It's a funny thing, training for a marathon. During the long summer months of intervals, tempo runs, and long runs, you kind of lose sight that at some point it's all going to culminate into you having to stand at a start line and face down 26.2 miles. You know in the back of your mind that, "Yeah, I'm doing this training run so someday I can run really fast and be in a lot of pain for a long time while I do it," but the reality of what you're attempting doesn't really sink in until about a week before your race.
It is a week before my race.
Next Saturday I'll join 22,999 other runners at the start line for the Savannah Rock'N'Roll Marathon/Half-Marathon. As usual, I'm equal parts excited and freaked out.
I'm excited for the training to be over, which is always a sure sign I'm ready to race. (I could die happy never doing another 8 x 800 or 3 x 1600 sprint set, thank you very much.) I'm also excited that there is a HUGE contingent of Greensboro runners running Savannah. I'm hoping to see some familiar faces out on the course. (Yes, it's 23,000 people but you'd be surprised how often you bump into people you know.)
I'm freaked out because my goal is to run as close to a 3:30 marathon as I can. That's shaving 8 minutes off my Myrtle Beach time in February and is an an 8-minute/mile pace. I can't even think of running an 8-minute/mile pace for 26.2 miles without feeling queasy. Why? Physically, I think I'm capable of it. The question is whether I can make it through the race without mentally psyching myself out. I know one thing I can't do is think, "8 minute miles, 8 minute miles." I'll run screaming from the course by mile 5 if I do that. A better plan for me is to just think, "Training run, training run. No pressure. You can slow down if you need to anytime, but hey--why not see if you can hold pace to the next water stop and we'll reevaluate from there?"
The forecast so far is calling for 50 degrees at the start and a high of low 70's. Let's all join hands and pray a cold front comes sweeping in before the race. I'd love to see some low to mid 40's at the start.
This week is all about staying healthy. Hydrating, eating good food, getting plenty of sleep, and attacking with a can of Lysol anyone who so much as even thinks of sneezing around me.
The Sole Sister caravan heads out of town Thursday morning. We're staying in a large house in Savannah with something like 14 people and I think hosting half of the Greensboro runners at our place the night before the race for a pizza-carbo-loading fiesta.
I do have one bit of info in my back pocket that may help pull me through the race. No matter how tired I get, I can just remind myself that in December I'm signed up to run my first 24-hour ultra. I'm guessing halfway through that race, I'll be begging to have just called it quits with a simple little 'ol marathon.
Remind me again why I chose to do this to myself? :)