The countdown to Scotia is on. Your last long run is done. You are in to taper mode. You and your coach (or you and your brain) have talked about your race plan and execution. The last details of your training puzzle have come together. So, have you taken the time to write it down?
There are a fair number of logistics on race day to manage, from your fuel, your wardrobe, transportation to and from, oh, and that race plan you are supposed to execute that we just talked about. The best way to prepare for race day is to have a plan, from the race details down to what you’re wearing before, during and after.
I came to writing my race plans from the Believe Training Journal series. It offers not only great race day plans and race strategy plans, but a host of other training strategies. It also happens to trace the story of my training since the December 2015. I’m not one to give away other people’s secrets but I did come up with a race day plan for you to help you reach your goals for the Scotia Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
Let me take you through the plan I have written for you to have your best day:
Goals: From process (i.e., I will have fun) to outcome (i.e., a time) you should write down your goal for Sunday. I encourage you to write a realistic time goal and set a progress goal as well.
- Intermediate Splits: You should know where you are with respect to your goal in the race. We’ve all been told if you go out too hard you’ll pay for it at the end, so make sure you write down your 1km split so you know what you’re aiming for when you cross that starting line. I have suggested writing splits at 5km, 10km, the ½ mark, and 30km, but make sure you write down what works for you.
- Race Strategy: This is really your race plan, how you are going to execute your race so you can achieve your goals. One of the tricky things with the Waterfront Marathon are the winds. I recommend using the wind in your favour when you can, that might mean going 1-2 seconds faster per kilometre when you have the wind at your back with a downhill; you just have to be careful not to go too hard here because it will likely cause you to blow up later! Check out the Race Day Notes at the top of the Race Day Plan to help plan your race strategy.
- Mantra: What words will you repeat over and over again to will yourself forward. I actually draw a smiley face on my hand too; when I look at it I smile, which helps me relax and remember to find the joy in what I’m doing.
Race Day Logistics: On the Race Day Plan I put the start time and location at the top.
- Start time: OK, gun time is 8:45am and there are six waves in 5-minute increments, the last one starting at 9:10am. I recommend writing both the gun time and your corral time down.
- Arrival Time: When do you need to arrive? I would say give yourself at least an hour. Canadian Running Series states that you must be in your corral 10 minutes before the start of your wave or you will have to start at the back! And remember there are never enough pottys for everyone so plan to get there early because you will have to go, at least once!
- Travel: Now that you know what time you need to be University and Dundas, how are you going to get there? Maybe our next Toronto mayor can modernize transit and open up the subway earlier on Sunday’s
- Fuel + Hydration: If you’re an Endurance Tap and/or Gatorade user your race day just got easier. There are sixteen water and Gatorade stations and two Endurance Tap stations on course (check out the map for their exact locations). If you do not use these products you’ll be carrying a few more things, but regardless you should plan when you’re going to take in your nutrition.
- Wardrobe: Time to plan your party outfit. Mornings are often cool in Toronto at the end of October so you’ll probably want a layer you can peel off just before you start. If you do not have a friend to take your clothes, and you do not feel like parting with any of your wardrobe, a garbage or recycling bag is also a good option to keep you warm and dry before you start! Think Paperbag Princess and cut a hole for your head at the bottom of the bag and your arms at the side.
- Number Pickup: Packet pickup starts at 11am on Friday and you must get it before 6pm Saturday. Leave lots of time getting to and from the expo, the last thing you need is to stress yourself before the race even starts.
- Workouts: Taper time sure is fun. I often feel like my legs are bounded up elastic bands that just want to pop, which is a great feeling on race day when you finally let them go. Your last few runs, even though they are much shorter make sure you plan for them. A mistake many runners make is to do fill their extra training time with work and other stressful tasks, which essentially eliminates all that good work of your taper. Use the extra training time to do something relaxing like read a book, watch TV, enjoy a meal with friends, or fill out this race plan.
- Meals: I jokingly said before my marathon that I was breaking up with vegetables, you know minimizing that dietary fibre as to not compound the bathroom issues race day. In all seriousness, write down what you want to eat and when you’re going to eat it in the days leading up to the event, including your hydration strategy.
- Other: If you have to travel to Toronto, I recommend add this in the Pre-Race logistics. I’ve given you lots of space on Friday and Saturday to write in these things. Think of all the other logistics things you have to manage, such as, childcare, dog sitting race day, where your cheer squad should be for you on course, all the little details we often forget that clog our brains.
As an example, I share with you iRun Ben’s race plan (Thanks Ben for letting me use you as my guinea pig!). Ben told me his goal was to break 3 hours, I gave Ben a secondary goal of never giving up; he needed a progress goal that he could honestly evaluate post-race. If you look at his race plan his mantra and his goals align, I even suggested to Ben that he write his mantra on his hand.
Now go dream of success, whatever your definition of success might be. I’ll be out there running with a friend and cheering. And if you get into a spot where the event is challenging, embrace it, it’s what you signed up for after all.
Oh, and don’t worry, check the iRun blog on Sunday afternoon for my post-race reflection tips!
Scotia Toronto Waterfront Marathon Race Plan
Course Notes: Weather can vary at the end of October in Toronto, prepare for anything & watch the weather app closely. Wind might be a factor along Lake Shore Blvd; favourable from ~12-22 & ~24-33, less favourable from ~7-12 & ~33-42, but northern winds might be a challenge on Bayview Ave (~22-24km). Generally a flat course, starts with a mild uphill, and another one again ~22k.
Goal(s): Break 3 hours; Never give up
Intermediate Splits: 1k = 4:15, 5k = 21:15 , 10k = 42:30 , ½ = 1:29:40, 30k = 2:07:30
- I promise to not go out too hard on the first 5 km; I will run conservatively
- Depending on the winds, I might use the wind at my back to ‘carry’ me for a few km between 12 and 22, but I will not go more than 2s faster per km here
- If it’s windy I will tuck in behind people
Mantra: I WON’T BACK DOWN!
Race Day Logistics:
Start Time: Gun Time = 8:45 am Wave/Corral: Red, start with Gun time
Travel: Ride my bike to a location near the start; will travel home the same way. I need to leave the house at [7:45]
Fuel + Hydration: I will eat my two pieces of toast with peanut butter; banana, at 645am. I will have gels from 15K, water from 10K, and then every other K from 15K.
Wardrobe: Shorts, size small, fit only for running; BlackToe singlet; perhaps a long sleeve under the singlet, if its less than 6 degrees, perhaps throwaway gloves.
Pre-Race Day Logistics:
Friday: Work the STWM Expo, sitting as much as possible; 2 beer maximum at iRun event
Saturday: I will eat my usual pre-race dinner [spaghetti, salad, Perrier]
Sunday: Toast with peanut butter; banana; coffee; OJ. Then, afterwards, my friends I shall rejoice with a few bottles of Jogger Lager and order in an embarrassing amount of Chinese.