After almost 4 years since my last marathon, I’m lining up this Sunday to run the Via Marathon in the Lehigh Valley, starting at Lehigh Valley Hospital (where I had my appendix removed in 2006) and following trails and paths all the way to the border between New Jersey and Pennsylvania in Easton.
The current weather forecast has it at 68 degrees and sunny when I start, going up to around 75 by the time I finish. This is not ideal; as a rough guideline, running makes your body feel like it’s 20 degrees warmer than it is. The ideal temperature for a marathon is therefore 50-55 degrees; at 68, my body will feel like it’s 88 degrees, and if it reaches 75, that feels like 95. Ouch.
So what will I do? I knew when I signed up for a marathon in early September that I was rolling the dice; in this part of the country that can mean a 50-degree day or a 95-degree day. 70 degrees is therefore right in the middle. I think my original pace goal (a 3:45 marathon, or about 8:30 per mile) is probably out, and my goal now will be just to finish and feel good about it. Since it’s my first marathon in 4 years, and in that time I gained and lost around 50 pounds, just reaching the finish will be an accomplishment. If I can break 4 hours I’ll be content. If I can break 3:57, my current PR, I’ll be very happy. But we’ll see.
Along the way I’ll make sure to drink lots of water, and ensure I take a Gu (nutrient gel) every 45 minutes or so. In shorter races, I often skip the water and Gu in favor of finishing quickly. In a marathon, particularly in those conditions, I have to be mindful of my hydration so I don’t cramp up or bonk. That last thing I want is to drop out somewhere in the backwoods of the Lehigh Valley.