I signed up for Philly last spring looking for redemption, and I'm still hoping I can get it.
As I got ready to run Boston this past April, I knew full well that it wasn't going to be the race I wanted it to be. Coming back from a months-long injury layoff and only completing 8 weeks of so-so training was not the way to prepare myself to run 26.2 miles, and if it had been any other race, I wouldn't have even done it.
But it wasn't any other race, and I did do it, and it was as difficult as I knew it would be. And even before I stood on the starting line in Hopkinton, I was already plotting what race I could use to redeem myself - where I could hopefully stay healthy and complete an entire training cycle and run the way I knew I was capable of running. Philly seemed like the perfect choice.
The plan got slightly off-track with my injury back in September, and I can't say it's been a flawless training cycle by any means. But I have managed to get mostly back on track during these past few weeks, and the way I'm running right now, I feel almost as strong and ready as I did before I ran Boston 2013 (which was the best I've ever felt going into a marathon).
So to even feel close to that point is pretty great, and although I've had some ups and downs this week - waiting leaves way too much time for the doubt to creep in - a great 5-mile run this morning turned my mood around completely, and I am feeling so ready to be on that starting line.
My goal when I embarked on this training plan was a 3:25 marathon, which is a 7:49 pace. And my strategy was going to be to run the first half right around an 8:00 pace and then work my way down to negative split the second half, and come in hopefully right around 3:25, but I would have been happy with anything between 3:25 and 3:30.
Given the little hiccup I faced last month, though, I feel I need to be more conservative in the first half, and am planning to start in the low 8s. I want the first 10 or 12 miles to feel really easy, and judging by how I've been running, a pace around 8:10 should feel easy.
After mile 12 or so, I'll gradually drop down every mile, and will hopefully hit a sub-8 pace within the first few miles after the halfway point. And if that continues to feel ok, I'll keep pushing and see just how much of a negative split I can pull off.
I feel like a 3:30-ish finish is a reasonable expectation, if all goes well. And unless I hit the wall, a BQ for 2016 (3:45) should be a certainty.
The weather looks like it's going to cooperate, which is extremely helpful! It will likely be chilly at the start, but not frigid, so one layer of throwaway clothes should be plenty. And low 50s is pretty close to my ideal temperature - perfect for short sleeves, armwarmers, and shorts.
My train departs bright and early tomorrow morning, and I know that stepping onto the train and getting on my way is going to feel so good, after enduring these days of waiting (and hardly any running).
Today is about packing, beginnning to hydrate (and carb load a bit), and focusing on positive thoughts.
I feel healthy, I feel strong, and I feel ready. There isn't much more I could ask for.