Miles 0-13: 12:30-12:40 pace
Miles 14-20: 12:20-12:30 pace
Miles 20-26.2: 12:00-12:30 pace
I honestly think these paces are doable, but my biggest concern is actually being able to get faster in the last half of the race; I need to be mentally strong enough to ignore my achey legs at the end! If I successfully keep to the higher end of the spectrum for each set of miles, I'll finish in 5:17, which would be a 24-minute PR. It's not as lofty a goal as I originally set, but I think based on my training, it's realistic.
Last Wednesday, I started at a conservative pace and then ran faster as I warmed up. During the hardest part of that run (when I was running into the headwind on the second loop), I was running a 12:07 pace from miles 11 to 17, and it didn't feel too bad. At times, I dipped into the 11s, and even the 10s.
Anyway, I'm not aiming for a sub-5 this time around. My plan for 2016 is still to focus on speed and shorter distances, but I know a longterm goal for myself will be to break 5:00, and I know I'll be able to do it eventually. It won't be this race, and that's okay; running is a lifetime journey, and I know I'll get there in due time.
(During a long run this fall, I envisioned myself crossing the finish line in 4:59 and I got choked up just thinking about it. I'm not giving up on that goal, but realistically it's not in the cards this year.)
This year, I want to be smart and consistent. Last year, I went out way too fast. I was also dehydrated from cold medicines and had lingering asthma issues to contend with, but I'm not making excuses. I know this year I'm in better shape, but it's also going to be warmer.
(This year's 20-miler was 10 degrees warmer than last year's...so, yeah.)
So basically, I'm aiming for a PR, but I've finally learned that I won't get faster training for a marathon without a better base and stronger effort geared directly at speed. Cautiously optimistic is the name of the game this time around.