Trust me - you'll do much better if you break the race down and visualize yourself accomplishing your segment tasks.
Here's what worked for me on my first time through at Boston (2:16). 1) go out easy and find a good pack to run with. do not lead this pack - stay in it or on the backside of it. Stay with this pack for the first 6 miles. 2) from 6 miles to the newton hills, you may move up from the first pack to another pack running just ahead, but absolutely do not get caught in between packs running on your own. 3) in the Newton hills, its ok to break out of your pack, but keep a good tempo going and concentrate on good hill form. 4) from the top of Heartbreak to the finish, keep your head up, and eyes on the next person in front of you - always. Gradually move up on that person. Run with the person until you are relaxed and able to focus on the next person in front of you. Then gradually move out and get the next person, and so on.
I only knew the course from what I read. But I did have it broken down. I had a plan. I had segments to focus on, rather then some big never-ending monster. My mind was occupied on each segment-oriented task.
"Try it, you'll like it", he said.
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