Then, I wondered if that was realistic. And along with that, I wondered if I should even care about my time at all, and worry more about finishing the race than anything.
But now, on the eve of the Big Race, I've come up with an acceptable sort of compromise - if I'm within sights of two hours during the race, I'm going to go for it.
First, though, I have to get there. My race strategy is simple: build slowly and run at a slow but steady pace, build up to a strong middle portion and finish well. If I build too quickly and allow my heart rate to spiral out of control, then all hell is going to break loose. But if I can manage it well and am doing good time, I might push myself and see about finishing in under two hours.
Incidentally, if you take the times I ran for my Seal Beach 10K and translate them into half-marathon time, it's 1:58:07. I don't know if I can sustain such a pace for more than twice as long but it is encouraging.
My biggest fear is that either I'll push myself too hard and then will hit the wall earlier than I should or that I'll push myself too early and then hit the wall earlier than I should. Those are legimate concerns. I've never ran 13 miles before so I don't know what to expect. I might feel fine in Mile 11, push myself and then fall apart midway through the last mile.
Ultimately, though, I am not going to be disappointed with whatever time I get. I set out to run a sub-25:00 5K last June and I was at 25:05 but I've never felt disappointed with that time, and in fact it's encouraging and I feel as if it was a good bar to set with my first-ever race.
So if I finish in 2:00:01, I might feel like a turd... okay if I finish one second slower than two hours, I'll be a bit upset, but if I finish in 2:04:33 for instance I'll be happy, just as happy as if I finish in 1:59:29 or 2:12:09 or 2:22:17. Finishing is the key, and I want to run a race that I'll be proud of no matter what time I get. If I give it an honest effort, than everything else will fall into place.