Race week is upon us! After over 10 weeks of preparation and 1000+ miles of work, I am less than a week out from my debut marathon. I am feeling a wide array of emotions right now ranging from extreme excitement and confidence to nervousness and slight fear. But above all else I am feeling well prepared.
Pete, Ryan, and I sat down last week to discuss my race plan and the overarching theme is to run intelligently and compete. The course layout is pretty straightforward in that the opening 18 to 20 miles is net downhill followed by a steady climb from 20-24.5. The plan is to run dialed back until 25k and then try to move through the field. Pace wise that will hopefully mean around 5:10-12 per mile for the opening 16 miles and then forward from there. Having talked to athletes who have run this course successfully, they all say they were able to pick off multiple people after halfway because they made sure they had something left in the tank for the hills.
From a time and place perspective, I have a variety of tiered goals you can see below but I also have several process goals that have nothing to do with time or place.
A. sub 2:15 and/or top 3
B. sub 2:16 and/or top 6
C. sub 2:17 and/or top 10
A. Have fun and enjoy the ride. The race is an opportunity to showcase my hard work and talent.
B. Attack the last 10k regardless of what place I’m in, especially the hilly miles from 21-24. This is the time to catch stragglers!
C. Finish all fluids and gels. Fuel early to be a beast late.
If I am able to carry out this race plan I am confident that will put me in the top 10 and hopefully higher if I really get going the last 10 miles or so. For reference sake, last year the top 4 broke 2:14, the top 6 broke 2:15, the top 9 broke 2:16 with 10th place being Scott MacPherson in 2:16:02. Every year is different and weather can play a role, but I am excited and ready to race.
Esther always reminds me that I cannot control the field, only my own effort, so although I have time and place goals, I must worry about myself above all else. I must run the first 2/3 of the race smartly so that I am in a position to race the last 1/3; the FUN part. So, if 10 guys go and run 2:12 pace from the gun, I know that’s not for me at this point. I will just lick my chops and try to pick off the stragglers as the race gets into the latter stages.
Lastly, I was watching an interview with Irish MMA fighter Conor MacGregor and he was asked how he got to be so confident in his abilities. His response was simple and clear: “At the end of the day you got to feel some way, why not feel unbeatable?”
Here is my last week of training (9/21-9/27):
Sunday: AM: 12 miles
Monday: AM: 10 miles PM: 6.5 miles
Tuesday: AM: 13 miles (8×200 post run)
Wednesday: AM: 15.5 miles (12×3 min, 2 min rec)
Thursday: AM: 8 miles PM: 6 miles
Friday: AM: 12 miles PM: 5 miles
Saturday: AM: 8 miles
Total: 96 miles, 10 runs