Marathon Goals

I have been very clear from the beginning of this whole thing that my only goal it to cross the finish line in one piece.  And that is true.  I have done everything for this race on my own, I haven’t been training for all that long, and this will be my first time even running over 20 miles, so my only focus should absolutely be finishing the race.


However.  There is now way I can go into the race without even thinking about my time goals.  Just to be clear, though, they will not be anywhere near fast.

The truth is that it’s hard for me to admit my goals out loud becuase it means that I might not achieve them.  But, alas, here I am.

As far as my pacing goes, though I have done many of my 5-6 mile runs at a sub 9:00 mile pace, all of my long runs were usually over a 10:00 mile pace.  I didn’t worry about going fast for these long runs and just went as slow as I needed to get it done.  Someday I will work on running faster for long distances, but that day will not be Sunday.

Like most people do, I decided to check McMillan’s race calculator.  I ran the NYC Half Marathon in March in 2:04, and according to McMillan, I can therfore run a full marathon in 4:21. Buuuuut I have also heard that McMillan can be a little overly ambitious, so I don’t really know how much I trust that.

This is my tentative plan: run the first 10 miles slowly, run the next 10 miles less slowly, and run the last 6.2 with whatever I got left.  My hope is that I am pushing hard when I cross the finish line, because it will mean that I gave it everything I had. But one of my worst fears is going out so fast that I am struggling to even walk to the finish line. I would love to get as close to 4:00 hours as possible, and maybe even break it at one point in the future, but I also know that I will go out too conservatively to get very close to it.

I think I will start at around a 10 minute mile pace and try to sustain it for as long as possible.  If I can pick it up and go faster, that will be great.  But I might not be able to.  If I do keep the pace, this would put my finish time at right around 4:20 (or 4:21, same as what McMillan thinks).  So anything under 4:30 would make me very happy.

There is a big part of me that wants to be more aggressive and run faster, but this is my first marathon, after all.  It could end up taking me over 5 hours for all I know.  I can’t expect too much.

I was thinking about all of these goals on my run this morning.  It was my final run (unless I go on a short 2 mile run on Saturday, but I don’t know if that will happen), and it was a very easy 3 miles.  As I ran past Engineer’s Gate, I realized how many times I have run in that exact location and how great this whole experience has been.

No matter what happens during the marathon, I am glad to have been able to train these past months and push myself to totally new places.

Here’s the thing about Sunday: I don’t know what the hell is going to happen out there.  My body could refuse to keep moving after 20 miles.  I could have a crappy day. I could have a great day. Which is why, again, my only real goal is to finish.

Because then I will get to say that I ran 26.2 miles.  Twenty six point freaking two miles.

Am I Really Ready For This?

I have recently been getting asked whether or not I feel ready for Sunday. And the answer is: yes and no.  I know for a fact that I will finish the marathon, even if I have to walk/crawl the last 2 miles 5 miles 10 miles.  But I still don’t know if I exactly feel ready for it.   In terms of physical training, I think I have prepared as well as I could have.

As I have mentioned before, I basically did all of the planning and training for this marathon on my own.  I did a lot of online research (aka googling) before deciding how I would train. All of the beginner programs have the same basic principles, so I ended up combining a few and creating one for myself.  It’s not very scientific or even specific, but it worked for me (or at least, so far so good…)

Basically, I ran about 5 days a week.  Tuesdays and Thursdays would  involve some sort of speed/tempo/hill element that I made up, Wednesday would be shorter and easy, Saturdays were long runs and Sunday was for recovery runs.  I also usually went to the gym for weights/cross training on Mondays, but those were often very half-hearted workouts, and I almost always rested on Fridays.  Sometimes I would end up taking an extra rest day on Sunday and running on Monday instead, but I didn’t stray from my normal pattern too many times.  My peak running week got up to 47.25 miles, which is low for many runners but on the higher end of the typical recommendation for a first time marathoner.  I only did a 20 miler once, something I have questioned quite a bit (and would most likely would change in the future), which was 3 weeks before the marathon and right before I started tapering.

Here is my very sophisticated and tech-savvy method of recording workouts:

This is only the last 2 months of training, but I had been building up mileage for a long time before this.  I honestly only started using these calendars to keep a record of the amount I ran.  It was easiest for me to just print out some calendars and map out when I wanted my longest runs and then form everything else around that.  Everything on there was really a general guide and I often didn’t follow my own plan very closely.

Now with all that said, I could have used a lot more time to work on my speed and to build up to the marathon a little more sensibly.  I think the truth is that there is no way I would ever go into my first marathon feeling like I am 100% prepared.  But as I said, I think this was the best I could have done in terms of training my body for a first marathon on my own.

The real question is whether or not I am ready for all the rest of it.  I have no idea how my body will react after 20 miles.  I may hit the wall.  I may get complete jello legs.  I know I will get crazy pains in new places.  I could get a little voice in my head that says I can’t do this.  And unfortunately, that’s the stuff you can’t train for.  You can work on being mentally strong and pushing through obstacles to some extent, but I really don’t think its possible to train for everything you are going to go through during 26.2 miles.

I am still in the process of forming my goals and will talk about them later, but I can tell you that they will be pretty conservative.

So once again, am I really ready for this marathon?  As ready as I will ever be, I think. Now it’s just time to trust myself and go for it.

Hellloooo blog-reading world!!!

If you can’t tell by the excessive exclamation points in the title, I’m pretty excited to be hopping on the blog bandwagon. (Note: When I wrote this blog title, I pictured Oprah reading it. Things just sound better when she says them, and even though she will never announce my name, a girl can dream.)

So, to give you some background about myself, I have basically decided to start this blog to document my (highly ambitious and slighly ridiculous) goal of running a marathon. I ran the New York half marathon in March of this year, and it was the longest and most awesome-est run I’ve been on. I took a good long break from racing after that, but I always knew that I wanted to complete a marathon at some point. I kept coming up with excuses in the past, but I finally bit the bullet and commmitted. If not now, when? right? I should mention that the half marathon was the only half I have ever done. I’m no expert, but I think it is usually recommended that you run at least a few half marathon’s before committing to a full. Oops.

At least I did acknowledge that this whole thing was slightly ridiculous. My goal for the marathon is simple: cross the finish line in one piece.  Stay tuned to see if it happens!