ORN: 8.3 miles, 1:16:27, pace somewhere around 9:25…see below
Well, it’s one week to go to The Portland Marathon. The taper is in its final stages and I’m doing the usual nutso things in the taper. Like obsessing on whether or not to bleach my shoelaces to get them extra white. Yeah, really.
Of the more productive uses of my now-extended time not pounding out miles, I’m watching my weight to keep it flat at 195, laying off snacks and sodas, drinking water, stretching carefully. I have my packing list well in hand. And, yes, I’m monitoring the weather on race day. As of this moment, it should be about 52 at the start, headed for 73 under partly cloudy skies with only a 10% chance of rain. Sweet.
I’ve continued to navel-gaze about my projected pace. Part of the problem is that I know my Garmin has some inaccuracies in it. Linking that knowledge with the old maxim “don’t do anything new on race day,” I made up a mile split wristband for today’s run, using it in conjunction with the stopwatch on the Garmin to see my true pace. I also wanted to practice flipping the mode switch on my trusty GPS unit back and forth from “virtual trainer” to stopwatch mode. I carefully covered the wristband with shipping tape and wore it on today’s 8 miler, so I wouldn’t have ANYTHING new on race day. And what a hoot…I learned a lot.
First off, the standard 10 point font of the wrist band really didn’t cut it for my 52-year-old eyes. Shoot, even with the reading magnifiers built in to my sunglasses, I could barely read the time while I was running. Talk about feeling like a doofus. (And to think I umpire baseball all summer with eyes like these…please don’t tell the coaches.)
The second thing I observed is Murphy's law appling fully in this situation. “A water-tight pace band isn’t.” About 2 miles into the run, I noticed the paper soaking up the sweat. By the end, all the non-black ink colors had faded into oblivion.
The third thing I observed is the applicability of yet another old maxim: “The person with two clocks does not know what time it is.” Between my fancy-schmantzy GPS unit and an old-fashioned pace list, I had no idea how fast or slow I was running. This is further compounded by the fact that though I ran on my favorite route, where I’ve marked every half mile using a bicycle odometer, I didn’t know just how accurate those marks were. So, by the Garmin, I ran today at a 9:19 pace. Dividing out the ostensible 8 mile course by the elapsed time, the pace was 9:33.
Ever the engineer, I pulled out my race log while sitting at a tire-repair place later in the morning and reviewed the actual pace vs. the Garmin pace on major races I’ve run during the past two years, races where I have some confidence the overall distance was pretty accurate. While it varied, it looks like my Garmin gives me a pace about 8 seconds per mile faster than the pace I’m actually running. This is the first time I’ve done that math and now at least I know it.
So, here’s the plan. I just re-ran my pace chart in 16 point font using a 9:38 pace. I’m going to fold it over and put it in a small sealable bag to fit in one of the many useful pockets on my RaceReady shorts. And the objective will remain to beat a 9:30 pace on the Garmin. Future race planning will build this 8 second error into the training. For now, I’m sticking with the plan.
Boy, this taper thing is getting scary…good thing there is only one week to go.
Persevere. No matter how bad your eyes are….