1) Elevation at the start line is 5400'. Finish line is 4309'. With the over 1000 ft drop, I figure that will help. According to the elevation chart, Mile 20 to Mile 24 is a 600 ft drop. By that time I very well could be ready to be a rolling stone gathering no moss. In other words, I need all the help I can get.
2) It's fairly close to home. Flight is less than 1 1/2 hrs away. After my first marathon I jumped on a plane and travelled for 2 days. Even though that was 19 yrs ago, I still remember how painful it was. At least this time I will run in the morning, be home later that same afternoon and can at least
3) I ran the American Discovery Trail marathon here in the Springs (from Palmer lake to near Downtown Springs) last Fall. Even though I finished in 3:37:53, I wanted to and was on pace to beat 3:30 for the first 18 or so miles. So I kind of consider that a failure and since then have wanted to beat that time.
4) I have trained (I think) better than last Fall. Sure my knees have not appreciated the pounding and at times I probably have either been at or crossed over the "overtraining to the point of injury" line. But I have logged more miles, hills, used a more structured training plan - I think and hope it might pay off.
5) I have a better race day plan this time. That plan could also read goal. Actually - I have a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C.
Plan / Goal A = beat 3:37:53. Avg pace needs to be 8:18 min miles
Plan / Goal B = beat 3:30:00. Avg pace needs to be 8:00 min miles
Plan / Goal C = beat 3:27:00. Avg pace needs to be 7:53 min miles
That would give me a PR. Sure there is the wild dream of a BQ - which for me is 3:20:59. That would require a faster than 7:40 pace. I can't see that happening.
So I plan on starting out at the 8 min pace, keep that going for 16, 18, maybe even 20 miles. If I can assess at either of those points that I could pick up the pace, maintain to the end - then I will and try get under the 3:27 mark. If not, I think (also insert "hope") that 3:30 is reachable this time.