Training for Tuesday: Shamrock Marathon Training & Goals

Holy crap, you guys. This is a special edition of Training for Tuesday because it's the last one I'm going to write before my big races coming up. The one after this will be post-marathon #3 - I say that definitely this time because, well, I switched my registration from the half to the full last week so there's really no turning back now. Ready or not, I have a registration email that says I'm running a marathon in 26 days.

I had hoped to be writing this month's post having run and lived to tell about my 20-miler, but due to Mother Nature completely losing her shit last week, that run was postponed to this upcoming weekend. I know I won't be able to rest easy until I cross that run off my training plan, but I'm confident in the work I've put in so far. Speaking of training, this is the spreadsheet I've been rocking for the last 3 months:

This has been the most piecemealed training plan I've ever put together. I've had to rearrange my run days way more often that I've ever had to before. I mean, I had to do one of my long runs on a Thursday afternoon - who does that? In fact, a lot of my long runs have been on odd days at odd times. I'm not sure I've done any of them at the same time and day two weeks in a row, which is very out of character for me. No early Friday bedtimes; no pre-dawn Saturday morning alarms. I haven't gotten in nearly as much strength training or yoga as I have in the past. I knew up front that there was a good chance I was going to be making a lot of this up as I went, which is what I wanted at the time  since the last time I planned to be super disciplined, it blew up in my face.

My body is more or less ready for the physical challenge; it's my mind I'm more worried about. But as much as I feel like I haven't done the right things physically, I've put in more than my fair share of mental training this time around. Training through this winter has been extremely tough. The temperatures have been freezing cold, there's been snow on the ground, there have been more occasions with 20-30mph winds than I'd like to remember. I don't even think I'd need both hands to count the number of nice running days I've had this training cycle, at least as far as weather is concerned. But despite less-than-ideal conditions, I've managed to power through every single run. Maybe not with as much speed or grace or mental fortitude as I'd like, but rain or shine, bad mood or good, tired or alert, distracted or engaged, I earned every one of those miles up there.

Despite the fact that training hasn't been rainbows and sunshine, truth be told: I'm pretty pumped. There is just no other race weekend like Shamrock weekend and I can't wait to line up at that starting line for the 4th year in a row. It's hard to believe I'll be celebrating the 3rd anniversary of my first half marathon by running my 3rd full marathon. Shamrock is a tradition for me, and even though I never planned to run the full course once, let alone to come back for a second try, I'm grateful to be healthy enough to be able to participate in any of the races this year. When it comes to Shamrock, for me, the second time's the charm: my first half was disastrous but the following year I came back for a 30-minute PR. Last year, my first time running the full, wasn't the performance I wanted, and I'm hoping I have a lot more to give this year.

The one moment that pushed me over the edge from running the Shamrock Marathon being a tiny thought in the back of my head, to it being something I actually wanted to do: Christmas morning, filling out my new medal and bib holder.

Translated in terms of average pace for each distance:

5k: 7:43
10k: 7:56
Half Marathon: 8:21
Marathon: 11:01

One of these things is not like the others.

I had originally planned to run the Shamrock Half and shave 4 or 5 minutes off my PR. Even though doing so would have been a huge accomplishment, it would only have widened the gap between my half and full marathon times. It might sound silly that something that trivial made me want to run a marathon, but writing those PRs out made me realize which distance I wanted to work on. My marathon pace is not going to start with a 7 or an 8, that I know for sure, but I feel confident that I can get it closer than it is now and close the gap at least a little bit.

Shamrock Marathon Goals

Realistic Goal: PR
I don't want to write this off as a guarantee, but if I have confidence in any of my goals, it's this one. I'm a much stronger runner than I was a year ago (thanks, hills!) and my comfortable pace, like the one I ran my PR marathon at, is over a minute faster than it was this time last year. Simple math would indicate that my chances of reaching this goal are very good. On the other hand, it's totally possible I could have the worst race day of my life. Not counting that out yet.

