Goals for the Berlin marathon

So, the big day is coming. Berlin is only 4 days away, so normally it would be time to evaluate my form and come up with reasonable targets for the race. The problem is, normally I'd have done some shorter races before (10K, HM), which would give me a good indication on what I could reasonably expect. Not this time. Somehow things aligned in such a way that I did no races whatsoever since the Paris marathon (and later, Lakeland 50, but that is hardly a yardstick to compare with, given that it was my debut on this distance).

So it is going to be a bit of a guessing game. Since I love crunching numbers I decided to make a little table with all my previous marathon races and the average mileage I did in 12 weeks preceding the event (excluding the week of the marathon itself, as that is supposed to be left for tapering).

Here are the results:

DateLocationResultWeekly mileage
19/10/2003Amsterdam  
3:23:5330.9 km
4/07/2004Brugge  
3:15:5344.7 km
13/02/2005Rome  
3:15:1733.7 km
20/05/2007Copenhagen  
3:40:1446.3 km
29/10/2007Dublin  
3:16:3245.8 km
19/04/2009Vienna  
3:30:5146.1 km
26/09/2010Warsaw  
3:20:4344.9 km
1/05/2011New Jersey  
3:25:4066.5 km
2/10/2011Budapest  
3:25:5169.7 km
15/04/2012Paris  
3:17:5565.3 km
30/09/2012Berlin  
?:??:??58.1 km

Two things are clear from this table. One, I substantially increased my mileage, starting in 2011 (indeed I'm fully aware that is the case). Two, while not too bad overall, my preparations for Berlin were worse that for all the marathons in the last two years (i.e. New Jersey, Budapest and Paris), which indeed is true. It's not so much that I didn't do serious training leading to Berlin, but I lacked consistency and it shows.

However, other than that, the numbers don't seem to be telling much. I was kind of expecting a correlation between the intensity of preparations and the final result. Well, if it's there it's not obvious at all. Indeed, I did my PB in Rome, while training very lightly and my two most intense preparations in 2011 led to below average results.

So, what is going to happen in Berlin? That I'll tell you in four days, but for now it is time to continue the tradition from Lakeland and set three goals for the race.

Bronze: 3:20

The bronze goal is supposed to be the easiest of the three, but that does not mean it should be easy. In fact I have no doubts that it is not going to be easy to achieve it. I met this time in Paris this year, but I failed to meet it twice last year (in New Jersey and then in Budapest). So yes, if I run below 3:20 I'm going to be happy.

Silver: 3:15

Yes, correct, if I meet my silver goal I'm going to set a new PB by improving my 3:15:17 result from Rome in 2005. I have no illusions: this is not likely to happen. This will be my 8th attempt at the record and all the previous ones failed (more or less) miserably. So in the unlikely event that I meet my silver goal, I'm going to be a very happy man indeed.

Gold: 3:12

If beating 3:15 is not likely then beating 3:12 is next to impossible. I'd be happy with shaving a few seconds from my PB, so shaving off 3 minutes would be totally awesome. But hey, better to set the bar high, right? After all, that's the gold goal :)

Strategy?

As usual I'm wondering how should I run on this day. I could go conservative and run for 3:20, which I think I should be able to do, but how much fun would that be? No, I'll as usual attack my PB, event at the risk of suffering at the end and finishing well below 3:20 after all.

Still, the question is: should I start for 3:10 to leave myself a margin for the slower second half? Or should I better stick to a pace-maker for 3:15? While the latter would probably be more sensible and give me a higher chance of success, I know from experience that it will be very difficult for me to stick to this plan. So instead of making false promises I think I'll face the reality: I'm probably going to run with a pace for approx. 3:10 and... well, hope for the best :).

I'm planning to make this my last "serious" marathon and from now on focus more on ultras, so it'd be nice to end on a high note. Wish me good luck! :)

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