Sunday is my fourth running of the Buckeye Half Marathon where I set my current personal best in 2008 and one of my favorite races overall. Last year I sacrificed a PR in an attempt to mimic my pacing strategy for the 2009 Akron Marathon. This year I sacrifice nothing.
My PR was set by following the 1:50 pace group for the first nine miles and then pulling ahead to the finish with an 8:20 average overall. My strategy for this year? The same thing, only I'll pull away after eight miles. That means an 8:24 pace at first and then at least an 8:12 pace to finish. That's doable.
Let us not lose faith in the hill training that has replaced my track sessions this year. Believe in the training. Hills have built leg strength and expanded lung capacity. Distance has increased endurance. Barefooting has improved my form. Training has instilled confidence.
This is my first race since the Tallmadge Memorial 5-K in May. I don't have the same racing experience this year that I've had in the past few years. That only means my legs are fresh.
My strategy is in place. The date is set. My target is marked. My opponent will go down.