The fall marathon season is in full swing: the men’s marathon world record was recently lowered to 2:02:57 by Dennis Kimetto in Berlin; Shalagne Flanagan tried to chase down Deena Kastor’s U.S. female marathon record of 2:19:36 at the same race, she failed but set a new U.S. 25k record en route. And on Sunday morning I’ll be toeing the start line of the Portland Marathon.
I just did the math and that’s less than 48 hours from now, cue ‘Eye of the Tiger’! In fact, my next stop after hitting ‘Publish’ is the marathon race expo.
If you can, it’s a really good idea to avoid picking up your bib the day before the race. Nothing is scarier than watching the hoards of to-be marathoners milling around in moisture-wicking tees, shorts, and flip-flops or Crocs. The nervous anxiety in the room is palpable: hasty swigs of water or electrolytes, quick chomps of energy bars (or really any food within line of sight), manic stretching, pre-pre runner’s trots…it’s an endless parade of agony. The extra time on your feet is not going to do you any good…so if your race is on Sunday, go on Friday!
This morning I went for a 3.6 mile run. I ran easy until the end, where I finished with 2-200m sprints. My mileage has been drastically reduced and done at low intensity all week, so by sprinkling in a few quick pick-ups I remind my legs that they have speed! Tomorrow I plan on a 3 mile jog and nothing else. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been eating exactly the same, and I will continue to do so, even at my last supper. The only other things I’ve done today is bike to class and then downtown (~35 minutes of moderate-low intensity). I’ll take the bus back home to spare my legs a little. Tomorrow I plan on a little 15 minute ride in addition to my morning run.
I feel really good about this race. I just have a good feeling, and for the most part I’ve kept calm this week. However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t the least bit nervous! I’ve finished 10 marathons so far and have experienced both the good and the bad. Twenty-six-point-two miles is a long way to go, and I’ve learned to respect the distance. I know what it’s like to suffer for 3 hours, but I have also felt the joy of flying faster than I had imagined.
There is one truth that I am prepared for, and it is below:
I’m not scared of the pain….my mentality is: Bring it on! I’m strong, I’ve had great workouts in the past few months, and I WILL remain level-headed and controlled during the early miles of the race.
“The fear of suffering is far worse than the suffering itself.” -Paulo Coelho
“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” -Unknown
I recently read an article from Runner’s World “Learn to Pace Like a Pro” by Jeff Gaudette, which stated that every world record from the 5k to marathon distance has been set by running negative splits.” With that in mind, and in accordance with my recent tempo runs, my pace strategy looks something like this:
Mile 1-2: 7:00-7:15
Mile 3-7: 6:50
Mile 8-13(halfway point): 6:45
Half-mile 20/22: 6:30
Last 4-6 miles: GO AS FAST AS POSSIBLE! (Hoping to still have reserves to run 6:20-6:25!)
I’m not 100% sure what finishing time that equals. An even 6:30 pace would give me a 2:50 marathon, which is actually my time goal. I would be ecstatic with that result, but finishing sub-3 hrs. or sub 2:58 (my current PR) would make me almost as happy.
My main fears/concerns:
- The coldness of the weather at the start, the temperature increase and how I should dress.
- An uncooperative stomach and fueling adequately.
- Going out too fast or that my goal pace is unsustainable.
I plan to wear a singlet repping my favorite running store, arm warmers, and shorts. I hope that I won’t get too cold. Before the start I’ll be wearing old socks on my hands and dispensable sweatpants, a long shirt, and a hat or ear warmers. I still have to go to Goodwill and pick those items up (hopefully today, I don’t want to run a bunch of errands tomorrow). There’s no baggage check at the race, so I can’t carry anything with me. I need to figure out if I am getting a ride to and from the race, or if I need to carry bus fare (I took the bus last year, it worked perfectly!) There’s a running store near the start I can stay warm in until I need to warm up…dynamic stretches of course! No need to add any more miles to the marathon distance! I need to plan what time I am going to wake up, and I need to have my pre-race fuel of Barnanas dried bananas, and my Huma gels for during the race ready to go. I also need to review the course map one more time, even though this will be the 3rd time I run the Portland Marathon!
I’m blessed to be healthy and able to line up at the start line. Whatever happens is meant to be. This is part of my journey, good result or not. I’ll share this experience with thousands of others on Sunday morning. I’ll breathe the crisp morning air into my lungs. I’ll pump my arms and churn my legs and be grateful.
That’s why running is beautiful.