Chicago Marathon 2011 - the Goals Post

So this Sunday I'll be running in the Chicago Marathon - my 6th marathon and 9th race of marathon distance or longer.

My PR for the marathon distance is 3:17:30, set last May. Goal-wise, I'm tempted to go for a 3:10 (7:15 miles), but would happily settle for a 3:15 (7:27 miles). Realistically, I plan to let things shake out for a few miles and then settle into 7:15-7:20 pace and see what happens.

Here are five reasons why I'll have a great race:

1.) Best long run build ever. I've done 7 twenty milers and 3 other 16-18 milers in this build. That's way more than I've done before.
2.) The Chicago Marathon course is the flattest, fastest course I've ever run. My PR came on a flat course, but it was a rail-trail course. Asphalt is faster than trail.
3.) 2011 has been an awesome year. While this past 4 month build has been good, the one in the Spring was also great.
4.) Team Type 1. My wife will tell you that the reason why the NJ Ultra Fest 50 Miler went so well for me is that I was surrounded by my teammates, and nearly a dozen of them will be with me in Chicago. In my own corral will also be 9 time Boston qualifier Brian Foster, and we'll both be going for a 3:10 - 3:15.
5.) Dynamite peak workout. The workout 3 weeks prior to the marathon is kind of the pinnacle workout; very much a dry run of the possibilities. I was in Florida 3 weeks prior to my May PR, but 4 weeks prior did a 22 mile run, with 10 miles @ 7:40 pace. This time around, 3 weeks prior, I did a 22 mile run, with 10 miles @ 7:26 pace. The overall pace for that workout was 17 seconds faster per mile, too, all of which goes to mean that in theory, I could be 7.5 minutes faster than I was in May.

Certainly, anything can happen in a marathon (as my own race disasters have shown me), but probably the biggest thing to contend with is that this is my first large marathon. I have zero experience with big crowds (my largest marathon had 1200 finishers.... in Chicago, I expect to FINISH around 4000, out of 35,000!), and zero experience with being on the start line trying to stay warm.

The weather forecast could also be tricky, though right now there seems to be a better chance it'll be a little too warm than too cold. Either way, there's nothing I can do about it.

When it comes to being a race predictor I tend to be a little overly optimistic, but I'm hoping the crowds of the Windy City carry me through. I won't be crushed if I don't hit it, but I'm putting my prediction time down at 3:12:00.


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