I registered for the Silicon Valley Marathon, not knowing if I would really be up for it. I've run 2 marathons this year and it's not considered a good idea to do too many per year. So, I thought I'd play it by ear.
Now, 2 weeks out my ear says 'yah, do it'. It seems I have my achillies tendonitis under control: I've run 60 miles in the last 8 days (with 2 rest days) with no big problems. My training hasn't been focused on this race (I just did the 10k a while ago), but given my 10k results I seem to be in pretty good shape.
So, for the next two weeks we're in the taper. Caught a small cold the day of the big rain but able to run again 4 days later, but hey, it's the taper so doesn't really bother me to have a forced layoff.
Pace, pace pace...what pace? Marathons are so interesting to me because pacing choice is so much more important than at shorter distances.
The SVM is almost flat. it has about 330' of rise to the halfway point, then you go back the same way. This is about a .5% grade up, then down. This is tame...the calculators say it's only a 15s/mile slowdown for the same effort level.
My gut tells me to do a 9:45 pace on the way up, and then see how we are doing on the way down, and if possible try for 9:30. This would shave a few minutes from my current PR (4:15), and I'd be happy with that. This is not the race to try for breaking 4 hours. I was hoping it would be but my training has not been consistant enough that I feel that it can be done.
My recent 10k time projects (via the calculators) to a much faster marathon time than my PR...someplace around 3:48 in fact (!). My april half-marathon is also in line with a time like this.
So, all the calculators and rules-of-thumb say I should be well under 4 hrs. But, as you might suspect the calcs aren't always right ;), Everything has to be perfect to achieve these numbers if it's a marathon: long run training, hydration, eating before and during the race, wind, temperature.
There's a downside to going out too fast: The wall.
The wall is not fun....it's turns the race into quite a slog (got a taste of it the last mile especially in the SFM). It takes a lot of guts to keep running, never mind running fast. Of course you could always quit the race if you see you're going to get a bad time, but that's not for me, I want to finish, even if I have to walk.
[But let me be clear: quitting is just fine if the temps have gotten too hot, there are massive headwinds or heavy rain, or there is something specific hurting. There's No point in risking your health!]
Right now, I feel like just trying to squeak a bit faster than my previous race, rather than trying for some huge improvement. Of course who knows? Maybe the day of the race I'll feel like going really fast and it will turn out fine 8)
We will see....