this should prove to be my fastest mile of the race.  Something in the 6:15 range feels about right.  Of course I would not be surprised if I run a bit faster than that.

Mile 3:  A couple of right hand turns and then an uphill climb back up Domain Drive to Esperanza Crossing.  I ran this section of the course back at the NOCC Balance 5K the day before Landry was born.  It is uphill a bit, but nothing too terrible.

The course then heads Left, Right, Left back out on to the traffic light at Burnet Road.  This will be a wide intersection with a water stop, a great place for a quick splash of water and a hard left hand turn heading into mile 4.  A 6:20 split right here would do the trick and keep us on pace at the half-way mark.

Mile 4:  Just when the fatigue of the race is starting to set-in, the course seems like it throws a bone your way.  This is a very fair mile, only one turn to navigate as you make a right onto Gracy Farms Lane from Burnet Road.  A nice smooth stretch of blacktop and a very flat if not slightly downhill part of the course.

I should have found my rythym by now and be settled in at that “uncomfortable” pace.  Looking to nail another 6:20 here as the last two miles are going to be tough.

Mile 5:  As kind as mile 4 is to the runners, it looks like mile 5 will be the “feature” mile of the race for me.  It curves quite a bit and is the second to last real climbing that will be required of the runners.  I believe that this will be the mile that will define the race for me on Sunday morning.  There is a real chance that I will give some seconds back to goal pace on this mile.   The real question is how many.

If we can bring this mile in at 6:35 pace and only sacrifice :09 seconds to goal – I will consider that a big win here.  I would not be too surprised with a split just a bit slower if there are any unhelpful winds blowing.

Mile 6:  The last trip out to Burnet Road.  This mile features one-half of the distance downhill, the second half right back up in the opposite direction after a tight right turn back onto the IBM campus.  I looked at this part of the course closely on my drive and I am going to really try to break it into two parts.

Over the first half mile I am going to try to recoup some of the lost time from mile 5.  Push downhill a bit and try to get the Garmin back to 6:15 pace.  On the climb back up, try to lock back in on goal pace of 6:26.  The net/net of mile five should balance out to something right around 6:21.  From there it will be just 2/10 of a mile to the finish.

Final Push:  The last 2/10 of a mile is a nice downhill stretch of wide road.  I should have plenty of room at this point in the race to put the hammer down and I am hoping that I can cover this stretch in 1 minute and 20 seconds (6:00 min/mile pace).

6:26, 6:15, 6:20, 6:20, 6:35, 6:21, 1:20 = 39:37

So there it is, 39:37 is what we’ll be shooting for on Sunday.  Should the course be measured a bit longer than 6.2 miles, which happens sometimes – we still should have a little wiggle room to hit the timing matt under 40 minutes.

Be on the lookout at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday Austin.

Boom goes the dynamite.