Balls to the wall from the gun and then hang on!<br><br>
Kidding - you have to start out slowly (whatever pace that is for you). It should feel almost ridiculously easy for at least the first 4-6 miles, maybe even longer. At a big race like Chicago it's easy to get sucked in to someone else's pace. Track your splits at each mile, wear a pace band or run with a pace group to keep yourself in check. If you start hammering the last 8 miles, you can pick up a few (2-6) minutes easily. If you go out too hard and crash, you can lose 2-6 minutes in a single mile. When it goes bad, you lose time in huge chunks (speaking from vast experience!)<br><br>
You should have a good idea of what your pace should be; even if it's your first marathon, you should have a time target (not a goal) so you can pace yourself accordingly in the beginning.<br><br>
Enjoy it - Chicago is a great race!
PacerChris is the guru. He hits the mark.<br><br>
Strategy depends on your goals: Racing for time, or running to finish.<br><br>
If you're well tapered, you're raring to go. In the early miles, its difficult to start slow enough and avoiding going to fast.<br><br>
If racing for time, start your slower than your goal race pace, finding your groove in the first few miles. Have some intermediate goals, like where you want to be after 5, 10, and 13.1 miles. You can write some notes on your bib, or a pace band does the same.<br><br>
The mental approach that works for me is the think of the first two miles of the marathon like the first two miles of a weekend long run. If I take it easy for 2 miles, I've effectively turned my 26 mile marathon into a 24 mile marathon.<br><br>
Hydration - take a few onces every chance you get. On the handoff, point at, or make eye contact with the volunteer you want a cup from. Underhydration really exposes itself after the 20 mile mark.<br><br>
Have a mantra and use it when the going gets tough.<br><br>
Smile. A lot. Thank volunteers. Enjoy the moment, and the fact that you're going farther than ever before.
This is key. These guys (two previous posters) have given you very good direction. Have a plan and execute it. Have a back up plan for what you're going to do or how you're going to adjust if things don't feel right.<br><br>
Enjoy the day, the moment, the crowd, the other runners. This is your day. This is your reward. This is what you worked hard for. All those training miles, the aches, the pains, the ice, the runs in the early morning, late at night. This is where you find out what it was all worth. Have FUN!<br><br>
I'm rarely under any illusions about what kind of marathon I can run, for obvious reasons.<br><br>
But I see each marathon entry as a lottery ticket. I really don't know how it will go until race day. Even with perfect preparation I may wake up and find my running just doesn't "flow." I've learned that trying to run a great race on those days is really self abusive. Both physically and mentally I'll beat my head against the wall and likely finish beat up and depressed and still have a crummy time.<br><br>
So I "procrastinate" the decision until mile 10. I pick a middling pace - just slightly conservative for my best likely time. As an example, at Portland this Sunday my first 10 miles will be entirely about getting to the 10 mile point in 83 minutes, no more or less.<br><br>
Then I do a clear assessment. How am I feeling? I make the decision to push, fade, or adjust and defer. If It's push, I'll notch it up about 15-30 sec per mile and look towards mile 17, the point at which everybody starts to fade and I have to really crank up the effort to hold the new pace. If it's fade, I'll just sort of hold the same initial effort which will result in a gradually slowing pace all the way to the finish. If it's adjust and defer, I'll make a slight change to pace and then decide to wait until 15 miles until I decide.<br><br>
The other little bullet that helps me is that in good marathons I'll spend the last 8 miles meditating on my gait. I find that a lot of the slowing in the last miles comes from getting tired so that my gait gets less smooth - "clompy." If I start to focus my conscious attention on my legs I can keep my stride light/quick/smooth. This makes all the difference.<br><br>
Good running, Smizzy!
Thanks! I agree, this is my third Chicago. I love it!<br><br>
The first time, I was really quite certain I was going to die and didn't really enjoy the ride at all because of that fear. The second time I was nursing a significant ITB injury and wasn't sure I'd see the start line, let alone the finish line. I probably ran it as advised here, really slow first few miles and was able to pick it up that last few miles.<br><br>
This time I am going in with confidence from a good training program and a good taper. No injuries. I feel strong and ready. The biggest question mark for me will be race day temps, as I tend to absolutely wilt in heat. But I need a plan.<br><br>
I'm loving these tips from you seasoned pros!<br><br>
I train at a certain pace and I run that pace from the minute the gun goes off. If I can find a group that is running within 5 seconds of my pace, I will speed up to hang out with them, or I will slow down a little knowing that I will have to pick up the pace after mile 20, most groups dissolve around this point anyway. I'm a slave to even pacing. Unfornuately, there are those days that you can be off, or the weather doesn't cooperate, and I guess you should take that into account rather than the pace you trained for.....or the last miles are the ouch.