Sixty Four

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sixty four is the number of turns in the Harbor Lights Half Marathon. Ouch. It's like they gave a crayon and a map of downtown Norfolk to a child and asked them to draw a race route. I guess the turns will keep me from zoning out and going into cruise control mode. Though the course is very flat the number of turns makes me think it won't be a naturally fast race.

My strategy is to run the tangents. A tangent is simply a straight line that just touches the curve. In other words, run the shortest distance possible. If done correctly you can shave off a good amount of distance and it is completely legal to do. The idea is to not 'swing out' before a turn, or cross to the other side of the road too early. Simply run the shortest distance possible from one point to the other. Not only is this good advice but it is actually how race courses are measured. If you don't do this you will probably run more than the actual race distance. The USA Track and Field Course Certification Manual says that "a race course is defined by the shortest possible route that a runner could take and not be disqualified." This route is actually very difficult to follow due to the throngs of other people. In fact USATF also states that "most runners don’t actually run the SPR (shortest possible route), so the distance recorded by their GPS device will usually be longer than the certified length of the course." They don't care though. The point of the race certification is to make sure you run at least the distance the course is certified for. Thanks a lot.

People smarter than me have done calculations to see how much distance you lose if you run the outside of a 90 degree turn verse the inside. It comes out to about 40 feet. So there are 64 turns in this race. That means there is a possible variance in distance from the turns alone of 2560 feet or 0.48 mile! That could easily be a 4-5 minute swing of time just by running the corners smartly.

Red turn = good, blue turn = bad

The main enemy of this strategy for me is People (because they won't just get out of my way for some reason), pot-holes (I like my ankles working), and the simple fact that I just don't ever think about this when doing my regular runs during the week. I'll be sure to post what my GPS watch says I ran for the race when it's all over.

In other news I ran four miles at lunch on my normal at-work run route. It's an out and back that has about a two miles through the woods on a trail.  On the way back I saw a snake, screamed like a girl, and pranced around for about 10 seconds. Snakes aren't cool. They should stay off the running path.

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