I know a lot of people say don't go into your first marathon with a plan, just run it...I can't do that. If I didn't try to map out my pace I would most likely start out too fast (when I'm feeling all good and spunky in the beginning) and then have to walk the last 10K. So...here it is.
I am going to get up about 5:30, take my thyroid meds, take a shower (yes, take a shower)....get dressed and head to the race (6:30-7ish). (That might be a tad early, but I don't know what to expect with parking since last year when I got there with my Starbucks and walked around hugging all my friends who were about to do the race, I was completely oblivious to the parking situation.)
I'm going to take a Gu about 15 minutes before the start of the race and then take one every 45 minutes to an hour. I'm going to carry my small water bottle so I can sip whenever I want to and don't have to stop at aid stations if I don't want to. (I've gotten pretty good at filling up my water bottle as I run.) I'll plop in half a Nuun with every other fill up. I'll shed my top layer and my throw away gloves if I wear them along the way (it will be picked up and donated). If it gets too warm, I'll shed my vest. (I'll have several friends along the course who I can leave it with so I know I won't lose it.)
I'm going to run 3 easy miles tomorrow which may or may not have an impact on the plan I'm going to outline here....but as of right now...
I'm going to line up with the 4:20 pace group. I'm going to stick with them for the first three miles. If I'm feeling good, at that point I'm going to SLOWLY increase my pace to try to meet up with the 4:10 group. I'm going to do my very best to increase speed at a very slow pace. If I catch up with the 4:10 group and finish with them, I will actually be ahead of that time since they will have started before me and it's chip timed. If I do catch up with them and pass them, I'll be even closer to my 4 hour mark.
I have figured up a pace plan, but I'm not going to get too anal about it. My goal is to simply enjoy the course, enjoy seeing my friends out there, but at the same time...try to slowly catch up the the 4:10 group.
I am going to remember when I ran the NOLA half. I was out there alone although I knew some other people there, I was running the race by myself. I talked with some people along the way, but just enjoyed running the race and seeing the sights instead of the conversations I usually get to have on long runs. This time the sights will all be familiar, but I'll be able to see a lot of friends on the course. THAT part is going to be FANTASTIC. Although I think it would be ideal if I had someone to run the whole thing with...I don't have a lot of confidence in being able to hold a 9:05 or even 9:33 pace the whole time in order to stick with either of those groups. So I think my plan is about the best I can come up with.
I think my worst fear is holding too much back, then trying to kick in when I'm tired...and finishing feeling like I had more to give. But...I don't know what I don't know. I like the plan I've come up with...the real key will be in slowly catching the 4:10 group. This plan gives me time to warm up and gives me a challenge. I won't be relying on anyone other than myself to get me to the finish in the time I want. I'm keeping my goals: A) 4 hours, B) 4:15, and C) (since I don't know what I don't know) 4:30. However, I know I've trained well....I know I've thought it through...and I've got experience in negative splitting a longer race (albeit half the distance, I did that on both the NOLA half and the Women's Half, both of which I ran alone for the most part).
I not only can do this...I will do this. I will simply "behave in accordance with a decision previously made". I'm ready. I feel much calmer than I have (probably because I have a plan). This time 36 hours from now I'll be getting ready to run the race. In just 38 hours I'll be running. And in about 43 hours I will be wearing my medal!!!! It almost doesn't seem real. I'll bet it will feel real 48 hours from now!!!
Thanks for joining me on this journey. I'm not "there" yet, but it sure has been fun so far.
Come again soon!