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.