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Chicago Marathon Pace

October 7, 2009

I have gone over my goals before and I’m giving more serious thought to which pace group I will be starting with.

My “I’ll be happy” finish time is around 4:30.

My “I’ll be thrilled” finish time is between 4:15 and 4:30.

I have been planning to start with the 4:15 pace group.  Those are 9:44 miles, which is right in my wheel house.  But after reading advice that is it better to start with the “I’ll be happy” group and look to pick up the pace after 20 miles, I have got to thinking more about this.

My thinking has been to start with the 9:44 group, which will give some padding for the time I’ll need to stop and test.  I’m also planning to stop at the water stations to drink instead of drinking on the run.

Ugh.  Maybe it is better to go with the 4:30 group (10:18 pace) and just plan to have to play a bit of catch-up after testing and stopping to drink.  At a 10:18 pace, that won’t be hard for me to do.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 7, 2009 3:28 pm

    In my experience, it is really hard to catch up later on. For me, I am usually only able to hold my pace through the end (if I’m doing great), or at most increase the pace by 10-15 sec/mi (rough guess–and I think this has been when I started out slower than normal). On the other hand, if I try to run at a pace beyond my ability, it makes for a pretty painful and slow last few miles. It ALWAYS catches up with me–I know because I’ve made the same mistake too many times. I had my PR marathon with a pace group and knew I was ready for that pace because I had practiced it… The excitement at the start can be very enticing to go out too fast…

    What pace have you been able to maintain during your long runs? How about for your tempo/interval work (if you have done that)? Have you used a HR monitor? It is another way to gauge things.

    During my PR race, I felt like I was working, but was not uncomfortable. I believe my race pace was pretty similar to what I was doing during my long runs, although I didn’t measure my pace too carefully back then.

    You might run a few miles at the beginning with the 4:30 group and then, if you feel confident you could move up a little, do that then. It might not be possible to catch the 4:15 group, though… you don’t want to sprint to catch up with them…

    I’m sure Marcus and Jerry would have some good advice..

    • October 7, 2009 5:22 pm

      Thanks for the great response Anne!

      I went back and looked at my LSDs and I’m right in the 9:45 and 10:15 range. Avg. around 10. Most of my “easy” days turn out to be right at the 9:45 pace. I did do quite a bit tempo/interval stuff and almost always wear a HR monitor. I always keep my HR in the low range (forget the term right now) during my easy/LSDs.

      I don’t know what to think. Probably the best is to NOT think about it. Start between the 2 groups and just run and have fun!

  2. October 8, 2009 9:58 am


    I definitely wouldn’t go with the 4:45 group. No way.

    I’m a fan of McMillan and VDOT calculators… have you plugged any 1/2 marathon times into them?

    If your long runs average around 10:00, I’m thinking you should go out with the 4:30 crowd and look to make a move at the 20 mile mark.

    Advice I read once:
    If you’re feeling good at the 10 mile mark, wait for the 15.
    If you’re feeling good at the 15, wait for the 20.
    If you’re feeling good at 20, go.

    I’ve seen a lot of people walking through water stops and don’t think the 4:30 group will get ahead of you, so you should be good to go, there.


    • October 8, 2009 10:32 am

      Thanks Marcus. I’m definitely leaning toward the 4:30 group.

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