Friday, March 16, 2007

National Holiday

Now if that's not the face (and wonky arm and festive green gloves) of a champion, I don't know what is! Props to anyone who can come up with a good caption for what that guy must be thinking. I can't think of anything funny but the look on his face seems goofy and someone must be able to think of something!

Anyway, now that the tune-up races are over and we're down to one month until Boston, it's that time again, party people. You guessed it! I'm at the point when I have to decide once and for all what pace I want to aim for in Boston. Choosing a goal time is a big decision in any young runner's life, and even in old runner's life like mine.

When I ran my first marathon last fall, I chose a goal time that was challenging, but definitely achievable based on my fitness level as evidenced by my tune-up races. My races indicated I could run a 3:20 but since it was my first marathon I thought I should handicap myself 5 minutes. So, I went for 3:25. It wasn't easy by any stretch, but I don't think it was the most difficult thing I've ever done or anything. I was still able to do math at mile 26! Surely, I could have pushed it harder! Of course, I could be wrong, but I do think I ran a conservative race and that if I had experience I could have gone quite a bit faster.

Fast forward to this training cycle. After Columbus, I picked a goal time of 3:18 for Boston because that would be a little faster than the 3:20 I think I was fit enough for in Columbus. I figured I could improve my fitness by 2 minutes in 6 months, right? Subsequently, I've seen my shorter race times plummet--often to my complete and utter surprise! In fact, the races I've run since Columbus indicate I can run anywhere from a 3:13 to a 3:08 (yikes!). Around Christmas, I was thinking a 3:12 might be doable. I asked mrp last night and he said he thinks I can hold a 7:10 pace, which would be a 3:07! Part of me thinks, of course I can do that! And part of me thinks, of course I can't do that! What to do? Do I go for broke aiming for the fastest possible time out of the gate or do I go for a slightly more conservative time, just for a healthy pr?

See, part of the (very relative) success I think I've enjoyed as a runner is that I really have little fear to go after what I believe I can do. I mean, what do I have to lose? But with a marathon, the stakes are higher. It's not like a 5k. If I screw up and go out way too fast in a 5k I can hang on for one mile and run another one next week and do better. With a marathon, if I go out too fast I could have to hang on for 6 or more miles and I can't try again in another one for about 6 months! Also, part of me is shocked and amazed that it's even possible for me to run a sub 3:10 marathon at all!

So, picking the right goal time and strategy for achieving that goal is critical and it's critical to do now! This is because I have to start honing in on the pace I want and I have to mentally prepare and go over my strategy again and again to best protect myself from doing something idiotic during the race. With all that in mind, right now I'm thinking I'm going to go with the 3:10 option. I'll aim to run 3:10 pace (7:15's) through mile 22 and from there I will intend to pick it up a little and get the end result as far under 3:10 as I can. I think this is still an ambitious goal, but not so ambitious that I am super at risk of blowing up. If I do fade, I should still be able to get a healthy pr. I'm going to sleep on it and weekend over it and then hopefully have it all figured out soon. If you have any thoughts on this plan, I'm all ears!


GP said...

First, the caption: that guy's thinking, "Holy $*%&, that chick is kicking my ass!"

And, really, high-five for that.

Second, it's exciting to read about your marathon preparation. Granted, I'm still at the point where I'm aiming to just finish some races, but it's motivating to read about someone who's ready to kick some butt and take some names. I'm still toying with whether to run a 10K or half-marathon in May... and I plan on kicking butt in my own little way.

I look forward to watching you build up to this marathon! All the best.

Jim said...

That guy looks like he's dying and you look so fresh! He's probably thinking "Hey, that chick cheated. She HAD to have taken a short cut!"

Thanks for the recent posts to my blog. (I'm just back from camping and catching up on the blogosphere). Your advice is sooo true and I can never be reminded of it too many times. It's so hard not to not Mr. Negative Poopey Talk take over the inner conversation. I'm actually quite psyched at how far I've come in such a short time. (Amping up my "recreational" exercise program in February to a more serious program. I think I'm on the right track and in several more months will be a happy camper.

I also am so psyched for you and Boston. I've gone back and read most of your blog, and to see the progress you have made in just about a year is inspiring. (Do you remember when you were running 7-8 min miles - now you're racing at 6-and-a-halfs!)

Plus, I really like your heart-on-the-sleeve writing style about non-running life.

As for Boston, you know what you're capable of running - just don't try to push it too much during the first half of the race. Once you hit the mid-point and you're feeling great, LET 'ER FLY!

Can't wait to hear how the race goes.

Quinto Sol said...

Damn! I knew I should've bought the cobalt blue shorts; they're so much faster than these black ones. I mean, look at her!! Or is it the lime-green gloves??? :o)