When I think about the upcoming marathon, I keep fluctuating between extreme confidence and complete doubt. When I think about how well the half marathon went, how I plan to pace myself super conservatively, how I am going to nail my carb-loading and fueling strategy, I am sure that I am totally going to rock this marathon. When I think about my training, how I only really trained for about ten weeks, how my mileage peaked at 35 miles per week and averaged around 25, when I remember how bad I crashed and burned in my first two marathons, I am sure that this will be the most painful and slowest marathon yet. The reality is that the actual race will probably end up being somewhere in between.
Because the work is done now, there’s no time or possibility to do things any better than I have. The only thing left to do is take good care of myself in the next two days, and come up with some definite goals that I can be happy with, regardless of the race experience.
So my “A” goal, my stretch goal, the miracle result that I could hope to achieve if everything goes perfectly on race day, is that I meet or beat last year’s time, along with running the entire distance. I consider this to be highly unlikely, and will not expect this result, although I would be very happy to achieve it!
My “B” goal, the real goal, is to run what I consider to be a decent time for my fitness of 4:45 or less. This I think is do-able if I relax and run conservatively in the first half. I still hope to do this without walking much, if at all.
My “C” goal, is to finish under 5 hours. This would probably happen if I bonked, but was able to push through with a decent walk/run in the second half.
My “D” goal, is to finish, no matter the time. Regardless of if it’s 5:01, 5:30, or 6:30, I finished a freaking marathon, and I will have some fitness gains from doing it. Which is why I am doing it in the first place. I can still be happy with this result, as I will use it as motivation to come back strong in the spring.
Worst case scenario is I seriously injure myself, resulting in substantial time off that will affect my running in the spring. I think this is unlikely barring any unforeseen accident, as I’ve been careful to take very good care of myself this time around and am feeling quite strong all around now.
I think it’s good to have multiple expectations that I can be okay with. This is NOT a goal race for me. I consider it a stepping stone to the next marathon that I can run better. If I can run this easy, and have fun, that will be a huge win in my book!