The Day Before a Marathon is the Time to Relax and Reflect

Today is Saturday and tomorrow is the Inaugural Santa Barbara Marathon.  My goal for this marathon is to finish this marathon with a smile on my face.

Today I'll drive up to Santa Barbara, visit the race expo to pick up my bib number and check out the cool running stuff for sale by vendors, check into my hotel and basically vedge out.

It is 9 am right now and before I make the drive, I will run a mile or two, but that's about it.  I didn't practice my own advice and ran about 3.5 miles each of the last few days, but I ran slowly.  I have a hard time taking an entire day off from running solely for the purpose of resting.  Call it obsessive-compulsive, but I prefer to save up my rest days for injuries and illnesses.

Last time I ran a competitive marathon was just over 5 years ago, when I ran a 2:48 at the age of 40.  I trained 70 to 80 miles per week for that marathon and it paid off.

Since then, my life has been a blur.  While I never stopped running, I did stop serious training as my family grew in size and simply put, I got too busy and tired to train hard.  I did run the L.A. Marathon as a "training run" in 2005 and I believe that is my last full marathon until, hopefully, tomorrow!

I've been training for this marathon since late April. Early on I set a goal of peaking at 60 to 70 miles per week in September/October, but I never managed to get over 60.  In fact, my mileage was way down in these critical pre-marathon months due to swine flu, back spasms and other lame excuses.

So while I'd love to run even just a sub 3 hour marathon, I know from past experience (25 marathons) that I CANNOT FOOL MY BODY in the marathon.  The marathon distance is unforgiving.  I haven't been training at a 6:52 pace, which is the pace required to break 3 hours.  If I go out at that pace from the start, no doubt I'll be hurting big time at mile 20.

My goal is to ignore my pace, my watch and other runners.  The marathon is a highly individual sport. We all have our own goals. I know there will be other 45 year old runners there who I should beat handily if my training had been stronger, but they will be ahead of me tomorrow if they've done their homework!

And that's o.k. with me because I've aligned my expectations with the reality of my training. I ain't gonna run a 2:45 marathon tomorrow.  My expectation is to run something under 3 1/2 hours, which is still good (heck, that time will get me into the Boston Marathon).

All that said, maybe, just maybe, I'll get lucky, feel amazing good at the 20 mile mark, pick up the pace a bit, start passing runners who went out too hard, and finish in under 3 hours.

Ya just never know.