Yesterday I had the pleasure to run the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach. The race started at 8 AM, and it was going to get warm as the morning went on. I started off with the 3:10 pace group- aiming for a Boston-qualifying time. We rocked the initial 10 miles even as it started heating up. About that time, I got dropped by the group. We were a good 20 seconds ahead of where we needed to be, so I managed to keep on that pace until just before the halfway point. I crossed 13.1 at 1:36:20 (PR).
At halfway, the lack of carbs (I lost a gel), the heat (I've been training in the cold winter weather and I lost my salt tablets), and the incomplete training finally got the better of me. The last half was pretty miserable, and I began doing 5 minutes running-1 minute walking around mile 16. I kept this up almost the rest of the way except for skipping a couple walk breaks, extending one, and sitting down to stretch once. I finished in 3:50:18 -- way off of my 3:10 goal and backup 3:30 goal.
In retrospect, the training was probably the biggest factor. I began my training knowing that I only had about 10 weeks including taper, and I decided to train for a 3:30 marathon. Until the last 2 long runs all of my training was targeted at that and then for some still unknown reason I decided to aim for 3:10 since I had 2 good long runs. I have not previously had good success with the long runs becoming easier as I get fitter, and I took this as a sign that I could do more than I had trained to do.
Now I know that I can run a much faster half, and that I need to train at a faster pace for longer to be able to run an entire marathon at that pace. I'll have lots of time to train on a treadmill on a boat, and I'll re-attack the marathon with a little bit more knowledge next time. That's the great thing about this distance- you can't fake your way through it and you learn something each time.