My long runs have been abysmally slow these past few weeks. I feel like I'm in a lot better shape now than I was for either of the two previous marathons I did, but it's not showing in my time. Granted, the routes I'm running are maybe 10x hillier than those races were.
At this rate, I don't think I can hope to match the 10:10 minute pace (4.26) that I managed in my first marathon. I don't even think I can match the 10:38 pace (4.39) I managed in my second marathon- the one in which I hurt my knee right after passing the half-way mark. In that one, I held back tears as I miserably forced myself to run/walk through the pain for 2 1/2 hours until I reached the finish line.
My hope going into that second marathon was to finish it in 4 hours. I felt so ready and I wasn't far off my target at the halfway point. It was a flat flat course. It's that sense of regret for how badly that second half went that has been driving me to want to do just one more marathon and finish strong this time - maybe not fast, but at least not in tears.
These hills are killing me. I know I'm going to be slow, but I hope that at least by training on the race route, I'll have a measure of protection against injury. And when this race is over, there will be nothing but shorter races and strong legs that I can work on speed with.