With my first marathon now only 5 days away, I really need to get down to the serious job of setting my target time. I have long harboured a desire to beat 3 hours, and my PBs for 10km suggested that this would be possible. In addition, I have been able to maintain my leg speed throughout the training. Despite that, having tested the engine over a few half marathons, deep down I know that I am going to find the final 10 miles very hard at my intended and sustained marathon pace.

Over the last year, my best 10km time is 37:33 and my best half marathon time is 1:26:45. The first was achieved as a result of some solid training for that specific distance over as much as 2 years and with the goal of setting a new PB. The half marathons recently have been undertaken was part of the marathon training plan. As a consequence, I have never been rested going into any of the half marathons. This has been my rationale for consistently telling myself that sub 3 hr remained possible, even when my racing experience over the longer distance suggested otherwise.

Based on my recent half marathon time, McMillan’s calculator predicts 3:03 for the marathon. When using my best recent 10k time McMillan teases me with a 2:56 prediction. Nice, this would even allow me time to stop for a latte and a muffin!! On the flip side, I have another input provided by how I feel physically when racing a half marathon and where I am not entirely comfortable from the 10 mile point. How the heck will I feel once I am something like 16 miles in? My head says “This is more accurate than anything McMillan says”. A short time later, my heart will counter with “Yeah, but you are only doing this once and you know you want it”. I have also had the benefit of following some fellow runners’ exploits in London this year. One runner in particular that is consistently faster than me in some 5k, 10k and HM races faded in the second half of London and came home in 3:51. If this can happen to him, how can I think that sub 3 hours is achievable?

Another consideration is what I want from the experience itself. What I don’t want is to hate the last 6 miles and only remember how desperately I wanted it to be over. I don’t want to have nothing left in my legs or my spirit when I should be relishing those final few triumphant miles. Most importantly, I don’t want to set a target that clearly becomes unrealisable around 16 miles in and then have to make it all the way to the finish with a crushing sense of failure for an event that should be all about achievement.

Taking all of this into account, I have decided to set a meaningful, yet realisable goal of 3:20. What remains is how I go about this in terms of my planned pacing. I will be sure to post this once I have figured the strategy out!

5 days to go!


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