Apr 21, 2009

My new game plan...

OK, forget everything I said on April 10th. LOL. I've decided that my 3:45-3:50 is too conservative. I'm truly convinced of that. I know, I know. It's my first marathon, just finish. Feel free to ridicule me for being a gung-ho, first time, newbie-idiot. And you'd probably be right. I've heard all that. But I need/want a target time, in order to develop a race plan, and I'm just not the type to go into this without an aggressive goal (3:45, 6 months ago, I thought was aggressive). Also, and I think this is important, to me anyway, I'm not afraid of failing. In my mind, the fact that failing is a possibility, is part of the excitement of it all. And it makes success all that much more enjoyable.

So now I'm left to finalize my preparations for the race. From what I eat, to how much sleep, to developing my race strategy.

Like I said, my initial goal was 3:45, based on previous half-marathon finishes. But here's why I've reconsidered that...
1) I'm in far better shape than before (that's a given, I should be, for a marathon, right?),
2) the 3:45 goal was based on times I know I can better right now...significantly,
3) looking back at my training log, my training runs, both long runs & speedwork, have consistently indicated that I can better 3:45, and
4) I've dropped just over 20 pounds from where I was when I ran those half times (at 153 lbs, today). This has been one of the biggest surprises in all of this. I'd planned on 10. But I have been uber-diligent about my training, and my eating. Far better than I expected.

As to that last point, I wondered what kind of impact that can have on my times. So I dug around and found an article relating to overall time improvements from having lost weight. It was from Runner's World, June 2007 (I think), that illustrates how much faster you could be if you lost weight. Of course, this would not take into account speed increases due to training.

Pounds Lost 5K 10K 1/2 Mar. Marathon
2 :12.4 :25 :52 1:45
5 :31 1:02 2:11 4:22
10 1:02 2:04 4:22 8:44
20 2:04 4:08 8:44 17:28

According to RW author Amby Burfoot, the table is based on research that runners, on average get 2 seconds per mile faster for every pound they lose. The times you see above are the amounts a runner can shave off his/her race times by losing weight.

Using my last (non-injured) actual half time (Chicago), the MacMillan calculator has me for a 3:45:40 marathon time. Now, adjust for the 20 pounds that have come off since, and using the table, that would suggest a 3:28 finish time. Whoa! Really? That kinda scares me, and excites me, all at the same time. Despite my improvements in the past few months, I must admit, that kind of finish just doesn't really compute in my head. Still, I don't want to sell myself short either. I want to run my best. I just have to figure out what that is, and shoot for it. I feel like too much has changed since I set that 3:45 target. Granted, the Pig course is hillier than many, so that 3:28 should perhaps be adjusted to 3:35-ish? That still sounds great to me. So when I take into consideration this MacMillan/Burfoot projected time, and the points I made earlier, I truly THINK I can go better than 3:45. I just need to determine the mark I want to hit, that I feel I can make. I think 3:35-3:38 is the range.

Yes, I may fail, but I truly feel like my training supports the idea that I should finish sub-3:45. The science seems to support it too. Question is, will my mind accept it, and will my body actually accomplish it? I find out in 13 days.


  1. Good luck Rich. I'm running my first marathon, Pittsburgh, the same day as you. While you are quite a bit faster than me, I'm going through the same anxiety about times and ability. One day, I think I can do a 4:15 and the next day I'm praying that I can just finish. Regardless, at least we're trying. Best of luck in your race.


  2. Thank you, very much. I can't stop thinking about it. I'm ready to get running.

    Best of luck to you too!