Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mississauga Marathon: Final Days

Down to less than 3 days before the race and the taper is coming to an end. I'm heading out tomorrow morning to pick up my race kit and will likely try and drive as much of the route as possible. Luckily, the organizers have a detailed map with a full elevation profile (here) so I have a pretty good idea of what to expect but it would still be beneficial to see it in person.

One thing that I did miss earlier in the week was an offer to have custom pacebands made up prior to the packet pickup. To get them, I would have had to send an email by Monday in order to pick them up at the expo. Unfortunately, there was no mention of this when I registered I didn't go back to check until yesterday so I missed the window. Regardless, it appears that they will have generic bands on hand at the expo so hopefully it'll work out anyway. I could always make my own up, however having it laminated with a proper closure would be significant benefits.

Either way, getting back to the plan the target is still for a 3:30 finish (~5min/km). Given that I've done a good number of my long runs near this pace (including a 20 miler at a 5:09/km pace) this is likely a bit conservative, but as this is my first shot at this distance I'd rather play it safe than sorry. A lot of things can go wrong at this distance, so leaving a little extra in reserve is likely a good idea either way. If the legs have it in them near the end, I always have the option to pick it up and aim for something better.

Fortunately, this time my target lines up with a standard mark so I'll hopefully be able to make use of the pacers provided by the race organizers. At the Scotiabank half marathon the pacer for my target time wasn't there, and at Around the Bay my target was half way between so this is really my first opportunity to take advantage of this type of thing. Fortunately, yumke may also be targetting this pace for the first portion of the race so even if the pacer doesn't work out I may have some help.

The Mississauga Marathon course is a net downhill race with only a few small hills to deal with so pacing should be pretty even. Naturally, those hills will feel more significant than the normally do because of the distance so I can't just write them off, but it is an easier course than most Marathons in this area. The main challenge will likely be the winds near the end of the race, as it finishes up along trails by Lake Ontario so it's quite exposed. With the weather reports calling for 30km/h winds, that could easily be a significant issue. The upside, however, is that this segment of the race heads eastward so that wind will hopefully be at our backs at that point.

The tricky part will be the fueling aspect of this distance, as I don't have a lot of experience with that at this juncture. I've experimented with Gatorade and Gels on my training runs, but as I topped out at 20 miles (~32.2km) the benefits weren't really apparent. It was enough to indicate that neither should be a problem, but it's difficult to figure out exactly how many calories I will need to take in. Fortunately, pretty much everyone that I've talked to appears to suggest that somewhere in the region of four to five Gels should be sufficient without causing any problems.

My original plan was to stick with Gatorade as it has all of the necessary components in approximately the right mixture. The problem with that, however, is that I can only carry about 32 oz (~200kcal) on my water belt so I'd have to be partially dependant on the aide stations to make up the rest. This, in and of itself, isn't a big problem but trying to keep track of how much I take in at those stops would be impossible, so it would be difficult to ensure that I take in the appropriate quantity. With Gels, it is easy to keep track of how many calories are taken in (although it won't help with tracking the ammount of water and electrolytes).

As for the next couple of days, I still have a couple of short runs left (a 5 miler tomorrow and a 4 miler on Saturday) and fortunately it looks like the new shoes have broken in so they'll likely be suitable for the race itself. The calibration check on Sunday appears to have done the trick, and I'll double check that on tomorrow's run. Looking over race reports from previous years, it appears that the kilometer markers may not be terribly reliable so it will be important to make sure my watch is providing as accurate numbers as possible.

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