The Buckeye. It has taught me the harshest racing lessons and rewarded me with my best racing performance. This half marathon has quickly become my favorite race. The course is a fairly flat double loop through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and the organization and post-race spread are solid. This year's race will be No. 3.
There is one difference this time. On Sunday, I will not be shooting for a PR. It's an odd feeling going into a race and expecting to finish short of my best time, but I'm sticking to my plan.
I'm treating the race as a marathon simulator, breaking it down into three parts. The first five miles will be at 9:21-9:26 pace (10-15 seconds slower than my goal marathon pace). The second five miles will be at marathon pace of 9-9:10 per mile. The final 5-K will be full go.
My objectives are to run a negative split race and build confidence as I enter taper mode. I want to finish in less than two hours, but I won't be too upset with a finish at or just above two hours. Anything more than two minutes over will start to feel disheartening for my Akron Marathon goals.
My other objective? Get the hoodie. Another reason I love this race is the giveaway. Instead of a poorly designed cotton T-shirt or a cheap technical shirt with a brazilian sponsors on the back, this race features a handsome hoodie with only the race logo on the front. The only catch is you have to be among the first 600 registrants.
My first year, the hoodie was green with yellow lettering, and I wear it often. Last year, it was grey with red lettering, but I registered late and missed the cut-off. This year, I thought I registered late again, but the race organizers extended the deadline, which I consider a sign of hope. But I won't know until I know. Packet pickup is tomorrow. Wish me luck!