So, "marathon pace" is the average pace that you run a marathon. Easy. I understand now. Whatever my finish time is, I divide by 26.2, and I have the average pace per mile. Nice.
I have the Illinois Marathon coming up in 2 weeks. So, my marathon pace will be the average per mile pace when I run the Illinois Marathon. One problem...I don't know what that pace should be! Easy enough to calculate if I knew my finish time. That's the problem. I don't know what my finish time should be, or will be, but I do have several targets.
First, basic goal, is to beat 3:30. That is my Boston qualifying time. A 3:30 finish is an 8:00 pace per mile. That seems doable (if the weather cooperates).
Second goal is to run a time that will not only qualify me for Boston, but also allow me to register for the race. that usually means beating your qualifying time by about 1.5-2 minutes. Let's say a 3:28 finish. That's 7:56 per mile pace. Might be possible.
My ultimate goal would be a 3:25 finish. Plenty of wiggle room for Boston registration. And, it just seems like a fast time. That translates into a 7:49 pace per mile. Hmmmm...that seems fast. Maybe too fast. I can dream.
I guess my marathon pace is somewhere between 8:00 and 7:49 pace per mile. Split the difference and I get about 7:55. I suppose that's what I'll aim for and if things feel good after 20 miles, I can pick up the pace. Right, that'll happen.
Not sure if any of these marathon paces are really achievable with my current fitness level, but they sure seem feasible when I look at race prediction charts. My last race, a half marathon in October in 1:32:35, predicts a 3:15 marathon! I actually think I could run a 1:32 or faster half-marathon right now, but not a 3:15 marathon (7:26 pace). I'll be happy with anything under 3:30 (8:00 pace). It's nice to know the fancy prediction charts think I can run faster. Maybe some day. For now, my heart says to "give it a try." That's what I'll do on April 25.