I did something this morning that I never do before races.
I started to think about who was going to be in the field next weekend running the Livestrong Austin Half-Marathon.
Knowing that many of my local “rivals” would be running the full marathon next Sunday, another, my good friend Brendon Cahoon is passing on both events due to injury – I started to think about where I might “place” if I have a quality performance.
Foolish waste of time.
First of all there is absolutely no accounting for who shows up on race day. Someone like Michael Budde who can thump me soundly on his worst day and my best is running the marathon, as would Brendon had he been healthy. Opening up a spot or two at the top of the Male 40-44 food chain in the half-marathon.
But for every Michael and Brendon who will not be toeing the line is another runner from Houston, Copperas Cove or Grapevine who will be showing up at the starting line with no previous Austin race experience capable of laying down a blistering time in the half.
All you can do is put your best out there and let the clock sort out the rest.
So I forced those thoughts to the side and focused on the five key questions that I ask myself before every race:
1. Are you healthy?
2. Are you in race shape?
3. Are you peaking for this as an “A” race?
4. How bad do you want this one?
5. Is the weather a factor?
The first four questions are easy ones:
Yes, I am 100% healthy.
Yes I am most definitely in race shape.
No, I am training through this half-marathon as part of my Boston Training – I am not tapering and treating this as an “A” race.
Oddly, I find myself wanting this race pretty badly after a tough weather day our last time out at the Texas Half on Jan. 28th.
The fifth question – the weather – too early to tell.
So after running through all of those thoughts over and over in my mind during my first of two runs on Tuesday, I found myself right back where I started when I left my driveway at 5:15 a.m.
It’s one more week of high-mileage, quality work and then a slightly reduced mileage and intensity week to follow leading up to race day.
I will have a lot of advantages going for me racing the Austin Half as it is a home-town race allowing me to prepare my own pre-race dinner, sleep in my own bed and avoid any travel challenges getting to the starting line.
I am familiar with the course having raced the first 11 miles of the route last year during the Austin Marathon. The two races share the same course, aid stations and volunteers before the half-marathoners turn right and head for home and the marathoners head North to complete the upper half of the full-marathon course.
I am healthy, strong and confident – all I need to do is stay that way over the next 12 days, get a bit more rest than usual next week and go out there and lay my thing down on Sunday morning. 1:24:30 -1:25:30 will be a great time on the hilly, challenging course which is the Austin Half.
Whether that places us among the top age group finishers or not is really not up to me – nor does it matter. What matters is us putting together a smart, strong race – not going out too fast and foolishly burning too much energy early – but pacing ourself, running strong and with conviction – then closing like a freight train over the final 2 miles.
We’ll let the clock sort out the rest.