The time has come for me to talk about my goals for this marathon.
I have always recommended to people that they set more than one goal for a big race: a gold, silver and bronze goal for what time you hope to finish in, plus some non-time goals as well (following your fueling plan, keeping a positive attitude, etc). This is something I have practiced the last few years. It’s a smart way to not set yourself up for failure and to not get disappointed if things don’t go perfectly. This strategy has worked for me many times in the past. However, this time around I will not be following my own advice. I have only one goal for this race. I want a sub-4 marathon.
I ran my first marathon in November 2008 and on Saturday I’ll be running my 9th. It has always been a personal goal of mine to finish under 4 hours. I have gotten SO close but I still haven’t accomplished it. I ran a 4:00:04 in the Air Force Marathon, my last marathon before getting pregnant. Then I ran a 4:06:22 at the Outer Banks Marathon this past November without a Garmin and without really trying. It has taken 5 1/2 years and a ton of hard work, but I think I might actually do it this time.
Usually I hate to make an “all or nothing” goal, but I am this time. I also usually don’t share my goals with many people because of the the fear that I won’t achieve them. I am doing both of those things this time. I NEED to feel the pressure and the time has come to really push myself. I truly believe I can run a sub 4 hour marathon this time (unless something disastrous happens- knocking on wood!). I would need less than a 9:09 average pace to finish in under 4 hours. Almost every single one of my runs this training cycle has been done at a sub-9 minute pace, usually in the 8:15-8:45 range. This includes a hilly 20 miler done at an 8:36 pace. Looking at my training and the numbers, I should be able to do this and I believe that I can. So now the question becomes… by how much can I PR? This is a flat course and Kevin will be there to run with me at certain points, including the last few miles. The weather forecast is 54 degrees and sunny. Conditions couldn’t be more in my favor. I’m really excited to push my limits and see what I can do.
The only thing I’m unsure about is what pace I should go for. On most of my runs the pace that felt natural and easy to me was between 8:35 and 8:45. But I think in a race situation especially on a flat course its going to be hard to hold myself back. And I’m not quite sure I should hold myself back to that pace. I really want to leave it all out there and not have any regrets. If it feels good, I’m going to go for it and not drive myself crazy with the numbers on my watch. I will honestly be happy if I end up finishing in 3:59:59.
Strangely, I feel very calm about all of this. I truly trust my training and have learned a lot about myself over the past two years or so. I have learned that I am stronger than I think, and I can run faster than I ever thought was possible. I have done a lot of work on my both my physical and mental strength. I am ready. This is my last marathon for a while and I want to make it count.
If anyone is interested in tracking my progress, you can do it online here. There is also a free Myrtle Beach Marathon app you can download. I am bib #1626 and the race starts at 6:30 a.m. There will be tracking splits at the 10K, half, and 18.3 miles, and the finish. Eek! This is really happening!