I mean, its important right? You need to line up with people doing your pace, you can't run too fast, you need to get to a porta-potty first, down some last minute salty pretzels, take off warm up gear in time...
Yay! Time for stories.
In 2006, I contracted pink eye the week before the race. Meaning, I had to run without contacts. Meaning, I was nearly blind. All I see are blurbs (I'm at -4.25). Literally my strategy was "follow the people in shorts." So, I dropped off my bag last minute with my glasses, after a 5am train from DC to Baltimore (while downing a bagel) and a cab from the train station. Kept my long sleeved shirt on because I was freezing. And used the bathroom. So, my strategy didn't include that there was a half marathon. I didn't even know the race started, I got a "honey, are you running the marathon?" I answered yes, and was informed that the last marathoners crossed the start line. So I nearly sprinted to what I thought was the start line, and was one of the last runners to start. I spent the entire race passing people.
The Baltimore marathon is really awesome. The best part is that the last 6 miles are all downhill. My goal was to finish, and I finished well. I remember passing the 26 mile mark, but I couldn't see the finish line. And that last 0.2 mile is a lot longer than you imagine at that point. So, I run for a bit and then I actually just stopped running, and was like "Isn't this thing over yet? Did I pass the finish line?" I actually could not see, and I had never done a race before. Someone told me it was up ahead, and only then did I sprint to the finish (which was really obvious once I got there).
Now, you'd think that I would have learned my lesson with MCM. Unfortunately, I had still not started a race right, and with the long walk from the bag check to the starting corral, I started with the 4:30ers instead of the 4:00ers, so once again, I spent the whole race passing people.
Even my last 1/2 marathon, I ran by feel, so I started with the 2:00ers, my goal was to just get sub 2 hours, but I secretly wanted 1:45. I once again was continually passing people, and based on feel got a 1:47.
So, I promise I'll do it right this time! Check my bag, jog to the start line as a warm up, bring pretzels and a water bottle to toss, and line up toward the beginning/middle of the 3:20-3:39 corral... ten minutes early.
Today, I did a lovely 4-mile run, with 2 miles at race pace and the last 0.2 at a 6:00 pace. It felt so fantastic, I really love my race pace. Actually, I was running like 15 seconds below race pace, which I'd love to do the last half in for an awesome negative split. We'll see how I feel at mile 14!