Thursday, October 28, 2010

Kathryn Hughes Race Week Flight Plan

The blood, the sweat, and the tears will all pay off on Sunday! Your focus these next few days should be on taking care of yourself and making sure you've got all your ducks in a row. The content below should have you good to go on race day!


-Identify your race day wardrobe. Make sure whatever you choose is something you're comfortable running in. Plan for the weather conditions! Take a look at the extended forecast and plan accordingly!

-Scout the course. Here is the Silicon Valley Half Marathon Course Map.

-Lube if necessary. Some of you have complained about blisters on your toes/feet and chafing during the course of our training. Well, there's a handy product out there called 'Body Glide' that you can apply to your feet, thighs, underarms, or any other area where you encounter friction based irritation that will help reduce/eliminate this. It may be time to invest in some. Alternatively, you can use Vaseline, but it can be a bit on the greasy side.

-Schedule a sports massage. Some of you may have some residual soreness/tightness that has been bothering you these past few weeks. Now is the time to be a bit self-indulgent.

In addition to taking an extra day off and/or cutting a workout short, indulge in a nice sports massage to help knock out those last few kinks. I'd recommend scheduling one for Thursday or Friday,ideally.


-Nail down race nutrition items. Hopefully, you've identified a gel, gu, or some other nutrition product to consume during your long runs. Remember that you should be consuming one of the aforementioned items approximately every 45-60 minutes during the race to keep yourself performing at a high level.

If you anticipate being out on the course for 2 or more hours, this means you will need 2-3 gels/shots/blocks/etc. Water and some kind of sports drink will be provided at the start and at various during the race, so try to coordinate consumption of gels,blocks, etc. in conjunction with the water stops.

Just a reminder that roctane, chomps, gels, bloks, etc. should be washed down with WATER, NOT A SPORTS DRINK.

-Focus on complex carbs. OK, we're a couple days from the race and now is the time to start making some adjustments to your diet to help insure you're properly fueled for race day. Think whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, whole wheat bagels, organic fruits/vegetables, etc.

Some folks only 'carboload' the day/night before an endurance event, but the reality is that carboloading this late in the game won't give you much bang for the buck. If you start a few days prior, your are insuring that your glycogen stores(primary fuel source) are topped off.

This doesn't mean eat carbs EXCLUSIVELY! But, if your diet normally doesn't include much of the aforementioned, make a conscious effort to include more at this juncture.

-Hydrate properly. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, one way you can identify whether or not you are properly hydrated is by looking at the color/quantity of your urine. In short, 'clear' and 'copious' is what you're looking for, respectively.

You should start making a conscious effort in making sure this is what you're seeing in the days leading up to the race. While we're not anticipating a hot day, you still will lose fluids even if you're not sweating profusely. Make sure you're getting plenty of water, sports drink, juice,etc. in the days leading up to the race.

-Get a good night's sleep. Given the early start time we have on Saturday and some pre-race nerves, it's not unlikely that you may not get a ton of sleep the night before the race. Ultimately, this isn't a big deal and has not proven to have a significant impact on race day performance by and large.

So, don't sweat it too much. BUT, try to make a conscious effort to get a solid night's sleep on Thursday. Make it a quiet evening of quality, complex carbs, rest, and relaxation!


-Get your race bib. The Race Expo is open from 10AM-4PM on Saturday at The Hilton Hotel at 300 Almaden Boulevard in San Jose. You CANNOT participate in your event without a race bib and you CANNOT pick up yor race bib on race day!

Here is a link to the expo for more details- Silicon Valley Expo Details.

-Eat dinner early. Given the early race start time on Saturday morning, I'd encourage you to target 5PM or 5:30PM to get your final meal of the day.

Again, you probably want to focus on complex carbs for this meal and try to stay away from anything that is spicy or markedly different from anything you would normally eat. If you have a particularly sensitive stomach, you may want to plan on bringing your own food for this meal.

-Lay out your outfit for race morning. I'd STRONGLY encourage all of you to lay out all the items you need for race morning on a chair or on the floor next to your bed before you go to bed.

This includes your shirt, your hat, shorts, shoes, gels, socks, race bib, etc. Have everything laid out so that when you get up in the morning, you won't have to even think about it, you can just put everything on and you're good to go.

-Set your alarm clock, set your alarm on your cell phone, and request a wake up call from a friend or two (if they're willing). This three pronged approach virtually GUARANTEES you will be up in the morning on time!

You should plan on being near the race start area ABOUT 45-60 MINUTES PRIOR TO START! Make sure you allow enough time to at least have something small to eat before you head out for the race. This may mean getting up EARLY.


-ARRIVE AT THE START AREA ABOUT 45-60 MIN. PRIOR TO THE RACE! I'd STRONGLY encourage all of you to arrive about 45-60 min. early. This gives you time to warmup, use the bathroom, change clothes, and get positioned near the start.

