Or as the locals like to call it, The Mother of all Relays (Clearly those people never ran Cascade Lakes. Mother is only half the word to describe that thing. But I love you Cascade Lakes, and I will be back next year).
Of course, I'm feeling pressure (self-induced pressure) because i'm in a van full of fasties. Aside from the guy who had pneumonia for most of the summer (which is a pretty legitimate excuse for running slower) I am the slowest guy in the van. Slower than all the ladies, too, since we're keeping things straight. I know they don't care. We're all friends and they're super supportive; but, it's all in my head that if I hit a rough patch on my longer leg I can shake up the whole team pace, letting a whole bunch of people down. Yes, I am totally neurotic like that.
Here's the good news. I did my last "real" run before the relay this morning, and it was pretty awesome. My favorite structured workout is a progression run, where I try to get faster with each mile split. I have troubles with pacing myself effectively, and it's gotten worse as I've gotten fitter. I have no feel for my pace and have to rely on my watch to give me an idea of how I'm doing (I am getting a little better with attention to it, though). I have had several runs that I started out at what felt like a really (RRREEEEAAALLYY) easy pace, only to look down at mile one to see mid 8's showing in my current pace window. Yeah. That's way too fast of a first mile for this guy and I subsequently flame out in epic fashion. Today, though, I made a plan before I left on my run and, more importantly, I stuck with it. Miles one and two had to be closer to 10 minutes than 9; miles 3 and four needed to be 9:20-9:30's; then, 5 and 6 were to see what I had left in the tank. It wasn't a TRUE progression, and my splits showed it. I was a second or two slower on 2 than 1 and 4 than 3. 5 and 6 were stellar, though and i finished out strong. Plan good. Following plan better (say that in a caveman voice, so you'll know how my brain is processing the thought).
So how about you? Do you run with a plan or just wing it? what works for you?