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austin marathon Big run tomorrow. If you care to track my pace via text messages, text AUS to 37619. You’ll be prompted to add my bib number 2034. Facebook might also post my times, but I’m not certain I configured that correctly.

I initially expected to be able to match last year’s time of 3:45. Being a marathon, nothing is certain. And I have a cold this week. Not ideal. Plus, Austin is considered a tough course due to the hills. I believe I’m the same weight (170 lbs) as last year and in similar physical condition, so a cold notwithstanding, I suspect I can match last year’s performance. The thing is though, I really want to break 3:30. Before this cold, I thought an 8 minute pace possible if I were to run a perfect pace early. Perfect would be to run the first two miles around an 8:30 pace and to average a 7:50 pace for the rest of the run. Even with a cold, this is still my stretch goal. A boy can dream.

With all marathons, I’m always pretty satisfied with any time under 4 hours. Longer than that means I’m either not in shape for a marathon, or I failed to execute a good pace and nutrition plan. Or I have a cold. In 10 marathons, I’ve never failed to cross the finish line. Even after poor performances, I can find decent satisfaction in finishing at any pace. It’s a marathon after all. I know some runners feel they have to finish without walking. Not me. I don’t want to walk. I have specific time goals. But I don’t get overly down on myself for walking. That final 10K, after my body has burned all available stores of glucose, just may require that I walk through a few aid stations. I’m fine with that.

SBSocialRunI stopped by Shoes & Brews Thursday night to replenish my Skratch supply.  I’ll carry one to two liters with me in a camelbak.  That worked well in the Denver Marathon.  I used to think it smart to leverage the aid stations, but all they ever have is Gatorade.  I’m happy with my call to sport a small camelbak in order to support my electrolyte drink of choice.

I ran into Ashlee and gave her grief for dropping out of our Ragnar Relay Team.  Ashlee informed me that Colin and her are running the Austin Half Marathon on Sunday.  Naturally I let her know that I’m running the whole enchilada.  Since I’ll be running a full 26 miles, Ashlee suggested I wear a Shoes & Brew logo tech shirt.  I agreed so she sold me one.  At a discount.

I was going to ask her details on the Vfuel endurance gels.  Even though I’m well stocked with Hammer Gels, I bought a few to try out this weekend.  Before Ashlee could respond, Eve walked up and started chatting with me.  I forgot that Thursday is the evening social run.  I thought that was on Wednesdays.  I didn’t stay to run with her and Jabe because of my cold.  This is a massive taper week for me.  The only day I ran all week was Monday.  My legs should feel fresh tomorrow.

maplebaconThanks to Eve, I know absolutely nothing about these Vfuel gels.  I’m going to try them anyway.  I’ll mix them up somehow with my Hammer Gels.  I know trying out anything new on a marathon is stupid, but that advice is for more, less experienced runners who don’t know what they’re doing.  I can read and I see both gels avoid sugar by using maltodextrin.  My experience using Hammer is it burns nicely – meaning no gastrointestinal distress.  The Vfuel packaging is wider with square corners, Hammer is more slim with rounded corners. This is important in terms of fitting well within my shorts gel pockets.

nuunTurns out I left my Skratch sitting on the kitchen counter in Colorado, so I picked up a couple of electrolyte drinks at the race expo – UCAN and NUUN.  No idea how to pronounce either of them.  They seem similar in that they are pure electrolytes without sugar.  UCAN does contain Stevia.  I just taste tested them both.  I’m going with NUUN for its superior taste.  It’s fruity without being sweet.  Very refreshing.  48 ounces are chillin’ in a camelbak in the fridge as I write this.  I struggle in my attempts to drink enough fluids during runs.  Honestly, I don’t sweat much.  But a 57° to 71° temperature range will feel warm to me.  Of course I can leverage the aid stations if 48 ounces isn’t enough, but the first task is to empty my camelbak.

While I’ve lowered my performance expectations due to this cold, my excitement hasn’t diminished.  I can’t wait to line up on Congress Avenue with 17,000 of my peeps tomorrow morning to exercise my demons.  Marathons are good for that.  This will be my 3rd Austin Marathon, plus I ran the Half once.  Over two-thirds of the 17K will be running the Half.  The crowds are unbelievable.  Fans get a little thin for about a mile in the 3rd quarter along Mopac, otherwise the course is lined non-stop with thousands of Austin crazies.  If you’re one of my Austin buddies, get out there tomorrow.