June 25, 2010
Half the effort, twice the enjoyment
Tomorrow morning is the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon and Half Marathon. I will be running the half with three of my original running friends. We have been to many races together from 5ks, to marathons, to spending 30 hours in a van together running a 189 mile relay race. These are the people who held true to those late night promises that "we should start running", and we have continued to push each other to greater distances and larger experiences.
We all ran the inaugural event last year, two of us running the half and two running the full marathon. We are all running the half this year, so it will be more about fun than pushing our limits. We aren't at the point where we can just roll out of bed and run a half marathon, so it will still be a challenge, but the half marathon is a completely different animal. It is less about survival, so it is much easier to stay in the moment and enjoy the day. The first part of the Seattle course is also much more scenic, running along the edge of Lake Washington before heading downtown, and there is sun in the forecast. Should be a beautiful day.
I would like to knock a few seconds or minutes off of my best time, but I really don't know what the day will bring. My training for the marathon three weeks ago was half-hearted, but it may be enough to be reasonably prepared for tomorrow. But I also don't feel completely recovered, and a week at home with friends and family have definitely increased the intake of good food and spirits.
I am going to try running with a pace group tomorrow. A pace-group leader tries to run a consistent pace through the race to arrive at the finish line by a certain goal time. The leaders carry a small sign aloft with the goal finish time, almost like a tour guide trying to keep the flock together. Most marathons have pace groups these days, and there are several groups to match goal times for both half and full marathoners. Though I have sometimes kept them in sight along the way, I have never tried starting and finishing with a pace group. Since I have a desired goal, but it is pretty speculative, I thought it might be fun to experiment this time around. If I can stick with them the whole way, I could knock about three minutes off my PR. Should be interesting.
Though we run different paces and have different goals, my friends and I will join together at 0'dark thirty tomorrow morning to support each other as we cross another start line (and of course cheer each other on to the finish). It is said that the real work is the months of training, and that race day is the reward, the celebration. But of course the celebration is that much better with friends by your side every step of the way.