On September 27th, I raced the Darlington Half. If you know me at all, then you know I have a not-so-secret love for NASCAR. So given the chance to run around one of the most historic race tracks in a race that lines up perfectly with my marathon training schedule was pretty freaking awesome.
I ended up 3rd woman, and hit right at 1:35. That was the time I’d had in my mind to solidify my marathon time goal of 3:15 four weeks later. Of course, anyone who races knows that the final time is only a part of the equation. I’d had this little voice in my head in the week leading up to Darlington telling me to go for a new half PR (which is 1:32 and change), but another voice telling me that I’ve been training for a full and that there is no way I’ve got enough speed to pull it off.
After a chat with Palmer, the ever-logical fiance, I decided to go out at PR pace and just see how I felt. If things were going well then I’d keep digging and go for it but if not I could always back off and return to the original plan of 1:35. I went through the first mile in 6:59, followed by several more sub seven miles. Obviously, since I’ve already mentioned my finish time, this sub-7 experiment didn’t last. I never felt bad exactly, but I didn’t feel good at all, either. This resulted in a mental pity party from about mile 8 on and I slowed down more than I should have, really.
All in all though, this marathon cycle has gone as well or better than last year (so far). I’ve averaged over 10 miles more per week in the same time frame and I haven’t entirely (just occasionally) avoided the track and other workouts. I definitely screwed up last year in the last three weeks by tapering too aggressively and having my last long run go too well (as in, I was way fresh for it and essentially ran the race out of my legs in training). So, I’m hoping that I can rectify that this year by keeping the mileage and intensity up for a while longer, even if it means I don’t get the ego boost from crushing the last long run. Less ego, faster race day. 3:15. Probably.