Good Morning Runners,
We’ve made it! It’s our last week of training and I think you’re going to love the plan. If I’ve caught you before your run today, do nothing more than 60 minutes today. Tuesday will be another 60 minutes and Thursday will be 45 minutes. The pace this week is critical – don’t push yourself. Although these runs are shorter, they should not be “tempo” training. The goal this week is to enjoy your running. Go somewhere interesting, window-shop while you run, enjoy your group, be happy…. all of this will help you relax and not get too worried about the weekend. If you push the pace this week, there will be some residual damage in your muscles on Sunday. It will make your legs feel a bit heavier than normal (you may have noticed this on your weekend runs – it’s “left-over” from the long Thursday run). I hope this convinces you to take it easy this week! You are ready for this race. Your training is done – this week is about finding the joy in running (is it normal to put “joy” and “running” in the same sentence????).
This is the plan for Lisbon….. if I change my mind about any of this, I’ll email you again this week.
On Sunday morning, we’ll be boarding our bus by 8:15am for a short ride to the train station. I’m trying to avoid the temptation to make us all hold onto one of those ropes like the kindergarten classes do, but know that’s the image I have in my mind. If you have time, go onto the race website (www.lisbon-half-marathon.com/gallery/gallery01.html) and look at the gallery of photos – particularly those of the race start (at the bridge). First of all, they are super cool photos, but most of all, it will give you an idea of how many people are racing. It’s insane. Basically if we get separated from each other, it’s going to be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. If you get separated from the group, chances are you are running the race alone. My plan is for us to hang together from the hotel to the race start (bus/train/walk to start). Do this however you want – just watch out for each other. You’re all mothers. You know how to do this – you’ve been counting heads for years (some of us longer than others!!!!).
At the race start, we will find a good place to group up and we’ll plant ourselves there. There will be portable toilets at the race start. Once we have established our “waiting area”, people can go off to the toilets and will know where to find us when they return (the matching running caps will help you find us). There are always very long lines for the toilets. Depending on the weather and what you decide to wear for the race, you might consider wearing an old sweatshirt over your race clothes. Minutes before the race everyone tosses these old clothes to the side and the race comes behind us to collect them for the homeless.
A few minutes before the race start, I want you to order yourself as you normally do several miles into a training run. Syma will be leading us – so if you are usually in the front of the pack, group yourself near her. Syma will set the pace and no one should get in front of her. You need to really watch where you are running. It’s going to be packed. People will be shuffling instead of running for the first few minutes. Becky will be following behind Syma by 10-15second per mile (pace-wise). If you are normally just behind the front pack, then settle in next to Becky. Bonnie will be following Becky and I’ll be in the very back. Sherry – most of the bridge is concrete, but there are areas which are metal grate (you can see through to the water below). I think the metal area is to the far right hand side but I can’t remember for sure. With Menieres Disease, running on the metal grate couldn’t be a good idea. There is concrete – so seek it out. Last time I ran this race, they had laid out carpet over some of the grate so this may not even be an issue.
Your trainer will take good care of you. They know what pace to run and they know when you should be doing gels (on an individual basis). Each of you should carry 2 gels. Most of you will only need one gel, but it’s always best to be prepared. Sometimes nerves can increase your metabolism and you’ll burn through your reserves more quickly than normal. Read through the information on hydration in the Lisbon Update email. This is really important. Most of you have become comfortable running with a water bottle. If that’s the case, I would carry it. It’s going to be warm – you’ll need more fluids than normal and it’s nice to have that water bottle with you. That way you can just sip on it as you go. Also consider carrying some jelly beans or tootsie rolls with you. Treats can be a powerful motivator. Some runners “reward” themselves say every 20 minutes with something good to eat. Whatever works!
We can continue to talk about race psychology when we’re together in Lisbon, but here are the basics….. the more you can let go of any negative thoughts, doubts, nagging concerns, etc – the easier this will be. You will have a trainer with you who will take care of the details – all you have to do is run. Try to enjoy it. I know that’s easier said than done, but try. Look around, look at the people, look at the other runners, congratulate yourself on getting this far, and keep on running. The race will be marked in kilometers (21.1 kilometers in a half-marathon). There will be a sign at each kilometer so you’ll be aware of your progress. Some races do not mark kilometer 19/20/21, so don’t worry if you’ve passed the 18k sign and the 19k sign seems to be never appearing. They may or may not mark the last few kilometers. Sometimes it’s helpful from mid-race on to think a bit backwards – instead of saying “I’ve run 16 kilometers” say “I only have 5 kilometers to go”…. then 4k, then 3k, then 2k….. Some runners find it helpful to translate that remaining mileage into a route you are familiar with. If you have 5k left to run, that’s about one loop around Regent’s Park. If you have 10k left to run, that’s the loop we’ve done many times in Hyde Park. We’ve run back from Hyde Park by the US embassy quite a few times – that’s about 2 miles or 3k. It may help for the last 3k to think “OK, I’m leaving the US embassy behind and Oxford St. is just up there in about 3 minutes. Now I’ve crossed Oxford St. M&S is on my left and I’m running towards Marylebone Road. I have about 6-7 minutes until I reach Baker St. tube station, etc.”. There is something helpful about creating familiarity in your race environment. That’s one reason why it’s always easier to race on your home territory. You know what’s coming. You can create that familiarity in your mind.
As for nutrition, eat well this week. Make sure you’re taking in enough food. It’s more important what you eat all week than what you eat the night before the race. While you are in resting/recovery mode this week, you’ll need to continue to keep protein intake high (target 1.6-1.8g protein per kg of body weight – so somewhere around 90-100g per day). But most of all, just keep your protein/carb/fat intake steady and as “clean” as possible (whole foods – avoid packaged foods) and get those nutrients from a variety of sources. The night before the race, we’ll be having an Italian dinner at La Trattoria. Eat whatever you normally eat the night before a long run. If you normally have a glass of wine, drink a glass of wine. You’ll be fine.
That’s it for now. Ladies, this is going to be a blast! We’ve worked so hard and it will pay off. I promise. Running a half-marathon is huge – it’s hard, but it’s doable with the right training. We’re ready. Keep visualizing the finish – see yourself crossing that line, having a medal put around your neck, and seeing all your friends around you. It will be magical.
Please call or email with any questions you have. You aren’t bothering me. I’m happy to help however I can (except run the race for you – can’t do that!!!!).