37 days until race weekend!
I still have a little less than 6 weeks of training left to go, but am starting to think about goals for the marathon. Or should I say, re-think goals...
My initial goal for this marathon was to do what I did not do at Boston last year: Run 3:15.
The per mile pace for a 3:15 finish time is 7:26. When I picked 3:15 last year, it was based on nothing. I had run a 3:25:50 (my PR) to qualify for Boston and even though I was thrilled to qualify by a big margin, I was disappointed in that performance. My training was very haphazard.
3:15 was my A Goal. My B Goal was going to be to PR in the marathon. (sub 3:25:50)
Realizing none of these goals last year, I was just recycling them for this year's attempt. (For newer readers, I have only attempted one marathon/year for the last 3 years.)
I came to the realization last week that I messed up my pacing for the marathon training plan I am using. I have been training with 7:15 as my marathon pace, not 7:26. Hansons Marathon Method is very specific on paces. The book is full of pace charts for all the different workouts. The overall pace chart below is what I based all of my pacing on. (This photo is from the book, which I found on the Cowgirl Runs Blog.)
That is where my paces of 7:15 for tempo runs and 7:05 goal for strength workouts is from. These, according to the chart, lead to a 3:10 marathon, not a 3:15 marathon.
This is where I suffer from delusions of grandeur. I have thought that I had been under-performing in the marathon for a while. I made gains in the 5K and half-marathon last year. I have really felt good during this training cycle and nailing all my paces, and in some cases, running a bit faster than prescribed pace. Is 3:10 really crazy to think about?
I did what any normal person would do. I went to Google. (cue laughing) The Internet is FULL of various calculators to see what you should be able to run based on recent performances. I know these can be flawed. But I looked anyways. Curiosity killed the cat.
To use these calculators, you are encouraged to use a recent race time. The most recent "race" time I have is from the 5K fun run I did in the Bahamas in early March (week 7 of marathon training). My time was 19:25 (6:15 pace), and truly was not an all out effort, but it is the most recent race I have done. Before that, I did a half marathon in early November where I PRed with 1:29:14 (6:48 pace).
First, I consulted the race equivalency chart on Hanson's website. Interestingly, this indicates that I should be doing my marathon tempos at 7:06 and my strength workouts at 6:56 (which is along the lines of what I have been doing in practice, even though my targets are 7:15 and 7:05). This corresponds to a marathon of 3:06:09. I would shit my pants if I ran a 3:06. Oh wait. I already did that. ha ha ha. A 3:06 is about a 9% improvement based on the Hanson's improvement chart which, by their caption, seems a little delusional to expect: "The faster your times are, the more difficult it is to shave an additional 5 minutes off your time. Sometimes using a percentage to plan improvement is more useful. Highly trained athletes should look for improvements in the 2-4% range, while newer runners can often expect slightly higher rates of initial improvements."
Of note, a 2-4% improvement for me would be in the 3:20-3:16 range.
Then I went to the Runner's World Race Time Predictor with my 19:25 5K. This calculator also allows you to put in a second race result, so I entered my half marathon time from November. It also has you enter average weekly miles. The result? A 3:15:05.
Then, I went to the McMillan Running Calculator with my 19:25 5K. Their result was a marathon time of 3:09:12.
The Internet gave me a range of 3:20 - 3:06. That is quite a range!!!
Right now, I am not changing anything about my goals or my training. But a little bit of crazy, hairy scary may have entered my brain.
Do any of you have experience with these calculators?