Friday, December 07, 2012

Fear Is the Mind Killer

Photo: Krazy Diamond, Flickr Creative Commons

A week from Sunday will be my first ever attempt at a marathon. I'll be running the Jacksonville Bank Marathon, which is going to be ridiculously flat and easy, as far as marathons go. That means it's a really good place for a first attempt at that distance, unlike my choice of the Bandits Challenge this summer as my first ever Olympic-distance triathlon. (Seriously, 1,000 feet of climbing on the 10k run after 3,000 feet of climbing on the 28-mile bike? What was I thinking?) And, while I've not be exactly faithful to my training, I have hit the majority of my scheduled long runs and I'm coming off of three 100+ mile months in a row. I've lost all of my summer weight and I'm back to my lowest weight since high school. I should be ready.

But I'm moderately terrified.

This will be my first ever race where I haven't actually completed the distance before running the race. You're not actually supposed to run a marathon distance in training. Even really experienced marathoners apparently only run that far during an actual race. I did a 20-mile training run a couple of weeks ago and my body handled it fine. My brain, on the other hand, hadn't really wanted to go for a run and my infant daughter acted like I was leaving forever when I ducked back in the house to refill my water at the halfway point of the run. Stupid babies sucking out all my motivation. Emotional vampires.

Anyway, 20 miles sounds like a lot. That would be because it is. The only thing is that when I hit the 20 mile mark of the marathon, I'll still have more than 6 miles left to go. After 20 miles, 6 miles is still a lot. In fact, I've never heard anything positive about those last 6 miles. Running those last six miles will be like going on a blind date when people have been hinting to you for weeks that your date may be a little bit of a serial killer.

I've never been on a blind date either.

Truthfully, I know I'll probably be fine. Like I said, I've trained. I've watched myself and taken days off when it felt like I might have been over-training and setting myself up for an overuse injury. I've tested my hydration and fueling routine on long runs and know raspberry Hammer Gel works for me (and tastes like Jolly Ranchers!) I'm feeling good on my last few runs.

I even have my strategy down. Unlike 5k races where I go out pretty hard and then just try to hold on to my body for dear life for the rest of the race, I'm going to hold myself back just a little in the opening miles. During my Thanksgiving half marathon I made the mistake of running my first four miles at paces between 7:30 and 7:45 per mile. I hit a wall in mile 5 and lost a lot of time. Luckily, I got a second wind around mile 8 and finished with a better-than-expected time, but I can't afford to run out of gas on a race this long. I also know that my goal pace is 8:30 per mile this time. The race is flat enough that I can expect to keep that pace for pretty much every mile as long as my legs hold up. That half marathon was fairly hilly and I still managed an 8:10 pace. I think 8:30 on a pancake is doable. That would put me at a 3:43:00 marathon. I'd be happy with that result.

However, after playing with the McMillan Running Calculator, it turns out that based on recent 5k and 10k races, I should be able to run a 3:39:00. Breaking 3:40:00 is now my stretch goal for this race. I'll actually be happy as long as I finish in under 4 hours.

This is assuming, of course, that I don't wimp out and just hole up in Kickbacks Gastropub and drink away my shame. That seems kind of tempting, actually.


CjW said...

I've never seen you use an explanation point in your writing before. That must be some tasty gel.

Good luck with your race. You are a better athlete than me.

Jacob said...

Bullcrap. I just finally found an area of athletics where my obsessive tendencies matter more and natural talent matters less than most.

Courtney said...

Good luck! You'll do great. I can't even fathom running that far.

Sid said...

Good luck. Under four hours for a marathon is an amazing time.

I don't like the energy gels. I prefer the energy jellies/sweets. They're easier to consume, in that you don't need water on hand.

Julie said...

I tried to comment on this post for a while. Turns out your blog hates my iPad and my attempts at living a hipster lifestyle. It's probably right. I'm not cut out for skinny jeans and hats. My intention for comments is now obsolete.