Thursday, October 18, 2012

Race Pace, Goals and Good Times

There is this beautiful natural rule of running. Anytime you race a new distance, you automatically set a PR!  (personal record).  By this logic, my goal for my first marathon should merely be to finish (more or less) with a smile on my face. :)

Buuuuuutttttt from the get-go I had a bigger goal in mind.  Since July, I have been training to complete this race at an average 10:30 min/mile pace.  This was a fairly ambitious goal since I completed the 25k Riverbank Run averaging 11 min/mile. But my early training went well and I was hitting my training paces pretty well.

The wheels kind of came off when I broke my toe on Labor Day. Physically, hitting those same paces felt much tougher. More importantly, my mental toughness completely broke down and I had real doubts about being able to complete all 26.2 miles, never mind a faster pace!

Anyhoo, with the race only days (!) away, I'm back to square one with a "game plan."  There is a pace group to finish in 4hrs, 40 min (10:41 min/mile pace). I am so very tempted to latch onto this group.In theory, I have done the work to handle that pace.


26+ miles? 

Dude, that's far.  Far to run 10:40 min/miles (for me - I know it's like a slow beachy-jog for some!)  What if I hope on and hang in there great for 15 miles? And then fall apart? 11 miles is still a looong way to slog along. 

I had a really good experience with a pace group for the Riverbank Run. I truly believe I would have wimped out much more without a group to keep up with. Yet, I also learned that it is REALLY hard to keep a consistent pace throughout. To even qualify as a pacer, you have to be able to run that distance MUCH faster so that you can easily hold yourself back to maintain the right pace. 

Pace group could be motivating and uplifting, giving me a chance to meet some runners around me... 

Or it could make this (almost) once-in-a-lifetime-experience unbearable. Bah.  Would I rather cruise along (somewhat) comfortably, maybe taking some photos and soaking up the experience?  That does sound more appealing.  Does finishing in 5+ hours sound appealing?  Not really. :( I feel like I worked too hard to sell myself short. 

So, the jury's still out. I think I'm going to wait and see what I feel like Sunday morning. I'm going to line up near that pace group, at minimum making sure to stay behind them so as not to start out too fast. I could easily do mile 1 in 9:15 and be hurting by mile 5 otherwise!   And we'll go from there.  

I'm determined to be proud of my time Whatever it is. It's a freaking marathon.  So that counts for something, right?  :)


  1. Have a great race!!! I'll be thinking of you :)

  2. good luck!! i lined up with the 10;30 pacers my last marathon and really struggled to hold back. i ended up struggling after about 14 and the rest was miserable. still a 20 min PR, but a miserable one. whatever you pick i hope you race strong and enjoy yourself!!