The past few weeks have contained bouts of recovery, final workouts, and tapering that tested my patience. However, the Los Angeles Marathon is finally here Sunday, and all the city is going to be out in force (some 25,000 folks), charging "down" from the stadium to the sea.
I waffled for awhile back and forth between this race due to American River 50 mile being 3 weeks after it. However, when I looked at the splits I have to run at American River, I realized that a) AR is either going to happen or it's not, a marathon 3 weeks before won't crush me if it's meant to be, and I don't want to miss out on fun because of overt conservatism b) i actually need long distance speedwork because AR is such a fast course that it isn't run like a true trail race, but a hybrid road/trail race, and that speedwork can be found in abundance at a big city marathon c) I want to know what my true marathon PR is, and I don't get many chances during the year to do so.
That said, I'm looking forward to Sunday. I had some great training last fall for Long Beach before I got sick, and crawled to a 2:49 there. I haven't done a ton of specific road workouts, but when I checked my dipstick last week, my body was mechanically comfortable cruising just under 6 for 9 miles. The real question is how I handle drinks, gu's, and electrolytes.
Not to be arrogant, but I feel that I am very in touch with my body, and have deep enough endurance reservoirs that allow me to tell from just a few miles if I can hold a particular pace, even when I don't run it in workouts for weeks. This is probably completely against everything a LA Legger coach or classical runner would tell someone running a marathon, but I know my legs regularly hit fast splits on descents on the trail, and that running on flat ground without any roots or rocks is fairly simple by comparison. If one wanted to, I believe trails (whether single track or fireroad) could provide all the terrain necessary to churn out a very fast marathon (as they do in the Rift Valley).
That said, my race strategy isn't based so much on pace as it is food. I'll be mixing water and powerade on the course, while also doing salt stick and maybe 1-2 gu's. I think I'll sip every mile, and focus on half a GU or so at mile 12, a salt stick at mile 15, and possibly another gu/salt stick at mile 20. A big emphasis mentally will be on forcing myself to focus on my turnover, and to be patient refueling to get my gu/electrolytes down with plenty of water. My theme this race is the best offense is a good defense, and eating and salting early will allow me to make the most out of my smoothed out stride late in the race. As I run further, I generally become less human, and more gazelle like, so as long as I'm fueled right, there should be the potential for negative splitting.
Lately, this song has been putting me in the right spot..