over the speed limit

Today I unexpectedly ran 12.5 miles, bringing my total for the week to almost 56, my highest ever.  10-milers are beginning to seem commonplace – now to run them just a bit faster.

The marathon is four weeks from today, and my goal is to finish in three hours and twenty minutes (3:20), to qualify to run in next year’s Boston Marathon.  I’ve been trying to figure out how that might happen.

A common rule of thumb is to predict marathon time by doubling one’s half marathon time and adding ten minutes.  I finished my latest (and only) half in 1:39:51 – call it 1:40.  So, (1:40 * 2) plus ten minutes equals 3:30.  Hmmm, did I do that right?  Yeah.

So that leaves me with an apparent deficit of ten minutes to close.  Let’s do some accounting.  Caveat:  this will not be double-entry bookkeeping.  We will be looking at one side of the ledger only.  And I’m fine with that.

A ten minute deficit, is that right?  Well, actually, we’re given 59 seconds slack, so my effective qualifying time is 3:20:59, or 3:21 for short.  Deficit down to 9 minutes.

The attentive reader will recall that I ran my half marathon with a very bad cold.   At 100%, I would have done better.  How much better?  Let’s say 3 minutes, or 1:37.  That’s partly a made up number, partly my original pre-race and pre-cold estimate, and it’s a bit slower than the finishing time of my friend Mark, who passed me at Mile 10.  Doubling the 3 minute savings here helps us by 6 minutes on the full marathon, leaving a deficit of just 3 minutes.

I’ll be running the marathon with a pace group, which will prevent me from making the classic going-out-too-fast mistake.  That’s worth at least 1 minute.  (Very possibly more.)  Deficit down to 2.

About that pace group:  the psychological benefit of a pace setter, especially for the last 10 miles, has got to be worth at least 1 minute.  (Possibly  more.)  Deficit down to 1 minute.

By race day, I’ll have had 9 additional post-half marathon training weeks, including 5 weeks of 50+ miles.  That’s worth 2 minutes.  (Probably more.)  Whoa – we’re looking at 3:19!

Alexander Technique lessons are beginning to sink in, and I can feel my posture improving by the week.  That will help stave off late race fatigue.  1 more minute.  3:18!

Last but not least, the flexibility and strength I’m gaining from my P90X and (soon) Hip Helpers workouts have got to be worth another minute.  3:17!

Looks like this race is going to be easier than I’d expected.

Ain’t math great?!


2 Responses to “over the speed limit”

  1. Jose Says:

    I found your cool blog while researching the correct running form. So how was the marathon?

  2. Unshod Says:


    First barefoot marathon, saw lots of friends, and a PR – all good – but not a BQ.

    I did learn a lot about running form – check out facebook.com/RunBarefootRunHealthy or RunBarefootRunHealthy.com.

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