We leave tomorrow afternoon for the East Coast, which means I *should* be packing. However, did you know that packing is one of my least favorite things in this whole world? It is the very definition of decision fatigue, especially when packing for a big event like a marathon. So, instead of packing, I’m here to ramble on about random race week thoughts. Plus, I’m not bringing my computer with me, so there will be little to no blogging for almost a week! How will y’all survive without me? 😉
What to pack?
Speaking of packing… I don’t have any experience packing for a race this far in advance. This is also the farthest I’ve ever had to travel for a race, so I need to remember all of the essentials (shoes) without stressing too much about things I can pick up in DC (Gu). I’ve laid out my race day outfit, as well as rainy day items (literally), such as a disposable poncho. Sadly, I’m going to have to leave my beloved The Stick behind, for fear of the TSA confiscating it as a weapon. Hopefully, they’ll let me carry on my Trigger Point Grid Roller without much trouble. The one nice thing about this trip is that we’ll be staying with my sister, which means I don’t have to worry about bringing toiletries or a hairdryer. Yay for the little things!
Race day outfit/weather forecast:
Currently, the forecast is for partly sunny skies with a high of 60 degrees and low of 40 degrees Fahrenheit — nearly perfect running weather! That’s the good news. The bad news is that, as a Bay Area resident who thinks 50F is cold, I’ll be absolutely freezing on race morning. I plan on wearing a hat, Lululemon Swiftly Tech tank, Oiselle Long Rogas shorts, and compression socks. I’m also layering with armwarmers (made from knee-high socks), gloves, my CIM buff for covering up my ears, and throwaway sweats (top and bottoms) I bought from the Salvation Army today (for $5! What a deal!). The ears are the crucial part — if my ears are too cold, then I get a really bad headache and that’s no good.
Even though MCM is the 3rd largest marathon in the U.S., it doesn’t feature wave starts for runners, nor does it try to line people up based on bib numbers/projected finish times. From what I’ve read, this is kinda problematic for people lining up around the 4:30 pace group and slower — it gets very congested with walkers even early on in the race. On the other hand, the reports I’ve read from people who lined up at 4 hours or less said that people around them seemed to be running the expected paces. I’m still debating whether to line up around my target pace group (~4:15) or a little further ahead to avoid getting stuck behind slower runners. Even though I’m counting on the congestion to keep me from going out too fast, I also don’t want to start too slowly. I’m going to try my best to not weave too much — no need to exert extra energy when I don’t have to!
As for the course, MCM has one big hill at the beginning (>200 feet in the first 2 miles), but the rest is fairly flat until the last 0.2 miles which, by all accounts, is a very steep hill and not one I’ll be happy to see that late in the race. The hill at the beginning, along with the crowds, will keep me honest in the first couple of miles with my pace. I also need to remember not to run too fast on the downhill and kill my quads. I expect that the spectator support and cool scenery will energize me for a lot of the race, at least until mile 20, when I’ll cross the 14th Street Bridge. From almost all of the race reports I’ve read, this is the stretch that most people struggled with. There is no spectator support — just 2 miles of seemingly endless highway. Maybe at this point, I’ll make a new friend on the course so we can keep each other company. After the bridge, there will be a big crowd at Crystal City (miles 22 and 23), then it’s a short 5K to the finish!
My general race strategy is to run by effort. I want to start slow and ease into the race over the first 2 miles. Then, I will gradually ratchet down my pace to moderate effort by the end of the 1st 10K. My goal is to get to the halfway point still feeling strong. With each successive 10K, I want dial up the effort so that by the last 2 miles, I’m pushing really hard. I want to cross the finish line knowing that I gave the race everything I had.
How that effort will translate to actual numbers, that’s the part I’m unsure of. My gut tells me that something between 4:10 and 4:15 might be a good target. There is a 4:15 pace group, but I’m not sure I want to trust them, given my past bad experiences with pace groups (twice) and stories of unsuccessful pacing from others. However, even if the pacing is off, the nice thing about a pace group is that it’s easier and sometimes more fun to run with a big group. Also, it would be easier for my spectators to know when to expect me. Well, I’ve got a few more days to think about this. Regardless of what happens, I’m hoping for a big PR on Sunday!
How to track me on race day:
Since I won’t be live blogging the marathon (ha, how crazy would that be??), you can sign up for text or email alerts. My bib # is: 18060. You can also check my Twitter feed — I’ll try to post results ASAP after the race.
Finally, I want to say THANK YOU for all of your support and encouragement throughout this training cycle! See you on the other side!