The Final Countdown

May 5, 2011

As the clock ticks toward race time, and with only hours remaining in the contest to predict our finishing times, here are a handful of thoughts regarding Saturday.

First, I’m flattered that so many have predicted a sub-2:00 finish for my half marathon. I certainly hope to deliver. Realistically, this is still in the “wait and see” category for me, although – believe me – I’m going for it! Roughly seven weeks ago, I ran a 15K race at a pace of over eleven minutes per mile. On Saturday, I hope to run two minutes per mile faster for nearly four additional miles.

Curiously, I’ve run eleven previous half marathons, and my slowest and fastest times were both in my first two races. For my first half marathon, I ran nearly 2:25. In my second half marathon, roughly six or seven weeks later, I finished a little faster than 1:58. That was nearly six years ago.

Since running the 15K just under seven weeks ago, I’ve completed five long runs of two hours or longer – three 2-hour runs, and two 2.5-hour runs. From an endurance standpoint, I feel pretty confident I can cover 13.1 miles. Speed is the question mark. At the pace I ran the 15K, I would complete the half marathon in less than two and a half hours.

The half marathon and full marathon start at the same time and share the route for the first eleven miles. Ben can definitely keep up the necessary 9:09/mile pace through eleven miles. I hope I can stay with him the entire time. If not, strategy gets interesting. Does Ben surge ahead to make up minutes for me? Does he stay behind to pace me? What if I prove to be faster than expected, and Ben struggles to keep up with me? (That nearly happened during the Air Force Marathon – see the video on the home page.)

I just checked the weather forecast, and it wasn’t my favorite. The start of the race looks to be around 49°F with a 50% chance of rain. The temperature isn’t awful, although a few degrees warmer would be nice. The rain is a bummer, but when I coached track, I always prepared my teams to get psyched up for the rain. Guess I’d better be prepared to take my own advice on Saturday…

One final, random thought. I realized today that Saturday is the day of the Kentucky Derby. Somehow, as a Clydesdale, this makes me happy.