Saturday, October 9, 2010

It's Gonna be a Hot One

When the earliest Advanced Forecast for tomorrow's weather was available, it looked like it would be a rainy cold marathon.  As the days drew closer, the prediction changed and conditions seemed optimal, dare I say perfect.  A cool start would be rewarded with a nice high 50s afternoon when most runners would finish the 26.2 mile run.

But it was too good to be true.  Over the last week it seems the temperature forecast increased by 5 degrees daily.  Perfect running conditions have been supplanted by it's gonna be another hot one.  As late as Thursday I still believed that even if it were a warm day, a start time of 7:30 would make us lucky enough to miss the majority of the heat until at least the halfway point if not the 20 mile mark.

The Chicago Marathon of 2007 was ridiculously hot even before the gun even went off.  In 2008 the start was comfortable enough but the temperature climbed quickly.  These are both valid possibilities for tomorrow.

After the 20 mile run, I promised myself that I wouldn't, wouldn't, wouldn't go out too fast for this race.  No delusions of grandieur, no attempt at a BQ or PR.  I simply wanted to do what I did on the 20 miler: run at a consistent pace the entire time and not have my calves cramp up like they usually do. 

Conventional Runner Wisdom tells us to have several race goals.  I sent the following to my running group:

Quoting 9mm Group Leader Lisa O:

Set at least 4 goals:
  1. This one is the pie in the sky. A time you'd like to make, or close to it. Make it something that if everything goes perfect, could happen.
  2. This is what you will probably do, even if the weather and how you feel isn't great.
  3. This is what you might do if it just isn't your day.
  4. Finish the race. That's good enough. Remember, most people get winded running for the bus.

 My 4 goals are really just #4 in different wrapping paper. This is my first marathon since 2008 and I’m coming back from injury. So I tell myself that I will be okay with whatever I do and feel relatively good while doing it. Still, I’m hoping to make it under four hours and not have the wheels come off too early and end up walking half the course.
That's probably why I'm so calm right now even though in years past I would be jumping out of my skin with less than 18 hours to go before the gun goes off.  But I feel bad for many of my fellow runners who trained all summer and were heading into this taper thinking this might be the year! 
If I've learned anything over the last decade training for 20 marathons, it's that it's very hard to have a perfect season.  You want to run all your mileage, cross train, eat right and get plenty of rest, but most people are tempted by summer fun or challenged by work/life/family demands.  If you manage to get through an 18 week training program and meet those goals 80% of the time, you will do all right.  More than that and you should have a shot at a Personal Best.  But then something like the weather reminds us that we are not always in charge of our destiny and we have to make adjustments.