Reach goal:  4:21:XX (9:59 pace)
I really want to knock at least a minute off my average pace. All my training runs last year were in the 10:00's and I was really disappointed that I let my race pace slip to just over 11:00 when it was all said and done. Since all of my runs are in the 8's and 9's now, I really don't want to let my race pace start with a 10. This is another one I'm reasonably sure I can accomplish, but I can't be too sure.

Crazy reach goal: 4:10 (9:32 pace)
I'll be honest, this one is pretty arbitrary. It's the best milestone I can come up with between my reach goal and my super crazy, I done lost my mind goal. I would be insanely happy to hit any time in the low 4's, and anything under 4:10 is far better than I've ever dreamed of doing.

Super crazy reach goal: 4 hours (9:10 pace)
Go big or go home, right? I'm more than confident about my ability to get through the first half at least a few minutes under 2 hours, but not at all confident about the second half. Those miles, especially the last 6 or so, can be brutal and I have no idea what to expect from them. I've trained to run 16 at a pace that would leave me time for my pace to slow down by 30 seconds/mile for those last 10 miles, but I'm just not sure I can replicate that on race day. Some days I feel like this is totally within the realm of possibility, and other days I feel like I should just put my pajamas on because I'm dreaming.

All of these seem pretty optimistic, some extremely so, but the last time I set time goals for myself (in the fall), I ended up really surprising myself and far exceeding them. Not that I'm banking on that happening again, but you just never know what race day is going to bring.

Until next time!



  1. Hopefully next month I can start linking up with you and Alyssa now that I have some training goals of my own :) You are both always so inspiring!

  2. if I remember correctly you surpassed all your goals last time, so i am definitely thinking you'll do the same for this one too.. though of course, a marathon is obviously a bigger race than a 5k or a half. But anyway. I think that you're stronger in body and mind, so I'm sure you will at least exceed the reach or crazy reach goal ;) and i know i say this all the time, but congrats on being awesome and not missing a single run!

  3. I'm super excited for you! Can't wait to see how you do!

    1. Ahhh thanks, Julie! It's still far enough away that I'm more excited than nervous ;)

  4. Oh fun, I didn't know about this link up! I love that you've set real goals but also that you're still dreaming about the crazy/super crazy stretch goals.

  5. I can't WAIT for you to get that PR. Because let's be honest.. it WILL happen.

  6. It never hurts to be optimistic! You can do it!

  7. Would it be crazy for me to come visit on a whim to see you cross that finish line? Because I so want to see you cross that finish line. You've put in so much work and have absolutely earned all those miles, and I have no doubt that Shamrock is going to be an incredible day for you. Thanks for being an awesome co-host and kickass inspiration, friend. You're gonna nail this!

  8. I cant wait to read about it next month! The mind really is powerful. Your body is ready and I say go for it and think of what Ben would say! Im so proud of you already for switching to the full.. and those medals are totally inspiring!

  9. All I have to say is this: if *I* can run a 4:14, YOU can absolutely run a 4:10, and I wouldn't be at all surprised by a 4:00. Not even a little surprised. Although I would be super pumped for you! I'd love to run a 4-hr full, and I have no doubt I could do it. whether or not I will ever care to train for it is an entirely different story ;)

  10. Oh, you just casually changed from the half to the full?! Holy moly. Get it, girl. Good luck with all your upcoming races. You've trained so hard and I've got all kinds of confidence that you'll crush your goals!

    1. Oh, no, not casually! The full was always the goal, I just didn't want to be tied into it in case I changed my mind, and the half sells out well before race day so I wanted to make sure I at least secured a spot in the half!
      Thanks so much for the encouragement, Paige! This has been a weird training cycle.

  11. You got this! I'll b e working the J&A booth on Saturday morning after the 8K. Love your medal holder.

    1. Thanks, Jenny! I'm not sure which day I'm going to hit the expo but I'll definitely look out for you if I'm there Saturday!