I guess I usually end up posting something about what my goals are before a big race. Here they are for Sunday’s 2010 Eugene Marathon.
Goal “A+”: 3:18:00. That would be a 7:33/mile average pace, but I’d get there by running 7:38 for miles 1-22 and finding the power to pick up the pace for the last four miles. I’d have to pick it up to (hang on while I run off and do some math… ok, got it) 7:07/mile over those last four miles to pull this off.
Goal “A”: 3:20:00. A steady 7:38/mile pace the whole way.
Goal “B”: 3:20:59. “B” stands for “Boston.” 3:20:59 is what I need to run to qualify for the 2011 Boston Marathon. (That’s the time you need if you’ll be 40-45 years old on Boston Marathon day.) This has been my big goal for this race for a long time now. The extra 59 seconds let me slip down to a 7:39.94/mile average pace. Can you imagine the kind of heart attack I’ll be having on Sunday if it comes down to the difference between 7:39.94 and 7:40/mile?
Goal “C”: 3:28:55, my current marathon PR. Look, the truth is, I’ll be pretty crushed if I can’t beat that. I set that record seven months ago, on a harder course, with my training completely interrupted by runner’s knee. I had to skip my last long run and my knee hurt from mile nine to the finish line.
Goal “D”: Finish the race. It’s 26 miles. Respect the distance. A finish is a finish.
My race plan is pretty simple. I’m going to be a slave to my Garmin Forerunner and crank out mile after mile of 7:38s. I use the Garmin’s “autolap” feature to measure my miles and the number I pay the most attention to is my “lap pace”, which is the average pace I’ve run during the course of the current mile. It’s much more useful than the wildly varying “instantaneous” pace display, for this sort of pacing. Note that I use autolap and not the course mile markers, for a couple of reasons. Reason one: I’d never remember to hit the lap button every time I need to. Reason two: the pace the Garmin shows me is going to be based on its idea of the mileage anyway. That does mean there will be some slop; the Garmin nearly always shows that you’ve run longer than 26.21 miles after a marathon.
I’ll break the race down into three phases. During miles 1-10, I’ll eat a lot and conserve energy. For miles 10-20, I’ll focus on consistency. For the last six miles I’ll give it everything I’ve got.