So we headed home, but, eschewing the intelligent idea of getting some extra sleep, I stayed up playing video games with some friends. All night. I still get teased about my 4:30 am sign-off of, "well, I've got to go run a race now - see you next weekend!"
The race turned out okay - I ran it in 47:19, which was a race personal best (not saying much, since I'd never raced that distance before). I'd done a training run at that distance in 47:16 the year before, so it wasn't a real PR.
This year I have an opportunity for redemption. I'm running this race on Saturday, and I'm hopeful I can do some serious damage to my PR. My speed training has been going well lately, and if I have a good day I think I can break 46:00.
Race days are always about managing nerves. I have to eat bland foods - typically banana and oatmeal - and even then I spend a fair amount of time in the porta-loo. There's all sorts of nerves and adrenaline and other things. It's not as bad for shorter races - the build up is shorter and I don't really train for them (since I'm usually in some stage of marathon training). And if I have a bad 5k or 10k I can always regroup and try it again in a few weeks - not so with the marathon.
As far as the actual racing goes, the biggest deal is to try to keep the pace consistent - except for the first mile and the last half mile. The first mile should be my slowest (this is much harder than it sounds), and the last half is when I put the hammer down. Other than that, it's about staying in a groove, keeping a constant speed, focusing on form, ignoring my lungs feeling like they are going to burst out of my chest.
We'll see how this Saturday goes. I love these big races. It's like a giant party with a bit of running in between.