It's race time.
I'll admit that the rainy week wasn't the best for quality runs, but mileage wasn't my focus. The final preparation to run 26.2 miles is nearly all mental.
I've run through the course in my head over and over. I realize that there are currently few people in Craig interested in running a marathon, but here's my guide to running the Steamboat Marathon. It's more for myself than anything.
1. Stay relaxed through the first seven miles.
Because the course drops more than 1,000 feet during that span it is easy to take off too fast and not realize it. The first year, I remember looking at my watch at the 10-mile mark and thinking "there's no way I've been running that fast." Well about six miles later, I could believe it. Those first seven miles, you have to force yourself to hold back. During that period you just have to think, "holllld, holllllld, holllld."
2. Miles eight through 16 settle in.
If there is a goal pace you are aiming at, these miles should be the ones that you are clicking that pace off easily. This is the first year that I'm going to be taking my splits every mile. Before, I didn't even look at my watch until the first 10 miles, but after training on the course this year, I've realized that checking the watch helps break up the race. In my case, I hope to be running 6 minutes, 45 seconds for every mile.
3. Seventeen through 22 just relax, relax, relax.
This is where the pain starts to kick in. This is also when you get to climb out of the river valley for three miles. If you aren't relaxed, those three miles feel like 14. The best part about this portion of the race is that you run along the Elk River. The sound of the running river can calm you, and I've heard of racers watching the bubbles to keep their minds off of the pain.
4. Twenty-three through 26.2
I still haven't experienced these miles in a positive way. My first year, I was so bonked I couldn't keep my eyes open the final mile. Last year, I was walking every other minute because of a knee problem. This year, I'm hoping that my fan following (you're coming to cheer me on, aren't you?) will give me the energy I need to finish and to finish in 2:59.99 or better.
If I can't find motivation for the Steamboat Marathon, there is something wrong with the gland in my body that produces pump-me-up juice.
Is that the liver or the pancreas?
My parents arrived Friday to cheer me on. Because I'm running the race in honor of my dad, I'm hoping that he'll get to actually see me running across the finish line.
Then there are the 18 people who sponsored me for the race.
One of those sponsors was the mother of Conner "Mason" Floyd.
After signing up, she told me, "every step you take is for Conner who didn't get to take a step."
You see, Conner died at birth.
"If I had a million dollars to give, I'd give it," she said.
So in your memory, Conner, I'll finish the race if I have to crawl.
Then there's the rest of the community. For those who jokingly wanted to give me a dead leg and for those who told me I'm crazy, thank you. Those might not have seemed like direct complements, but they were encouragement.
I'd like to invite everybody to the course Sunday. The race starts at 7:30 a.m., but it isn't designed to be spectator-friendly. If you really want to come watch, the half-marathon finishers will be arriving in downtown Steamboat at about 9 a.m. and the full marathon runners will be arriving shortly after 10 a.m. There are five Craig residents registered for the half and one other courageous soul in the marathon.
If I have the power in me to type Sunday, my race-experience column will appear in Monday's Craig Daily Press.