Saturday, October 2, 2010

Montgomery Half Marathon - Before

This post was written on Friday, October 1st and its publication intentionally delayed.

For weeks I've been eyeing the Montgomery Half Marathon on October 2nd. One of the reasons I bumped up my schedule a day was so it would coincide on the same date as a scheduled 12-mile long run. Back when I did that, however, it was hot and humid and I had no plans of actually racing it. I figured at best I might just use it as a marathon pace run, which would require 7:30/minute miles.

A few days ago all that changed. We were blessed with a cold snap this week and I started thinking outside the box. Maybe I could use it as a measuring stick for my marathon in November? I started reading through my training plan notes and found that Uncle Hal, as some of us like to call him, was a step ahead of me.

"If you want a test race, this might be a good weekend for it. A half marathon would fit perfectly into the training plan, since today's workout is 12 miles."

Well, I figured, if he's going to give me carte blanche, I'm going to take it. But exactly what was I going to do? I then decided I would set a goal commensurate with my marathon pace. To determine exactly what that meant I turned to Greg McMillan's Running Calculator, plugged in my desired 3:15 marathon finish time and looked under the 13.1M column to see what my equivalent pace would need to be.

What? How the heck am I supposed to run 7:04/miles for an entire half marathon? That equates to a finishing time of 1:32:28, which is 8 minutes faster than my PR! Needless to say I'm now a nervous wreck, which is a new thing for me. I usually don't lack for confidence like this. But what would it mean if I can't pull this off? Are my chances at qualifying for Boston over?

I'm trying to keep some perspective about this. First off, this is a challenging course. I've run it a few times. And while I'm not intimidated, its elevation is slightly more challenging than Chickamauga. Plenty to climb over the first couple of miles and some nice hills to keep you humble towards the end. And second, I still have four more weeks of intense training before the taper begins, so there's still time to make adjustments.

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