Last little three-mile pre-race run this afternoon, a chilly dark overcast late-afternoon run with wet leaves on the ground and nobody about the place. I would say three easy miles (ten-minute pace, HR avg 145), only it was one of those days when the legs are leaden and even a slow pace feels like a lot of work! I didn't sleep enough this week, I think...
(Fortunately just at the end I suddenly really was warmed up and felt quite fluid and comfortable, just as well too--this business of tapering is mentally challenging, it introduces self-doubt! I am having a slightly sore right knee for instance--on Tuesday I noticed it, partly through being struck that I was not enjoying this thing of running on concrete--I don't do that Riverside run so often these days as I did over the summer, and there's no doubt the surface is harder on the knees--it's probably better that I'm not doing it so often, but it also means I'm not acclimated--a couple training partners commented on unpleasantness of concrete West Side Highway part of the Nike half this summer, and I really didn't notice it... I do not think I have an injury, I just think that tapering makes you suddenly attentive to these minor things that normally good exercise chemicals totally put out of mind...)
So in the slow hard part of the run I was suddenly asking myself whether I was crazy for thinking I could hold a just-below-9:00 pace for the race--but I think it's really worth trying, there is no huge downside, I already made my sub-two-hour half-marathon goal for the year. So there it is: say 9:00 miles just for the first mile and a half or two until the crowd thins out, then move a bit faster to 8:50ish, settle in on 8:55 according to the Device or "sort of just under 9" if I have a mechanical failure and I'm counting off clock and mile markers (really in that case I would just be running by feel). Speed up to 8:30 for last two miles if I can. I am trying for 1:56:50-something, just under 1:57 at any rate. 8:55 pace, to be precise--of course it seems ludicrous to be so specific, these mechanical devices sort of lead us down the primrose path. Really a lot will depend on how much rest I get in the next couple nights, so my priority (other than some desperately overdue paper-grading that must happen tomorrow!) is to SLEEP.
(Oh, and another useful thing about today's run: Becca is quite right, I do not want to be running with a jacket or fleece tied round my waist, the feeling of running light is priceless. This Brooks jacket is very nice, it's going to be great for long runs this winter as a lightweight and breathable but warmish layer, but when the temperature's in the low 40s you are warm already and no longer need gloves after about TWO MINUTES of running. I must dig through bags of old clothes in closet & just find something I can ditch at the start.)