My Toughest Rival (Me) – A Look Back at Richmond Marathon 2015

Hello! This is an unplanned post, but I want to get my thoughts out while I have them and hopefully get some insight from other runners out there.

I’m currently training for the Richmond Marathon. It will be marathon #6 (I think) and the 4th time I’ve run Richmond (I think). I’ve had relatively good and bad years there, but the most recent year that I ran (back in 2015) was my marathon PR. I beat my old PR of 3:29 by 14 minutes, coming in at 3:15 and some change. After my tempo this morning, I was having a chat with running buddy Brooke about race goals, plans and whatnot. Brooke stated that she liked to go out fast and hang on and in the past I’ve felt the same way. I like to call it “time banking”, where you basically run faster than your goal pace to allow for slower paces late in the race.

During that conversation I decided it would be wise for me to look back at the splits from Richmond 2015 and see how I was able to run the 3:15. This year I’m looking to shave 5 more minutes off of my PR, which will be challenging but is realistic. I just need to figure out my best approach.

Richmond2015Splits

Based on 2015, I “time banked” with about a 1:35 half marathon. I WAS right on pace for the 3:10 that I want this year but would have had no time to slow down in the 2nd half. If I want to bank any time again this year, I’ll have to run an even faster first half or I can choose to try and stay consistent. It’s quite a tough call, I think.

Currently, I’m thinking I’ll try to bank some time. I could shoot for a 1:33 first half to allow for just a couple of minutes of slack. That’s what is so hard about marathons! You can do everything right and be in great shape, but miles 20-26.2 can STILL break you down to nothing.

Richmond2015
2015 Randy was so care free.

 

 

I really am looking for some help here, runners. What are your thoughts?

 

29 Replies to “My Toughest Rival (Me) – A Look Back at Richmond Marathon 2015”

      1. Lol, alright alright. No but really, I was kind of laughing at myself, cause I sort of gave someone “advice” the other day who was running what I think to be an insane amount of miles-and I realized after I did it that I was definitely not who they were looking for advice from.
        It’s funny, although I am not running at nearly the same pace as you, I actually have had some similar thoughts to what you are having–granted, I have never run a marathon before. i just know that one of my strengths as a runner is starting slow and being able to pick it up as I go, I run negative splits pretty often. But i was wondering for the marathon if that will still serve me–like i worry if i start out so slow, i am going to hit a wall at some point no matter what and will have missed my chance for faster miles. At the same time, I want to actually enjoy this thing, so i will prob just have to take it pretty slow no matter what.
        There–you like how i totally hijacked this and made it about me ;)?! oy vey.

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      2. That’s how I feel. Every marathon I’ve run, I’ve seriously struggled to hold onto the pace in the very late miles. My thinking is that the small physical sacrifice early is worth the mental boost of knowing that I don’t HAVE to run as fast late in the race. See, you DID help! πŸ™‚

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      3. I can’t help with pace since I run primarily trail races and pace varies widely based on terrain. I don’t own a gps watch so don’t even track my pace during races! My strategy is to maintain a consistent effort the whole race, so if I were to run on roads I would probably go the same pace the whole race

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      4. I think that’s awesome that you don’t track your pace. I wish I had the guts to run like that. Based on what I’ve seen of you at the track and in your results on trails, I think you’re a tougher runner than I am.

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  1. I’ll preface this by saying I have only run 1 marathon so feel free to disregard, but I have never heard anyone suggest banking time is a good strategy for racing and this is especially true for a marathon. This includes advice from fellow runners and bloggers as well as experts like Daniels, Pfitz, and Hansons.

    You might want to check out this reddit thread on the marathon; it has a lot of great information. I know I’ll be consulting it as I get ready for marathon #2 in January. https://www.reddit.com/r/artc/comments/6vqc8h/the_summer_series_how_do_i_pr_in_the_marathon/

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    1. Thanks! That is quite an informative thread. I could spend all day on it. I think banking is a dangerous path, but I think it can suit some runners as long as they aren’t too aggressive with how much time they try to bank. Running is SUCH a mental game. It’s crazy.

