Last summer, after finishing my first marathon, I began to think about how I could improve the next time I did one (if I ever did).
I looked back at my time, the way I felt at the finish and the way I approached the race and thought to myself I could have done much better.
Well, I'm less than two weeks from proving to myself that I could indeed do it better.
Because I scheduled a more difficult course, filled with challenging hills, I'm not sure my time will be any better. But I'm convinced that with all I've learned since last June, my performance will be improved and I will not be hurting so much over the final six miles of the 26.2-mile San Luis Obispo Marathon.
On April 7 I will put my plan to work. Here's how it's shaping up:
More realistic pace: Last year I ran too fast over the first 20 miles and staggered to the finish, having to stop and walk a number of stretches. This time, I have a new GPS watch that tells me how fast I'm going at any given moment. This, I hope, will allow me to run a smarter race, a more sensible pace and allow me to save energy for the final six miles.
Better equipment. I've bought better shoes and just recently bought a new pair. It may seem silly, but having a fresh pair of shoes has made a difference on how I feel going into the race. I've also invested in a water belt, that allows me to carry Gatorade with me as I run. Yes, the race will feature water stations, but I've learned that I can't rely on that. You need to hydrate when your body needs it. Hydrating early and often has helped me feel better on my longer runs. I also hope it will help me avoid the bad cramping in my calves and hamstrings that I suffered in San Diego.
Listening to the support. While I will run listening to music, I will only have one earbud in, hopefully so that I can hear more of the crowd cheering me on. Running for Team in Training has been a blessing in so many ways, and I know that having so many supporters along the course will help get me through the difficult periods all marathoners experience at some point. I am confident that having that support both before, during and after the race will make this experience much more enjoyable than when I ran on my own last year.
Smarter training. I'm hoping that a smarter, proven training plan with more interval work and a little bit of strength training for my upper body and core will pay off in a better effort.
I'm not looking to run especially fast in San Luis Obispo. I'm simply hoping to have a great experience. That's what it's all about.
Reach Jim Silva at email@example.com. On Twitter: @mission26point2.