Race Day is fast approaching. In a little more than a week, I will be running my first marathon since July 2012. While I've been planning in my head for months, I think it may be time to get a plan down on paper (or pixels, as it were).
Enter this helpful article from Runner's World, which reiterates what I already knew about race strategy and pace planning. Plan to run the race 30-60 seconds faster than your long run pace. Test your pace on a run a few weeks out. Don't try anything new. Practice, practice, and show up early.
Admittedly, I should have been running my long runs around 9:30 per mile according to the Hansons, and my previous estimate that I should run somewhere in the 3:50 neighborhood. I never did that, not even once. I run with a faster crowd, and most of my long runs were closer to 8:30 (the long run pace for a 3:25 goal). My tempo runs we around 8:15 or a bit slower, putting me closer to a Hanson-approved 3:40 marathon goal. My speed work earlier in the training also put me close to the Hanson pace for a 3:40 goal.
To further complicate the matter (or clarify it?), Runner's World suggested I use their handy pace calculator, plugging in a recent race time to predict my marathon finish time. Well, I just happen to have run a hilly half marathon last weekend, and I will be running a hilly marathon, so let's do some plugging and predicting. I plugged in my 1:46:23 finish at last weekend's race, and the calculator predicted a 3:41:48 marathon finish.
I'm no expert, but it sounds like all signs are pointing to a 3:40 goal finish time, or around 8:24 per mile.
But wait! That sounds fast! My PR is 3:50, at my most recent race in July 2012. I felt pretty comfortable during that race, and I am arguably better trained this time around. That course is also very hilly, like the one I'll face in Raleigh. So, maybe a 3:40 goal finish isn't too far off?