There are 6 days left until the Nagano Marathon, so it is time to put together my race strategy. My goal is a sub-3:10. Fitness-wise I believe I’m ready, but mentally I need to get my head in the game. The past few weeks I’ve just been going through the motions of training but haven’t really been focused and motivated. The marathon is just as much mental as it is physical and to run a good race, you need to dig deep to find that mental toughness and confidence to grind through those last few miles of a marathon. So this week will be geared toward coming up with a battle cry to help me run a gallant race.
This is the second time I will be participating in the race. In 2010 I ran a decent time of 3:24:46, but slowed down considerably toward the end of the race. However, if you run the course smartly, it is definitely a race where you can achieve a personal best.
The Nagano Marathon course is a flat and fast point-to-point course. It is probably one of the flattest courses I recall ever running. Click here for an excellent description of the nuances of the course. There are a couple moderate size hills at the 6 km and 19 km mark, but beyond that, nothing significant to speak of. The second half of the course is supposedly faster than the first half.
I plan to run this race at an even pace and keep it between 7:05/mile (4:24/kilometer) ~ 7:15/mile (4:30) until mile 22 (35 kilometers). I am hoping to average around a 7:10 pace, which is equates to about a 3:07 marathon time, but keep in mind that you always run a little extra distance because of crowding and inability to run the tangents of the course. Last time I ran this race, my Garmin showed I ran 26.47 miles, about a quarter mile extra, so I’ll need to run a little faster pace if I want to ensure I get under 3:10. Around mile 22, I’ll reassess whether or not I can pick up the pace – although, not too much faster until last mile or two. This is a little more aggressive than my Tokyo Marathon pace, but feel that because my fitness level is about the same as when I ran Tokyo and the course is easier that I don’t need to be as conservative. I’m planning to pass the halfway point around 1:35.
I plan to start moderately carbo-loading on Thursday and will consume about 500 extra calories of carbohydrates daily. So what this means is maybe an extra energy bar and another extra serving of pasta/rice in the evening each day until the evening of the race. All you need to do is top off your finite energy stores, no more, no less. Going beyond this will only cause digestive issues and add extra unneeded weight. Along with the carbo-loading, I’ll ensure I drink enough to keep hydrated, but not overly hydrated where I’m going to the bathroom every 5 minutes. The simple indication for hydration is to monitor your urine and if it is clear, you are hydrated.
Breakfast for race day will probably consist of some rice balls from the convenience store, an energy bar and a cup of coffee. The race starts at 8:30 am, so I’ll probably have breakfast around 5:30 am, which should provide sufficient time for full digestion of the breakfast.
During the race, I plan to carry 4 gels (GU Roctane Blueberry Pomegranate, 2 x caffeine). I’ll take the first gel about 20 minutes before the race starts, then will consume the other three every 45 minutes. This has been my formula for past races that seems to work well for me. I’ll alternate sports drink and water between fluid stops and try to take in some fluids at least every mile or two.
Regarding fluid stops, I plan to walk through a few of them. I find that taking a short walk break and getting the fluids and gels down seems to help refresh the legs and doesn’t really effect your time.
Weather and Gear
Although we are still 6 days out, the weather is forecast shaping up to be ideal. They are projecting a sunny day, temperatures starting in the mid-40s, with moderate wind of 8 mph. Nagano does warm up rather quickly so I would assume temps will be in the 50s and low 60s toward the end of the race. Assuming the weather forecast is correct, I plan to wear a singlet, arm sleeves, Under Armour compression shorts with running shorts as a second layer, CEP compression socks, Garmin 405, and armband to carry my gels and ID. For shoes, I plan on wearing my Newton Distances. Also, I’ll be putting on a thick layer of sun screen and possibly wear sunglasses since there may be minimal cloud cover.
I’ll be traveling to Nagano via the Shinkansen train on Saturday morning and staying at the Comfort Hotel Nagano located downtown and located very close to Nagano Station. If you ever run this race, one of the challenges is finding hotel accommodations close to the start. I’m not exactly sure why it is so difficult, but every time I’ve run this race, this has been a problem.
Other than that, I plan to get adequate rest and ensure I have everything laid out and ready to go the evening before the marathon. One thing you don’t want is to be stressing the morning of the marathon, so it is important to take this extra step and make sure you have everything you need Sunday morning and get there a little early. I’ll be taking a short train ride from Nagano Station to Kita-Nagano, so I’ll need to leave my hotel around 6:50 am to ensure I get there about 1.5 hours before the race begins. This should allow plenty of time to walk to the start area (15 minutes from the station), get things checked in, stretch, hit the port-a-potty and relax a bit.
So there you have it. This is my favorite marathon in Japan, it is well organized so I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to run it again.