Before I can get to Chicago though, tomorrow I am going to catch Sugarland and Little Big Town in concert at the OKC Zoo with my younger brother (17) and his girlfriend. It should be a good time and I am hoping I can score a nice spot on the lawn somewhere so I don't have to stand for hours. I've seen Sugarland more times than I can count, but it's always fun. I don't expect tomorrow to be any different.
After that, it will be time to get some shut-eye and hopefully sleep in a tad before my flight heads out for Chi-town. As far as plans for my stay in Chicago, I don't really have any beyond the marathon. I am going up with my friend, Katie, who is running the marathon as well, Holly, and my parents. We rented a condo in "Near North Side" and are about 2 blocks west of Michigan Ave. When I went to Chicago in September for business, I went by the neighborhood and scoped out the area. We are in a great spot and I can't wait to spend some more time exploring. One thing that is definitely on the agenda is to watch the Oklahoma State University football game on Friday night and then hit the expo on Saturday to get the goods. Our plan is to cook in the condo on Saturday night to avoid the crowds and hopefully rest up. Sunday is marathon day and everything after that is up for debate. I am definitely looking forward to relaxing a bit, drinking a few beers, hanging out with friends/family, and enjoying the city. It's been a while since I have been off work for more than a week so it will be a very nice break.
As far as marathon goals, I have really struggled with this the past few days. I am not 100% healthy which concerns me, but I am healthy enough I think. It's a different mindset going into this one than I had going into my first at Dallas. I have expectations this time. Dallas was definitely just a survive and advance type of deal for me. I wasn't even sure I was going to be able to run it about 2 weeks out. The fact I ran and finished was good enough for me. My time was 4:14 so that's the barometer for this year. I am in much better shape than I was last year, but with the knee crap, I am not really sure what to expect. Right now, it seems like my pace is going to fall somewhere in the 8:45 to 9:15 range based on most of my long runs. Given that I think I am going to shoot for a 3:50 finish. Why not? I will be happy with anything sub 4:00, so getting close to 3:50 will be icing on the cake if it happens. My race strategy is to start somewhere near the 3:50 pace group so I can keep an eye on them and know where I am in relation to them at all times. I will probably start off a little slower than the pace group, but hopefully I see them down the line somewhere. My 20 mile run went fairly well so my hope is that the knee responds pretty similarly to what it did there. It wasn't comfortable, but it wasn't unbearable. All bets are off after 20 miles, so at that point it will just be time to dig in and get the task done. I am hoping for a good race. I am cautiously optimistic that a few more days of rest will do the knee good, and then I will show up on race day ready to go. It's so hard to not be nervous before the marathon though. I hope that all of the training this year will pay off in a nice 26.2 mile run on Sunday. Thanks to everyone for following along. I will check back in post-race.
Here is the latest forecast. It just keeps getting warmer. Two weeks ago it said it was going to be 55 for a high!