I have only done one HM and one 10-mile race, plus a handful of 5-mile and 10K races (all in the past year). I'm lucky to pick up tips from my husband and sister, who are both jackrabbits with many marathons and HMs under their Spi-belts.
I'm not a speedy runner, in part because I combine running and walking to help me deal with back pain. That said, I think some of my race strategies might still be useful to you.
1) Strike the right balance between being hydrated and avoiding spending too much time in potty pit stops. When I did my first HM, I had to cycle through the potties at the start of the race 3 times and I still wanted to use a toilet again by mile 2. But the lines were long so I waited until mile 6, and even then I lost 5 minutes in a line-up.
Now, I do have the world's tiniest bladder, and I also like to drink a couple of big cups of coffee in the morning. So I changed that habit for race days. Now, I drink a couple of tiny espressos - enough caffeine, not too much liquid. I don't need to drink liquid on races that are shorter than 10K, but in my recent 10-mile race, I drank a cup of water at about the 30 and 50 minute marks. I felt energetic and by the end of the race I "could" use the toilet but didn't desperately need to.
I also ate some semi-salty carbs in the two days before race day (a couple of servings of pretzels). I think that also helped with fluid balance.
You'll have a different balance that needs to be struck, but it's good to experiment before race day so you're sufficiently hydrated but not spending too much time in potty line ups.
2) I find it hard not to run a bit quickly at the start of the race, so I indulge myself a little as follows. I'm usually in one of the slower corrals, so I'm careful to conserve my running legs by walking (not jogging) until I'm almost at the start line. Then I usually start moderately for the first minute or two, when the road is crowded. What's the point of running quickly when you're just dodging around people? Once the crowd thins out a bit, I complete the first mile at a run/walk ratio that has a bit more run in it than my usual pace. For example, my standard ratio for the 10 mile race was run 2:30 / walk 0:45. So in that first mile, I ran 2:45 / walked 0:30. It was more about psychology than speed - I just wanted to get some distance under my feet but didn't want to burn myself out. I kept my normal pace. If you wanted to do the same thing, you might think of running 0.25 mph faster than your long race pace.
3) Then I planned to run the next 7 miles at run 2:30 / walk 0:45. As it turned out, I had enough 'gas in the tank' to keep that interval/pace up to mile 9. I varied the interval slightly to accommodate uphills, downhills and water stops (e.g., to walk a water stop when I wanted to drink, or walk the hardest part of a hill, or run a downhill).
4) For the final mile, I just tried to run the intervals I could - generally, this was run 1:30 / walk 0:30. And I had enough gas in the tank to finish strong.
On 10Ks, another technique I have used is, for the 2nd half of the race, to speed up on short intervals. For example, if my planned interval is run 3 / walk 0:45, I run the first 2:30 at my usual pace (e.g., 6.5 mph), then pick up my cadence and run a bit faster (e.g., 6.75 mph) for 30 seconds, then walk for 45 seconds. If I feel like I have the energy, I'll do this in the last 2-3.1 miles of my next HM. I'll practice it, though, on my long runs.
Since you're just running, you might just add a 20-30 second faster cadence interval every 3 minutes or so in the the last few miles of the race. But you might want to wait until at least mile 9 or 10, to make sure you still feel like you have the energy for it.
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