Believe it or not, I run my best without a race plan. Yes, I have a goal and I know the average pace I need to achieve it. I will just focus on the average pace. My first marathon was my best because I didn’t really have big plans. I had a number in my mind that I wanted to beat and I was pretty sure I could do it based on my training. I trusted my training and I had faith in myself. I just wanted to finish! I did not push myself too hard and managed to run a 4:05.
My second marathon was a little different, I wore one of those pace bands to keep me on track and I stared at my Garmin the entire time. My goal was to run a sub four marathon. Once the 4-hour pace group passed me I was a nervous wreck trying to calculate the pace I needed to run to get me to the finish in under 4 hours. That was a big mess and it was way too much for someone who hit the wall, was dying a slow death and in lots of pain! The result was yet another 4:05!
My plan for Marathon #3 is really simple. I have tried to take all of the positive aspects of my training and the experiences from my past two marathons to come up with a plan that might result in a more positive experience.
1. Don’t go out too fast! I am guilty of this in pretty much every race I run but I am going to try my hardest to resist the urge because I know the consequences.
2. Settle into a pace that is comfortable and back off if I know that it won’t last 26.2 miles. If it is not my day to run a sub four marathon than I will accept it and do my best to get as close to it as possible. If the weather is not going to allow for a great race then I will adjust my goals accordingly. I don’t want to push myself to run a tough race if there isn’t going to be a PR involved. We all know when the conditions are perfect for that PR.
3. Don’t stare at the Garmin the entire time! During my training, I was able to run my longest runs at a decent pace only because I was not babysitting my Garmin. I would glance at it occasionally and realize that I was running at a 8:30-8:40 pace when it felt more like a 9:00-9:15 pace. I know that controlling my pace in the early stages is key but I also want to run by feel and if my pace feels comfortable I will stick with it.
4. Stay hydrated and GU every 5 miles just as I did during my training. As much as I would love to not wear my hydration belt, I am going to since I need my water when I need it and not when there is a water stop.
5. Miles 20-26.2 are the worst for me so I am going to try something new. I will turn on my music these last 6.2 miles. Hopefully I remember to turn it on since I am not a big fan of listening to music when running a marathon. In my opinion, you miss out on the course entertainment and crowd support when you have music in your ears. From what I have heard, the marathon I am running lacks course support and entertainment for a large part of the course so it may do me some good. I will also pass by the Finish Line when I reach Mile 21, which will be mentally tough for me. I will need the distraction to pull me through these final miles.
Sunday cannot come fast enough. I am nervous yet incredibly excited all at the same time. Thank you to everyone who has given me great advice and encouragement to run the best race that I possibly can. Thank you for believing in me more than I believe in myself....