Twenty twenty twenty six miles to go ...

It's marathon week, baby!  Guess who is ready with a capital READY TO GO OMG???!!  That would be me.  This girl.  The one with the medal and the extremely red face.

So the marathon is on Sunday and once again, I have a goal to run it in under 4 hours.  Last year, I had the same sub-4 hour goal, and I ran it in exactly 4 hours on the money.  I mean it.  My final, official time is 4:00:00.  I achieved the impossible ... and yet was still one one-hundreth of a second short of my goal.  That stupid 4 preceding my time has plagued me for a year.

Looking back at the race in 2012, and in particular at my splits, one thing is clear: I started out way too fast.  I started the race at an 8:30ish pace and with each mile got a little bit slower, eventually ending the last few miles of the race in the mid to high 9s.  I felt tired at mile 17 and the subsequent miles were harder than they should have been.  So, since that time, I've been focusing on running a more disciplined, more measured, more strong and steady pace for my long runs.

I've found, not surprisingly, that this actually works!  On almost all of my long runs this year, I've followed a similar pattern: go faster than I should on mile 1, then slow it way down for the next 2-3 miles, and then settle into a very steady, almost robotically steady, pace of about 9:00-9:03 minute miles.  I'll have a few high 8s in there, but for the most part, my splits reflect 9:00, 9:01, 9:02 or 9:03.  In order to run a 4 hour marathon, you must average a 9:09 mile pace, so if I can stick to what I have been doing in training on race day, I will be in good shape.   I have been really surprised at how much stronger I feel on those runs too.  I don't feel gassed - I feel good. And the recovery has been easier as well.

I debated running with the 4:00 pace group, and for awhile I was convinced I should do it.  But I've changed my mind.  First, the pace groups are kind of a big pack, and I don't like running in a big pack (especially with people I don't know).  Part of what I love most about long runs is the ability to groove to my (really bad) music, enjoy my surroundings, settle in and relax and just run my own race.  I also worried that I'd be fretting the whole time - is the pacer going too fast? too slow? when should I break away from the pack? what if I break away and lose steam? what if I break away too late?  what if what if what if??  Stressed running is not fun running.  So I am bagging the pace group idea.  I would feel differently if I was trying to BQ (Boston Qualify), but that's a different, future race.

So wish me luck, god speed, empty bladder, great weather, a great shuffle on the iPod, quick feet and happy lungs.  I'll be sure to report back after the race -- hopefully with a finish time beginning with a 3.    
See you swoon,

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