Houston Marathon Goals & Strategy

I haven’t been shy in the last several months about what my goals are for the Houston Marathon. So in addition to telling the world again, that I want to run a 3:40:XX marathon, I will lay out some additional goals and the race strategy.

  • Negative split. Obviously. Isn’t this nearly everyone’s goal going into a marathon? After the Savannah 1/2 Marathon, I truly saw how awesome executing negative splits can make a race. There is truly nothing better than having fun throughout ALL of the miles and finishing a race strong. My race strategy is designed to make this happen, but obviously it will depend on how I feel in the later miles.
  • Follow hydration & fueling plan. 
  • Listen to my body. Despite running 2 previous marathons, it took completing a 70.3 (and the advice from a very good friend) to get me to understand that I will undoubtedly have ups and downs throughout the race, and the best way to handle that is to ask myself constantly, “How do I feel?” and “What do I need?”.
  • HAVE FUN! I have never, ever run a “big” marathon and I have heard that the crowd support at Houston is awesome. I want to take it all in and enjoy every minute, while doing what I love and have trained so hard to accomplish.

The Plan:


When I initially registered for this race, I thought I would utilize the pace group for my target time. After reading this post, (by the very fast Mile Posts) and seeing how far the pace groups off were at Savannah (despite my sub-1:45 1/2 finish time, I was behind the 3:40 marathon pace group), I decided against that. Plus, the pace groups aim for even splits and I want to try something different to see how it works for me.

I am breaking the race down into 5 mile sections. With a goal pace of 8:23 min/mile, I will aim to start 10 seconds slower and drop the pace 5 seconds every 5 miles.

  • Miles 1-5: 8:30 – 8:35
  • Miles 6-10: 8:25 – 8:30
  • Miles 11-15: 8:20 – 8:25
  • Miles 16 – 20: 8:15 – 8:20
  • Miles 21 – 25: 8:10 – 8:15 (obviously, this is the big question mark, will I feel strong enough to run my fastest splits beyond that crucial 20-mile point?)
  • Mile 26 + 0.2 – Hang on and finish strong!

I sincerely hope that I have not over analyzed this too much and am not being too specific. I have done all my training runs with this same strategy, but modified based on the target pace for that day.

With all of that being said, I also will try not to vary my heart rate too significantly by speeding up and slowing down based on the number on my watch. My mantra for this will be “run the race” (as opposed to running to the clock).


Pre-race, I will stick to my typical bagel with peanut butter and banana and a glass of OJ around 5:30 a.m. and I will sip on Nuun all morning.

For the race itself, I believe I have finally nailed down a good fueling strategy for me. I will take in some type of fuel every 2.5 miles, alternating between a full GU and 2 Stingers.

  • Miles 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 – GU
  • Miles 2.5, 7.5, 12.5, 17.5, 22.5 – Stingers

In addition to drinking water at every stop, I will carry a small handheld (about 10 oz.) with Nuun. Instead of worrying about changing my fueling strategy to accommodate the water stops, I will use this to hydrate after my GU/Stingers. I still need to work this out, but I am somehow planning to have one of my parents or Brad at mile 13 with a refill.

In addition, prior to starting, then at 1 hour, 2 hours and 3 hours I will take one Salt Stick Tablet. I have been plagued with calf cramps in the past and I am hoping that this is the trick to resolving that once and for all! I have practiced this on all of my long training runs to make sure it does not upset my stomach. The key now is just remembering to take them!


Obviously, I have been stalking the weather forecast for Sunday obsessively since the 10-day forecast became available last Friday. It is changing constantly (duh), but right now, it appears that it will be moderate and dry with a low of 58 and  high of 67. No doubt I will bring nearly my entire wardrobe of running clothes with me to Houston, but if the temps remain, I will wear my purple C9 by Champion tank, black Nike spandex shorts w/pink stripe, Saucony ViziPro pink arm warmers (maybe, to start) and black Nike dry-fit visor. I will look like a stick of Hubba Bubba bubble gum which should help my family easily spot me on the course!

At least the one thing I won’t have to stress about is which shoes or socks to wear. I will be in my Brooks Adrenaline 12’s and Balega running socks. This is like my 10th pair of Adrenaline’s and FINALLY pink!

Attitude: I am nervous, anxious, excited and READY. I am going in confident that I have trained properly and that I am capable of meeting my goal, but also knowing that it will be hard as hell and I must remain mentally tough regardless of what the race throws my way.

3 days…here we go!

About Corey

I am a 30-something swim, bike, run addict married to my best friend and in love with my two schnoodle doggies.
This entry was posted in family, Food, Goals, Races, running, training, weekend fun. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Houston Marathon Goals & Strategy

  1. Laura says:

    You have thought this through so well– good for you! Having previous marathon experience helps so much in knowing that anything can happen, but like you said, keep checking in with yourself and be flexible to tweak your plan as needed. I think running a big race is a helpful distraction for staying on pace… I ran the Poconos marathon and the last few miles were empty and soooo hard. You’re going to nail it!!

  2. Good luck!!! I can’t wait to hear all about it!!! I know you will do great and this plan sounds awesome 🙂 I like the idea of carrying Nuun and drinking the water they provide.

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