Going into my first half marathon since June, after a late fall full of injuries, I've got some very modest goals.
A: Keep it at an average of 11:05/mile, allowing for some slightly faster/slower segments for the hills and finish around 2:25. This is actually an interesting goal for me to set. I don't want to push it faster than this goal, which is something I've never ever thought before a race (who goes into a race with a "not-to-exceed" performance mindset?). But this performance is what I think is the absolute best possible performance I could do without destroying my desire to continue to build up for the Oakland Running festival. If I hit mile 8 and I'm just chomping at the bit to speed up maybe I'll re-evalute, but if history is any guide, I'm much more likely to head out and string some mid-low 10s together before I start to slow with each mile and eventually hit a huge wall of suck. I'd like to avoid that.
B: Finish faster than McMillan's predicted performance based off the Chrissy Field 5K: 2:27:56 (11:18 pace)
C: Finish faster than last year's relatively chill performance: 2:35 (sub 12). This would be roughly the pace of the (no fuel) 15K 4 weeks ago, but 4 more miles, so still an obvious increase in performance to be happy about.
D: Just finish 13.1 miles for the first time in 7 months healthy and happy to have a body that can do so, and note that it's a solid long run in prep for Oakland.
I've got two big variables currently working against me. First, I'm even heavier than I was at last year's Kaiser Half. I'm working on it and things are trending in the right direction, but with 5 days to go, it's apparent where I'll end up. Second, the predicted high is 72F -- and I'm very sensitive to direct sun and heat. It's quite a bummer because several of my runs these last few weeks have been so enjoyable in the blissfully perfect (to me) 40s-50s. Oh well... I can still hope for a cold day in Oakland.
I do have a few things working for me.
First, I'm at the point in my fitness build up where I'm building strength easily and my legs are visibly more solid than they were several weeks ago -- I've got the body type that gains strength in response to loading, and I tend to do so before I lose weight, even when focusing on decreased calories and increased caloric expenditures like running and other cardio-heavy workouts.
Second, looking at my training log from last year, I'm much more prepared to tackle 13 miles than I was then. I'd essentially phoned it in after the NY Marathon in November, burnt out and busy with travel and work. So, last year, I kind of just showed up and let F do the volunteer awesome pacer friend work of pulling me through a long run that wasn't very pretty. I feel much more qualified to get myself through the race on my own motivation this time, which is a good feeling.
Third, I think I'm actually going to run with music. I almost never do this because if I've got friends I'd rather race with a focus on chatting with them. But this time, since I'm solo, I think the music bribe and motivation is a good call.
Fourth, I haven't done a long run with any fueling in ages. I'm crossing my fingers that my pre-race latte, and during the race gatorade and gu will definitely make for a more pleasant experience.
Wish me luck.