Chicago Marathon Goals

The time to beat is 5:44:18 – my first marathon at the 2016 New York City Marathon. I never got around to writing a race recap, but I had a great day. I didn’t have a time goal; I just wanted to finish with a smile on my face. And I did! I walked when I wanted, even when it was probably more than I needed. I conserved my energy and and managed a little 4 minute negative split in the second half. Aside from an angry ITB, I emerged relatively unscathed. At the end of the day, I was crazy proud of myself for having completed the race and already dreaming up a faster finish.

So here I am, a less less than one year later, looking down marathon #2.

As a whole, this year has been an entirely different ball game for my running. As my body has allowed me to run more and more mileage injury-free, I’ve taken advantage, trained harder, and become a stronger runner for it. I’ve seen my normal “easy pace” drop by a minute and a half, and I’m getting better at learning when to push or rest.

I credit my spring half for building my confidence, as my weekly training mileage became as high (or higher) than when I’d trained for my first marathon. I stuck it out, saw a big result (16 minute PR), and thought, “What else can I do?!” I also started running with my brother and my husband over the summer and realized I was perhaps “babying” myself a little bit. I’d panic if I saw a number faster than I was used to running, but I realized by running with them that I could keep up, if only for the shorter distances. It was fun to push! And work hard. And breathe hard. And through all of this, I stuck it out class after class in Pure Barre to strengthen the auxiliary muscles I needed to be a better runner.

On a road trip a couple of weeks ago, I pulled up my Strava app while I sat in the passenger seat, and I tallied all of the miles I ran during the sixteen weeks leading up to my first marathon. I ran 415 miles leading up to the day.

This time round, I’ve run 540 miles over sixteen weeks. A 125 mile difference! That’s like an extra month of running squeezed in there. An average 7.8 more miles ran per week with the addition of quality tempo runs, speed work, and more mindfully “easy” runs. To leave it at that would gloss over days and weeks when training didn’t go smoothly, but has anyone ever had a training cycle where they didn’t miss a single run or alter a workout?! You are incredible. I think I fall in the 90%-gone-according-to-plan group.

So there you have it – sixteen weeks, 540 miles, 24 Pure Barre classes, 2 yoga classes (whoops), and training runs in Colorado Springs, Chicago, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Beijing, and Shanghai. Even if it all goes to hell on Sunday, it doesn’t diminish the work I did over the past 16 weeks.

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Running with my brother in Wildwood this summer on a particularly blazingly hot afternoon.

Now that we have established the “Victoria-convinces-herself-that-she-can-do-it” segment of this post, we can move on to the marathon goals.

I like that A, B, and C goals allow for several opportunities for success, in light of factors that I may not be able to control, such as the weather, my stomach, or some unknown curve ball.

A Goal: 4:25 at a 10:06 pace. Phew. From the very beginning, I included paces for three possible goal times: 4:30, 4:25, and 4:22 on my training plan, and I settled on the middle option. It was obviously a faster time than my spring marathon would indicate, but I felt that I had more to give on that day, and I’d been conservative with my race goal.

Ultimately, I looked at a 5K time I ran in June (26:41) and my normal “recovery day” pace (~11:15 min/mile) and found a happy medium on a pace chart at a 10:06 marathon pace. It still scares the crap out of me. Obviously, less than before I started training, but it still intimidates me. Can I run 26.2 miles at 10:06 for every mile?! Yes. The answer is yes. On a perfect day, and maybe a little less than perfect day, I believe that I can, no matter how many times I’ve reconsidered.

I was planning on sticking with the 4:25 pacer in my corral, but in light of the warm weather + sun Chicago has planned and the fact that I know I do better with a faster second half, I think I’m going to start with the 4:30 pacer and break away later in the race.

B Goal: 4:35 at a 10:30 pace. I think this could happen if the temperature gets me with a high of 77, but I’m cautiously optimistic that my knack of running long during the hottest part of the day more than once may fall in my favor.

C Goal: Anything with a 4 in front. If the wheels fall off, it’d still be a huge 44+ minute PR, and I’ve worked hard enough to get under that 5 hour mark. I did 20 miles in training with an 11:03 average pace, and I’m confident I could for 26.2 if needed.

Thanks for following along and reading my training recaps! I promise I will be writing a race recap this time round and posting my last week of training after this weekend. Feel free to track me in the Chicago Marathon app! I should start running after the third wave gets going at 8:30a. Best of luck to any other runners that are a toeing the line this weekend too!

What’s your goal race this fall?

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