Friday, September 23, 2011

All Business

This post is the recipe for how I ran a marathon in 3:39.  I'm going to break it down by mile- so that's a lot of boring stuff to read considering the race was over 26 of those!  Maybe it will help just ONE PERSON.  If it does, then it's worth it.

First off, I think it's important to pick a realistic goal for you.  I trained for a 3:30 marathon, but I only achieved 3:39.  Am I happy?  You betcha!  I really wanted to run under 3:40, and I knew that training a little harder would get me there.  If you are wondering what a good goal is for you, I would suggest checking out the McMillan Pace Calculator.

One tip I heard is that a marathon pace should be 1 minute longer than your 5K pace/mile, 45 seconds longer than your 10K pace/mile, and 30 seconds longer than your half marathon pace/mile.  If you look at my PR's, that was exactly true for me for my first marathon.  For example, my Half Marathon PR is 7:46/mile, so I could realistically run a marathon with an 8:16/mile pace.

Second of all- you have to run smart.  A marathon is a whole different beast than a 5K, 10K, or even a half marathon.  You do not want to burn out when you still have 6 miles left to go- it's tough enough as it is.  Top of Utah was unique in that it wasn't the best idea to run a "negative split" (which means running the last half of the race faster than the first half); most other marathons (and races!) you want to be able to achieve the goal of a negative split.  I think it's very smart to hold yourself back for the first 18 miles- or even 20!  I can't tell you what a huge boost it was to know that I was at mile 22 and I still felt great.  I didn't experience the "marathon death shuffle" at all and I credit that to running smart.

That being said, here are the splits:

Mile 1: 8:05 pace

Mile 2: 7:59 pace

Mile 3: 7:59 pace- drank powerade at the water stop

Mile 4: 8:08 pace

Mile 5: 8:02 pace- drank powerade at the water stop

Mile 6: 8:07 pace- ate 1/2 granola bar.  I had a hard time swallowing it while I was running.

Mile 7: 8:12 pace- drank powerade at the water stop

Mile 8: 7:50 pace

Mile 9: 8:02- drank powerade at the water stop

Mile 10: 8:19 pace

Mile 11: 7:59- drank powerade at the water stop

Mile 12: 8:01- ate some shot blocks.  I had an easier time swallowing these when I was running but I accidentally dropped one

Mile 13: 8:05- drank water at the water stop.

Mile 14: 8:15 pace

Mile 15: 7:59- drank powerade at the water stop

Mile 16: 8:17 pace

Mile 17: 8:20- drank powerade at the water stop a

Mile 18: 8:19 pace- I kicked it into gear and passed the pacers at this point.  Looking at my splits I can definitely tell that it was "maximum effort" and not "maximum speed".  I was slower than I thought!  I can't imagine how slow I would have been at this point if I hadn't run conservatively at the beginning.

Mile 19: 8:00 pace-  I ate a GU and drank water at the aid station.  Rachelle told me to GU before I felt like I needed to, and I'm so glad I did!

Mile 20: 8:38 pace

Mile 21:  8:24- drank powerade at the water stop and tried to eat a banana but ended up dropping it!

Mile 22:  8:35

Mile 23:  8:49- drank powerade at the aid station

Mile 24: 9:06- Oh no!  The pacers caught up to me!  Maybe it would have been better if I had stuck with the pacers until the last couple of miles???  Or the entire time?  I guess what I'm saying here is THE PACERS ARE A VERY, VERY GOOD THING.  I highly suggest using them.

Mile 25: 8:24- I didn't stop at the aid station because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to start running again!  No lie.  I felt totally hydrated and fueled because I didn't run through a single water stop prior to this.

Mile 26: 8:50 pace (Woah!  As Kara Goucher says, "When you think you're keeping pace, you're actually slowing down.")

Final .56:  7:37 pace- had enough kick at the end to finish strong.

The main tips are:
  • Use a pace group.
  • Don't pass on the water stops in the beginning.  (If you feel like you think you need to fuel or drink, then it is already too late!)
  • Don't push really hard until mile 18- or even later.
  • Pick a reasonable goal for you.  If it's your first marathon, don't put too much time pressure on yourself.  More than anything, you want to enjoy this accomplishment!
Add tips in the comments so anxious marathoners (like I was!) can learn from YOU!


Suz and Allan said...

Thanks so much for sharing all of this! I haven't run a marathon (yet) and I'm getting ready for my first half in January. I am always tempted to not take advantage of water stations so thanks for the reminder about how important that is!

Congrats again on running a great time!

Amy @ Run Mom Run said...

Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

Rachelle Wardle said...

You seriously have it all figured out!!! Your splits are awesome and you ran such a smart race!! Perfect tips. I think the main key to running a good and comfortable marathon is to definitely know your capabilities. I have seen many people (myself included) go out at HM pace and completely blow up!

I'm so excited to see what you future holds because you are one very smart runner. :)

Rachelle Wardle said...

Darn it I just posted a long comment but I wasn't logged in so here we go again. The main gist of what I was saying is that you seriously have it all figured out! These tips are so so so perfect. I have seen so many people (me included) go out at HM pace and completely blow up.

You are such a smart runner and this is only the beginning. You splits are freaking awesome!! I'm glad you shared them because I always learn from looking at splits. :)

Sarah Grecco said...

Wow thanks for the breakdown! It is really helpful. I'm not currently training for a marathon (already completed 2) but kinda want to now after reading this post!

Get Up & Go

jclay said...

Dang, your pace was so even... that's really impressive. I didn't realize they had pacers in marathons... do they wear a special shirt or have a flag that says what pace they're going? That' really cool!

These tips are so helpful... I haven't finished a marathon, but I bet I would have had a better chance had I read these tips before I attempted mine. I'll be running another one someday, hopefully sooner than later, and I'm definitely coming back to read these again!

Again... LOVE the picture! I want to run a marathon with you, just so I can look at your happy face the whole time!!

-Jess reRunRunning

Julia said...

these are great tips! loved reading this and i always learn a lot from reading about what others have learned. i feel like i took a similar approach to UVM and felt similar to you...i never really hit a place where I didnt feel like I couldnt keep going. sure i slowed down but i feel like the best thing you can do is start conservative and smart, take advantage of the pacers and the aid stations BEFORE you need it and GU early! congrats on a great were extremely consistent which is inspiring!

matt&cec said...

Wow this was a really interesting post to read. I liked seeing the mile breakdown, including how you fueled up and stuff.

I have no immediate plans for a marathon, but I've loved reading about yours! You're amazing!

kalie said...

Great, great post. I am definitely planning on using a pacer ... if I ever do run a marathon. ;)

Mindy Kohler said...

I need to learn how to pace myself better. Saturday morning on our way to the 5k we were doing I said to Derek "I'm so glad I'm not running Top of Utah today."
So funny the different perspectives :)