Grand Rapids Marathon Prerace Thoughts

Feeling 100%! Ready for the race!
Well, almost. I feel about 95% but I am hopeful that one last shakeout run + one last sports massage + one last rest day = 100%.

I’m coming for you! (source)

I had a great, confidence boosting run last night. Two miles to warm up, two miles at goal pace (8:31), followed by a two mile cool down. I ran my cool down too fast, but I felt so good! It was hard to stick to the plan.

Quick Training Recap
In the 15 weeks of training leading up to the taper I averaged 44 miles per week. Four of those weeks were 50+ mile weeks. I was pretty excited to compare this to my 2014 training where I averaged 31 mpw and peaked at 45 miles (and didn’t make it to the starting line). What an awesome improvement!

My long runs during this time included 16 miles (x3), 17 miles (x1), 18 miles (x4), and 20 miles (x2). Cutback weeks (x3) and race weeks (x2) had long runs of 13-15 miles, but per my plan these are not technically long runs. Best long runs included a twenty mile run with the final 5 miles at 8:31 and an 18 mile run with the final 10 miles at 8:40.

In addition to a weekly long run I usually had an additional 1-2 runs per weeks that were 10-14 miles long. Six weeks (out of 15) included 3 double digit runs.

Disappointing finish at the time, but still a part of my marathon journey.

During this training period I raced two half marathons. Charlevoix in June (1:47, second best half at time of race) and Capital City River Run in September (1:42, a 4 minute PR).

This was an excellent training period for me. Yes it is frustrating that I missed approximately 2 weeks of running right before the race, but those 2 weeks do not completely negate the fact that I have put in a lot work to run this marathon.

I am having a hard time committing to a race goal, because I just don’t know how my body is going to hold up with two injury scares in the past couple weeks. If I had finished out my training as planned, based on my half marathon PR my goal would be 3:45 (8:32 pace). I think my training supports this goal.

However, considering my recent lack of training I am hesitant to start the race at such a fast pace. If I had prior experience with the marathon I might feel more confident, but I want to be sure to respect the distance. At this point I think I am going to use a strategy similar to what I used in Lansing last month, which was to start conservatively and slowly ratchet the pace down.

For the marathon I am thinking 8:50s for the first 9 miles, 8:40s for the next 9, 8:30s for the final push (or until I crash). This strategy is similar to how I handled my fast finish runs, so I feel pretty comfortable with this plan. This should easily get me under 4 hours, but I likely won’t come close to 3:45. I think I am okay with letting that goal go for now.

I felt so confident after CC River Run.

Alternatively I am considering starting at 8:45ish and aiming for nice even splits for the entire race. I don’t know which plan is better. Readers with marathon experience please feel free to chime in with your advice! I don’t want to sell myself short (the last half mile of my fast finish 20 miler was FASTER than my half PR pace), but I also don’t want to blow up with 6 miles left (I’ve run about 25 miles total in the past 3 weeks).

And just so it’s out there: if on race day I need to slow down due to aches and pains, I am going to slow down. While I am approaching my off season, I’d rather not start it with an actual injury (been there, done that). Also you can track me if you are interested (bib 415); splits for 7, 13.1 and 20 will be available.


11 thoughts on “Grand Rapids Marathon Prerace Thoughts

  1. Okay, first things first – please forgive me being so nitpicky but these numbers are burned into my brain after Grandmas training – a 3:45 marathon is actually around an 8:35 pace, not an 8:32 – 8:32 is closer to 3:43. I don't know if 2 mins makes a difference to you, but your goal pace would actually put you well under 3:45! Unless you actually took into consideration that you'd need to run an 8:32 pace due to tangents, in which case I am impressed because that is hella detail oriented.

    The best strategy for marathons is almost always to go out slower than your goal pace – about 10-20 seconds per mile. If your goal pace is 8:35 and you do the first 4 miles at 8:50, you are only 1 minute behind with 22 miles to make up for it! With that said – you can plan til your eyes fall out, but in the end, it's always going to be a bit of a game-time decision. We just never know how we're going to feel at the starting line and what the day is going to throw at us. Course profile also has to be taken into account – is this course flat? Net downhill with faster miles at the end or at the beginning? etc. I had planned to do my first 4-5 miles below goal pace at Grandma's, but I ended up easing into goal pace much earlier and running a pretty even split for the first 22 miles. So some planning is good, but be flexible, but either way – start out slow. It will feel weird and unnatural, but instead of thinking about that, imagine how you'll feel when you have the energy to speed up at the end!!

    Whatever happens, just remember to enjoy the day and have fun. You only get one first marathon, so don't ignore the big picture here. You are about to accomplish something huge and when you cross the finish line on Sunday, you won't be the same person. Don't forget to take your eye off your watch every now and then to soak it all in. 🙂

    Good luck!! You've worked so hard and I know that whatever the clocks say, you're going to do awesome and run a race to be proud of. I'm excited to track you and I'll be thinking of you on Sunday!


  2. I'm really glad you said something about the 8:32. I was looking at some pace predicting websites and the one that I like to go by said 3:43. I was like, “oh I will round that up to 3:45 to be safe.” But when it came to looking at pace, I never recalculated. I just copied it from the 3:43 prediction. Somehow 8:35 sounds so much easier than 8:32.

    You are exactly right, no matter how much I plan, there is no saying what the day will bring. My main reason for having a plan is making sure I go out slowly enough. When I ran my first half marathon I had no idea what I was doing and ran the first 3 miles way too fast (about 24 minutes). I paid for it at the end with the final 3 miles taking about 30 minutes. Two minutes per mile slower than my starting pace. I have heard that making this mistake in a marathon would be much worse than in a half. When I feel it is too easy in those first few miles I will be repeating to myself that I am saving the energy for the end of the race.

    Thank you so much for all of your encouragement and advice over the past few months of training! I am so lucky to have a friend like you.


  3. Good luck! I second Hanna – there's only so much planning one can do before a marathon, especially a first marathon. Don't forget to relax and enjoy the process!


  4. Phew. Finally figured out how to get my comment through 🙂

    Can't wait to read your recap! It's funny that we had similar thoughts behind our pre-marathon posts. I had some issues the weeks leading up the marathon, I had no idea where my fitness truly was either.

    Congratulations again and I look forward to hearing how everything went!


  5. Basically we were first marathon twins! I wish I would have been following your blog when we were training.

    I think the comment issues were on my side. Apparently the blogger default is to require users to be registered in order to comment. I changed it so that anyone could comment.


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