One of the cardinal rules that all runners must follow when running is to pace, pace, pace. In fact, this was one of my mistakes I have noted in the past. So I've read about it, I've experienced pacing and what no pacing does to the rest of the race, and yet I still battle the pacing demon.
I've ran three days straight and on all of them I've paced myself, albeit differently. The first was Saturday and was a 4 mile run where I ran it at a 7:48, 7:35, 7:50 and 8:00 pace. This was a good run and felt good. Pacing wasn't too bad, a little bit sporadic. I could tell that this pace would be too hard to run a marathon at right now.
Sunday was an altogether different pacing practice. I went running with a few friends at their speed and averaged a 10:37 pace. This was a bit slower than what I am used to, and it is still slower than what I want to run the marathon on the 4th at (which is around a 9 to 9:30 pace), but it felt good to slow down and run around a 10 minute pace. I was able to cover 6.3 miles and I didn't feel winded at all, nor did my knees and legs respond negatively. So experiment number two done.
Today I decided to do 6 loops around my house, where each loop is 3/4 of a mile. It was a bit hot out, reaching into the mid eighties when we've been used to the mid to low seventies, but not so bad that it slowed things down too much. Anyway, I set out trying to run my marathon pace and hold it steady. But, and there always seems to be a but when it comes to pacing, I set out at a jog and it felt great. I was running slower than usual but this was my jogging pace. It was extremely comfortable and easy run. My pace was 8:16, 8:15, 8:18, 8:16 and the final .37 miles I ran faster on purpose at a 7:57 pace. So my pace was extremely steady and consistent. Amazing, and my half marathon pace where I usually start out fast and slow down by the end is an 8:25 pace. So this shows me that my steady, easy pace will probably do much better if, and this is a big IF, I run the proper pace for the actual race.
Final piece to the puzzle. At the SF marathon I ran a very consistent first half marathon that was paced amazingly. I actually ran a second half of the first half of the marathon (if that makes sense, or miles 6.5-13.1) with a negative split, which was a first (too bad I didn't hydrate well enough and couldn't capitalize on the steady pace). All my races have been fast beginning with a slow finish.
So coupling all this together will lead to a great PR for the Silicon Valley Marathon on the 4th. My problem though, and this happened today, is that when I set out at what I think is a steady pace it always seems to be faster than what I am shooting for, except when I am running with other people (such as my friends, or at SF with the rest of my corral). So practice I will, nay, must, in the next week that I am running before I taper and rest. With any luck I will slay this pacing demon.