Have a Plan – Be Flexible
I have a race day plan. This is my 14th race day plan for the marathon. So far none have worked out. My most common problem is starting out too fast. That is followed closely by – just did not put the work in. Be honest with yourself. Don’t expect a great race day, if you haven’t trained for it – back off the pace.
One of the truest things about marathons is that you can’t wreck it by starting too slow. You can definitely wreck one by starting out too fast. I remember one of my first marathons. I had just run a 1:57 (9 minute pace) half marathon. Logic told me that I could run about a 4:22 (10 minute pace) marathon. I had put in the work. The taper went well. The legs were fresh. I looked for either the 4:15 or the 4:30 pace group. Couldn’t find either one of them.
This was in 2006 before I bought my first GPS watch. I just got in line and ran. The first five miles seemed easy. Well, I know that they were fast. The five mile split read 42:00. figuring in the time that it took me to cross the starting line behind the first runners, and I was running a solid 8 minute pace. Immediately two trains of thought went through my exhilarated little brain. One good- I am going to have a great marathon. 5 miles in and I am 10 minutes ahead of pace. All I have to do is back up the pace. The second train – was wow did I just blow it.
The second train of thought won. I did back out of it well enough to finish – which is always my main goal. Finishing a marathon, no matter how long it takes is something to be proud of. I know that some of you may be trying to run a Boston Qualifying Time, or set a Personal Record. That is great. Just remember that a lot can happen in 26 miles. Be prepared to be a little flexible. Remember to relax.
I do have a plan for this year. My plan is to enjoy myself. Banter with the spectators. I will run the first 20 miles with the 4:45 pace group led by Pace Queen Deb and her able assistant Mike. We will arrive at the 20 mile marker at precisely 3:33:00. At that point I will leave the group and run exactly 10:30 pace and finish the marathon in just under 4:38:00. – WHATEVER!
The biggest thing is to relax and have fun. It is going to be really crowded during the first couple of miles. No matter how hard the organizers try, there will be slow people in front of you – although consider the idea that you may be starting to fast. Resist the temptation to weave through the crowd and add an extra mile to the 26.2 miles. That is far enough, you don’t need to add distance because of your impatience. That is coming from a runner who has done that.
RELAX – HAVE FUN – FINISH! Get that Bling!