Well folks - it's here. I'm coming down the home stretch. Got a *great* night's sleep and I'm feeling good. I put in my last run of this training cycle last night - 4.25 miles at uber slow pace. I kept my heart rate down around 70% of max and just concentrated on what it feels like to run at that pace since it's probably pretty close to my goal pace tomorrow.
The real fun starts later this afternoon. I'll mosey up the freeway around 3 or so, pick up my race gear at the expo, and then it's PARTAY time! Tweetup at La Parolaccia at 5PM (will be meeting up with tweeting and blogging luminaries such as @paulboth (Run For Liberty), @chicrunner (Chicrunner), @smellycents (Shelley Centis), @punkrockrunner (Punk Rock Tri Guy), and a host of others), followed at 6 PM ish (emphais on the ish) Runners World Forum Encounter at Ninos in uptown Long Beach. This is the part of these large races that I really enjoy. Nothing like getting together with a couple or 20 friends with the same goal for some fun and food!
For my final tune up, I am reviewing my race strategy. This is taken directly from Bob Glover's book, The Competitive Runner's Handbook (found the strategy online at the New York Road Runners ):
Pace: This is where I blew it big time in San Diego. Went out way too fast for too long. For my reward, I got to walk the last seven miles. Tomorrow I'm doing three things. First, I'm going to start at the back of wave 4 instead of the start of wave 5. I figure it's better to go out and stay slow. Second, I'm going to target a 10:45 pace (4:41 finish) and see how long I can hold that. If I find myself going out too fast, I'll walk through the water stations (thanks @sheilamking!). Finally, I'll be watching my heart rate. According to Glover, a marathoner should maintain 70% to 75% max heart rate and increase to 85% by the end of the race. I'll be watching the ol' Garmin and making sure my heart rate zone stays between 2.5 (start) and 4 (finish).
Crowded Start: I hear that this is a big problem in Long Beach. For the first ten or so miles all of the Half Marathoners and Marathoners are on the same bike path. Based on what I've heard, I'll be going out slower (crowds). I'm not going to panic this time. As long as I'm still in the same time zone as my target pace I'll just go with the flow.
Walking: Yes I will. At least every 3 miles when I pop a gel and a couple of Endurolyte caps.
First Half: Here's where I've got to be careful. My past experience in San Diego I was felt *great*. Up until about mile 12. This time I'll just run within myself and stick to the plan. At the halfway point (2:22:30), I'll to assess how I feel. If my long runs have been any indication, I should be okay. If I'm significantly ahead of target, I'll slow down. If I'm at target, then I'll continue at my target pace. If not, well, time to HTFU.
Second Half: More of the same. I'll keep watch on my pace up to about mile 16. Then I'll lose myself in my iPod. One foot in front of the other. Everything else is out the window at that point.
Third Half (also known as 10K left): Also known as 3:37. Here's where the mind games really begin. Heck we've all run a 10K before. Pretty easy right? I'll think back to the Jet to Jetty 10K where I ran a nice easy race without a lot of effort and almost PR'd. I'll take Glover's suggestion to heart. Each mile marker will get ticked off in my mind. I'll concentrate on the runners around me. I'll get out my virtual lasso and grab a runner in front of me and have them pull me along. The goal will be to complete each mile - 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26.
The Finish: Glover's suggestion - I'll use the digital clock at the finish to pull me over the line. I figure the last 375 yards will be in the 2:30 range. I really hope that I don't see something like 4:42:40 with .2 left to go! As they say - the difference between a 3:59:59 marathon and a 4:00:00 marathon is an hour!
So - the Garmin is charged. The iPod is charged. The camera is charged. Long Beach here we come!