I can't believe I'm writing this post. I can't believe I have an actual marathon race strategy. Well, it's not all that detailed. I'm sure the elites have an actual strategy with specific goals but still. I need to have a strategy because I want to meet my time of 4:19:59 or better.
Thus, the need for strategy.
> Under-10s: I want to run every mile in under 10 minutes. Is this going to be difficult? I suspect the hardest miles to do this will be the first two and the last six. Why the first two? I don't want to start off too fast, and thus I might have problems keeping Miles 1 and 2 under 10 minutes. I might run them too slow - err on the side of caution, after all. I'm not going to panic if Mile 1 is in 10:12 or something but if it's at like 10:47, I'm not going to be too happy. Then again, I won't be happy if I come out with an 8:57 Mile 1 either.
> Bank The Time: I know my body. I know how it reacts to certain race conditions and situations. I'm not the kind of runner that can run three or four miles at 11-min per mile and then run the next three or four at 9-min per mile. My body doesn't work that way. If I start off too slow, my whole race will go too slow. Thus, part of the earlier goal is with this in mind. I don't want to start off too slow because I won't be able to kickstart my body on the fly. Ideally my first two miles would be at about 9:30. Ideally, I'd be at the 10K mark at about 58 minutes, and I'd be at 12 miles in about 1:57:00. If I can meet those two goals, I should really be feeling confident by the time I hit the half-marathon mark. I can then focus on getting to Mile 18 in under three hours and if that happens, I should have enough energy and confidence to guide me to the finish in under my goal time.
> GU If You Got 'em: I'm going to GU at Miles 4, 8, 12, 16 and 20. Last year I dropped a GU packet and had to GU at 8, 12, 16 and 20. I was very punctual. I'm going to stop, GU and go. I might throw in a couple other walk breaks somewhere in between there, possibly a couple after Mile 20, but definitely when I GU. That'll help push me through to the GU time.
> Focus! I have to keep my focus. Above all else, I must stay composed and focused. If I run a too-fast mile, be it Mile 3 or 14, I have to stay focused. If disaster strikes and I drop my GU packets or something, I have to keep my focus. I need to focus on the next mile marker. I have to get from one mile marker to the next in the best manner possible. I will have 26 little finish lines before I get to the final one. I can't think of the race as one gigantic 26.2-mile run because how can I possibly focus on anything with that sort of monster before me? But if I can just focus on the next mile, everything else will take care of itself.