-Pace Accordingly! OK, so you're probably going to feel pretty amped when the gun goes off, but please HOLD BACK and PACE ACCORDINGLY! You 'should' have a solid handle at this juncture on what you can maintain for 13.1 miles.

RESIST the urge to go out fast. If anything run a bit SLOWER the first few miles and EASE into your comfortable, conversational pace. I want to make sure you have something left in the tank those last few miles!

-Take water/sports drink at every opportunity. Even if you aren't necessarily feeling thirsty, TAKE IT ANYWAY! Some of you may have heard of 'hyponatremia' which is often associated with taking in too much water.

Let me emphasize that 'hyponatremia' is MOST PREVALENT in marathons where elapsed time on the road exceeds 4-5 hours. So, this means that there is virtually zero chance of this being an issue for any of you.

-How to handle water stops/stations on race day-There will be several of these along the course. Typically, there are several tables laid out. DO NOT GO TO THE FIRST TABLE YOU SEE!

Let the other runners slow down and bump into each other to get their water and sports drink. Try to go to the LAST TABLE you see at the water station to avoid slowing down or possibly stumbling. Certainly you can walk through the water stations if you like.

-How to drink water and/or sports drink on the run-When you get your cup of water or sports drink, pinch the top of the cup closed and fold one of the corners over so you effectively have a small, narrow 'spout'.

Pour carefully into your mouth. If you don't want to walk through water stops/stations, this is the best way I know of to drink while running.

-Take a gel, gu, clif shot, clif block,etc. every 45-60 minutes. Make sure you get some simple carbohydrates (gels, gus, clif blocks,etc.)in your system every 45-60 min. This will help you continue to perform at a high level. Make sure to wash any gels, gus, etc. down with WATER not sports drink.

-Be mentally tough! You've done the work. You've endured the long runs. You've tapered. You know how to fuel/hydrate properly. Remind yourself of all the hard work and preparation you've done those last few miles when you might be feeling a bit tired. YOU CAN DO THIS!!! YOU ARE READY FOR GLORY!

-Expedite race recovery. As quickly as possible, get a quality combination of carbohydrates/protein in your system (remember 4 carbs: 1 protein is OPTIMAL for recovery. Chocolate Milk has this ratio.)

I'd also encourage you to walk around for a few minutes to help increase circulation and help flush the lactic acid out of your system. ADDITIONALLY, make sure to rehydrate as soon as possible! Get some water, heed, and/or other fluids in your system ASAP! If you have a stick or foam roller handy, spend some quality time with it!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Saturday (1/28) Route Description



We will head north along the Marina to the intersection of Mason/Halleck. This is right next to Crissy Field Center and is 1 mile into our run.

Everyone will follow the pedestrian crosswalk and turn LEFT onto Halleck. You will be running uphill for about a block until you reach a controlled intersection with a stop sign. This is the intersection of Halleck/Lincoln.

Take a quick LEFT across the pedestrian crosswalk and then an IMMEDIATE RIGHT across the pedestrian crosswalk onto FUNSTON AVENUE

Continue running up Funston. You should see the Presidio YMCA on your left as you head up Funston. Continue up Funston for a few more blocks until you reach the intersection of Funston/Moraga.

Take a right on Moraga and take another RIGHT on Mesa Street. Follow Mesa back towards Halleck. (Mesa Street runs PARALLEL to Funston Ave.). You will follow Mesa until it runs into Lincoln. Head back down Halleck and TURN LEFT UPON REACHING MASON! This is 2 MILES.

Continue running on the paved path along Mason past SportsBasement. Eventually the path curves over to the right and merges with a dirt/fire road that heads towards the Warming Hut (for the uninitiated, the Warming Hut is A BIG WHITE BUILDING WITH TABLES AND BENCHES IN FRONT OF IT. Hopefully, it will be hard to miss).

Continue past the Warming Hut onto a paved road that goes past a series of buildings (including some restrooms). You will pass these buildings and continue running along this path next to the water towards the base of the bridge. The path curves around and dead ends at 'Hoppers Hands'.

Turn around here and head back to the monkey bars along the Marina Promenade (this is the 'dirt' road closest to the water) for 6 MILES!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Losing to win...

I spent my fall becoming acquainted with the sport of running. Becoming enamored with the sport of running would actually be a more accurate way of describing it. My first season of cross country had been a revelatory experience that opened my eyes to a world of possibility and opportunity. Nothing affected me the way the act of running did.

I fell under the spell of Tom Dowling who was an Olympic development coach. He had taken at least a vague interest in me and I followed his words and direction ardently. The onset of shorter and markedly colder days did little to cool my passion for hitting the road as I built my endurance base in preparation for spring track season. Tom had me convinced the cold days and nights would pay dividends in time.

