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The term delusional is often bandied about with a negative connotation. My run this morning forced me to consider for a moment that I might be delusional, thinking I can prepare for a marathon, grossly overweight with ten weeks of training. Fortunately, I’m not overly introspective and the moment passed. I don’t think considering reality is all that constructive while training.

I have up until the expo, the night before the marathon, to drop down to the half marathon and I’ll pivot to reality then. My thinking is that I’ve made good progress in the last five weeks and I have yet five more weeks.

For today’s challenge, I parked at the Boulder Res and started my run exactly where the race is set to start. I had a number of objectives with this run. The first was to see if I could run the first sixteen miles of the course, which would loop me back around to my car. It’s sort of a commitment because if I couldn’t make it beyond eight miles, I would have an eight mile walk back to my car. That’s sort of what happened.

My second objective was to observe the accuracy of the course map. I can tell from looking at it that the final two miles along Magnolia and Pearl Streets are off by a half mile. I can now inform the race director that the first nine miles of the course map are off by a mile and a half, because my watch recorded eight miles where the map shows nine and a half. I made it to what I believe is the turn-around at Ouray and Oxford Roads and made it halfway back up the hill on Oxford before admitting I couldn’t make it to the top. This is where I began to walk.

With this, I’d met two objectives. I learned I can’t run sixteen miles and I proved the inaccuracy of the course map. All very good things to know. I wasn’t happy with having to walk so early, but the air quality wasn’t all that great, sixties when I left the house and nineties when I returned, and it set me up to test another one of my goals.

I wondered if, in the marathon, I ran the first half at around an eleven minute pace, could I walk/run the rest of the race and stay under the six hour completion threshold? Overall, I need to run a little under a 13:30 pace to remain eligible to finish before they reopen the streets. I think that will work because I ran a 10:27 pace before I started walking, and I maintained a 13:51 pace for the next six miles once I started walk/running. This also suggests I’ll benefit from running slower, at least an eleven minute pace.

Back to my second objective, the six miles of my walk/run back to the car accurately mapped to the course map. Hope the race director finds those observations useful. Because I’ve been pestering the race officials with everything from confirming my registration, to hotel discounts, to this map nonsense, I might use another email address going forward in case they’ve taken actions to block my other one.

The final useful objective was to learn that my shoes will work well on this course. I don’t know the percentage for the entire course, but the Boulder Backroads are over half gravel vs pavement. Some sections, like along the irrigation ditch, are brutal on the feet. At least, once your feet have become tender from having run so many miles. I recall my last Boulder marathon that was run as two loops around the Backroads and Res and hitting the irrigation ditch road was like walking on hot coals. I don’t normally like overly soft running shoes, or what runners call a high stack, but these Hoka Rockets performed. I couldn’t feel the gravel at all. Until I get some tougher feet, these shoes are what I need.

If I were to face reality, after today’s run, I’d drop down to the half, or perhaps from the race entirely. Instead, I’m still looking at this thing through Ted Lasso glasses and figure I learned a lot of good things from today’s poor run. I neglected to add that I nearly vomited afterward. Even though I carried and fully drank a liter of electrolytes, I ended the run dehydrated. Today was a tough run. Tomorrow is another day.