so here I am. sitting in my hotel room the night before the Chicago marathon.
it reminds me of the same day last year
So many things are the same, but many are different too.
Then I was on the eve of my first marathon. I was nervous as hell. I'd put a lot of pressure on myself to BQ at the first attempt. I didn't really know what to expect, and fortunately didn't realize at the time that I'd been training badly. But I had perfect weather and no injury concerns...
This year I'm not nearly as nervous. While I should be a lot faster in ideal conditions, I haven't put the pressure on myself to achieve a particular goal time. I get butterflies thinking about the race, but I'm not the nervous wreck I was last year. I've got a little foot pain and the weather looks like it's going to suck....
From all accounts the temperature at the start will be low 60s with high humidity (85%) and then will rise up during the race into the mid 70s. The forecast high is 86, but fortunately we'll be done long before that happens. At least I hope that's the case.
Bearing in mind the optimal temperature for running a marathon is 40s to low 50s, this will be far from ideal. I'm used to running in a dry environment - I'm going to need to do a very good job about hydrating tomorrow.
I'm a little torn too about the approach I should take. I signed up to the Denver marathon months ago as a backup plan for Chicago in case the weather was bad. Having missed out on a time in Boston because of injury, I didn't want to do 2 full training cycles this year and end up with nothing to show.
I'd intended to cancel the Chicago trip and concentrate on Denver if that happened. Well - here I am - still with the spot next weekend in Denver, but sitting in my hotel room in Chicago... it's a catch 22. I'm here so feel I need to give this a go, but then I know that if I go for it and get impacted by the heat, I'll be blowing any chance to run a fast marathon next weekend.
So I'm going to hedge my bets. In perfect weather and in ideal shape, I'd probably have aimed for close to a 3 hour time. Now I'm thinking 3.05 - 3.10 would be great - and still a big PR. So I'll go out with the 3.10 pace group, then after a few miles think about speeding up to 3.05 pace (7.05 min / miles) and then as we wind our way back into downtown around the half way point, re-evaluate. If I'm suffering and know that I can't keep going at that pace, I'll either dial things back completely and jog in the last half very slowly, or even step off the course and save it for the next weekend.
If I'm feeling good, then I'll go all in. No marathon the following weekend in Denver. Time to HTFU and put it all on the line.
I'm hoping it's the latter. And I'm hoping it's the right decision and I can hang on for those last 13.1 miles.
I'm hoping the weather fears or more mental than actual.
I'll know in about 18 hours...