I've held off declaring any goals for this race because, frankly, I haven't been driving towards any in particular. Normally I decide pretty early in the training cycle that I want to go after a certain time or pace and then work towards that. My original intention going into 2007 was that this would be the race in which I would be attempting to qualify for Boston. Instead, after a stronger than expected training period into the run up to the Bayshore Marathon in May, I was able to accomplish that main goal one marathon early. So, as a result, I haven't been overly driven to achieve any particular goal this time around.
I've enjoyed the training this summer. I continue to get excited as a marathon approaches. I'm looking forward to running my next few for pure enjoyment rather than a time goal. I'm sure next year I'll raise the bar a bit and set a new time goal which will have me sweating and fretting again. For now, I'm just going to have some fun at Chicago 2007.
That being said, I did want to comment a bit on my summer of training. As I mentioned, it has been enjoyable but it has also been the most painful training period to date. I've had nagging heel and ankle soreness as well as a near debilitating right leg muscle soreness that has plagued me over the last few months. I pressed on (though I probably could have benefited from a week or so off) and feel pretty strong and ache-free - just in time - as the taper begins.
I've wondered why these various aches and pains have suddenly arisen during this 3rd marathon training session. Likely culprits? (1) A culmination of 1 1/2 years of straight training (2) Lack of focus on pre/post run stretching. This is an area I need to improve on going forward. (3) The introduction of some trail running which unexpectedly beat the crap out of me. My lingering ankle pain is a direct result of this type of training.
I don't have any regrets. You live, you learn. Certainly, I've been luckier than some friends of mine who have been sidelined for long periods of time smack dab in the middle of their training cycle. So, no complaints here. It's part of the process right? It's supposed to beat you up a bit.
So, as far as goals, here they are in all their mundane glory:
1) Have fun.
I know. Kinda silly and generic. I always have fun at my races. This time, I really want to enjoy the experience free from the overwhelming anxiety I get pre-race. I think not having a HUGE ALL IMPORTANT time goal will help alleviate much of this distracting, nervous energy. This won't be my first marathon. This won't be my end all, be all Boston qualifying attempt. So, I think I'll be able to relax a bit and really take in the experience. I'm not sure when I'll run Chicago again so I want to soak it in this time.
2) Beat 3:16
Why not get another BQ in the back pocket for 2009 in case it's needed? I think this is very doable depending on the normal things like weather, injury, etc.
3) Beat 3:12:19
And set a new PR. Frankly, I don't think this is in the cards. I expect to come in somewhere between goal #3 and goal #2 time-wise. But never say never. Chicago is the windy city. Maybe it'll be at my back the whole time right? I'm going to try a different strategy for this marathon just for the learning experience which may impact my ability to set a PR. Instead of going out strong, hitting 7:05 miles and then holding on at the end as I chase my goal (as I did for Bayshore), I'm going to stick close to 7:20 miles for the first half marathon, try to bump that up a bit to 7:15 miles for the next 5 miles or so. I'm trying to maintain more endurance for the dangerous post 20 mile zone where I normally start bleeding seconds like a madman. While working out this new strategy, I think a PR my not be possible and I'm completely comfortable with that.
That's it as far as goals.
I hope to be reading everyone elses in the coming days.