Two weeks from tomorrow is my last race of the season - the Outer Banks Half Marathon. I'm excited to do this one (for the third year in a row), the only slight negative being that I will have to miss The Puppeteer's end-of-season athlete's party on the evening before! :-(
I have had a heavy "run focus" over the past six weeks or so and my training seems to have been going pretty well and I've stayed injury free. This week was a bit disrupted because of international business travel, but I'm happy to be back in Raleigh and ready to rock my full last week of work before I begin my taper for the race.
Two years ago this was the first half marathon I had run in more than 25 years and I was pleased just to be able to finish in around 2:17. Last year I ran it again, trying to take things a little more seriously, but a bout of illness before the event really messed up my training and I went in with no great expectations and ran 2:11:33. All of this was before I started training "properly" with The Puppeteer.
In March of this year I ran the American Tobacco Trail Half in 2:02:10. http://rogersroadrash.blogspot.com/2011_03_01_archive.html
So...... my times are improving and I feel that this is the first half marathon that I'm going to "race" and not just "run". My first objective (other than finishing, of course!) is to break the 2:00 mark for the first time, and something inside me tells me that if things feel good on the day and the conditions cooperate (not always a foregone conclusion on the OBX!) that I may be able to get closer to 1:55 - we shall see.
2:00 equates to an average pace of 9:10/mile and 1:55 to an average pace of 8:47/mile. This makes me smile as I remember so well just a short time ago how running more than a couple of miles or at a pace of 10:00/mile was a challenge!
I still have to talk to The Puppeteer about how to pace this race (even splits? go out faster and hold on?) but my current thinking is to look for 9:00/mile over the first 2 miles to get through the scrum at the start and get my legs under me, before trying to run 8:45 splits for as long as I can and then giving it all I have left over the last few miles. I might cut myself a little slack when I get to "the bridge" at around mile nine!
More on this, nutrition strategy and so on later. Bring it on!
Oh, and..... (you heard it here first!) a little voice inside my head is telling me that if this goes well I'll try to run a sub 4:00 full marathon this time next year! :-)