I realized a couple days ago that the Pasadena Marathon this weekend will be the first race I've entered that is so close to where I live, that I can sleep in my own bed, eat my own food and shower in my own place before the race. The normal traveling-settling down-pasta partying and nervous energy that accompanies past events is (thankfully) not present. Around here, it's business as usual + a long run on Sunday.
Every endurance race I run requires a strategy, and not just "run fast." Whether it's as simple specific mile splits or as complicated as factoring in hills, and water stops and walk breaks ... there is always a plan, and naturally, it's always related to aspirations for the day.
In examining my reasons for running this marathon, I find a conflict. On the one hand, I am running this race as an extension of my TNT season, to challenge myself beyond the normal one-season/one-race and (in doing so) shrink down my recovery time between big events from a couple months to a couple weeks. With this in mind, it would seem like Pasadena is an opportunity to lay it all out there and push as hard as I can to completed the second of two big events.
But, I am also running the race as a "long run" for the Goofy Challenge in 2 months. It is definitely too soon to peak for Goofy, but considering that weekend is 39.3 miles in a 24-hour time frame, its never too early to get in shape for it. So with this goal in mind, the Pasadena run should be nice and easy. Slow, steady and deliberately longer to adapt my body into being on my feet for long periods of time.
Therein lies the conflict - go all out or run it like a training run.
Since the Santa Barbara race was a PR time and a hard effort. I'm inclined to scale back Sunday's run. I believe that I am faster and fitter than I have been in also all of my other marathons (maybe with the exception of Alaska - I had better midweek runs during the summer season). So, my goal for Sunday is to run a race in which I exert LESS effort, but also run it FASTER than my other times. In other words, I want to run at about 65-75% of my ability, and run it between 4-4:30 hrs.
Now, this is all well and good on paper. But the weather appears as though it wants some attention paid, too. It is going to be 90 degrees and windy on Sunday. It's an odd forecast more appropriate for, say, the Golbi Desert, rather than Southern California. But you work with what you are given.
The race starts at 6:30, and I hope I can be done before the true heat hits. But as the morning passes, the temps will climb and bring my heart rate with it. So for safety's sake, the LESS/FAST strategy might go out the window.
And, the final caveat. This is the first marathon I am running without external aid or support. No spectators in the crowd for me. No coaches on the course. No mentors either. It's not as depressing as it sounds, don't worry! I really enjoying going it alone on the course. It's a man-vs-nature thing. But knowing that I only have the wonderful volunteers to rely upon for help, I will definitely be holding back a little. I had a great experience running the Long Beach half, in which I ran solidly but with restraint because, again, I was by myself. If I am beaten down at the finish line, I can't drive myself back to my apartment. (But I will have cab fare just in case).
So all of these little things are factoring into my weekend. I'm confident in my approach, I'm elevating my carb and protein intake today and tomorrow, and I'll be sleeping well tonight and Saturday.
I look foward to partying with my TNT teammates at South (Santa Monica) Sunday afternoon ... if I can still stand.
To follow me along the course: