A 3:40 marathon seems doable..In fact it seems like a perfectly reasonable goal. (8:22 pace per mile)
A 3:30 marathon could possibly happen if the stars align (8:00 pace per mile)
Now which time goal should I shoot for? In the past I would have just went for that 3:30- Hell I've even attempted to run faster than that. But, I still have yet to break 3:30
Last year I was totally in for a rude awakening during the Las Vegas Rock N Roll Marathon when my first mile was an 8:45.. In the past I would have had to reign it in because my first mile is in the high 7's low 8's.... But, I'm not the same runner that I was 5-10 years ago. FWIW I would run a screaming first half, bank some time, and then positive split the heck out of the second half.
Now that I am older and wiser, and my legs need a bit more time to warm up. My natural speed isn't what it used to be. However, my endurance and patience have grown over the years.
I really did stick my head in the sand about my race goals(too much pressure) because I thought a 3:35 would be too hard, and for some reason I thought that I would have to average 8:05 per mile. It turns out that I have to run 8:12 per mile.
When I started this training cycle, I always tried to run my tempo runs at 8:00 minutes or faster which is 3:30 pace. I think I will always be hungry for that sub 3:30. But, if I lose sight of what I am actually capable of, then I'm setting myself up for failure.
So I came up with a plan, that will let me run within my ability, and hopefully run a negative split 2nd half.
I used Excel to create my own pace band... My strategy is to warm up the first 4 miles, drop down to a easy tempo pace for miles 5-20, and then "race" the last 10k.
If everything goes well, I will totally be happy with a 3:35 marathon. If I'm feeling so good, and that 8:15 pace feels easy, I'm still going to stick to my plan until mile 20. If I feel really great I can run 7:45 pace for the last 3 miles.
I just hope the weather cooperates and it isn't too cold or windy. But, I can't control the weather.
Thanks for reading!