I've been toying back and forth over the past few weeks over my exact race plan for Boston. My original race plan back when I started training was very simple. Go sub 3:05:00 and if everything else goes right, push to get under 3 hours. To me, this race plan was ideal. It meant going at a 7:04 minute/mile pace which is something that has been extremely easy for me recently. In fact, I have had to dial my speed down to hit these splits on all of my training runs.
But over the past few weeks, my training hasnt been perfect in my mind. I had to pull out of a 23 mile run a few weeks ago because I just didnt have it that day. This left me with only one 20 mile run or longer in the past 6 weeks. I did do an 18 mile run last week which felt good, not great but good. A lot of people say there is no need to do more than 18 miles for training runs. Yeah ok. Sure its not. Here's where those people are full of it. Without sounding like an ass, I would say Im an above average runner. I'm not flash gordon, but I usually am within the top 5-10% of all finishers within a race. As I mentioned my desired mile times above heres the math. Running 18 miles on training runs would put my time for that run around 2 hours and 6 minutes. To hit my race plan, that would mean I would need an additional 58 minutes of running for the added 8.2 miles. Its not like its an extra 1-3 miles that you can soldier through and push along to finish. Its a full hour extra. And thats at going at like a 7 minute mile pace. What about runners who aren't as fast. They have to add like an hour and a half or even longer. That's just crazy talk. No one can just add an hour to an hour and a half of running if they havent trained for it. Ok, enough ranting.
Back to race day planning. I obsess over everything when I train for a race. I look at every little detail of the course and how it will affect me. The amount of message boards and course description I read is disgusting. In all the boards I have read there are 2 schools of thought. The first is to go out and "bank" time in the first half of the race because its downhill over the first 6 miles and easy to get free speed. Then when you get to the hills from miles 16-21, you can slow it down and still hit your goal time. The problem with this theory is that if you go out too fast, then your legs are shot by the time you even get to the hills and therefore you crash and cant recover. So it doesnt rally matter how much time you bank, its just too much on your legs. The other school of thought is to run easy enough over the first 16 miles to be able to attack the hills at just a slightly slower than race pace and then be able to rock the final 6 miles since they are downhill also.
At this point, I dont really know what I'm going to do. I've always been a very good hill runner. I think its one of my strengths. I love passing people on the hills and seeing them look at me like I'm crazy. The issue here is actually getting to the hills with enough in my tank to attack them. Thats what concerns me. At Harrisburg last year, I thought I had a lot in the tank but the hills at mile 18-20 were the hardest set of 3-4 big hills that I have ever encountered and I paid for trying to hit the hills hard. After those hills, I couldn't recover and I had a bad rest of my race.
I don't want to go out too fast and completely fall apart. This will be the biggest concern for me. Due to where I'm starting (wave 1, corral 2), I'll be with all the crazy fast people who will try to race the first miles. I don't want to do that and don't want to get caught up in that either. I'd rather run at my pace but I also don't want to get run over either.
I also haven't decided if I want to run this and enjoy the course. There are so many things to enjoy during this race. I could caught up in the Wellesley College girls and get kisses along the course, just don't tell the wife :). I could enjoy all the screaming fans. From what I hear there is no silent part of this entire course. I could enjoy the sites, keep looking for the Citgo sign, whatever. Since its my last stand alone marathon for a while, maybe I should do that. Maybe even carry a camera along the course and take pictures. I'd really like to do this one day, but I just don't know if I could pull it off.
But I think with final deliberation with my competitive side, here's what I'm going to do:
Run the first 6 miles at about 6:54 mile pace. This is probably very conservative. Figure that's about 1-2 minutes faster than goal pace over this distance and since its net downhill, doing this wont make me go too fast and I'll be able to save some of my legs. I just have to make sure I stay at this pace and not push it to like 6:35-6:40ish per mile.
Miles 7-16, run scheduled race pace of 7:01-7:05 depending on the individual elevation of that specific mileage.
Mile 16-21 I'll plan on going around 7:10-7:25 per mile, with the exception of mile 19 which is a net downhill so maybe a 7 minute mile that mile.
Mile 21-23 hit my goal pace of 7:04 for those 3 miles to get my breath and legs back to a comfortable area.
Mile 23-finish, pick up the pace a little bit each mile. Maybe go 6:58 for mile 23, 6:54 for mile 24, then see whats left in the tank for the final 2 and just go for the finish hard. This way, if I have a few minutes to spare in the last mile, I can relax and enjoy that final mile. That's what my main goal is. To fully enjoy the last long stretch of open road with screaming fans and the finish line in sight. If that gets me to sub 3:05, I'll take it.
If at any point I know I don't have it on race day, I'll reevaluate the goal and probably run the course easy to enjoy it. Seeing the last few weeks haven't been stellar to me, this might be a possibility.
Part of my thought process is that I don't want to regret not running well in Boston and looking back and saying I should have done it better. Another thought is I represent Skora Running. I'll be rocking my Skora Base's on the course and since I have an affiliation with the brand, I want to represent them proudly. I want to be able to post a good time knowing that there will probably only be a handful of runners in their shoes. I'd like to be able to say that I made them proud. Also, I think I can combine both enjoy the sites and running my race at the same time. I tend to zone out during my races and runs and not notice anything, but I think I can achieve both here. Maybe, it'll even help me push myself to not slow down and hit both my goal time and my push time.
Either way, that's my race plan. Like always, it can be changed but for now I'm sticking to it.
Wish me luck.