Setting a Race Goal: How Low Can I Go?

This Saturday I’ve got my first “big” race of the year, the Glacier 1/2 Marathon. I already saw at my 10k 2 weekends ago that I’ve picked up a lot of speed over the winter, knocking around 9 minutes off my time from the previous year.

Since the snow and ice have melted, and I’ve really been able to open things up during my tempo runs, I’ve really begun to notice how much faster I’m getting. Even on tired legs, I’ve been able to maintain paces that I wouldn’t have even thought about last fall. It seems that all those miles during the cold snowy winter have really paid off! A few weeks ago, I set out for the second of my back-to-back long runs. I hadn’t set out intending to run particularly fast, but over 12.5 miles I kept a pace that would have missed my 1/2 marathon PR by just a minute. On a training run. A day after running 22 miles.

Needless to say, I’m excited to see what kind of speed I’m capable of maintaining over a longer race like this. Plus, I’m planning to use my results from this race to help me finalize my goal for Mayor’s Marathon next month. But setting a goal time for a race is tricky business. There’s a fine line between pushing yourself really hard, and not pushing so hard that your pace suffers the last few miles. I want to challenge myself and leave everything out there, but I also don’t want to blow up at mile 10 because I set too aggressive of a goal.

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
– Steve Prefontaine

My current 1/2 marathon PR is 1:48:04 at last October’s Zombie 1/2 Marathon. Part of me would really like to try for sub-1:40, which would mean averaging 7:38 miles. Maybe it’s purely mental on my part, but that feels a bit out of reach at this point. Instead, I’m going to go a tad more conservative and aim for 1:42. That would still mean 6 minutes off my PR, with a more manageable 7:47 average pace.

(Yikes! Did I really just use “7:47 average pace” and “manageable” in the same sentence?)

One thought on “Setting a Race Goal: How Low Can I Go?

  1. I think you’ve set a very realistic goal here. Once you get to half way, analyze where you are. If you feel like you can change gears, step it up and go for the sub 1:40. No matter what happens, you’ll easily get a PR for this.

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