Tomorrow morning I will be competing in my fourth 1/2 marathon - The Spirit of Columbus 1/2 Marathon. Even if I'm not actually competing in a race, I have to go through the same steps to prepare for a race that I will be coaching and over the years with Team in Training, I've lost count of the number of races that I've prepared for. Despite all of the previous experience with competing and coaching, I still get nervous the night before a race. I have to go through my same goofy rituals every time and this race is no different. It is 10 pm and I have checked and rechecked to make sure my race number is pinned to my shirt straight. This takes obsessive pinning, trying on and re-pinning. I can't stand when it isn't on straight because if it isn't right, my arm or hand will catch on it and drive me nuts. That happened with another race and I somehow managed to rub a spot raw on the inside of my arm. Yes, I am that awesome. I have also taped a note to the front door so that I don't forget my water bottles in the freezer or my sunglasses or hat. All of my clothes are set out, my emergency tag is on my left shoe (like always), my Shot Bloks (no forgetting the nutrition this weekend!) are already packed in the fuel belt and my cell phone is charged.
My goal for tomorrow is to run at least 8 miles. Ideally that will be the first 8 miles but that will be up to my evil shins. I'm hoping a short warm up run just before the race will help keep the shin splints away. The ultimate goal is to finish within 3 hours. Most people would aim for under 3 but I really don't care if the clock says 3:00:00. My previous personal best is 3:14:10. Most people like to shave 30 seconds or a minute off their time and for really fast people, 30 seconds can be an eternity but I'm aiming for 14 minutes off my PR. That's the benefit of being so slow and being a race walker that has temporarily gone to the dark side of running. Despite my extremely slow run pace, it is a little faster than my race walk pace so I really think I have a decent shot at getting within that 3 hour goal. My challenge tomorrow will be the shin splints in the first 3 miles, a few hills in the middle of the race and then of course the weather. It looks to be a nice morning but the high is supposed to be 93. Luckily the 7:30 am race start will hopefully get me to the finish line before it heats up too much.
It's been a stressful week and I'm feeling a little under trained for this race so even though I still have some pretty lofty goals, I'm not going to be crying in my chocolate milk after the race if I don't reach my goal. This race is really just the kick off to my training for the Goofy Challenge and will hopefully provide some insight as to if I should keep running or shift back to focus solely on race walking the Goofy races. And even if the race goes completely awry tomorrow, it is somewhat comforting to know that I will do more activity before 11 am tomorrow than some people will do in a week. I'm evil but hey, stuff like that entertains my brain during mile 10 and I just want the damn race to be over.