Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What was your finishing time for your very first marathon?

..I just took my 5k pace from Sunday and worked backward to get my "magic mile" pace, then entered it into Galloway's calculator.

If I'm running a 28:03 5k, it says I'm capable of:
a 1:00:36 10k; (this is 4 minutes better than the 10k I ran in June, but I wasn't training much then)
a 2:13:37 half marathon (10:12 min/mile) (my PR from January is 2:15; this estimate seems reasonable)
and a 4:49:31 marathon (11:03 min/mile)

Says I should be training at 13:03 min/mile on long runs (which is about 1.5 or 2 minutes slower than I usually run for training).

So, yikes.  I was hoping to finish this marathon in 4:30ish, maybe up to 4:40 if things were going badly... but I've really not thought very much about goal times or pacing or how fast I'd actually have to run each mile to finish better than 4:30.  People I know from my pace group @my running group have finished fulls in 4:30 so I thought it was reasonable for me, maybe, without really considering the details.  One girl in my group just did a full at a 10:40/mile pace.

I'm feeling kinda bad about this possible outlook--about maybe finishing a marathon closer to 5 hours rather than 4:30.  I know I should just be happy to finish it, if I do finish it.  And I really want to be proud of finishing a marathon instead of being really self-critical about how slow I was doing it.

This is also making it really obvious that I have no clue at all how to pace myself for a goal time in a race of this distance.  And it's also making me wish that I'd been doing more speed training than I have been.  I've just been really tired on my mid-week runs after doing a really long run on Saturdays.  Maybe I'll make tonight's 5 a fartlek run or something.  In any case I'm already starting to accumulate ways I'd change up my program and training strategy if I ever do another marathon, so at least NEXT TIME i'll know what I'm doing.

My original "plan" for long term running goals was to work on speed and make damn sure that I could finish a full in 4:00 before ever attempting one....but somewhere along the way the allure of finishing a full marathon completely suckered me in, and well, here I am, all slow and low-self-esteemy about it.

If you've done a marathon before, what were your time goals at your first race?  Did you meet them/were they realistic?  Did you finish feeling proud even if you were slower than you wanted to be?

I'm getting quite scared about a) finishing and whether or not I can do it, b) marathon deaths (someone please make me stop reading about this!  apparently 1 in 50,000 marathoners drop dead on the course, regardless of fitness level and training??), c) finishing with a time I can be halfway satisfied with after logging all of these training hours (which realistically may not happen, apparently), and d) everything really.  Seriously, everything.  I have race nerves and the race is still 6 weeks away!  Agh!


  1. While it is great to have a goal time, so many things can happen in your first marathon that you need to be proud of the accomplishment of finishing, no matter what your time is. Remember that 99.9999999% of the population will never accomplish anything close to what you will be doing.

    You won't die.

    There is still time for speed training. The adaptive period is about four weeks, so you will see a difference. Two of my favorite workouts (both work on stamina, running faster for longer).
    1.)I call them tempo runs, but they are really too long for that. When you are running an 8-10 run, after warming up for a mile or two, accelerate to your half marathon pace. Sustain that for about six miles, use your last mile or so to cool down.

    2)Another run I love (yet somehow hate at the same time), is a negative split long run. During your long run of the week, start out about one minute slower than your marathon goal pace for the first third of your run. For the second third, pick it up to your marathon goal pace. For the last third, run 30 seconds per mile faster than your goal pace. Killer, but effective. No need to do this every week, maybe every third week.

    My goal for my first marathon was 3:45. That was based on my 5k and half marathon times. I finished in 4:10. I coped with exercise induced asthma and nausea. While I was a little disappointed with my time, I knew that I had given it my all and I was certainly proud of myself. My learning curve was another three marathons. It took me that long to get it all figured out.

  2. I could have written this!

    When I first thought about marathons, I didn't want to do it unless I was going to do it in 4:00. Then I started training, and realised that 4:30 was much more realistic. But since I've been struggling in training runs at times, I've been wondering whether I should stop thinking about pace at all, and just be happy to finish.

    I also don't really know what to do about pacing. On shorter races I always aim for a negative split. I do much better that way, as otherwise I have a tendency to go out too fast, and then blow up in the second half. If I'm pacing for a negative, then I do better at deliberately holding back.

    The thing is, I *know* that I'm going to slow down towards the end of the marathon. This has been the case on all my longer LSRs. So now I'm wondering whether I should try and run the first half a bit faster, to put some time in the bank for later..

    So basically I am no help at all, other than to say that I am going through this exact same thought process right now - down to the times I have been estimating - and that I think it is probably totally normal. (As if that ever helps!)

    I really do think that finishing a marathon in decent shape is something to be proud of in itself. It's easy to forget that when you get sucked in to running world where everyone is talking times and pace and PRs. But we have our 2nd and 3rd and 4th to get into that. For now, I reckon it's about being able to run the damn thing. At whatever pace it takes..

    That's what I keep telling myself anyway :)

  3. YES, MOVE TO CALIFORNIA! San Francisco namely! We will run together!!!!

    You are doing what I did during my entire 18-week marathon training process -- you thought about everything WAY TOO MUCH! (especially the marahon-related deaths...) The great thing about running is that it's natural, and you should only be pushing your body in a way it wants to be pushed. Don't worry about training pace vs. race pace (my races were actually slower than training, go figure?!) and drink plenty of water (so you won't die). Otherwise just do what you love & have fun, and I PROMISE you'll be successful. Oh yeah, and move out here already!!!!!


  4. Oh yeah... and according to probably the same pace predictors (because my 5ks are fast and my marathons are slow), I'm "technically" capable of a sub-4 marathon... but realistically, I'll be lucky if I do a 4:20. Those pace calculators are missing one important factor: YOUR BODY. Numbers are one thing, what we're capable is another.