Garden Spot Race Day Strategy

It’s the witching hour, 3 days to go before the Garden Spot Village Marathon; three gloriously gluttonous carb loading days before embarking on the 26.2 mile road to “hell and back”!  So I am being a bit dramatic for affect, because to be honest I have fallen in love with running this distance.  It does get uncomfortable somewhere after mile 18-20.  Possibly even painful, but I think running a marathon is similar to giving birth….you remember it hurt but the memory of the pain becomes fuzzy with time, and after enough time passes, and you begin to think…Huh…that wasn’t so bad, I could totally do that again! There is something about overcoming that pain, and the realization of how far you can really push your body that makes it so addictive.  And it’s all mental; I’m not an incredible athlete by any means, I’m not the fastest runner, I’m just a 33 year old mommy and IT nerd with a running problem.  I think that is the most amazing thing about running a marathon, with the right mental attitude and training, ANYONE can run a marathon.   You see people of all ages and body sizes, elite runners, women in tutus, people running for loved ones and fallen heroes, for various causes, with different goals…all toeing the starting line of a race together.  Then the collective power and energy that you experience (and are part of) during a race is indescribable.  You become part of something bigger than yourself; you become part of the loving and supportive community of runners!


I apologize for the sappiness! It comes along with the self-reflection before a one of my big (goal) races.  On a less serious note, I decided to actually look at the course map and runner’s guide for the first time ever.  My motto in the past has always been to just wing it, let the course surprise me…after all, it feels more like an adventure that way, right?  Well yes, but this time I decided I’d try something different and actually come up with some kind of plan/race strategy.  I guess I’ll see how that goes! 😉

This non-planners marathon plan:

  • Packet pick-up and pasta dinner at 5 pm Friday at Garden Spot Village Visitor Center
  • 5 am wake-up, Breakfast: Bagel with peanut butter, banana + Coffee

I’ll look something like this before my coffee….


  • Get to start by 7 am, Snack: Cliff bar and apple sauce
  • 8 am race start time
  • Maintain an average pace of 8:18 per mile (For projected 3:37:37 finish time)

o   Cool running web-site has a nifty pace calculator that can be used to calculate splits:

Splits Times

o   1             Mile       00:08:18

o   2             Mile       00:16:36

o   3             Mile       00:24:54

o   4             Mile       00:33:12

o   5             Mile       00:41:30

o   6             Mile       00:49:48

o   7             Mile       00:58:06

o   8             Mile       01:06:24

o   9             Mile       01:14:42

o   10           Mile       01:23:00

o   11           Mile       01:31:18

o   12           Mile       01:39:36

o   13           Mile       01:47:54

o   14           Mile       01:56:12

o   15           Mile       02:04:30

o   16           Mile       02:12:48

o   17           Mile       02:21:06

o   18           Mile       02:29:24

o   19           Mile       02:37:42

o   20           Mile       02:46:00

o   21           Mile       02:54:18

o   22           Mile       03:02:36

o   23           Mile       03:10:54

o   24           Mile       03:19:12

o   25           Mile       03:27:30

o   26           Mile       03:35:48

o   26.21875             Mile       03:37:36.93

  • This is an out and back course with slight/short hills between miles 2-3, 4-5, and 21-23.  There is a lot of downhill to make up for any time lost climbing hills.  The last hill between miles 21-23 which will be mentally brutal, but knowing it is followed by a downhill finish will make it easier to hang in there.
  • There are water stations at mile 2, 4, 7, 9.5, 12, 15.5, 18, 20.5, 23.5

o   Had to double check…9 water stations (1 less than what I am used to) so it is important not to skip any, since I don’t like racing with my water belt (It weighs me down and moves around too much).

  • Gels are provided at every water station but there is no other food on course!  Yikes!

o   I am one hungry girl to begin with and have a high maintenance tummy does not tolerate gels well.  This means I will have to carry a fanny pack…ummm….I mean “fuel belt” (Because REAL athletes use fuel belts not fanny packs!….Riiight…Haha) stashed with some of my favorite greedy runner snacks;  honey packets, gummy bears, marshmallows, dried cherries, pretzels, and frozen grapes.  So yes, this is all food a toddler would eat, but that’s how I roll! I take Flintstone Chewable Multivitamins too! (Like I said, VERY touchy tummy, so rather than fake the funk, I go with what works for me).

  • Get to the finish line and party like its Rumspringa!!

o   The finish line festivities include homemade chocolate shakes (Yummmmmy!!! I’m not going to lie, this was the only thing I read before, and was the deciding factor for me signing up for this race!), massages, and hot tubs!  Also, runners get to eat/drink anything from the concessions for free! Totally unheard of!



  • Blog about it! So I can share with all of you how much fun my race was! 😉

Do you plan a race day strategy or do you prefer to wing it?  


14 thoughts on “Garden Spot Race Day Strategy

  1. I’m right there with you – can’t believe it’s only three days away!! I definitely have to have a strategy in place – it calms me down a lot (especially during the taper) to know that I’ve thought through what I’m doing. Good luck with your race!!! I can’t wait to hear about it!

    • Lol, yes, I ran with an actual fanny pack when I first started training for marathons; before I realized they actually made runner specific “fuel belts” and “SPI (Small personal item) belts”. I’d like to think I look a little less like a dork now! Haha! Happy racing/running to you too this weekend!

  2. Haha, nice! Looks like you’re all set to go. Good luck! My plan is to always go for a negative split. But more specific, at my last marathon my “coach” told me to follow my goal pace for the first 10 miles, then pick it up a bit if I felt good for the next 10, then give it all I had for the final 10k. It almost worked, until I got all kinds of cramps the last 10k.

    • I’ve never been able to run a negative split, no matter how much I try to pace myself and take it slow in the beginning. I guess it comes with more training and experience! My goal is to give it everything I have left that last 10K as well. Hopefully I have enough left in me! Good luck with your training and future races! 🙂

  3. I haven’t tackled my marathon yet, but I think as I get closer I am going to come up with some kind of strategy. My next couple of long runs I’m going to test out which paces seem comfortable to me and go from there (since 15 was kind of a wash, I really have no idea yet).

    You are going to kick butt and I can’t wait to hear all about it! Also the way you described yourself makes me want to hug you. I hope we end up at some of the same races! You rock!

    • I’ll see how the strategy works out for the actual race, it definitely gave me something to focus my energy on during my taper, which kept me much calmer than I usually am! I use my last couple of long runs to find my comfortable marathon pace too! I’m sure you’ll find your groove and you’re going to do great in your race!

      Thank you for the encouragement! It means a lot to me! 🙂

  4. True story: I learned last week that “fanny pack” means something completely not like a ‘small bag on a belt used to carry items around the waist and leave the hands/arms free’ in Brittan. 🙂

    I hope that your race went really, really well!

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