Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Marathon Strategy and Goals Post- and a Little Marathon Pontification

It's race week!!  I am so excited I could dance.  I'm so nervous I could drive myself batty.  This is the moment that I have been waiting for and I'm shooting for a PR.

Marathon Strategy
I would like to run as smart of a race as possible.  I have run a total or 16 marathons, and I don't think I have ever finished one thinking, "Shit yeah, I did it!!"  I usually finish holding on for dear life and vowing never again..... It's been four and a half years since my last marathon and I think I have learned a few lessons on patience and fueling.

My ultimate running dream is to run a negative split marathon.  I want to run the first 20 miles at 8 minute pace, drop down to 7:45 pace for the next 5k, and then 7:30 pace for the last 5k.  

My biggest challenge is being greedy..... I know that I might see a 7:50 mile early on and think,  "This feels good.  Let's bank some time"....  I know that I can run 15-16 miles at 7:30 pace,  but then I will hit the wall so hard at mile 17 and then have to shuffle the remaining 9 miles. 

I think racing with a Garmin (my first marathon with one) will keep me from going out too fast,  I also plan to race without music for the first 10 miles.

Eating on the run is something I am sort of new at.   When I was younger I would race marathons without music or food.  I don't know how I managed to do that.
My second marathon, and first BQ.
Venice, Italy 1999

 I think I was a lot tougher and more stubborn back then.  It's also probably why I hit the wall during so many marathons.  I never ate anything during the race.

For Sunday's race I plan on eating a Heed energy gel at miles 5, 10, 15, 20, and also eating some Gatorade energy chews along the way.

To Pace Group or Not

Positive Experience
I have mixed feeling about pace groups.....  I had one of my best marathons ever at RNR Phoenix in January 2008.   I had missed qualifying for Boston in December of 2007, on a whim I decided to race RNRAZ five weeks later.  My friend convinced me to run with a pace group, and it worked out perfectly.  I ran the whole way with the 3:40 group, and I joked that it was like riding a bus.  We all worked together to finish.  The pacer was excellent about hitting even splits.  I remember hitting a low point at mile 23 and the "bus" began to pull away from me.  I had a cheesy but good song come on my MP3 player and I fought like hell to catch up to the bus.   I ended up pulling away from the bus at mile 25 and running the last mile a little ahead of the bus.

Negative Experience

I ran the St. George Marathon in 2009 with the hopes of breaking 3:20.  I felt that I was pretty well prepared.   I planned on riding the "bus" again with my fellow runners and hoping to hang with them.
I didn't anticipate the pace group to be so large.  It seemed like I was elbow to elbow and shoulder to shoulder with quite a few runners.  The road was a bit more narrow and I kept getting jostled.
At mile 5ish  we ran through an aid station, and the runner in front of me stopped to grab a drink, and I crashed right into him.  He didn't just slow down, he stopped in front of the aid station.  I was rattled by the experience, and I just couldn't hold on to the pace group after mile 11.   I ended up hitting the wall pretty bad that day.  But, I don't think it was entirely the pace groups fault either.

I also ran the 2010 Los Angeles Marathon with the 3:30 pace group.  I think I was able to hold on the the pace group for about half of the race.  I had spent the night before, drinking my face off because I thought drinking beer would be the best way to carb load.  I look back at that race and wonder, "WTF was I thinking?"  I was in pretty great racing shape and I was serious enough to train for the race, but not serious enough to turn down celebration beers before the race.......Again this wasn't the pace groups' fault....

I don't drink beer or any other alcohol anymore.  I don't know if that will make a difference in my athletic performance.  However, I do know that it will not be able to hinder my performance.

Marathon Goals

A goal- 3:29:59
B goal   Beat my old PR 3:31:49
C goal- 3:34:59

I would also love to finish in the top 100 women's finishers and top 10 local women's marathon finishers.  I have no idea who else is racing on Sunday night, and this is something that I can not control.  I only hope that I am able to execute the best possible race to my athletic ability.

Thank you for reading.


  1. Get that sub-3:30! You have posted some really strong training so you should be confident.
    Gosh, I love race week. I get excited for other people. I should probably get a life ;-)

  2. Just based on your training, your race strategy and recent races, I think you've got this. I can't wait to read your race report, especially how the fueling works out for you.

    FWIW, I've tried running with pace groups and hate it. It just feels unnatural to me. I've only. Seen one race where I thought the pacer did a good job. Most of the others don't seem to be keeping the runners' end goal in mind and do the first half too fast.

  3. Considering the recent race we did, along with sufficient training and your fueling strategy... hitting that PR is gonna be easier than you think! I think following a pace group is a fab idea to hit this goal as well. So bummed our plans to run together fell through :( Never thought RnR Vegas would sell out. On the flipside, your #1 fan will be waiting for you at the finish line! Run Dolly Run!!

  4. Go Dolly! Can"t wait to hear all about the PR!!