With all of the Mario trauma/drama I wasn't able to get a running update posted. And now here we are, 24 hours away from the next marathon.
Two Cities was originally going to be my A-race of the year. Early in the summer my paces were getting a little faster and I felt that with another four months to train and build off that level, I'd be in a pretty good place to try to PR at Two Cities. If you've been following along for a bit, my PR is 4:01:02. I'm in that sticky spot where just a PR would be disappointing. I need to go sub-4 to have any satisfaction. Because let's face it, a 4:00:30 would just sting more than bombing and coming in at a 4:15.
My hip derailed my plan to have months to build up my pace and confidence. I stopped doing any speed work through August and September. I am so grateful my chiropractor kept encouraging me to keep up the running as I didn't lose my endurance base. The first week of October I was able to get back into real training and I've been surprised at how quickly my paces started dropping again.
I feel I am currently in slightly better shape than I was at the end of July when I had to give up speed work. I am not, however, quite where I wanted to be going into Two Cities. I have four weeks of solid running, but that isn't the same as having a full 12 of them.
I took a step back and decided I had some options for this race. First, I could set an aggressive yet conservative goal that would build my confidence; Perhaps a 4:08. Something I know I could pull off and then use that confidence to build up for my next A-race attempt. But then I took two steps back and realized something huge. I may not be in as great shape as I wanted to be for a sub-4 attempt, but I am in far better shape than I was when I ran my 4:01 at Texas.
I pulled up some workouts from Texas and Fresno training to compare my paces. My 7 mile tempo pace is 9 seconds per mile faster now. My mile pace is 25 seconds faster. My easy pace is almost 30 seconds a mile faster. My long run pace is 46 seconds per mile faster.
Do you know what the difference between a 4:01:02 and a 3:59:59 marathon is? 3 seconds a mile. Three seconds a mile.
My second option is clearly to try to go for the sub-4. My confidence doesn't think I can do it, but my body seems to be telling me I have a realistic shot at this. What is the worse thing that can happen if I go out at a 9:09 pace and can't hold it? I slow down.
I've run enough of these at varying effort levels to be devoid of ego regarding my finishing time. If I set out to run a sub-4 and come in at 4:40, so what? I don't think that would crush me. I haven't invested a year's worth of training into this one race. In fact, I've only managed to pull together a month of solid training. Not a huge investment, so not a huge loss. Another nice thing about doing lots of marathons is that there is always another race around the corner to try again.
I think something that far too many runners lose sight of is that a marathon, even a race-effort marathon, is not the end-game of our running. Too many people go out and run races they feel don't live up to their expectations and they take a look at what they did and are upset or disappointed. If I go out and run 16 miles at a 9:09 pace and it all falls apart, do you know what I'm going to think? I'm going to think, "Hell yeah! I ran 16 freakin' miles at MP!" I've never done that in training before. And I'll use that as a stepping stone to my next race. Because even when marathons don't go the way you wanted them to, chances are if it had been a training run, you went out and kicked some major assphalt.
So that is my attitude going into Two Cities. I'm going to give it my best shot, and I'm going to be proud of however many miles I can hold it. It's been a long time since I raced a marathon and I'm nervous as heck. I'm trying to think about what I'm going to tell myself during the dark miles when it feels impossible. This may be my 30th marathon, but I've only ever toed a starting line of a marathon with the full intent to try to PR at a hard effort three, maybe four times previously. I'm still learning how to get my race-face on.