There were no races on my schedule that winter save one….the ‘Gobble Wobble’ which not surprisingly took place on Thanksgiving morning. For most this 4+ mile run provided an opportunity to rationalize gluttony later in the day. But, for me, this race would be my Olympics. I had ‘participated’ in this race before and placed 20th. But, that was before I was a ‘runner’. Having transformed into a runner the past few months I was no longer content to merely participate.

For inexplicable reasons, I was bound and determined to win this race. I had never won a race before and I had no idea who was participating in this race. But, some of the boldest decisions I have made have been borne of naiveté and ignorance. What was important is that I ‘believed’ I could win and that’s usually where things start.

While there was much I didn’t know as the race started there were a few things I did know. The course was a 4.5 mile loop around Lake Quivira. I knew this course intimately as I ran it almost every day. The majority of the course was flat. The toughest part of the course was roughly 4 miles into the race where a staggering incline of about 250 meters materialized. This incline would take the wind out of anyone’s sail.

I felt relaxed and comfortable during the first mile of the race despite the fact that I wasn’t anywhere near the front of the pack. I was about 15 spots back. I knew the course well, but I knew myself better. I never liked to be in front and I warmed up slowly. My only real gifts as a runner included the simple ability to endure and a monster finishing kick …if I could summon it.

I viewed races as a war of attrition. I was confident most of those in front of me were not terribly seasoned runners and would come back to me over the course of the next several miles. I was also confident in my own ability to endure and figured I could stay in the hunt for most of the race.

I gradually moved up into the 10th spot and could see a number of runners within striking distance. Many of those in front of me were members of a rival high school’s cross country team. While I really didn’t care who was in front of me, the idea of knocking off the rival high school’s cross country team single handedly would have been a nice bonus.

This far fetched idea became a bit more tangible as I entered the last mile or so of the race. I moved up a few more spots and off in the distance I could see ‘3’ runners moving smoothly in a pack with no one near them. They were all wearing race singlets from the rival high school.

They were running stronger than anyone else I had encountered that day. I suspected these three stood between me and victory at the Gobble Wobble. I threw in a bit of a surge to close the gap between us. The gap shrank and none of them bothered to glance behind them. I loved flying below the radar.

Looming in the distance was the aforementioned incline which looked much more formidable at this stage of the game. I had pulled up right behind what I assumed was the lead pack as we approached the base of the hill. Without much thought, I made my move and attempted to pass them going uphill.

I wasn’t sure if this gamble would pay off, but I knew at the very least it would rattle them. A few expletives from one of the guys as I passed him confirmed my hunch. They had no idea I was there and were more than surprised to see me pass them heading up hill. I hoped this move would serve to break their spirit.

This move took a reasonable amount out of my already leaden legs and laboring lungs as I reached the crest of the 250 meter monstrosity. Gasping for breath, I had pulled into first place, but the three runners I passed were too close for comfort.

On the other side of this hill was an equally marked downhill that would take a toll on the strongest, most well rested quads. Grudgingly, I rolled downhill and tried to let gravity do the work as much as possible. I was laboring and I knew my move had been strong, but perhaps it wasn’t enough to pull ahead for good.

Reaching the bottom of the hill, I tried to use my momentum to keep things turning over at a fast clip, but both the legs and lungs were pretty shot. Complicating things further were the three runners behind me who far from being broken, were giving chase.

Their heavy breathing and footfalls served as a stark reminder that this race was far from over. I knew this wasn’t really the Olympics and there wasn’t really a gold medal at stake, but I had worked hard to put myself in a position to win and despite whatever fatigue I was feeling, I wasn’t going to relinquish my spot without at least drawing blood.

I could almost feel their breath on my neck as I struggled to maintain pace for the next quarter mile or so. I knew that the only chance I had at holding them off was throwing in a finishing kick, but the legs were not happy and the lungs weren’t exactly sunshine and roses either.

The finish line was within sight with about another quarter mile to go. The three horsemen of the apocalypse were not backing off, but they weren’t passing me either. I played my last card and somehow mustered a half baked finishing kick in the last 200 meters. My vision narrowed as I careened towards the finish line on empty.

I doubled over feeling lightheaded and seeing stars. I had managed to single-handedly beat the rival high school cross country team and win my first race. I would have been elated if there was anything left in the tank. A race official slowly approached with a stick in her hand. She handed me a stick with the #2 on it.

While victory had been the goal, there wasn’t much disappointment I felt at falling a spot short. At the very least, I learned that having a winning mindset when approaching a race will put you in a position to have a chance at victory. For every race I ran after the Gobble Wobble, I always believed that I had a chance to win. It’s one of the most important lessons one can learn, ultimately.

While most of us may not be in a position to win races, believing that you ‘will’ complete a half marathon, believing that you ‘will’ run a personal best, believing that you ‘will’ accomplish whatever running related goals you have in mind is easily as important as any actual training you do.