Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Illinois Marathon - Goals and Plans

I want to thank everyone on here for the support on my last post about my marathon goals and my friends that gave me some advice.  After listening to what everyone had to say and thinking about what I would really like to accomplish, I decided to revise my goals slightly. 

It was brought to my attention that my lengthy list of goals should be cut down and possibly only include a goal and a backup goal, to which I agreed.  It was also brought to my attention that one reason I might have made a long list of goals is because I'm afraid of failing.  I'm afraid of setting a goal and not acheiving it.  So by including goals such as "just finishing", I'm (almost) guaranteed of acheiving at least 1 of these goals no matter how I do...unless of course I don't finish.  But going into a marathon or any run, you don't go in thinking, "Well, I don't care, maybe I just won't finish this one."  You go in because you want to finish.  That goal is already a given. 

Needless to say, I agreed with all of this right away.  It didn't dawn on me that was why I was setting that long list of goals until someone said it.  And right away, I knew they were right.  I was afraid of failing.  No one likes to fail.  But a marathon is a really huge physical and mental challenge.  Yes, I've already done one.  But no one can predict what race day might be like or what I might feel like on that day.  I was already scared because I've missed a huge number of training miles in March alone and some in April.  I hadn't been sleeping at all but didn't know why.  Ironically after this conversation, I've been sleeping better.  I guess I had a lot of worry on my mind.


So my goals are to come in with a finish time of 4:45 with an ultimate goal of 4:30.  I'd really be happy with anything under my last marathon time of 4:53 though.  And even though I was told that I shouldn't feel like I failed if I didn't beat that time, I probably will.  I'll still be happy I finished and my sense of "failure" will probably depend on how good I felt during the marathon or how it went regardless of the time.  But right now I'm shooting for between 4:30-4:45.


1.  Pace - Another thing that I was worrying over was pace.  I try not too worry too much about pace when I run.  I run based on how I'm feeling that day.  With the marathon, I wanted to start with a pace group, if possible.  But the pace groups were 4:30 and 4:45.  Hm...my goal times.  If I start with the 4:30 pace group (10:18 pace), I'm not sure I can keep that up over the course of a marathon.  If I start with the 4:45 pace group (10:53 pace), I'm feeling like that is too slow to start with and essentially puts me too close to my previous time.  I don't have much wiggle room if I fall off of that pace.  I thought about starting on my own pace of about 4:35 finish time (10:30 pace).   

I know a few training friends that are starting with the 4:30 pace group (10:18).  And when I try to run a 10:30 min mile, I tend to want to run faster.  My last run I was planning on 10:30's and I was running a lot of 10:04-10:16 miles (and that was me trying to run a 10:30).  Granted it wasn't a marathon.  So my decision now, and after talking to my former pace leader, is to start with the 4:30 pace group.  I can run a few miles, see how I'm feeling. If after a little while, I need to adjust, I will. 

2.  Break it up -  Another plan I've made for the marathon is to break the marathon up into manageable chunks.  Last time, Kelly from Running Kellometers and I started the Chicago Marathon together.  She mentioned that someone told her to break it up into chucks of 6 miles.  It's kind of a mental game.  Just like a regular run...you run out 6 miles and back 6 miles. Then run out 6 miles and back 6 miles.  Yes, I realize that's only 24 miles. Stick with me here! 

At that time during the marathon, I tried to implement that plan.  But the 6 mile chucks were too huge for me.  So this time around, I'm breaking my marathon into chunks of 4 miles for the first 20 miles.  I only have to run 4 miles 5 times.  Then I have to run 3 miles twice.  I'm not sure if this will work or if this involves too much math.  Face it, when I'm running, I can't do math AT ALL!!  Simple math is almost impossible! (If I've run 6 miles and I have to go 18 miles but the water is in another 3 miles...um...2+2 = ...uh.... True Story!!).  A way to help me is that I'm going to write my goal times on my arm in my chunks (every 4 miles then 3 miles). 

3.  Walk Breaks - I'm also going to use these chunks as goal walking breaks.  Granted, in the later miles, I'm not fooled, I may have to walk more.  If I do, that's ok.  This is just my guideline.  If I'm at mile 11 and I want to walk, I know I just have to make it to mile 12 for my walk break.  It might help.  It's a similar mentality to picking a landmark and running to that (ex. I can make it to that light pole, I can make it to that driveway).


I was asked if I have any pre-marathon food rituals.  I'm almost always deadset on my oatmeal and a banana.  I've since added peanut butter to my really long runs hoping the added protein helps.

But there was one thing that I mentioned that I think is a little hilarious.  I'm completely afraid of hyponatremia (not hilarious), which is essentially an imbalance of water to salt, or being over hydrated and not having enough sodium in the body.  Look it up for a more technical definition. 

Anyway, I was completely afraid of this before the Chicago Marathon too.  I wanted to make sure I was eating a little extra sodium the week before.  So I decided a good idea was to eat exactly 1 serving of pretzels every day the week before the marathon.  I'm not a huge pretzel person. Sometimes I eat them, sometimes not.  So last time, I counted out 1 serving of pretzels (per the bag, it was 17 pretzels).  Now, I'm aware I have no idea if this made any difference at all!  I'm guessing not really.  But since I did it last time, and I did not fall victim to hyponatremia, I am consuming exactly 1 serving of pretzels every day this week too (although this time the bag says 1 serving is 22 pretzels).  Yes, this is just a quirk I have acquired.  And talking about it makes me giggle a little inside.

A serving of pretzels
Happy Marathon!!  I will not be posting again before Saturday.  And I will probably not do a race recap for several days.  Therefore, I may just post a little blurb telling you all I'm alive!


  1. I can't wait! I'm so excited for you! :)

  2. I love this! I am doing so many of the same things for my half on the 6th. I just have not figured out the food before part. You are going to your best!

  3. Awesome! Good luck to you on Saturday!!!

  4. Thanks everyone! I'm going to do my best!

  5. You are going to do awesome on Saturday! Good luck!! Most importantly: HAVE FUN!

    1. Thanks Maggie!! I'm kind of hoping the rain is delayed until later but if not...oh well. I will just come to LOVE rain!