Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Marathon Goals

Thanks for the encouragement from my last post regarding all my stupid minor injuries.  I felt like it was kind of a "whiny" post (would you like some cheese with that whine?) and slightly negative, but it was the truth on the way my marathon training has been.  And as there were downs, there were ups too.  Right now, I'm feeling much better.  I still have a small amount of discomfort in both ankles and my one knee, but I've been stretching, foam rolling, drinking more water, taking it easy on my runs.  I feel like this is all helping and the discomfort is pretty minimal right now.  So with the home stretch still underway (less than 2 weeks until the big day), I've been thinking a lot about my marathon goals.

First and foremost, my goal is always to just finish a run, especially a long run.  And the marathon is definitely a long run!

Because I always think it's good to challenge yourself, I like having several different goals.  Kind of like a 1st, 2nd or 3rd place finish for myself (since I'll never actually come in 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in a marathon!).  Therefore, this is how my "places" or "goals" stack up for me.  They are in order from minimum goals to highest goals.

1. Minimally, I just want to finish the marathon!

2. The next goal would be to beat my first marathon time from the 2011 Chicago Marathon which was 4:53:06 (11:11 average pace).

3. The next goal is to come in under an 11 minute mile pace (no more than 10:59 average pace).

4. The next goal is to come in under 4:45 (10:53 average pace)...Bronze medal.

5. The next goal is to come in around an average pace of 10:30 min per mile...Silver medal.

6. Final ultimate goal would be to finish as close to a 4:30 (10:18 average pace) as possible...Gold Medal.  I do not think this is possible for this marathon at all actually due to the way my training has gone.  But you never really know what marathon day will bring, so this is my 1st place goal.  I'd be happy with a bronze medal though.

What are your thoughts on these goals?

Here's what I'm thinking.  Yes, I'd be happy to just finish.  But I'd be a little disappointed with not beating my old marathon time. If I don't beat my old time, I'll be blaming my injuries throughout the training.  I've had to skip runs, decrease miles, run slower.  Of course, it's just an excuse.  It's a valid excuse, but an excuse nonetheless.  However, I will say, I'm pretty proud of the fact that I've only missed one long run (a cutback 12 miler, and shortened a cutback 14 miler to 12 miles).  So I've done well in the long run department, which gives me some confidence.

If I can at least make it to a 4:45 finish time, I'll be thrilled.  The dilemma I'm having is what pace to run to start the marathon.  Typically I run with how I feel that day.  But I don't want to start out too fast at all.  But I don't want to start out too slow either.  I know you can always pick it up later in the marathon, but will I want to pick it up at mile 18 or 20?  And at that point, will it matter with the time if I shave 30 seconds off each mile for the last 6 miles?  I guess that's 3 minutes but I'm not sure I'll be in a huge hurry at mile 20.

With that said...I was considering starting with a pace team.  The pace teams, for those that are not familiar, hold signs with an expected finish time.  So if you run with a 4:45 pace team, they will keep you on pace throughout the marathon to run a 4:45 time (or a 10:53 average pace).  I know from past experiences that pace teams aren't always accurate.  They should be but everyone is human.  I also know I've never actually stuck with a pace team.

So here is my problem...rather, here is what I'm making a problem.  The two pace teams that run in the 10 min range are the 4:30 pace team (10:18 average pace per mile) or the 4:45 (10:53 average pace per mile).  Here is what I'm thinking:  The 10:18 average pace is too fast for me to maintain for the marathon so I'm not starting with them.  But I feel that the 10:53 average pace is too slow to start out with.  Ideally, I would like to run 10:30 average pace (this would come in at an approximate finish time of 4:35:18).  That would be so sweet!!  But if I fall a little from that pace later in the marathon, I still have about 10 minutes to be able to still make my 4:45 finish time goal, which essentially is the 10:53 pace).  But if I START at the 10:53 pace and loose it a little, I'm cutting it too close to my 4:53 last marathon time!

So, I think I'm making this too difficult!  I think I might just start without a pace group at a nice comfortable 10:30 pace time.  Is my thinking silly or backwards?  Of course, everything will depend on the weather.  Last I checked on an extended forecast, the weather was supposed to be a high of 66 and sunny, which I'm guessing means temps around 50 and sunny for the marathon.  Of course a lot can change by marathon day.

I can't wait to see which goal I end up meeting at the end (since I know I'll at least meet the 1st goal of finishing).  I almost don't care if my legs fall off and I have to army crawl to the finish. I'm finishing. 

Of course, Kelly from Running Kellometers will be running about 10 miles in the second half with me.  Not sure exactly yet if it's around mile 14-24 but regardless, it will be a big help!  I truly appreciate the support this will give me!


  1. you go girl.... I see at least a PR in your future.....

    1. Ha! I hope so! This may be the only thing I can PR this year. (You just wanted to say PR, didn't you dad??)

  2. I think starting out at 10:30 is a good goal. That way you have flexibility to fall behind if necessary, and still meet your 4:45 goal.

    I can't wait to cheer you guys on! I'm going to make some signs for race day to cheer on the folks that will pass me before I see you. I'm trying to get some ideas from your GR Marathon photos. I'm excited to help you out on finishing your next marathon. I know you can do it!!! :D

    1. Thanks Kelly! Yeah, after speaking to a friend, I'm going to have to revise some of these goals actually. I just feel really nervous this time around. I know I can do it too. Can't wait for this to be over. I'll probably sleep better when this is over! Haha!

  3. So exiting! I know its hard not to get wrapped up in the time debate but its a huge accomplishment to make it to the start line......and the finish. Try to enjoy the process. You're going to do great.

  4. I wish I could help you with your goals, but the longest race I've ever run is a 10k - and that was like 10 years ago!

    I love your goals though - should be a good week weather wise to run - thank goodness we didn't get snow like the northeast!