I apologize if this all one long paragraph...lately blogger has been dropping the paragraph breaks and turning my multiple paragraphs into one. It bugs me but I don't know how to fix it! When this posts on Thursday I will be on my way to Boston, only four days from the marathon. I have thought off and on what my goals for this race would be. I cannot say that I don't have any goals, because I do, but I am certainly not so wedded to my expectations that I would be crushed if I failed to meet them. (Insert paragraph break here. Okay, I'm not going to say that again, but I almost feel like I should stick some sort of dingbat in to signify breaks!) *** My primary goal for Boston is to have a fun, fulfilling run. Everyone says that, don't they? But it's true. Certainly having a good experience is more important than any objective time goal. *** However. One does like to have goals, something to reach for. My baseline time goal is to finish under 4:30. Even when I was in my slump, I believed that was achievable. My Seattle Marathon time was 4:38, and that was a hard course and I was in a slower period in my running late last fall. With the gains I have made this spring, I believe that 4:30 is easily within my reach. *** As far as more challenging goals, I have thought a lot about this and done a number of tests and calculations. They all lead to the conclusion that 4:15 is a doable result. Here is why. *** In the last month I have given myself three major test to determine my marathon readiness and likely pace. Those were the Birch Bay 30K, the final set of ten Yasso 800s, and the Whidbey Half Marathon this last weekend. A couple of other runs have also played into this, although they weren't intended to: the 5K I did on April 2 and the 16-mile long run I did on April 3. I don't think I wrote a separate post about the 16-miler, but my average pace for that (run "easy") was 9:55, and it included two miles of uphill. *** A 4:15 marathon requires an average pace of 9:44 per mile. A 4:20 marathon requires 9:55, and 4:10 requires 9:32. *** My average pace for Birch Bay was 9:24, which would be under a 4:10. However, Birch Bay is arguably an easier course than Boston, and it is almost seven miles shorter, of course. My two hour half marathon this weekend can be used to predict a marathon finish between 4:05 and 4:15, depending on what pace calculator you use. And finally, the Yasso 800s, with all but one under 4:00, might indicate an ability to do close to a four hour time, if you buy into the Yasso myth. I also put my half marathon time into various pace calculators, and the prediction was for 4:13-4:15. There is also a rule of thumb to double your half time and add five minutes (that would give me 4:05). *** On the one hand, I think the pace calculators that use my half marathon time do not take into consideration that I was running Whidbey at what I felt was a reasonable marathon effort pace. If I had been running for my "best" half marathon, I would have run harder and hopefully had a faster time. So hopefully those predictions would be on the high end. On the other hand, I think the Yassos and the "double your half and add 5" methods underestimate the fatigue and breakdown that the marathon distance can lead to. Especially with hills at the end. *** So the conclusion remains unchanged; 4:15 is the time to beat. I think it is possible that I could do better; it's also possible I could do worse. Either way, I will be happy to have had the opportunity to run Boston. *** One other thing. With the change in qualifying times and entry procedure, I am quite sure I will never run Boston again after this. Instead of being discouraging, this realization really takes the glister off of beating four hours. Yes, it's a nice benchmark to beat, regardless of your age or whether it would be a qualifying time. It is quite possible that I will want to beat four hours again at some point (now would be great too!). But it no longer has a mythic aura. It's a nice number, but 4:05, 4:10, 4:15 are perfectly fine numbers. (3:55 is good too!) And I am pretty sure that one of those numbers I have just written will reflect my time on Monday, April 18.