I found an interesting article about half marathons and their predictions for a full marathon for the “average” runner (aka – not doing 60+ miles per week.) It said that most running calculators like McMillan and Runner’s World, etc. are based on data from the 1970’s and 1980’s when most marathoners were “hard-core.” It hadn’t quite become an “every-man’s sport yet.” That was just beginning. So, most of the data comes from runners who pushed the pace and stacked up the miles which means that it’s not always relevant to a “regular” or “newer” runner like myself who’s only been at this for two years and who has only hit 50 miles per week once! My average weekly mileage ranges from 25 – 35 (though during my ultra prep it did, as I said, hit 50 once and 47 another week.) During this marathon schedule my maximum mileage will be 49 miles if I stay on schedule. Four of the weeks I’ll exceed 40 miles. That’s only a hair above average “newbie.”
Anyways, the article was interesting. The study involved taking half marathon race results from about 300 runners (none of them top 10% or bottom 10%), then following up with the same runners 6-8 weeks later when they ran a marathon. In general, the “race predictor” calculators were not accurate for most of the runners. Only 15% actually hit their “target” marathon times. The majority were able to run their marathons with a pace of about 55 seconds – 1 minute per mile slower than their recent half marathon times. Interesting.
So, if that’s the case for me, my recent half marathon pace of 8:37 would be closer to 9:30ish. My smart coach has me running the race at a pace of 8:46. McMillan (based on my half) has me doing it at 9:07. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out in the end. I don’t want to crash and burn. I fear it. I felt great with the 8:37 pace for my half — but can I really hold anywhere near that for anther 13.1 miles? I felt like I could have done at least 6 more on that day in those conditions (it was hot – about 80 degrees.) But, I’m not sure. It was just a feeling. I think I’m going to have to really think about this over the next few weeks. Am I willing to chance my race on a dream and a 15% liklihood of success? Hmmmm. It’s possible I’ll have a better time if I race more conservatively from the start. But.. will that bug the crap out of me if I finish too strong? Probably. Then again, I rarely – at ANY pace – finish that distance feeling full of pep. I usually feel spent even if I took it easy since it’s a lot of work to be on your feet for 4-5 hours.
I don’t want to qualify for Boston this year. That’s what I realized last night when I was struggling and couldn’t fall asleep. I don’t want it yet. We couldn’t afford a ticket to send me there next Spring and I kind of want to do the race the year I’m 40 as a celebration of that milestone in my life. As odd as it sounds, if I could CHOOSE when I’d BQ, I’d do it the fall of 2012 – I’ll be 39 for the October race but will be allowed to use the standards for the 40-45 age group (3:50 vs 3:45) so I’ll get some grace since I’ll be 40 by the Boston race day. It would seem kind of perfect if it all fell into place like that. I know I’ll keep getting stronger if I have two more years to prepare and increase my mileage. I’d really love to be doing 60 miles per week by the time I qualified. It would feel great. A new level of runner. I don’t think I deserve it yet, honestly. I’m still a new kid on the block. I’m not worthy. Not yet!
I mean seriously – I’ve only “raced” one marathon so far – in 4:57. I did my second one as a training run, chatting along, stopping to talk to my family every time I saw them and intentionally taking a one minute walk break at every mile and also holding my pace back on purpose from the start. That was so soon after my Robie creek half and my ultra marathon, I just didn’t want to risk an injury. I did that one in 5:13. I don’t know what it’s going to feel like to push for 26.2 miles again. I’m scared. I’m afraid my stomach will act up. I’m afraid of barfing. I’m afraid of cramps.
Two of my male running buddies are actually doing the same race – and we have similar time goals. One of the guys is in his 50’s (have I ever mentioned that men in that age range run nearly the same paces as women in their late 30’s? ha ha. I have several running buddies around age 50!) Anyways, my friend Randy recently ran a marathon in 4:17. He’s hoping to break 4 hours this time. He’s been training really hard this year and recently completed his first 50 mile race so this is a great time for him to push it on a marathon. I think he’ll reach his goal. His BQ time is the same as mine right now – 3:45 (see even the experts think old men and middle aged women run the same pace – ha ha.) My other running buddy, Otto, is 37 like me. This will be his first marathon, so he just wants to finish. He’s a strong runner with a half marathon time about the same as mine (1:53 ish.) I feel pretty confident he’ll be able to come in close to 4 hours.
So, the good news is that the three of us have nearly identical goals – around 4 hours. None of us are really expecting to BQ this time, so maybe having my buddies to pace me (and me pacing them) will help me along. I know the course. I ran it last year, so that’s a benefit. There are 2 big hills – one at mile 6ish and one at mile 18. The total ascent was about 2500 last year, so its a hilly course but a fast one. The temperature should be good – maybe a little cold. Last year it was 40 degrees and rained the entire race. My shoes were sloshing by mile 1. I chafed bad on my ankles when my socks slid down into my shoes from the moisture. I didn’t eat or drink hardly anything the entire race – and I bonked bigtime!!!!! My stomach was growling out loud by mile 10. Not good. I should have eaten something. I should have drank more Gatorade. I made mistakes. I hope I’ve learned from them.
Sorry for the rambling — it’s just what I do to sort things out in my head.