Early May is unpredictable in Minnesota. Snow flurries and freezing nights are just as possible as 85 degrees and sunny.
Right now I’m paying special attention to the weather because I’m running a marathon THIS Saturday. As I look at what the day might bring, I’ve thought a lot about this same time last year. I was preparing to run my first Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon last May, and it was a slow and cool spring.
In late April last year I was still busy monitoring the snow pile in our front yard! This year we haven’t had any measurable snow on the ground since early March, and our yard is full of long, green grass that should have been cut last week.
Currently our trees seem to showcase more open leaves by the day. This is in stark contrast to barely budding branches in this picture from last year’s race.
The most obvious difference though is our planting progress. I remember last year my parents and JR both came to the race because it was still too wet to even start planting. This year we are both already done planting corn. That’s a great feeling on May 5th!
So what about the race itself?
This will be marathon number five for me, and I must admit I still have race week jitters. So much can happen over 26.2 miles, both good and bad.
I’m in similar shape to last year based on my training, so my time goals are similar as well. As I look over my training in 2015 I know I ran less overall miles, but I had stronger and more consistent long runs. My average pace each month was a little faster than last year too, so we’ll see what this adds up to on Saturday. It will be the first time I’ve repeated a marathon, and it will be nice to have the advantage of knowing the course. I’m mostly injury-free, though I do have a huge bruise on my right knee from a small calf I startled last week. A calf’s only defense when startled is to kick, and kick she did. My run felt fine yesterday, and I don’t think it should effect my race.
My first goal is to enjoy the race and run the best and smartest I can for the day. The forecast goes back and forth between clouds and sun, and if it’s hot sun with humidity I may have to re-evaluate my pace as the race goes on.
My second goal is a course PR. I ran 4:03 here last time, and I know I can run faster if the weather cooperates and I don’t do anything stupid. I also plan to start more conservatively than last year so I don’t death-crawl the final miles!
My “A goal” is simply a PR. To get this I need better than 3:59:52. I know three minutes difference doesn’t seem like a lot, but those three minutes and odd seconds proved killer to me last year. I don’t want to set myself up for disaster by arbitrarily going after 3:50 or 3:55 from the beginning. If I can start at four hour pace, stay relaxed, and pick things up as the race goes on that will be success.
Sometimes I know I want to rush improvement faster than my body can manage or my training has prepared me for. I always blow up at the end when I do this, so I’m back to chipping away at small improvements a few seconds or minutes at a time.
My friend Jill, who I ran Monster Dash with this fall, will be running her first marathon at Lake Wobegon this year! I think I’m more excited to see how her race goes than my own, and I know it will be a thrilling moment for her when she finishes. Trust me when I say finishing your first marathon is a big deal!
I’ve thought through my race plan as much as I can (or should), and now I know I just need to focus on taking care of myself, hydrating, eating well, and thinking positively. I’m grateful to have another go at this marathon, and I can’t wait until race day.
I’d love any race week advice you have to share!