Hang on…this is a long one!
Two years ago today, I had never run a marathon. Today I sit seven days away from my fifth. Two years ago my goal for the marathon was to finish, perhaps under five hours. Today, my goal is to crank out a 3:45. Two years ago it took me 3 hours 9 minutes to finish 16 miles. Last week it took me only 2 hours 20 minutes.
It would be an understatement to say that I’ve improved a during those two years. It would also be an understatement to say that the marathoning bug has bit me hard. (More on that on a later date.)
It’s been a roller coaster ride to get to this point. (The ride’s not over either. I just so happened to lose my Driver’s License today. Lord willing, that saga will end Monday.) This roller coaster had more to do with circumstances outside my control. Of course, there were the nagging and somewhat concerning “injuries” along the way, most notably my lower back tension problems. However, the two biggest hills on this roller coaster had to do with the possibility that I would not be able to run this race.
It started back at registration. I remember walking away after an hour of frustration, so disappointed that I had to find another race. I looked for others but realized that nothing would satisfy but MCM. That lead me to invest another frustrating hour that finally paid off. I realized afterwards just how blessed I was to secure a spot.
The other big hill had to do with the government shutdown. It’s funny. It’s one of those things that I thought wouldn’t affect me since I don’t work in the government or otherwise depend on the government for income or relief. The came the fated announcement on MCM’s Facebook page Tuesday that unless the government shutdown ended before Saturday they would likely have to cancel the race.
It’s funny but up until that point (with a few brief exceptions) I hadn’t really gotten into the race. I knew it was cool and that I was going to run the third largest marathon in the country but it wasn’t until it was almost taken away that I realized how much I wanted it.
I was upset, certainly. However, God helped me sort through my emotions and eventually gave me the peace to deal with whatever happened. I couldn’t do anything to change the situation, except to change my attitude towards it. So, Tuesday night I crafted a back up plan (aka Philadelphia) and waited for Congressional resolution.
Long story short, the race is back on and I’m running it. (I would love to not have to deal with the missing driver’s license but that’s just another speed bump to get past.)
That brings me to my race plan.
It’s no longer okay to have generalities in a race plan when you’re going for the time that I am. I have to know what I’m doing when I line up at that start line.
So here it is:
1. Pace group: Since joining my new running group I’ve realized how motivating keeping up with other runners can be, especially for longer distances. That’s why I’m going to seek out the 3:45 pace group leader and find out his race plan. Even if I can’t run with the group I want to be near it at all times.
2. Liquids: Since I will not be taking any liquids with me on the course, I plan to start taking water at the second water stop and gatorade and water after the halfway point. I don’t want to risk the mild dehydration that I know held me back in San Francisco. I also plan to head for the farthest table out to hopefully avoid traffic. Also related: I’ve always refrained from drinking anything on race morning. That works when I get up an hour or so before the race. (Well, works is being generous) This time I plan to grab a disposable water bottle and drink it on the metro in to the race start, plenty of time to use the porto-potties and still make it to the start line.
3. Fuel: I haven’t trained with any of the fuel options that MCM will provide. (Sorry but Clif Shot gels are disgusting.) Thus I will need to bring all of my own fuel. (In San Francisco and Savannah I grabbed a couple gels on the course because they were Gu brand.) I’ve recently discovered Gatorade chews and love them. They are so much easier to chew than Gu Chomps which eliminates the need to practice breathing while I chew. I’m going to bring three packs (6 chews in each) and put them all in a ziplock bag to store in my back pocket. I will eat two every three miles. I’ll have two extra but won’t hesitate to eat them during the race if I feel like I need an extra pick-me-up.
4. Pace: I need to maintain an 8:35 pace for each mile to hit my 3:45 goal. Since I will be walking through the water stops I want to give myself a cushion but at the same time avoid going out too fast. Thus, I want to aim for an 8:30 pace. Honestly, that scares me. Like usual, I doubt that I can hold that pace for an entire marathon. I’m determined to try through.
5. If the wheels fall off: This is a must for all marathoners. If I am not able to maintain my goal pace I want to maintain 8:50 or just plain PR. I want to run a smart race and if that means realizing early on that I need to abandon the 3:45 goal I want to be willing to do that. I’m stubborn though so…
So there you have it. A week left until the Marine Corps Marathon. Ready or not, here I come!