Monday, June 4, 2012

is predicted pace possible?

When I was training for my first half marathon last year, my sister and I followed Jeff Galloway's plan.

I used a walk/run plan to return to running initially, and liked the idea of incorporating walk breaks into training for the half marathon because at the time 13.1 miles seemed like a ridiculously long distance to me. (it does now too, but that is another story)

Through various points throughout the plan, we had to run a magic mile.  This was supposed to help us determine training pace targets, and predict our race finish time.

I hated running the magic miles. 

I dreaded it. 

Every time.

While running each magic mile, I got really scared (seriously) - and felt like I was having an anxiety attack - while running.  Maybe that is what it is supposed to feel like? I don't know. It freaked me out to go faster.

We didn't get anywhere close to the half marathon time that our magic mile predicted.

But we did get champagne and the opportunity to spend the weekend with some awesome ladies.

My "fastest" race time ever was my 57:13 10K last September.  I remember coming down a hill and passing a lot of people, then about a mile later (with the finish almost in sight) on a flat stretch getting that nervous feeling.

So I walked. For about a minute.

Later, I looked at my splits and found that I ran mile 5 at 7:39 (with the downhill) and mile 6 at 8:31 (even with the walk break that I really didn't need). I don't run that fast. My fastest magic mile was 7:40.

My marathon training plan gave me paces for each workout, and predicted a finish time based off of this 10K (it was my only recent race).

I never thought I'd finish in the 4:38 predicted, but trained using the long run, speedwork interval and tempo paces in the plan. 

I ended up finishing 16 minutes slower, and I suppose if you take the heat into consideration, that is not too bad (I guess).
But, my last 1.44 miles in the marathon (when the temperature was around 80) were my fastest (mile 26 - 9:58 pace, 26.44 - 9:28 pace). So, I probably could have given more.

And when it was over I was tired and disoriented, but definitely didn't feel like it was anything close to the hardest thing I'd ever done.  I didn't care as I had a great time and wouldn't want to change anything (except maybe my socks)

There is a lot of talk about "racing" vs. "finishing".  "Leaving it all on the course" or crossing the finish line feeling like you need to collapse.  I have actually felt really happy and energetic after most of few finish lines I've crossed.

I know I don't push myself enough (maybe at all, but I think that since I ran a marathon, enough works here).

So I am considering following a pacer at my half marathon in 3 weeks. 

I've never joined a pace group (or kept a consistent pace), but I am wondering if it would really help me push a little bit more and to hang on if I start to fear going a bit faster.

Kind of like an experiement. It would be a close to a predicted finish time - not attempting a sub 2 hour or anything crazy ambitious.

Just thinking it might be interesting to see if I could really do close to what the calculators and predictors say I can.

Anyone ever joined a pace group in a race (or not joined and just tagged along)? 
Good experience? Bad?

Do you leave it all on the course in a race?


  1. My half PR is 2:09 from 2011. I kinda used a pacer! I started pretty far back and my goal was to find/pass the 2:15 pacer. I had trained using a 2hr half program and even though I wasn't sure if I could run a 2hr half, I wanted to try! I only had nike+ on my ipod and I'd check my current paces sometimes, but I didn't have a garmin to give me more info. Slowly I ticked off the various pacers and finally passed the 2:15 one. Then my goal was to stay in front of him! I saw the 2:00 pacer at a turn-about and realized she was a little too far ahead of me to catch but I was still happy with my time.

    I would say it's worth a try!

    1. I like the challenge of passing various pacers - thanks. And nice job!

  2. I've never used a pacer, either. I would love to PR at my next half mary in September but being that it's a Disneyland race, I'm not sure my goals are realistic. Those races tend to bottleneck heavily and require lots of weaving. Which can definitely affect my pace!

  3. In theory I love the idea of pace groups. My reality is they never worked for me. I always trained to take walking breaks. Pace setters rarely do. So, the idea of keeping a specific overall pace (one that includes walking breaks) was very different than keeping the same overall pace for the pace setters who took no breaks.

    1. Yes, I like to at least walking through the water stations, and I cannot take a gel and run at the same time - huge mess. I need to walk for that.

  4. I just started reading your blog recently and I have to say it - you are my hero. Hope that doesn't freak you out ;) but I connect with so much of what you write, it's like you are sloshing through my head before you blog!
    I love to run, mostly because I get a little time to myself in my otherwise crazy life that I happen to love and because it helps me zip up my jeans consistently. But I just can't get excited about being super competitive.

    1. You are way, way to kind. Glad to know that some can relate (I always suspected I was just a bit crazy). What I blurt out here is usually whatever is going around and around in my brain at the moment, and no one in real life wants to hear about.

      Yes - the competitive thing - I just don't have it in a speed sense.

    2. and, of course I meant to say "too" and not "to" in the first sentence

    3. God bless social media, it let's all us crazy mommas talk about the stuff our family doesn't want to endure and proves we are not alone in our craziness - this is v comforting ;)

  5. I totally identify with this. I get nervous running fast, too. I think it's because I'm afraid of totally blowing up. I also am into running mainly because of the sanity saving aspect of it. But my husband and all of my friends race, and I get peer pressured into it. I just don't have the competitive streak the way that they do, so I just go out there and have fun and my race times reflect it.

    1. I think that has a lot to do with my fear too - just bonking and not being able to finish. My husband is really competitve too. I can push myself distance wise for sure - speed, not ao much.


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