1. (Don’t even try to pretend like you didn’t see this coming.)
I. HATE. THIS.
Hate it, hate it, hate it. You can say all you want about how it’s only a forecast, how it’s probably not going to be that hot during the race, how I’m overreacting, blah, blah blah. The fact remains: not a single forecasting outlet is predicting a runner-friendly race day. Even the MARATHON isn’t predicting a runner-friendly race day.
Assuming things hold, this will be my first yellow-flaged marathon, and I have to say, I am not looking forward to it. It’s just so frustrating, you know? I have no idea what kind of time I’m going to be able to turn in under those conditions, but considering the fairly slow times (5:25 and 4:57) I turned in on days when the high–the HIGH–was 64, I’m feeling less-than-optimistic about my chances of turning in the kind of time I was dreaming about this Sunday, if the weather had been perfect. All those hot, humid, terrible runs I logged this summer were meant to build my red blood cell count so that when it was 45 and overcast at the start, I’d have enough excess to make 26.2 feel easy…or at least feel easier. And there is literally not one single thing I can do about it. I can complain, I can cry, I can whine, I can pray my face off, but I cannot do anything to actually change the weather. And it just sucks. No, I wasn’t going for a BQ or an Olympic Trials qualifier (honestly, if either of those things were my goals, I wouldn’t run this weekend. I’d swallow the $185 loss and find a marathon on Saturday, or a marathon next weekend, or maybe even the weekend after that, but I absolutely would not run this week, unless I woke up race morning to 45 and overcast.), but I am going for a PR, and I’m incredibly concerned that this kind of weather is going to keep me from that, making the past 18 weeks for naught. I didn’t train just to finish this race. I trained to finish it fast(er than I’ve finished it before, ideally substantially so).
Those are my emotions. This is my rationality:
On the day of the 20 miler, the high was 72, and the low was 53. While I’ll start the marathon an hour later than I started the 20 miler and will have an additional 6.2 miles to cover, meaning I’ll finish the marathon over two hours later than I finished the 20 miler, I have run in similar conditions to what’s predicted for Sunday. I’ve run in much worse conditions, over and over and over again, throughout the vast majority of this Godforsaken marathon season. I acclimated to the heat a long time ago, and I don’t imagine I lost all of that in the past three weeks. 74 is terrible, but it’s not 84, or 94. 10-20 mph winds are also terrible, especially out of the south, because that means they’ll be hot winds, not cool winds, but the last three miles of the race head north, so that wind will be at my back when I need it. Even under the most horrific of conditions (ahem, Rock ‘n’ Roll), I managed to surprise myself with how good I felt while running. I made adjustments, but I still felt great. I felt great during Rock ‘n’ Roll. EVERYTHING about Rock ‘n’ Roll should’ve made me feel like shit. But when I hit mile 10ish, I felt so strong. Ditto that at the Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K, and the Big 10K, and the Chicago Half. Not a single race I’ve run this season has had perfect weather conditions, but I have felt better in every single race I’ve run this season than I felt in the Chicago Spring 13.1 or Soldier Field (though, admittedly, feeling better than I felt at Soldier Field wouldn’t take much.). The weather during the 20 miler was similar to the forecast for the marathon, and do we remember how I felt during the 20 miler? How I negative split the last three miles? How I dropped a sub-10:00 mile for the last mile? Right. It was warm, and it was too sunny, but I still did just fine. Now, granted, the last 10K of a marathon is no joke under the best conditions, but the point is I’ve been here before and survived this before. I’m capable of handling this.
But I still want the forecast to change.
2. Let’s talk goals!
I feel like at this point, it goes without saying that my main goal is to finish. I count this as my #0 goal, if you will, because even though it’s officially on the list…it’s not really on the list. The real list, however, looks like this:
#1: Run a 4:45.
This is part of my slowly-chip-away-at-my-marathon-time-to-BQ-in-five-years plan. 4:45 is this year’s target.
#2: Negative split.
Ideally, I’d like to accomplish this by going out at a no-faster-than-11:00 pace, and speed up by no more than 15 seconds/mile every five miles (so miles 1-5 would be run at an 11:00+ pace, miles 5-10 would be at a 10:45-11:00 pace, etc.). If executed perfectly (lulz like anything in a marathon is ever perfect), this would get me somewhere close to a 4:35, which is my dream, perfect day, everything has gone right time goal. It also gives me a lot of flexibility with hitting my actual, 4:45 time goal in case things go south. I’m wondering if I should continue to use this plan and see what I can do, even with the forecast, or if I should adjust, and if so, how I should adjust it. Should I slow all my times by 15 seconds/mile (starting at 11:15+, then going to 11:15-11:00, etc.)? Should I increase my speed more slowly: every seven miles? Every 10 miles? Something different? I DON’T KNOW. Because I don’t know, right now I’m thinking of just sticking with the original plan, though I am MORE than willing to take alternative suggestions.
Anything faster than a 4:57:51 will accomplish this goal. Given that my pacing plan has me running a 4:35, I should have a lot of leeway with this.
#4: Rigidly stick to the same run/walk plan I stuck to last year, should it come to that.
That means starting with 4:1 run:walk intervals, dropping down to 3:2 run:walk if 4:1 becomes too much to handle, then 2:3, then 1:4. Ideally, I’d like to not have this happen at all, but having a walking plan made a BIG difference last year, and I think, especially in light of the forecast, it’s best to have something in mind.
#5: Make it to Ashland.
Last year, I ran into the wall as soon as I turned onto Taylor Street from Halsted. It was swift and vicious and horrible, and while I managed to continue running down Taylor until I got to Erin’s aid station, when I did get to Erin’s aid station, I honestly thought I was going to pass out. I’d like to not feel like that at any point during the race this year, if possible, but if not, I’d like to make it farther into the race before feeling that way. Ashland is just beyond Erin’s aid station (and, in my opinion, the WORST part of the course. Damn do I hate that stretch of Ashland between Taylor and 18th. Hate. It. Too much sun, too few spectators, nothing worth looking at [Sorry, Jewel Osco. I will never be excited to see you.]…everything about that section is the. worst. Even worse than post-Chinatown pre-IIT Highway Land, in my opinion.
#6: Refrain from negative self-talk.
I suppose this probably should be higher up on my list of goals, but whatever. Let’s put it in a more realistic location :P Although to be honest, I think I’ve been pretty good at this this year, or at least this summer. I don’t want my brain to sabotage me if I’m struggling, so hopefully I can keep negative, anxious Bethany locked far, far away where she belongs.
3. This past weekend I went on a Chicago Architecture Foundation boat tour. It was cold as ice, but SO awesome. I was in heaven. I’d overwhelm you with pictures, but I’ve already overwhelmed you with words, so pictures will have to wait until…hopefully sometime. Goodness knows it probably won’t be next week. After the marathon when I’ve run out of things to talk about! Anyway. RedEye wanted to know what everyone was doing on Saturday and asked for our pictures. Always happyto comply, I tweeted back to them. And look!
Happy to sign autographs at any time.
Who’s joining my fan club on Sunday? Lemme know where you’ll be, and I’ll look for you!