Chapter One : Fog, Smiles and Happy Feet
not from Marathon Morning, but you get the gist
A group of running friends, with The Husband as our fearless driver, met at our house at 4:00 am. We loaded up a 15-passenger van and drove to Jacksonville for the race. It was fun to have lots of other running stories and nervous goals to focus on, other than my own.
The time passed quickly. I ate the breakfast I'd brought, two hours prior to the start time, drank my water and coffee and enjoyed everyone's company. We made one group-necessary pitstop and parked with only some minor issues.
From there, it got a little hectic. I make it a habit to have everything done and be lined up nice and early on race days. I love and need to have those moments to calm down, reflect and ease into the day. Instead, I ended up jogging to the start right as they shot the cannon. There was an enormous cluster of people where I needed to be and I barely squeezed in to get over the starting mat. Yuck, but I shook it off.
At this point, I have to get some the Runner Geek talk out of my system. Feel free to skim if this doesn't interest you.
I was pacing myself for a 3:36 marathon. This gave me a nice, big cushion to get in under my actual goal of 3:40. When you look at my other marathon result, that goal just seems silly. However, based on my more recent half marathon time, every pace calculator assures me I can run a 3:30 marathon. While the 3:40 goal is ambitious, it's within my capabilities.
(I still believe that!)
I gave myself a conservative start, building slowly to some faster, early miles and then allowed some wiggle-room for the inevitable (for me) positive splits in the second half of the race. With this plan in mind, the first twelve miles went by like magical clockwork.
It was foggy and about 60 degrees at the start. I was nervous about the later heat being a factor, but the morning weather was pretty nice. The humidity was above 80%, the entire time, but I live in Florida. I can deal.
My entire body felt insanely perfect. No aches, no nagging injuries, no nerves. There was nothing but happy feet and smiles surrounding me. I was hitting every mile at exactly the pace I wanted. It wasn't difficult to maintain, nor did I even really have to think about it.
Everything was simply falling into place exactly as I had trained for.
I waved at the festive spectators. I saw The Husband and gave him a big smile so he knew I was right on target. I chatted with a lady with a similar pace goal and we took turns pacing each other. I faithfully sipped my GU Brew-filled, water. I completely deviated from my original fueling plan starting at mile 3...(oops. foreshadowing)
Between miles 12 and 13, my pace started to slip a teeny bit. My new pacing friend's did not, so I just kept her in sight and turned my ipod on. I wasn't too worried, though. I knew I'd see some running friends at the halfway point. One guy was even going to try to jump in and run with his girlfriend (and me, if I could time it right). If I could just hang on a bit longer, things would continue to fall into place. The miles would undoubtedly be tough, but I was still feeling great.
Anything below a 1:50:00 half was necessary for a 3:40 finish. My 13.1 (halfway point) split was 1:48:55.
Absolutely no reason to panic.