I've run two marathons in the last 10 months, and both went great--not a single difficult mile in either. Pondering which one to run next, and also feel ready to get aggressive on my pace. Maybe the better way to put it is that having completed two marathons without serious pain or catastrophic failure, I'm ready to take some risks even if it means I experience the dreaded bonk.
My race times are slow because I run with my husband who keeps a metronome-like 10min/mile pace. He's 6'1", 185lb, and despite his many many fine qualities, he is simply never going to be a fast runner.
Nov 2010 4:37
Jun 2011 4:23 I know in my heart I could have run this much faster, but I lost about 8 min to a portapotty line and I was worried about having enough calories because my sandwich fell out of my pack at around mile 10. I was taking a lot of spectator food to make up for it, but didn't have a lot of confidence in that strategy. So even though I felt great, I didn't want to go for broke too soon and waited until mile 20 to kick it in gear. Ran the last 6 at about 8:45 - 9:00 pace, and in hindsight I should have gone for it sooner because at the finish line I had so much gas left in the tank that I could have kept going a few more miles.
When I'm not running with hubby, my natural pace is about 8:30-9:00 for the midweek 4-6 milers. I did a half marathon last summer in 1:59. And in May I ran a sanctioned 5k at a 6:58 pace (1st place for my age division, 2nd for women overall. Woot!)
I'm 43y/o and, having never been a runner (in school it was always soccer and riding), I've never had any coaching other than hubby who is also self-trained. So I'm not sure how to assess what I can realistically "go for". Hubby's whispering "Qualify for boston!" in my ear (which for my age division would require a 3:50 finish). I'm intrigued but is that a crazy goal?
i.e.. is this the equivalent of posting "I just got a cute little 2year old stud colt and I'm going to train him myself because I read a lot of Practical Horseman magazines!!"
There are a lot of race time predictors that you can take a 5K time or a 10 mile run or whatever and use to predict your marathon time. A lot of books also have training at specific paces to help you meet a goal time- as an example, if you want to run a 10 minute mile, you do speed work at Xpace, long runs at Y pace and recovery at Z pace.
It seems like you have some natural talent. Have you tried seeking out a coach or running group? We have a bunch of running groups around town. I know the Galloway Groups train to finish races at certain paces, so you do your practice runs with your goal pace groups, the race together.
The advice I got was to run a half 6 weeks or so before your marathon and plug the time into one of those calculators. That said, I ran a 1:51 half... and a 4:11 full, instead of 4 hour full that the calculator predicted. But the idea is that you didn't so much base your training around the pace you would like to achieve, as train and then base your goal pace on your training. I'm no expert, though! Also be aware that even running the standard BQ time for your age group may not be enough, you might not get in unless you are 5-10 minutes faster. But your 5k must have been awesome, so you may well have the talent!
You'll never know if you don't go for it is my opinion. Start out at the Boston pace and if you have to slow down do. You have 2 safe finishes what does 3 buy you. This is from a non-runner, but Dh just did his first marathon hoping for 3:20 and did 3:04. I say go for it. Looking into a coaching program could be a good option too.