This year, I've been running half marathons. A lot of half marathons. Eight of them since January, in fact. What I haven't been doing is running much farther than that at any one time. And I know the importance of the long runs. But I settled on my training plan nearly one hundred days ago, and I won't start second-guessing it now. What I need to do, though, is think carefully about how I intend to run the marathon.
Action 453 - Think San Diego, Not OC.
I ran the San Diego Half Marathon in 2:34. My pace was slower than my normal running because I chose to run with a friend just getting back into distance running. I enjoyed every moment of that race and I am very happy that I was there as she proved to herself that she could run a half marathon. That said, it was an 11:44 per mile pace.
By contrast, I ran the OC Half Marathon in 2:00:24. My pace was as fast as I have ever been for that distance. As my last training run before the marathon, it could not have gone any better. I set a PR and I walked away feeling strong, healthy and not sore at all. And I did it all with a pace of 9:12 per mile.
The difference of two and a half minutes per mile is significant, especially if factored over the course of an entire marathon. At 11:44 per mile, it would take me 5 hours 7 mins to finish. At 9:12 per mile, I would finish in just over 4 hours.
I think my finish will be somewhere between those two times. I won't have the endurance to run double my previous PR, but I also won't be running over five hours, either. But if I have to choose one time or the other to favor, I am going to give myself the benefit of a slower, more comfortable run. I want to run the entire event and I want to finish strong, but I don't want to injure myself in the process.
So, I will think San Diego. I will run my event at a speed that challenges me but does not wipe me out before the finish. I will force myself to start slower than my 10K pace, maybe even start with a 5 or 5 1/2 mile first hour. That will give me a chance to stretch out, find a rhythm, and discard all the pre-race nerves and jitters.
I will run this race strong, consistent, steady and smart.