Austin Marathon – Final Pre-Race Thoughts

Posted: February 19, 2011 in Pace and Racing
Tags: , ,

We’re inside 24 hours from the start of the 20th running of the Austin Marathon.

The weather forecast for Sunday is not a favorable one for the runners.

63 degrees at the start of the race, increasing up to 75 by Noon.

Humidity at 96% at 7:00 a.m. when the starter’s gun fires and winds around 8-10 mph.

It should be a great day to spectate and the Austin crowds should be out in full force encouraging the runners along the 26.2 mile loop course.

For the runners however, it’s going to be a tough day out there and hydration is going to be a key variable when mile 20 is reached and the 10 toughest kilometers remain before the finish line is crossed and the timer finally stops.

I stuck to my traditional taper this week and only ran 3 miles on Tuesday, 4 on Wednesday and a short 2-mile shakeout run this morning. The shake-out is just a way to burn off some energy, get the legs moving a bit and help those muscles remember on Sunday what they need to do when they take their first strides out onto the course.

I ran miles of 6:35 and 6:29 this morning and felt pretty damn good out there honestly. I’ll need to hang in at 6:52 pace for 26.2 miles tomorrow. It won’t be easy. But I feel like we’ve given ourselves an opportunity to get there.

For a runner like me who habitually runs 5 times a week covering somewhere between 45 and 60 miles, a week where I only run 9 miles feels very strange. Your legs feel heavy. You start to feel lethargic. You wonder if those legs will “show-up” for you on race morning.

Today however I don’t have those usual sensations. My legs feel great. My body feels great. My mind? Pretty great actually.

I’m not sure if racing here locally in Austin has taken away a lot of the stress that I have experienced prior to my previous marathons. Having to fly across the country, check into a hotel, search for the right foods, meet-up with family and friends, dinner reservations, worrying about packing the right race gear, getting to the start on time etc., etc., etc.

For this race I’ve been able to stick to my usual routine and it seems to have kept me on a very even keel. I think I like this “local race” thing quite honestly.

Now make no mistake, I fully expect to lay awake half the night tonight, possibly more, my race plan and the course playing over and over in my head. By 6:00 a.m. tomorrow I will be ready to jump out of my skin. After my final stop at the porta-potty and lining up at 6:30 it will get worse.

By 6:55 when the wheel chair athletes take off I will be bouncing from foot to foot, foolishly burning energy that I should conserve for the battle. But I won’t be able to contain myself. It is like pressure that needs to be released from a valve.

Then BOOM – race time.

The plan that I put together last week had to be revised slightly as the weather is a real factor for Sunday. Instead of shooting to pass the half-way point at 1:29:30 +/- I am going to have to be a little more flexible with my race plan.

I ran into a friend of mine Scott at the Austin Expo on Friday afternoon. Scott and I raced at the Harvest Fest 5K Back in October in Georgetown, TX. Scott finished first overall. I finished second.

He asked me what time I was shooting for on Sunday and I shared with him that originally I was thinking 3 hours was a possibility for me, but the recent weather reports had me thinking something a bit more conservative.

It turns out that Scott is leading the 3 hour pace group and urged me to run with him. He feels that I have a legitimate shot at breaking through that mystical barrier and he is definitely a runner I trust. After talking about his strategy of running even mile splits up through the hills at mile 14, I decided once and for all I’m in.

I’m going to give it my best shot and see if that pace agrees with me on race day.

If my breathing is labored trying to lock in to that 6:52 pace in the heavy humid morning air, I may need to back off a bit to find my comfortably hard pace. It may be 7:02 it very well could be 7:12. I will have to stay calm and let that heavy air burn off and just wait a bit before trying to push pace again. Hopefully when those 6:52’s start clipping off I’ll feel strong and powerful.

I know that if I can hang in with Scott and the group the odds every mile will begin to tilt more and more in my favor.

The fact is that if I do not at least give myself a chance at the 3 hour mark over the opening 6-8 miles, the improbable will become the impossible.

I have to just give myself a chance. That’s all anyone could ask for chasing after a big goal on race day.

It is a funny race the marathon. You “run” for 20 miles all for the chance to “race” the final 10 Kilometers. It requires a lot of patience and a lot of mental strength to block out everything around you – the other runners, cheers of encouragement, the clock, pain, discomfort, hills even surges of adrenaline – and simply run your race. In the end that is what I know I have to do.

Run my race, nobody elses.

During my 2-mile shakeout this morning I thought about Dom quite a bit and the conversation we had in the finishing chute at Pittsburgh. The one where he told me to

“….Run this next one for you and kill it.”

I realized that Dom did not place a time goal on that statement. He didn’t tell me to run 3 hours or 3:05 or 3:10. He just wanted me to run this next race for me and do my very best.

So that is what I am going to do tomorrow.

I’m going to be a little selfish for 3 hours. I am going to zero in on my race, my battle with the marathon and see just what I’m made of.

I have some ideas of the numbers on the clock that will make me happy on Sunday, and some numbers that would disappoint me. But they will be my numbers no matter what, and they will be the very best that I could do on that day.

I’m sure there will be other marathons in my future. The next one will be NYC in November. Maybe I will be running that one for a different reason with a different goal in mind.

But tomorrow it is pretty simple. There is nothing left to do but go out there and “kill it”.

Thanks Dom. I miss you my brother.

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Comments
  1. David H. says:

    Run your race and you’ll hit all your goals no problem. Have fun out there.

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