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  2. To me, it seems a little risky to run that much faster in the first half. Couldn’t it cause you to run even slower in the second half? Make a blow-out more likely?
    How about a more conservative first half, and then kill it in the second? Counting on negative splits for a marathon can be risky also… It’s all risky! OR, what if you ran a few miles first and then had your speed-up in the middle? Make sure to get good and warmed up first…? Ultimately, you’ll know what to do. F*** winter coming… The BQ is coming.

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    1. You’re right that there’s risk in any choice. It really depends on the level of effort that it takes to bank the time. I don’t think my 7:05 pace is that much harder than my 7:15 pace. I honestly can’t fathom negative splits for a marathon. Miles 20-26.2 have hurt me so bad every single time.

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  3. Never run a marathon, but…. I would say look at the race in thirds. Beginning, middle, end. I have used this for the half and for the 15k, both pr races. The strategy… Go out conservative (effort based) pick up the pace a little at a time keeping it manageable, in the last third start reeling people in while staying in control. I have found that attacking the race that way keeps my splits pretty even and I feel better throughout the whole race. And my 5k, 15k 8mile and half prs have been set that way. I regressed to my old ways last weekend and plan to remedy that for the half on Sunday.

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    1. Yes! Funny you say that. I was just looking at a Reddit thread and someone wrote about a marathon in 10s. Now I think like this: Easy 10 miles, then the 10 miles you trained for and then the 10k that you’ll have to hurt for.

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  4. Looks like you hit the wall pretty hard around mile 22 and didn’t pull out of it. If it were me, I’d start on pace and then speed up if/when you feel good at the end of the race. Remember high bridge. . . . #doasisay #notasido

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  5. I’ve always heard the phrase don’t bank time because you will pay it back with interest.

    I feel like in a short race like a 5K, you can take the risk because after the first mile, you only have two miles to go and 5Ks are a dime a dozen so you can run another one the next week. You can afford to take the chance there and get a little out of your comfort zone in that first mile.

    My best races have been (fairly) even splits. I started out at the pace I hoped to maintain for the race. Of course no runner is a metronome and courses differ, but I would say the best half marathons I have had, my mile splits for miles 2-13 were +-5 seconds off that first mile. The thing about running even splits is that most people start out too fast, so you get a big mental boost in the later miles when they slow down and you pass them. That mental boost helps keep you going even though that pace feels much harder at mile 11 than it did at mile 1 or 2.

    I can’t comment on the marathon; you have to do what works for you. I participated in one marathon and don’t even like to say I ran it; if I ever do another, I will pretty much do the opposite of how that day went!

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to write up this good advice. I do love getting stronger and passing those that went out ahead too quickly. My biggest worry is that I can’t hold the race pace in the last 10k no matter what, mainly because I never have.

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  6. This is a very interesting topic because my wife and I each take a different approach. When running a full or half, she’ll usually go out pretty fast, knowing she’s going to suffer regardless later in the race. I typically start out more conservatively, attempting to stay as even with my pace as possible. In your case, since you have a specific time goal with an average pace of around 7:15, it’s a tough call. I guess it all depends on how you’re feeling on race day! –Todd

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    1. Your wife’s approach is a good explanation of how I feel. I do understand that doing it that way has burned many a runner, so I may try to be consistent. I’m going to use my 3 20 milers as guinea pigs.

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  7. I’ll second the suggestion to read the Hanson’s method marathon book. I found it to be really insightful regarding racing strategies and why some approaches work for some people and why others do for different people. Most commonly I tend to run a race by starting out too fast and trying to “hang on”… that’s not always too successful for me! The best race experiences I can think of are the ones where I reigned it in for the first half and flew the second half. I just can’t always get that to happen though!!!

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  8. Okay, he’ll hate me, but he doesn’t read blogs so…..
    My husband was *very* similar to you with your marathon strategy. I’ve ALWAYS told him there is absolutely no good reason to “bank” time. You want to finish strong, always. His PR is close to yours, 3:17, and his splits for that race look similar. With the current training cycle he’s in, I’ve convinced him to try my approach, warming up and then speeding up. He’s really seen the difference in his running and especially in his most recent 20 miler where he negative split the last few miles and despite a “slower” start, finished with an overall average pace his training plan called for.
    We all know it’s going to hurt late in the race. But is it going to be pain we can run through or pain that makes us slow down/stop? If the start was too fast, it’ll likely be the latter, in my opinion.

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