Marathon on Deck: Rocket City, Alabama

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I’m finding it increasingly challenging to sit still this week. It’s not really the fact that I have to run a marathon this weekend. It’s the fact that I have to run a marathon on Saturday. For some reason, Saturday races always seem little more stressful. I never think about it when I’m registering for a race, but as it gets closer I get anxious. I’m still excited about it and it’s already Thursday, so now all I have left to do are some shakeout miles and some last minute errands. I planned to run the Rocket City Marathon over the summer and booked my airfare back in July. I’m on edge because I’m flying out the day before the race. I had a bit of a catastrophe with a similar situation when I was flying to Washington for the Vancouver Marathon, and arrived later than anticipated.

I’m aware of how risky my travel arrangements for this weekend are, particularly since it’s December and we’ve had some recent snow squalls. Last weekend, it iced so badly that the Dallas Marathon and St. Jude Memphis Marathon were actually canceled. This is the latest I’ve run a marathon in December. Last year I ran Rehoboth, but that was a week earlier. In my defense, I booked my December flight in the middle of July, during a heatwave. Snow and travel delays were the last thing on my mind. Lesson learned. Now all I can do is prepare for the unexpected and pray to God that everything goes off as scheduled. 

The Good: My flight leaves at 6:05 a.m. from Allentown. If all goes according to plan, I could be in Huntsville by 11:11 (fingers crossed). If all doesn’t go according to schedule, it does leave some time to get things sorted out. I land in Detroit before 8 a.m., and I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t know that it is a 9 hour and 27 minute drive from the airport in Detroit to Huntsville, Alabama. Oh yeah, and the expo actually goes until 9 p.m. Winning.

The Bad: My flight goes through Detroit. Why did I think flying across to Detroit and then down to Alabama was a good idea? There’s a flight that goes through Atlanta and a few of my friends are on that one, but did I pick that one? Nope. Way to go, Allison. Let’s also discuss the fact that I’m traveling on Friday, December 13th. Friday the 13th. I’m not really superstitious, but really? There is no race day packet pickup, and friends can’t pick up packets for anyone else. So even though I have people heading down there separately from myself, it might not even matter. There is a little bit of a silver lining, though. One of the friends heading down on the flight through Atlanta happens to be Bart Yasso, and he is the guest speaker at the race. I am hoping that if I get delayed, maybe the race director would let him pick up my stuff. I mean, it is Bart Yasso. If he stole my packet and ran the race, I’m fairly certain that people would be able to figure that one out pretty quickly.

Okay. Breathe. Focus. I should probably start packing. I’ve done all of the planning I can do. The rest is out of my hands. 

In a perfect world, I’d like to get to Alabama, grab my rental car and run a few shakeout miles before going to the expo and settling in to the hotel. I’m also supposed to be attending the pasta dinner. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Whatever it is, I will make the best of it and make it work. I’m trying my best to replicate race week from before the Marshall Marathon in terms of running/cross training efforts, food, and rest. I got a pre-race massage last night, and I’m sporting my sexiest pair of compression socks. The best thing I can do right now is focus on the variables that I’m in control of and take care of myself. I don’t care if delayed we get on the way home – I just want to get there on time.

So on the bright side, there’s this:

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That’s right. 93 feet of elevation change from the start to the finish. It’s a freaking fast course. When I initially signed up for this race, I targeted Rocket City as one for a PR and set a goal time of 3:25. Until a month ago, when I ran Marshall  in 3:24:45. Now what? Should I just shoot for the 3:30 range and call it a season? Or use the McMillan pace calculator with my 5K time from Thanksgiving week and shoot for the goal race time it spits out for the marathon? I feel as though I’ve written this same crazy, indecisive post before. Oh wait. I have. Twice.

Part of my plan is just to see how tomorrow goes. If the traveling goes off without a hitch, then I can evaluate how I feel and go from there. Most likely, I will get up on race morning and prepare as usual, show up at the starting line and do what feels good that day. So, I’m Huntsville-bound and ready to knock off another state!

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