Nov. 5th, 2013

ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
The California International Marathon (CIM) is five weeks away now, so it's time I start thinking about a marathon goal. I'm not a fan of starting out with a goal (other than a vague one like 'New PR', which coincidentally has been my vague goal from the beginning) but I like to start running some goal marathon pace (GMP) miles as the race approaches, and I want to have a pace plan heading into the race.

A little under two years ago, I ran the Houston Marathon in 3:29:13 on about 49mpw. Six weeks before, I ran the Winter Sun 10K in 43:06, which sounds really fast except that it's a downhill course, with 58ft gain and 375ft elevation loss. Converting to a flat course (using the Runworks calculator) suggests that without the downhill advantage, I would have run about 44:02. (The Winter Sun is also at a lower elevation than here - and at a higher elevation than Houston, which is at sea level, but I'm discounting altitude effects because both this race and my recent half marathon, which I'm using as a tune-up, were in Moab at roughly the same altitude; and CIM is only a few hundred feet above sea level.)

Runworks will calculate a predicted marathon finish time based on a shorter race, but I don't like most online calculators for this as they tend to be quite optimistic. (When I was a newer runner, I matched these calculators pretty well, but I think that has changed now that I've become better at running faster - and running shorter races. Just by way of example, plugging 44:02 back into the calculator suggests I should have run Houston at 3:23. Which - I might have been capable of a slightly faster finish than I ran, but not that much faster!)

I prefer the calculator spreadsheet made by Greg Maclin (who incidentally is the guy I ran most of Houston with) that can be downloaded from his website at This has a tweakable setting for 'aggressiveness', and by putting in the 44:02 and selecting the 'Moderate' setting, I get a 3:29:47 prediction - just a tad slower than what I actually ran. (If I don't tweak for the downhill and just put in my time directly, my time comes in about 80% of the way to 'Fairly Conservative'. But I believe that the downhill-corrected time more accurately represents my ability at that distance, at the time.)

So, that was not quite two years ago. Now I'm running about 60mpw, and I ran a half marathon at 1:35:55. Plugging that into Maclin's calculator, on the 'Moderate' setting, I get just under 3:25. On the 'Fairly Aggressive' setting, I get just under 3:22. If my endurance has improved (and it should have, with the additional mileage) maybe I can split the difference here and make 3:23.

But wait, there's more! The Other Half was kinda hilly, right? In fact it climbed about 350 feet and descended about 450 feet. Runworks tells me I would have run a 1:35:07 on a flat course, which, maybe. When I plug that in to Maclin's calculator, I get 3:20:15 to 3:23:15 depending on setting.

My 'BQ Babes' - the virtual running partners I've had since I first signed up on the Runner's World Online forum back in 2008, who I now mostly interact with on Facebook, tell me I should go for sub-3:20. I...don't think so. It would be awesome, but I think it would be a stretch. But I do think 3:23 is a reasonable goal. (At least I think so until I do the math and realize that's 7:45 pace! Yikes!)

Today's workout was a bit of a test of that goal: 12 miles with 7 miles at GMP. And it wasn't bad, despite the rather hilly route (I don't have much of a choice on this unless I want to do short laps on the river rec path) and the gusty wind: my first 5 GMP miles averaged 7:43 pace, and even with two more slower miles (due to hills and wind, not due to me being tired, I think) my overall average was 7:46, perfectly acceptable as a test. My HR was pretty stable, around where it belonged. So a 3:23-ish is feasible.

So. A goal is sub-3:23, B goal is sub-3:25, C goal is a PR (sub-3:29:13). Now I just have to get to the start line uninjured and in the best running shape I can be.


ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)

March 2017

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My running PRs:

5K: 21:03 (downhill) 21:43 (loop)
10K: 43:06 (downhill)
10M: 1:12:59
13.1M: 1:35:55
26.2M: 3:23:31


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