We are 10 days away from the Akron Marathon. My only 20-miler is in the books. My strategy is more or less set. My shoes have been chosen. And my short taper has begun.
The weather forecast, which likely will be completely different on race day, calls for high-60s to mid-70s and rain on Sept. 24. Until then, I will run every other day in a stepped mileage pattern. Thus, I will run four miles today, eight miles Friday, three miles Saturday, six miles Tuesday, and two miles the following Thursday, before running the big 26.2 miles on the Saturday after next.
Now that the main running is out of the way, my mind can start focusing on potential finish times. So let's crunch the numbers!
My last Parrott-derived time was 4:50:53. McMillan gives me a 4:38:11, based on my Buckeye Half Marathon results. And today, I arrived at yet another possible predictor: my average pace differential from each year's half marathon and marathon results.
Here's what I did: Going back to 2007, I took the average pace from my marathon performance and subtracted the most recent half marathon average pace of that same year to arrive at a pace differential. Because I ran two marathons in 2008, I arrived at five pace differentials.
I removed the highest and lowest differentials, because the highest was a clear bonk at the 2008 Akron Marathon, considering I set a PR two weeks later at the Towpath Marathon, and the lowest was when I decided to purposefully run slow at the 2009 Buckeye Half Marathon to test a pacing strategy for that year's Akron Marathon.
With the resulting three pace differentials, I have averaged an increase of 1:23 in average pace from my half marathon to marathon performances each year. Therefore, if I averaged 10:04 per mile at this year's Buckeye Half Marathon, this new predictor would indicate an 11:27 mile pace at the Akron Marathon, a finish of 4:59:59. Good thing I don't advocate a five-hour cutoff time for marathons!
All along, I have said 4:30 would be an "A goal" for this year's race, considering my limited training. Now I'm backing off that pipe dream as well. Nothing in my training suggests I could approach anything close to a 10:18 pace for a marathon.
Dating back to June, my monthly average pace has been no faster than 10:53 per mile for long runs, which might predict a 4:45:09 marathon finish. However, last month's average mile pace was 11:22, for a possible 4:57:48 marathon time.
The reality is that there is no steadfast predictor of your potential marathon performance. So much can happen over the course of 26.2 miles that it's impossible to determine how your race will unfold on any given day.
I just have to relax and accept chaos as truth. Anything can happen, and that's the mystique and allure of running marathons.