Friday, November 1, 2013

Thinking About My Marathon

With 5 weeks to go before the 2013 Rehoboth Beach Seashore Marathon, I saw a tweet today posted by the Runner’s World editors that made me ponder my race strategy:

@runnersworld: Don't cling to a race goal you set 6 months ago. Instead, adjust them to match your fitness, your health, and the weather. #runningtips

Back in May, when I signed up for this race, my goal was to run it somewhere around 4 hours, 20 minutes, which would be a 10-minute improvement from my time at Marine Corps Marathon in 2012. But my current training, along with race results since signing up for the marathon, is making me reconsider that time goal.

First, I ran a 1:59:23 at the Alexandria Running Festival half-marathon on Memorial Day weekend. Plugging that time into the McMillan Running Calculator shows that I could reasonably expect to run a full marathon in 4:11:15 (9:35 pace). I ran a good race there, but missed a PR by 14 seconds.

Next, in the Anthem Great Pumpkin 5K on October 12th, I ran a PR of 25:03. Again, using McMillan, a reasonable marathon time extrapolates out to 4:04:05 (9:19 pace). I don’t see much use in using a 5K time to estimate a marathon time, especially one that would be almost a 30-minute improvement on last year. But still, I’ll take it into consideration in my valuation.

Last, I ran 1:28:15 at the Army Ten Miler 12 days ago, another PR. McMillan calculates a marathon time of 4:07:44 (9:27 pace) based off of that result. But even though I thought I ran a great race there, McMillan calculates that I should run a 25:25 in the 5K, which is 22 seconds slower than I ran a week prior. So I’m valuing that 5K estimation a little more now.

If I average those 3 estimations together, I come up with 4:07:04 as a reasonable marathon time, which is a 9:26 pace. I then averaged my last 6 double-digit long run paces, and came up with a 9:53 average. Again, working off McMillan and those 3 races, my long run paces should run between 9:22 and 10:33. The midpoint of those 2 numbers is a 9:58 long run pace, 5 seconds slower than the average of my last 6 runs.

Being the numbers geek that I am, I am very much inclined to adjust my goal time for the marathon to 4:08:00, a 9:28 pace. That would represent almost a 23-minute improvement on my marathon time. But with the relatively flat course in Rehoboth, and likelihood of cool weather on December 7th (although last year was mild & humid), I’m not terribly afraid of that goal. The key for me will be to log negative splits, and to start off slow and finish strong.

And even though I’m “retiring” from the marathon after this event, a 4:08 would make it very intriguing to try for a sub-4:00 sometime later.

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