October 10, 2010

Doug Hawley: Last bit of advice

— Dear Dalton Half Marathoners: Thanks to so many of you who have stuck with me through these 16 weeks of columns leading up to the first Dalton Half Marathon, which is scheduled for Saturday morning.

Hopefully you have picked up a few useful things along the way in regard to running workouts, diet, psychology, how to laugh, rest and other things. Most of you have found the need to read past the first several paragraphs of each column. (As evidence — the myth of Mt. Sinai being added to the race course but instead a nightmare.)

Consider the saying “the hay is in the barn” this week. Plan to have an easy, relaxing few days leading up to the 13.1-mile race. Do not leave your race on the training roads. It would be akin to a football team’s players beating on each other all week, but leaving no fresh legs for game night.

Get as much rest as possible during the week. With the race at 8 a.m., try to do your easy running at a comparable time in the morning.

Watch what you eat. A few people carbohydrate load the week of longer runs like marathons or half marathons. Consult a reputable dietitian or your doctor if you are unsure how to do it. If there are no problems with your diet, you might be best not to change.

If you are a first-time half marathoner, consider a finish your victory. You are part of history in this area’s first such national race.

Regarding preparation for race day, pick up your packet on Friday at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Conven-tion Center. Consequently, you will save time the morning of the race by having the number on your shirt and the electronic chip in your shoe. You can add to your enjoyment by attending a pasta party between 5 and 7 p.m., with the opportunity to meet new friends — particularly those from out of state. If there early enough, you should still have enough time to attend an area high school football game that evening.

Many people drink coffee the morning of the race. It seems to stimulate them — along with perhaps a light bagel to eat. My philosophy: “I do not drink coffee because I’m too young to drink it.”

You should plan to be in downtown Dalton at the race site at least one hour ahead of time. That allows spare moments for, among other things, restroom duty. Even the world’s elite runners have those extra nerves prior to competition. Whether it is cool or hot, plan to warm up just enough to break a sweat. One mile is enough for most people.

Regarding the race itself, think CONSERVATIVE at the start. Regarding such distance, long ago an alleged expert said, “If you think you’re about right in the early stages, you’re probably going too fast. If you feel that it’s too slow, you’re about right.” A lot has to do with the adrenaline and the freshness from a week’s minimum activity.

If you are aiming for a two-hour, 15-minute half marathon, that’s a 10:18 per-mile average. A two-hour race equals 9:09 each mile. Seek comparable splits early, and you will do better for the long haul.

Stop at the water stations at least three or four times, even if you do not feel thirsty. Eliminate the danger of dehydration. Occasional walking is not a sin. Some people plan to walk the entire route.

Envision a golden finish as you head north on Hamilton Street and turn left at King Street, the 13-mile point. Your stretch run will include a red carpet and live band.

Wear your finishing medal proudly. You will have earned it.

I will see you at the start ... and sometime later at the finish.



This is the last in a 16-part series preceding the first Dalton Half Marathon slated Saturday. Doug Hawley, a competitive distance runner for more than 50 years, finished in the top 10 percent of five Boston Marathons between 1976 and 1981. You can write to him at dhawley@optilink.us.