My wife, my son and I got our last full lap of training in this morning. Each of us had different runs planned. My wife just wanted to go at her steady pace. My son wanted to go out easy then push the last 3 miles. I had other plans. So us boys gave her a 10 minute head start, then #12 (probably should be called #13 now as he had a birthday a few days back) headed out - I waited another 5 minutes, then set off.
I never caught him. My wife, with just over a mile to go - I finally got by her. She took a few seconds off her best time which she set 2 years ago - with a torn ACL in between and not a lot of running since. We are all excited for how she did today. #12 ducked in just under 64 minutes at an 8 min per mile average. That too was about a minute faster than what he did last year. After he told us he ended up taking it easy for the first 3 1/3 miles, then went to work on the hill / saddle section and kept on going.
So, both of them are primed for new PR's next Saturday.
As for me, backing up to Friday first - I still haven't figured out how fast to go for the first 3 miles. I did a 7:55 avg a few weeks back and that felt good, so Friday I went out at 7:45 avg and felt heavy and sluggish. So much so that the next 2 miles which were planned on going slow - I slugged along and by the time I did those the avg for those 2 was almost 10 minutes. The last 3 miles I needed to redeem myself - at least get some mental confidence. So I was able to push and even though I was still feeling sluggish I did the last 3 miles at a 7 pace. That made me feel better, but still didn't have an answer for early race pace / plan.
As for this morning, a different plan. Wanted to alternate miles / speeds. 1st mile race pace, next mile easy, next mile race pace, next mile easy etc. So, first mile was a 7:30 for about 3/4 of it - way too fast so I backed off and went back to a 7:45. Recovered on the next mile. 3rd mile was able to do 7:50. Then the 4th mile which takes a decided turn uphill I was again in slug mode. By the time I started the 5th mile I was laboring but managed to work hard and crest the top of the saddle at an 8:20 avg for that mile. A little disappointing but I think I chalked it up to starting out too quick and maybe not eating enough breakfast.
The 6th mile starts downhill - I good time to regroup today, on race day it will be when I really need to start to push. Today I took it easy and my body thanked me for that. As I started mile 7 I pushed again, aiming for 7 min and was successful. Beginning of the last mile I had just passed my wife and I slowed down again for a 1/2 mile. I was feeling better and for the last half mile I went all out and did a 6:30 average. That was a pleasant surprise.
With such a wild range of pace I'm not actually sure if today was all that productive for me. I'm left still not really knowing how fast I should set out on the first section. I'm quite comfortable with the last 3 miles - knowing I can do that easily at a 7 min avg mile pace - likely faster. But if I go to fast at the start then the middle couple of miles is going to be a struggle.
Race day crowds will be a factor - especially at the start with over 400 people squeezing into basically 2 1/2 tracks almost immediately. If I want to get a great time then I am going to need to start out fast, just so I don't start too slow and end up getting stuck - which will likely result in chasing, trying to get back on schedule for the rest of the way. I want to stick to a plan. I function better with a plan. However, 400 people will also have a plan. That's a lot of plans and none will be the same. Oh the madness - especially in my now 44 year old brain.
I'll be back there 3 more evenings this week - trying to get something figured out. I need to beat into my head "don't race people, race my own race". I may or may not.
I guess I'll find out on race day.